As a yogi, we chant the mantra ‘OM’ during a yoga class to open and close the practice. We imitate our instructor by taking a deep exhale, which is followed by an inhale to then chant the sound of OM.
Yet few of us know what the mantra really is about. Getting more clear about the meaning of the sound of OM may help us to give it a deeper meaning and connection with the mantra. So let’s unveil some interesting facts about this mysterious word being one of the most respected and regarded symbols of the world.
1. ‘OM’ – the symbol
First and foremost, let’s clarify in short some facts about the symbol and meaning of OM. OM mantra is known as a mahamantra which means that it is a single letter mantra.
OM references to the three sounds ‘A’, ‘U’ and ‘M’, building the sound of AUM or OM when combined.
2. Origins of OM
OM is considered as the ‘king of mantras’. It is also given the name pranava mantra, meaning the sound of life and the universe. According to ancient texts, OM represents ONENESS. Oneness with the higher self and with the universe: The entire universe is thus seen as a composition of OM. On the other hand, OM is the representation of the individual soul, as a pure being made of consciousness.
3. Deeper Meaning of OM
OM is the overall sound and vibration of the universe. To get a deeper understanding of OM, let’s have a look at our different states of consciousness. The mandukya upanishad, which is part of the vedic scriptures in Hinduism, outlines the theory of four states of consciousness and the existence and nature of the soul and our higher self. According to mandukya upanishad, ‘OM’ is the only thing that existed, exists and will exists.
This is followed by the statement that all are supreme beings, and that those beings do exist in four stages of consciousness: The waking state, dreaming state, deep sleeping state and lastly our pure consciousness.
1. Waking State
The first stage, called jagrat, is referred to the letter ‘A’ in AUM with being the waking state. It has an outward perception.
2. Dreaming State
The second state as the letter ‘U’ is the dreaming state, called svapna. The perception is directed inward.
3. Unconscious State or Deep Sleep State
The third stage is referred to the letter ‘M’ as the deep sleep state, called susupti. It has no activity, nor experiences of the body and the mind.
4. The absolute State
The fourth state is known as the super conscious state, a state of tranquillity, soundless, stillness and eternal peace. In this state called turiyam, there is observation of the previous three stages. The turiyam state is said to be achieved by a combination of the ‘A’, ‘U’ and ‘M’ states, thus being represented in the word AUM or ‘OM’.
4. Health Benefits of OM
The benefits of ‘OM’ can be therapeutic, spiritual and psychological: OM soothes the mind and slows down the nervous system by slow exhalation, controlling and relaxation of the breath. OM has the overall vibrational effect of the body and the organs: All organs are positioned above our hip region, which are then being activated by producing the sounds of A – U – M.
5. Spiritual effects of OM
By chanting the mantra ‘OM’, we are preparing for the higher state of consciousness and the universe. The vibration created by the chanting builds positive vibrations around you. When chanting ‘OM’ in a group, those positive vibrations will charge up the entire setting and environment around you.
OM aims to remind ourselves to look within and answer fundamental questions about the meaning of life and who you truly are.