03 Apr The Meaning of OM and How To Chant OM
THE MEANING OF OM AND HOW TO CHANT OM
In this weeks’ Monday Mantra, Mudra, Meditation #4 i share the meaning of the mantra OM, the meaning of the symbol OM, as well as a video on how to chant OM correctly.
OM or “AUM” is the first mantra we learn when we start a yoga practice. I always chant it at the beginning of a yoga class together with a chosen invocation to set the tone of the class and to allow everyone to come together as one. I also end the class with OM Shanti Shanti Shanti OM (Shanti meaning Peace) to “close out” the practice and to experience all the space and vibration we’ve created on the yoga mat. The difference in vibration from the beginning of practice till the end is palpable and so beautiful to witness.
ॐ THE MEANING OF AUM
It’s said that we don’t need to know the meaning of the mantras, we will still feel their vibration(s) and absorb their effect(s). Maybe this holds true for the AUM, you don’t know exactly what it means, but it still feels so damn good, right?
I do think it’s helpful to know the meaning of the mantra we chant, so we can feel like we “get” the most out of them.
AUM originates from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, but this mantra can be chanted by anyone regardless of belief system or religion. AUM is made up of 3 syllables A-U-M, but we often refer to it as “OM,” as in Sanskrit we combine the A and U to a O, or double O. Instead of writing AUM we write OM.
When i first started yoga i learned that AUM is the primordial sound associated with the creation of the Universe, and if you’re outside in nature (when it’s pitch quiet) you will hear the sound of AUM. I have never personally heard it but i keep listening eagerly. Hopefully one day i will witness it. In the meantime i’m honing my listening skills #lifegoals 🙂
I also learned that nature and chanting AUM vibrates at the same frequency of 432 Hz. This is why we feel so relaxed and nourished from being outside in nature and from chanting AUM.
Chanting AUM has both physical and mental effects on us as it calms our mind and in return calms our nervous system.
I later learned the reason we always chant AUM 3 times. The reason is; it symbolises:
ॐ the three worlds of the Soul: the past, the present and the future.
ॐ the three Divine energies, or Shakti: creation, preservation and transformation.
ॐ the three essences of Spirit: immortality, omniscience and joy.
There is so much to be said about the meaning of AUM and there are many interpretation of it depending on what text you read, but i think knowing this will help enrich your practice immensely.
ॐ THE AUM SYMBOL // My self made water coloured AUM symbol with description
ॐ THE MEANING OF THE AUM SYMBOL
The AUM symbol is a ligature of Devanagari; which is used in classical Sanskrit texts. Simply put, this is the Universal symbol of the AUM sign. Everyone seems to agree on the meaning of this symbol, but like i said above interpretations differ depending on what text you read.
AUM represents three syllables:
A = waking state
U = dream state
M = dreamless state
The half moon crescent represents Maya, or the Veil of Illusion which is the obstacle to realising our highest self/our highest potential, or Infinite Consciousness.
The dot above Maya is Turiya, or Infinite Consciousness. At the end of chanting AUM there is always a pause, a silence; this is often considered a fourth syllable of the AUM, or the ‘silent’ syllable and represents this Infinite Consciousness.
AUM is also often associated with the Hindu Deity Ganesha; the remover of obstacles.
A = Ganesha’s belly
U = Ganesha’s trunk
M = Ganseha’s head
ॐ HOW TO CHANT AUM
In the video below i share how to chant AUM correctly. Knowing this will help you experience the chant more profoundly on a vibrational level, physically, mentally and spiritually.
I am passing on to you what i learned from my amazing Sanskrit teacher Manorama, who i studied with in New York City. If you ever have a chance to study with her, go. It’s an experienced that should not be missed!.
Linguistically; when chanting AUM the 3 audible sounds are produced within our mouth starting with
A at the root of the tongue, traveling to the upper palate with the U and ends at the lips with the M.
I explain and share how to do this in the video below.
I like to think of it as a 3 course meal:
A representing the entrè,
U representing the main course,
M representing the dessert.
You want to savour all, with varying lengths :-).
The vowel sounds A & U are combined to an O (or double OO). So the correct way to pronounce AUM is a long O like like in ‘home.’
FEEL THE VIBRATION
Last weeks’ Mudra/Atmanjali Mudra (above photo) is used with chanting AUM.
Inhale fully, and on the exhale chant. Feel the vibration from your heart (Anahata Chakra) vibrating into your thumbs.
Enjoy vibrating at a different level from now on.
I hope this shines more light on a mantra you already know and are used to chanting. Let me know what you learned and if this is helpful.
Anita Goa 🙂