Om, also known as Aum (ૐ, ॐ) is a holy sound, symbol and word of great power and meaning. Regarded as sacred in most Indian religions, especially Hinduism but also in Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, Aum is a holy sound that resonates the primal sound of the universe. Though few in letters, the meaning of Aum is vast and profound. Aum consists of three sounds, namely the two vowels A and U and the soft consonant M, where…
- A stands for creation
- U stands for preservation
- M stands for destruction or dissolution
These three together represent a form of trinity in Hinduism – with
- Brahma – the creator
- Vishnu – the maintainer, and
- Shiva – the destroyer.
All of which in turn are contained in the unborn and undying Brahman, the godhead and the world soul in Hinduism.
The meaning of Aum encompasses vast stretches of time and space, from the grandest to the minutest part of reality. According to certain schools of Hinduism, the whole cosmos arose from the vibration and resonance that followed the utterance of the primordial Aum.
Etymologically and historically, Om is a Sanskrit word which supposedly developed and came into fruition when the “rishis” and “yogis”, i.e. the sages of ancient India, reached deep states of meditation somewhere in the mountains. The legacy of the yogis and rishis was later recorded in the Vedas and in the mystical texts of the Upanishads, where Om was most likely mentioned for the first time.
Aum also represents the state of spiritual perfection for Hindus and the truth that everything in the universe is essentially one, although we humans in our ignorance understand reality as many and divided, which is also known as maya.
Om (ॐ) meditation
Many spiritual seekers and practitioners from around the world invoke the primordial sound of Om when praying, meditating and when repeating mantra. Mantras are considered to be sacred sounds that people use during rituals, yoga and meditation. By repeating a chosen or given mantra, the practitioner can supposedly reach a state of inner peace, clarity and joy. Om is often regarded as one of the most effective mantras to reach a state of inner peace and psychological stillness.
How to do it
- Sit down somewhere comfortable, preferably in a room that is conducive for meditation.
- Take a few deep breaths in and out from the nose and ground yourself to the floor and the earth.
- Start chanting O-u-m or A-u-m depending on your preference.
- Do this 30 times and then keep quiet and feel the resonance continuing in your minds eye.
- Notice how the vibrant vibrations produced by your voice has affected both your body and mind.
So what to make of Om? Om is an ancient symbol of great meaning and a tool for spiritual practice. Whether you believe in the metaphysical parts or not, the effectiveness of the word and sound when used for chanting and mantras is hard to argue against. The sound O-u-m, especially A-u-m, activates the throat muscles and vocal chords from the back of the throat up to the front i.e. the lips. Om is the spiritual legacy that the yogis and rishis of ancient India left the rest of humanity.
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized deep relaxations of the psyche when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history and philosophy at Uppsala Universitet, as he is currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist, Yogic and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.