You decided to check out a yoga class and you are sitting down on your mat in a comfortable meditation position as you begin to chant “OM” and you begin to ask yourself, what is OM? You might start to wonder what is it about OM that makes yogis and yoginis chant this two letters with so much passion and intention?
Om is the eternal sound, the sound of the universe, the primal, core, profound cosmic sound, and it creates a vibrational frequency of harmony in the body. OM aligns our energy and creates a feeling of openness and expansion as well as unity and love.
In Sanskrit, the word OM is made up of the three syllables A-U-M. The sound “O” is a diphthong written as “AU”. Each letter represents the 3 divisions of time or psychological states, and visually, the symbol OM consists of three curves, one semicircle, and a dot. The large curve at the bottom symbolizes the waking state or A, the middle curve signifies the dreaming state or U, and the curve at the top is the symbol for the deep sleep state or M. The dot is the fourth state which symbolizes the transcendental state of consciousness also known as Turiya. The semi-circle at the top, which separates the dot from the other three curves, represents Maya or the veil of illusion.
When chanting OM I can consciously feel the “A” sound as it originates from the back of the throat opening the heart. As the “U” sound glides from the openness feeling created by the “A”, “U” is felt in the navel or abdomen region of the body. And finally, the “M” sound is felt in the region of the head as my mouth fully closes.
Just like when doing physical yoga asanas, I find chanting OM can be energizing and calming as it moves the life force to integrate the three main centers of the body-mind (head, heart, and navel) into its inherent wholeness – all the while consciously breathing in time with the chant.
Whether I am chanting OM at the beginning or at the end of yoga class, or in a meditative setting, or in the midst of everyday life, I can really feel the impact this mantra has when I deeply feel its meaning. It’s such a primal sound prior to everything and anything that as I begin to tap into its essence, which is nonseparate from the universe, consciousness or myself, I can really just let go and tacitly know that OM is all there is.
Before OM, there is silence and after OM there is silence, but silence still exists while the sound is uttered because OM really helps to tune-in into that silence like no other sound does. Silence feels to me like the ever-present, timeless nature of existence or consciousness itself, because consciousness doesn’t have any sound yet is present and aware at all times.
Next time you hear the OM chant or you are invited to chant it, I hope you can find its calming and energizing nature too. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be happy to respond.