Om is a very powerful mantra, often chanted at the beginning and end of a yoga practice, as well as at the beginning and end of individual chants. It contains the universal vibration found in every living thing and everything can be found in Om. It is a bija mantra, bija – meaning seed – and is considered very small, compact, and super potent.
Chanting Om regularly can bring great change to the body, mind, and spirit.
SEE ALSO: The Meaning Of Om Mani Padme Hum
Om: A Powerful Eraser or Equalizer
Om is occasionally referred to as the great eraser. Chanting Om brings us into the present moment. It is an excellent mindfulness practice. When chanting Om, the past and future can drop away leaving us feeling focused, centered and present to the moment.
Repetition of this potent bija mantra allows us to let go of the thinking or whirling mind, the citta vrtti, and moves us towards single pointed focus through our directed energy and concentration. When we chant Om, we purify the vibrations within and surrounding us. Through this powerful and positive vibration, Om will clear out our spaces of negative and stagnant energy. Chanting Om in a group, or community helps us to both unify with others and align to body, mind, and spirit.
One of the most beautiful ways to chant Om in a community is as a rolling Om. This happens when a leader begins chanting Om and the group joins in at their own time and pace, continuing to over lap the Oms, until the leader signals the final Om and everyone finishes to silence.
Om: Parts of the Whole, AUM
Om is made up of three parts. A U M
The A, which is, pronounced Ahhh, signifies the beginning of any endeavor, thought or action and the creator deity Brahma.
The U, pronounced Oooh, represents the middle section and the preserver deity Vishnu.
And the M, pronounced Mmmm, marks the end of a happening and the destroyer deity Shiva.
Just like the beginning, middle and end produce the whole, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva represent the cycle of birth, life and death and the evolution of the universe as a whole. Associating the three parts of Om to the beginning, middle and end of any situation or endeavor can lead to clarity and help us to see the whole as greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Om and The Chakras
I think it’s really interesting that two chakras are often associated with the bija mantra Om. Both the Ajna Chakra, located at the Third Eye, and the Sahasrara Chakra, found at the crown of the head, use the bija mantra, Om, to clear and purify their spinning wheels of energy. The Ajna Chakra can be tuned through a verbal Om, whereas Sahasrara Chakra chants Om internally or silently in many practices. Chanting Om while focusing on the color, design, and qualities of these two chakras can move us towards purifying these energy points.
This can be especially potent if working with all seven chakras up the central Nadi of the body, the Sushumna Nadi, while chanting their corresponding bija mantras in the same manner. The sound of the vibration of Om is so perfectly attuned to these top two chakras that consistent meditation and devotion on it can lead to wisdom, intuition, and enlightenment.
The Visual Symbol of Om
Each part of the symbol Om represents a different level of consciousness. The large bottom curve represents the A and the waking state of consciousness or Jagrat. The middle curve of the design denotes the U and the dream state of consciousness or Swapna. The upper curve embodies the M and the deep sleep state of consciousness or Sushupti.
The dot at the top symbolizes the fourth state of consciousness, Turiya or absolute consciousness. Turiya is realized through the unstruck vibration of Om. This occurs when the M vibration finishes, but before the next inhale. The semi circle below the dot stands for Maya, which translates as illusion or the “unreality” of the world as we see it. Visualizing the symbol while chanting Om can be a transforming experience while seated and focused on your breath as a meditation, and when chanted before sleep and upon waking daily.
Om, Ganesha, and New Beginnings
One of my favorite representations of the visual symbol of Om can be found through the Hindu deity Ganesha. Often Ganesha is invoked at the beginning of any new endeavor or journey. He is known as the remover of obstacles and helps us find a way through challenging times and situations.
The symbol of Om can be broken down to represent Ganesha’s physical form. The upper curve depicts Ganesha’s head or face. The lower curve embodies his belly, and the twisted curve on the right side symbolizes his elephant’s trunk. Combining Om with a mantra for Ganesha, Om Gam Ganapataye Namah, will cleanse, align and help you overcome any obstacles you may encounter on your path to deeper understanding.
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