So I was thinking about that word everybody chants when they are meditating or doing yoga. You know the one,
There’s a YouTube yoga video that I like in which the instructor tells viewers to chant the word silently three times, which I think is pretty interesting (chanting silently). I tried doing that when I woke up in the middle of the night one night. I woke up, and of course immediately started thinking about a kazillion different things, so it soon became impossible to get back to sleep. I tried chanting silently, and before long I was able to ignore the thoughts racing around in my head, and eventually I fell back asleep. It’s a great trick.
So where did “om” come from? I looked it up and found out that OM is a mystical Hindu word, used as a sacred incantation expressed at the beginning and end of any reading of the Vedas (an ancient sacred text) or before any prayer or mantra. The Hindus believe that when Creation began, the Divine, all-encompassing consciousness took the form of the first, original vibration, manifesting as the sound OM (AUM). So the vibration of OM actually symbolizes the manifestation of God in form.
OM is made up of three different sounds which represent:
- Brahma, or creation – the A (A-kāra)
- Vishnu, or preservation, – the U (U-kāra) and
- Shiva, or liberation/destruction -the M (Ma-kāra)
A-kāra means form or shape, like earth, trees, or any other object. U-kāra means formlessness or shapelessness, like water, air or fire. Ma-kāra means neither shape nor shapelessness (but still existing), like the dark energy content of the Universe. Letter by letter, A-U-M represents the Divine entity united in its three elementary aspects.
So the next time you are in yoga class – or you just feel like chanting – you will know the meaning behind what you are doing when you use the word OM….. you are affirming the Divine presence in the universe. And for further instruction on how to pronounce the word, go here. And to experience the power of the chant, check out this video. I love what one person said in the comments: “I think one needs the full arsenal of east and west philosophies and practices to live this life with any kind of quality.”