“OM”, also known as Pranava Mantra (cosmic sound), is the most important and significant mantra in ancient Hindu tradition, and is considered the root mantra of all spiritual chanting. The vibration produced by chanting Om corresponds to the original vibration that first arose at the time of creation. Chanting OM helps to bring peace and calm to the body, mind and soul by merging the vibrations of the body with that of the universe.
Sage Patanjali describes Om as “Tasya vachakah pranavah”. Isvara (pure consciousness) is expressed and represented by the vibratory energy contained in the Pranava (the sacred syllable, om). Constant repetition of the Pranava leads the yogis to overcome the 9 types of hindrances (Illness, Dullness, Doubt, Negligence, Laziness, Cravings, Misperceptions, Failure and Instability) and to experience of absolute reality. Here I need to point out that this is the only Mantra that Sage Patanjali recommends in his entire yoga sutras.
The symbol of OM (AUM)
The symbol Om written in Sanskrit also represents everything in the universe. It is not just a symbol. It is the entire cosmos, whatever we can see, touch, hear and feel. Moreover, it is all that is within our perception and all that is beyond our perception. It is the core of our very existence. The OM mantra (AUM) has four major levels of meaning and experience by Yogis. They are three verbal and one non-verbal syllables: Ahh, Ohh, Mmm and anahata nada (the unmade sound).
“OM: this eternal sound of all what was, what is and what shall be.” – Mandukya Upanish
Waking state: the lower curve represents the Gross, Conscious, Waking state, and it’s represented by the sound “A or ah”.
Dreaming state: the center curve represents the Subtle, Unconscious, and Dreaming level. Dream state of consciousness lies between the waking and the deep sleep states, it is represented by the letter “U or oh”.
Deep sleep state: the upper curve represents the Causal, Subconscious, and Deep sleep level. The state of consciousness is the deep sleep state and is represented by “M or um”.
Turiya (state of bliss) the dot represents the fourth state, the absolute consciousness, which encompasses, permeates the other three, and is called Turiya state of absolute consciousness. This is the state of perfect bliss when the individual self recognizes his identity with the supreme.
The arc (The open semicircle) is symbolic of the infinite and the fact that the meaning of the point cannot be grasped if one limits oneself to finite thinking. The universe, naturally, includes us. So, when you are chanting Om, you are joining your Prana, your life force, with all beings chanting with you and with the whole universe.
How to chant Om (Aum)
It is important to remember that Om is not only the sound or vibration, it also has a deep meaning within it. So one should know the meaning and correct understanding rather than to perform merely parrot-like repetition in the mind. The simple suggestion is to allow the AUM to be expressed in to three different parts after inhaling deep into the core, ie
• Ahhh, filling from the Brahmarandhra (hollow place in the crown of the head) into the crown, third eye (in-between the eyebrow), and all the way to the back of the occipital
• Ohhh, filling through the throat, neck, mouth, and to the top of the palate and connecting on to the crown
• Mmm, finishing the shape of the sound labially (closing the mouth) bringing it into the heart
Start off with the mouth open Ahhh. Shape the lips Ooo as mouth starts to close. As the mouth closes the Mmm is sounded effortlessly. You experiment with the various nuances of the different rhythms, duration, speeds, strengths, and locations of the breath, consciousness, and sound energy. Remember to bring your awareness to the intelligent energetic pattern underlying the sound of vibration. Merge the Heart and Mind with that vibration consciously. Another simple way is to listen for the Pranava at certain period of times. It also helps to remove the obstacles in your daily life.