Chanting is wonderful – encourages you to breathe more deeply and takes you to a quieter place away from worries and cares. But why OM? Which we actually chant as three syllables A-U-M. Some say there are four syllables as when you chant the ‘M’ it develops into an ‘NG’ sound.
OM is said to be the primordial sound born with the universe – the essence of the universe and all creation, wrapped up in one wonderful sound.
As we exhale the A-U-M, its vibration links us to the original source of creation. The sound reverberates from the pelvic floor upward through the crown of the head, filling the body with pulsating energy that simultaneously empowers and radiates tranquillity. When we sound om together, we’re aligning body/mind/spirit; we’re aligning with one another. And we’re aligning with the universe because it’s the sound of the universe. It’s a very grounding and peaceful sound.
The mantra is said to stand for Supreme Reality – symbol for what was, what is and what will be, an affirmation of the divine presence that is the universe.
Om is also considered the mother of the bija, or “seed” mantras — short, potent sounds that correlate to each chakra – with OM relating to both Ajna (third eye) and Sahasara (crown) chakras – hence the chant taking us to that quiet place.
The symbol of OM is also well known – consisting of three curves, an arc and a dot.:
The large bottom curve symbolizes the waking state, A.
The middle curve signifies the dream state, U.
The upper curve denotes the state of deep sleep, M.
The dot signifies the fourth state of consciousness, Turiya.
The semi circle at the top represents Maya (illusion) and separates the dot from the other three curves. It signals to us that it is the illusion of Maya that is an obstacle to realization of the Highest state of being.
Others would say that the ‘3’ shape is the Sanskrit letter for ‘A’, the little old fashioned ‘s’ shape to it’s right the ‘U’ and the bindhi and half-moon at the top the ‘M’
Other meanings are also attributed to the three elements:
The heavens, earth, and the underworld;
The Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (also known as the creator god, sustainer god, and destroyer god);
Some say the symbol is connected to Ganesh, the Hindu half-elephant god who removes obstacles.
The upper curve, of OM, is identified with the head or the face of Ganesh.
The lower curve his belly. The twisted curve, on the right side of OM is the trunk.
And if you’re not ‘into’ the philosophy, you can simply enjoy the magic of the sounds – there’s something rather magical about being within a group chanting OM with good intention.