If you practice yoga or meditation, you have likely chanted Om countless times on your personal quest for spiritual enlightenment and inner balance. The symbol for Om is found everywhere from home decor to body art and tattoo designs these days. But have you ever stopped to think about what is behind this simple yet deeply powerful syllable? Why is chanting it such a moving experience, and why do we strive to live in a way that honors its presence? Here are some things you may not know about this ancient sacred word and symbol:
Om – Aum
Om, which can also be spelled Aum, is a sacred symbol that originally emerged in Hinduism. However, it has spread to various other religions over the years, including the Bön faith, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Found within the Hindu Mandukya Upanishad, which focuses solely on the symbol of Om, explains it as, “the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it.”
One eternal syllable
Considered to be the most sacred of mantras, Om not only symbolizes complex abstract theories such as the three stages of existence (birth, life and death), it is also a concept that is intertwined in everyday life. Those who are dedicated to its powers chant Om as they begin their day and may also use it to center themselves at work, as they start a prayer or embark on a journey. Hindu temples place the mystic symbol strategically around to infuse their spaces with its aura. Om is frequently incorporated into Sanskrit mantras, prayers, recitations and texts, and is also used to head letters and other important documents. Its symbol is treasured by many and sometimes is worn as a pendant or on other types of jewelry.
Derivatives of Om
Some believe that both the Christian “Amen” and the Islamic “Amin” are derivatives of Om, and with such similar sounds, it is easy to make that connection. Especially within western culture, Om is a spoken word and written symbol that embodies the beliefs associated meditation, eastern spirituality and living in peace. When you take the time to repeat the word Om over and over again, you will soon notice that your breathing slows down and a sense of calm washes over your body. The vibrations of this simple mantra usher in a tranquil feeling that can positively affect your nervous system and reinvigorate the mind, body and spirit.
Reaching a deeper state of consciousness can be as simple as quieting your mind through the power of chanting Om, so give it a try!