THE SACRED SOUND OF OM
Many years ago I attended my first ever yoga class at Dharma Shala in North Bondi. A friend took me to class and insisted that this was the institution when it comes to Vinyasa Yoga in Sydney.
The class was full. The air was heavy with sweat and the collective breath of the 30+ students in the room. Together we planted feet on the mat, reached to the sky with our fingertips, opened our hearts and bowed to the earth.
Mostly, I had no idea what I was doing. I was 20, in uni and a little way off my own ‘spiritual transformation’. I remember looking around the room in awe and confusion as people did handstands, headstands and a whole host of other weird things (which I now do daily!)
Despite all of that, there is one memory from this class that will never, ever leave my heart, mind and soul.
At the end of the class the teacher guided us through three chants of the sacred and universal sound – OM.
Tears sprung to my eyes. I felt my heart ache. My stomach fluttered. My soul yearned. I felt the reverberation of that sound deep in the pit of my solar plexus. I came home.
Never before had a sound, or anything else, made me feel so vulnerable with the deep yearning and longing that poured forth. Unannounced. Unknown.
The Sacred Sound of OM
Om, or Aum, is something most of us relate to yoga, meditation and spiritual practices. It is a mantra or a chant. Today, I chant it daily. I guide my students through it and it has become a regular part of my life. Sometimes, when a group chants together there is a moment of pure synchronicity. Tones, voices, energy all align and the sound vibrates to the point of bliss.
Om is spoken at the beginning and the end of Hindu mantras, prayers, and meditations and is frequently used in Buddhist and Hindu rituals as well. Om is used in the practice of Yoga – often chanted to mark the beginning and end of a class.
But for so many of us, we have no idea what is actually means. Have you ever chanted it before without knowing the power of what you are saying?
The meaning of OM
The sound OM/AUM is said to the be sacred, universal sound of the universe – in which all sacred sounds (and vibrations emanate from). It is believed to hold the essence of the entire universe.
This sound and symbol originated through ancient Indian philosophy and Hinduisim – which holds the belief that first God created sound and then the universe was birthed from it.
The ancient yogis knew what quantum physics and science is telling us today – that the universe is made up of vibrational energy. Nothing is solid. Matter is nothing but energy, moving at different frequencies. Everything pulsates. Moves. Breathes. And the ancient yogis acknowledged this with the sacred sound of OM/AUM.
Take a moment. Close your eyes. Open your ears. You can feel and hear this pulsation – in the birds calling outside, the lapping waves, the wind blowing in the trees, the ebb and flow of the tides. The beating of your heart. The sun. The rising moon.
This chant allows us to connect with the movement and life of the universe and all within it. It allows you connect on a deeper + BIGGER level with the universe. Just as I felt that day at yoga – I felt both uplifting, soothed, cracked open.
The Symbol of OM
It is a mystical symbol which captures, within it, many powerful meanings.
The sound OM/AUM is actually composed of three key sounds/syllables:
A – aaah
U – oooh
M – mmm
The silence that follows the chanting of OM/AUM is also said to be an important ‘syllable’
Within these three key sounds is a three-fold nature that is said to relate to each individual on a collective, universal level.
- The ‘aaah’ sound represents the waking state. We are conscious and connected to the world through our senses. This is the most common state – our ‘human’ state. It also represents the earth and our life on it.
- The ‘oooh’ sound represents the dreaming state. Here of the individual’s focus is turned inwards, and in this dream state we witness a world behind our eye lids. This sound also represents ether.
- The ‘mmm’ sound represents the unconsciousness, deep sleep state. Nothing is desired, dreams are not had. This is a place of pure nothingness. This sound also represents heaven – a place unmoved by the dramas, story lines and ego of our human existence.
- The silence that follows represents the quiet, peaceful and blissful state. This is said to be the ultimate aim of our spiritual work – enlightened. This sound also represents transcendence – rising above the illusion of the material world we live in (referred to as Maya in yogic texts)
It is actually a representation or an inner dimensional map of the various elements of the human consciousness and how each element connects to and relates to the divine, infinite energy – the universe (Or God, whatever you like to call it!)
It is your soul connecting to the diving spirit.
So the next time you hear this chant or see it, know that it is more than just a random symbol. It is powerful, it is sacred.
love + light,
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