Meditation with the use of the mantra “om” or “aum” is worth learning. It’s a sublimely simple practice. It also happens to be one of the most ancient and is referenced in some of the earliest religious texts.
This short article comprises an introduction to the history and meaning of “om meditation” as well as written instructions you can try right now. Enjoy.
The Primordial Sound
The notion that the universe is constituted of vibrations (of which sound is one) is gaining acceptance amongst scientists.
Michio Kaku, a physics professor, has said that “The universe is a symphony of vibrating strings.”
The sound “Om,” we are told in the Upanishads, is the manifestation of the first vibration, with which the world began.
This notion, however, is not a modern invention. In the Tantric school of Hinduism, it is said that the universe is sound. Very much like how our understanding of the world is made up of atoms, the Tantric Hindus understood the world as being made up of countless vibrations of varying frequencies and amplitudes.
The Bhagavad Gita describe how “Om” was spoken by Lord Brahma at the beginning of time and is the best word for God. All existence, the story goes, is pervaded by the vibration “Om.”
It is the fundamental self, the foundation, the source. The Latin word “omne,” is derived from the same root, part of omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent (all traditionally used to refer to God).
It is a common part of Hindu devotional practice and prayer. The symbol is perhaps the most recognizable feature of classical Indian art.
How to Pronounce Om
Begin by pursing your lips, as if you were going to say, “You.” The first part of the syllable is the same sound as the “oh” in “home,” as opposed to the “o” in “octopus.”
So we start with “ohhhhhhh” (keeping the lips pursed) and then bring our lips together to make the “mmmmmmm” sound. The result is a long “ohhhhhmmmmm.”
It is best chanted in a low note rather than a high one. Doing so deepens the sensation of the vibrations in the body.
If you would like to use a similar-sounding word from your own faith then that’s absolutely fine. The Hebrew word “shalom,” Arabic “salaam” or even “amen” all work as mantras.
A word with positive personal connotations is best. You can use this as a complete practice in its own right or as a preamble to another type of meditation. It works equally well as both.
The Practice of Om Meditation
- You can do this in any position but it is best done sitting down. Close your eyes.
- Settle yourself by taking a handful of deep, calming breaths. Let each exhalation be a “letting go” of any tension or worry you are carrying in your body.
- Take a slow, deep breath. On the out-breath chant the single word: “Ohhhhhhhmmmmmmm.”
- Repeat again. Bring your attention to the vibrations in your body, especially along your spine and in your belly.
The Benefits of Om Meditation
Even though there are some things that your physical eyes cannot see, your psyche is well aware that these things exist. Once you begin to seek these things, you will be given advanced knowledge, realization and increased blissfulness.
You will no longer be tempted to run away; you will face challenges and also consider things to be the way they are.
Om is the first sound that came from the cosmic energy vibrations. These are the vibrations that are a representation of bringing the universe into reality.
Om is considered to be the portrayal of the creator. This means that it does not require any other syllable to produce sound.
A simple Om chant will make you feel as though you are directly connected to the universe. In fact, when it is chanted correctly, the sound will vibrate throughout your entire body, and you will be filled with a peaceful silence and energy.
This sound, Om, is present in every aspect of our lives. From the objects that we use to the words that flow out of mouths, it dwells deep within each of us. A daily recitation of Om will provide your body, mind, and soul with a peace beyond understanding.
In ancient India, the yogis understood the incredible power the Om meditation possessed, and frequently chanted the meditation in order to connect their inner beings to their soul. They had the faith needed to know that although Om is active within every human, it can only truly be revealed through a consistent, daily meditation.
The Process of Om Meditation
Om meditation is any meditation that includes ‘Aum’ or ‘Om’ chants. Om meditation consists of sound and breath.
These are two profound pieces that reside in each of us, and they are used in combination to create a technique for meditating that is complete and far-reaching.
Let us now learn how to implement this meditation in our every day lives.
How to Do Om Chanting Meditation
There are two poses used in Om meditation, Vajrasana, and the Lotus. If you have trouble sitting down on the floor, you can choose to sit in a chair.
It is important that your back remains straight and aligned, and you feel very fluid and comfortable in this seated position. Your hands should stay on your upper leg or knees the entire time.
Another option is to place your hands on your lap. One hand can sit gently on top of the other. Finally, keep your mind clear of all outside distractions, and remain peacefully seated.
Placement of Your Eyes
During the Om meditation, your eyes should stay closed. Slowly look down, while gently and slowly closing them. When you close your eyes, you will eliminate all visual images that could distract you.
Your brain activity will also slow down because it will no longer be trying to process images and distractions that are around you. Your mind will be calm and settled.
How to Breathe
You should always breathe as you normally would. However, do not breathe from your mouth. Air should only enter and exit from your nose. Your facial muscles should be relaxed, and the upper teeth and lower teeth should have a small space between them.
Be observant of your breathing, and never force breaths to enter or leave through your nose. Allow your breathing pattern to remain as normal as possible.
During the chanting process, say ‘Om’ as you inhale and exhale. Be sure the chant fits your regular breathing pattern instead of trying to breathe to match the chant.
For example, break the recitation syllable to ‘A-A-U-U-M,’ and then silent before starting again.
The first couple of syllables should be spoken with your lips apart, while the next two should be pronounced with your lips close together.
The very end of your tongue should be placed on the roof of your mouth during the last couple of syllables. Afterward, there should be immediate silence. Immerse your body, soul, and psyche in the silence.
Combine All Elements
The chanting can continue, making sure it stays in sync with your usual breathing. It will not be long before the Om chanting falls into a natural cycle, and you will be able to experience complete relaxation.
You also have the option of completing a mental chant as you intently listen to your body’s natural vibrations. Eventually, your spirit will be riding on meditative waves.
As you begin to get deeper into this meditative state, the vibrations from the Om chanting will become more subtle and quieter.
In fact, it will become similar to a whisper before it becomes completely silent. This is the point when you will finally realize that this sound, Om, has always been a very active part of your being.
It is not uncommon to notice that your breath becomes so light, it is almost non-existent.
With this type of meditation, your focus will not be solely on one area of your body. With that said, if you notice that your mind is distracted by unrelated thoughts, you can refocus through chanting.
Also, be sure to take note of any physical sensations or thoughts that occur during this time. You can deal with them later when you are detached and calm, so you will not have to redirect yourself from your meditation practice.
Is Om meditation considered religious practice?
Although it is not considered to be religious, it is both a sacred sound and a holy symbol in several religions such as (1) Sikhism, (2) Buddhism, (3) Hinduism and (4) Jainism.
Are only vegetarians allowed practice Om meditation?
The ahisma principle is followed in the philosophy of yoga. However, the practitioner of Om meditation can decide whether he/she wants to consume animal products, or if they want to be a vegetarian/vegan.
How often should you do Om meditation to see results?
For the best results, we recommend that the meditator completes daily practices, especially morning meditations. You can begin completing practices three times a week and slowly increase it to every day.
Do I need any equipment for Om meditation?
The only thing that you will need besides a yoga mat, meditation cushion, or a meditation bench is yourself. Once your mind is calm and clear, you are free to begin your meditation practice.
What should I wear during Om meditation?
The clothing you choose to wear should be very light and have pastel colors. Light cotton is the best material. You should choose clothing that does not restrict you, distract you and also feel comfortable against the skin.
The world is very fast, and it is a good idea for everyone to take some time to slow down and honestly question what is genuine and necessary to make one happy. Simply meditate in an Om-inspired way and reconnect to learn the secrets of the universe.
What does ‘Aum,’ ‘Ohm,’ and ‘Om’ mean?
The story goes that before the world was ever created, the source and creator, Brahma, was the only one. He wanted to create many from this one.
This was an idea that became a vibration that eventually became a sound. That sound is Om, and it is the sound used to create the world. I’m personally a believer in Jesus Christ, to be clear with readers of this article; however, I want to provide the facts based on the meaning of the chants.
When a person recites Om, the vibration from the sound he/she makes, connects to the original vibrations used in the creation of the world.
The sound is also referred to as Pranava. Pranava comes from the word ‘Prana’ which means ‘those things that travel through breath’ and maintains life.
Om is also a sound representation of the Supreme Being’s four distinct areas.
O is a sound that is typically spelled in Sanskrit as AU. Diphthongs are letters that have combined vowel sounds, but only have the sound of one.
This is why some people spell ‘Om’ as ‘AUM,’ but the only difference between the two is found in the translations.
For example, the correct way to pronounce ‘Om’ is ‘Oom.’ This is the sound that is spoken in the word ‘home.’
Om: The Anatomy of a Symbol
This section will discuss the anatomical structure of this symbol. Keep in mind that the symbol is representative of three different areas of consciousness.
- A: represents the waking area of consciousness (pronounced ‘A’ as in Alleviate)
- U: represents the dream area of consciousness (pronounced ‘U’ as in Could)
- M: represents the deep sleep area of consciousness (pronounced ‘M’ as in Hum)
Typically, when this symbol is recited, a silence exists between the two Oms. This silence is representative of the fourth state of consciousness, known as the state of Turiya and the state of contentment.
It is during this state when the practitioner will identify with the universe.
Additional Benefits of Chanting Om
Many people report that once they begin to their Om meditation, they no longer have a desire for worldly things. Their focus increases and they experience rejuvenation in their bodies. They also start to live life with new energy and vigor.
If you chant Om at least 50 times, especially during a time in your life when you are feeling depressed, you will notice that you feel energized almost immediately. This chant is a very powerful elixir, and you will feel purity and lightness throughout your entire body.
Practitioners of Om meditation have voices that are strong, yet very sweet. Chanting during exercise, such as yoga, will clear your mind as you are led to a higher level of self-realization and spirituality.
Stress Reduction and Mood Stabilizer
One of the first things you will notice once you start chanting Om is that you will be less stressed. Some research has shown that the chant helps to lower adrenaline in the body. This is the hormone that sends the body into a ‘fight or flight’ stage.
If your job or daily routine is stressful, begin your day by chanting Om as soon as you wake up. This will not help to boost your mood and keep you relaxed, it will also increase the endorphin level in your body.
Your hormones will become naturally balanced, and you will begin to notice that your personal, work and social relationships will improve.
Improvement in Concentration
Chanting will allow you to ignore all distractions, and stay away from any thoughts that may upset you. As you practice focusing, over time, you will notice your concentration is improving.
Spinal Cord and Back Strengthening
Chanting Om sends vibrations to every part of the body, including the spinal cord. By practicing Om meditation regularly, your posture will improve and there will be increased efficiency in your spinal cord.
At the beginning of your meditation practice, the body will de-stress. It will eventually begin to detoxify on its own. This means that blood and oxygen flow will improve, and the vibrations will help rid the body of toxins.
The Circulatory and Digestive Systems Improve
As previously stated, chanting Om helps to improve blood flow in the body, but it also helps to alleviate high blood pressure. Chanting Om also helps to remove tension from the physical body, so heartbeats, breathing, and digestion becomes normalized, regulated and stronger.
Sleep Cycle Regulation
Many of the world’s problems are caused by hectic schedules and chanting Om creates peace while removing worry. Once you experience peace in your mind, your body can return to a normal sleep cycle.
You Get in Touch with Your Feelings
Most people have minds and bodies that have been taken over by frustration, worry, and anger. This can lead to someone voicing their opinions and feelings without thinking. It is very likely that this can cause a person to become regretful and guilty about words they spoke in haste.
Chanting Om will not only make you more aware of what you are doing, but you will have a mind that is a lot stronger. Simply put, you will consider every situation before you react.
Although it is natural to think about negative things, these thoughts can attract negative circumstances and people into your life. However, Om meditation will help you turn the focus back on you. This helps your soul remove negativity so you can attract positive people and thoughts into your life.
Different Ways to Use Om Meditation
One way to use the chant is while you are meditating. Be sure that this is done in an area that is very quiet. Relax your muscles while sitting in a comfortable position, and focus on your pineal gland (3rd eye).
Keep your thoughts silent while you chant Om, and during this time focus on what you want out of life. This process will help you channel into the Chakra that is connected to your 3rd eye.
You can also chant during your yoga practice. The chant will enhance all areas of your practice.
Once you begin your Om meditation practice, be sure you keep its purpose and the feeling within your heart and soul all of the time. You will notice that as you continue to do this, you will become more self-aware.
There will also be a noticeable feeling of purity and freedom. You will want to share this feeling with those you love.
Om Meditation: The History
The story goes that the first time the sound ‘Om’ was ever mentioned in writing was in a group of Hindu holy books known as Upanishads. In fact, the part of the text that is dedicated to the sound is the Mandukya Upanishad.
In this text, it states that Om is not perishable. It has always been, is now and will ever be. It is also ever that goes beyond the boundaries set by time.
For every mantra, Om is the root. Although short, it is like electricity through the body and powers each Chakra.
This is the sound that livens up the 3rd eye, as well as the Crown Chakras. These are the areas of the body that connects us directly to the creator. Many say that the sound has been recorded in the galaxy and it sounds very similar to om-y.
Om is the most powerful sound and is defined as peace, tranquility, and well-being. It can touch the lives of every human’s mind and heart.
Research has been conducted on the effects of “Om” meditation. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to study the activity of certain parts of the brain both before and after chanting.
The results show a “significant deactivation” of brain-areas associated with emotion processing, particularly the “limbic system.”1 This means that the practice can be useful in regulating negative emotions.
If you like the sound of “Om” I suggest that you treat yourself to In the Om Zone 2.0 by Steven Halpern.
It’s a great meditation music for relaxing or chanting along to sounds. Each track is slightly different but centered around the sacred syllable.
You can always download one track to get going.
p.101, The Healing Power of the Breath, by Richard P. Brown & Patricia L. Gerbarg.