Om ( AUM ) is a sacred Hindu symbol that represents what is considered to be the Universe’s primordial energy

It is an elemental vibration that is composed of three syllabic sounds;  a-u-m “ahh” “oooo” “mmm”. In Sanskrit the A & U vowels combine to become “O” hence Om. Just as scientists believe that the universe began from the ‘Big Bang’, so too Om can be seen as the original creative force. All matter and beings manifested from its vibration and continue to exist because of Om. It is the essence of the entire universe. It can also be identified as a deeply religious symbol in Indian philosophy, where it is believed that God first created sound and everything then arose from it. The Upanishads claim that Om is indeed God in the form of sound. Buddhism and Jainism also strongly associate with Om.

As a mantra, Om creates a subtle vibration within the body- at a cellular level – helping to cleanse, focus and harmonise one’s chakras and energetic channels ( nadis ). The subtle frequencies created when Om is chanted or meditated on help to create connection between oneself and the greater Nature. It is an energetic link between the microcosm within oneself and the greater macrocosm of the universe

The Om symbol looks a little like the number 3 ( with a circular shaped ‘ribbon’ running off the back of it…. And a line and dot distinct above)

In fact it has several threefold meanings :

3 worlds: earth, atmosphere & heaven
3 Major Hindu Gods: Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva
3 Seasons: Spring, summer & winter
3 Stages of existence: Birth, life & death( creation , preservation & destruction )
Gunas ( qualities ): Rajas (energy), Sattva (purity) & Tamas (ignorance)
3 Stages of time: Past, present & future

 

The most significant symbolism of Om is that it represents the three states of human consciousness:

Waking – jagrat – “ A “

This is the larger lower curve that faces outwards – a symbol of us living mostly by our physical senses and continually objectifying and looking out. We spend most of our conscious time in this state.
Awake but not aware ( of the true self – Atman )

Dream – svapna “ U “

This is the middle curve ( the flowing ribbon ) where one’s awareness is turned inwards, where the dreaming self can potentially explore a deeper connection with Self.
The line noticeably turns in on itself, reflecting inner awareness.
This is where yogis like to exist: to practice various yogic pursuits and attain inner focus and equanimity.

Deep sleep – sushupti “ M ”

This is the upper curve ( top of the ‘3’ ) that relates to our unconscious state. There is no desire or dreams but rather a profound self-oblivion

These three states of consciousness are in continual flux with each other and represent the entire physical realm.

Turiya:

This is the dot that represents Brahman, the fourth or highest state of consciousness that is Absolute oneness. It is actually beyond form or description and is the ultimate aim of our spiritual journey

Maya: ( semi circular line below the dot )

A mask ( or veil ) of illusion prevents the physical and conscious-self from attaining super-consciousness. As if all physical phenomena are merely a movie projected on to a screen that only the Absolute can illuminate and is aware of. This line is open ( concave ) at the top and doesn’t touch Turiya, signifying that the highest state is not affected by maya. Indeed, it can see through the veil but the lower states cannot see this state of bliss.
When the veil of maya is truly lifted, complete absorption of Oneness is attained.

 

Thus the Sanskrit form of Om represents the manifest, the unseen and the unknown.

Chant of AUM

When we voice Om as a three syllable chant [ A – U – M ] it has the effect of connecting with our three levels of consciousness. The highest fourth dimension is the soundless silence that follows the end of the audible AUM. The chant of AUM also resonates with the base chakras ( “Ahh’”), through the higher centres ( “OOOO” ) and up to the crown of the head and third eye centre ( “MMM” )

About Tamblyn – Senior Teacher in Yoga Flame’s 200 Hour Teacher Training

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