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What Does ‘OM’ Mean?

by Jenn Dawson: Om, or Aum, is a popular sound, mantra, and vibration used during chanting and meditation…


often at the beginning and end of a yoga practice session. It sounds just as it appears, with an elongated “mm” sound reverberating through the chanter’s breath. What does Om mean?

Technically, because Om is a sound, it doesn’t have a clear definition. However, it is more than just a sound, as it is considered sacred to many of those who utilize it. The symbol of Om represents the sacred syllable of Brahman, the supreme cosmic power. Om represents the ultimate and most profound concepts of the Hindu belief. It is the sound and symbol of all that exists in the past, the present, the future, and beyond time.

The syllable combines all three sounds of a-u-m (the Sanskrit language combines the vowels a and u to become o) and the three sounds of a-u-m represent three important pieces in the Hindu belief: the three worlds – earth, atmosphere, and heaven; the three major Hindu gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; and the three sacred Vedic scriptures – Rg, Yajur, and Sama, according to RelgionFacts.

Although it is a sacred and profound symbol, it is used and found in everyday life. Om is found throughout one’s life and breath. It can be found in the rustling of leaves, the blowing wind, or the ocean’s ebb and flow. Chanting Om allows the chanter to recognize experiences in life while reflecting on the movement of the entire universe, from the rising or setting sun to the beating of our hearts.

Ancient yogis knew what scientists are proving today that the entire universe is at a constant moving and vibrational state. Ancient yogis acknowledged the pulsating vibrations of the universe with the sound of Om.

Ultimately, Om is the all-encompassing cosmic vibration of the universe.

Om can also be thought to the sound of silence. Because it is used to calm one’s mind and free the chanter of all other thoughts and noise found within, Om, although a vibrational sound, is used to silence the mind.

The symbol of Om can be broken down into five parts:

The long lower curve on the left represents the waking state. This is the most common state of human consciousness which is turned outward experiencing the world through one’s senses.

The upper curve on the left represents the unconscious state in which the sleeper is in the deepest of sleeps, that of which is beyond dreams or desires.

The middle curve coming from the center represents the dream state in which the dreamer experiences a world within.

The crescent represents the veil of material illusion, also referred to as the Maya. This is the state of consciousness that gets in the way of spiritual development, preventing us from getting to the absolute state.

The dot represents the transcendental self or the absolute state.  This is the state of consciousness that looks neither outward nor inward but is at peace. This quiet and blissful state is the ultimate goal of all spiritual activity.

All five of these components of the symbol of Om work together to represent human consciousness and the relationship each component has to the divine found within the individual.

Source: AWAKEN


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