What is Om (ॐ)? Symbol, Meaning And Benefits of Chanting Om

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What is Om (ॐ)?

According to Hindu mythology, before the beginning of the world, Brahma was one and said, “I am one, but may I become many?” His thought created a vibration that settled into a sound— Om. And it’s from this vibration that everything in our universe came into existence. 

Om is more than a sound. It’s a wave of the universe. Its powerful sound lies within us, and chanting it is a sacred practice that energizes our minds and body. The sound of Om holds a prominent place not only in Hinduism but also in Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. 

It is the first sound of the universe and thus connects all living beings on the planet to nature, the universe, or the supreme power that guides it.

In this article, we will discuss everything related to the Om, including:

  • Meaning of Om
  • Symbol of Om and Significance
  • Meaning of Om Mantra
  • Benefits of Chanting Om
  • The Power of Om (Why It’s So Powerful)?

What is Om? (Meaning Explained)

Om, also known as Pranav or Omkar, is an ancient mantra used while chanting or meditating. Its sound is considered sacred in various religions and faiths and is chanted three times at the start and end of yoga sessions

It is believed that the natural sound to exist before physical creation came into existence was the echo of Om. Hence, it is called the voice of the universe and belongs to all. It is also written as ‘aum’ by many. 

What is Om?

Ancient yogis, like scientists of today, always knew that the universe is not permanent. Nothing is stable or solid always. Every sound has a rhythmic vibration that yogis capture in the sound of Om. 

We may not be aware or conscious of this sound daily, but if we focus, then we can hear it in the waves of the ocean, in autumn leaves, and in the sound of a conch shell. As we chant Om, we connect with nature, other living beings, and supreme power and become a part of the entire universe, including the setting sun, rising moon, heartbeats, tides, and every atom within our body. 

Also Read: How to Boost Self Confidence? 

Meaning of Om Symbol (ॐ)

The Om symbol ‘ॐ’ is a cursive ligature in Devanagari, combining अ (a), उ (u), and the chandrabindu (ँ, or ṃ). This icon symbolises the sound of Om and has become an unofficial logo of yoga. You can often see it on t-shirts, mats, paintings, yoga or meditation, studio walls, and even as tattoos on many yogis. Many spell it as ‘aum’, and the letters ‘a’ and ‘u’ make a sound of ‘o’ in Sanskrit. 

Om has become a ubiquitous symbol in yoga, and we often forget that Om symbol meaning and significance goes beyond proclaiming our love for yoga and everything related to it. 

Meaning of Three Curves in Om

The origin of its symbol may be debatable, but the three curves represent three states of consciousness: 

  1. awake
  2. dream
  3. deep sleep

Many believe that the three curves of the Om symbol represent the three major Hindu gods:

  1. Brahma 
  2. Vishnu
  3. Siva

Whereas, some suggest that the curves in Om stand for the three sacred Vedic scriptures: 

  1. Rig Veda
  2. Yajur Veda
  3. Sama Veda

The three curves of the Om symbol are also said to represent significant cultural triads- earth, atmosphere, and heaven; three qualities of goodness, passion, and darkness; and thought, speech, and action. 

Also Read: What is Brahma Muhurta?

Meaning of Dot in Om (Moon Point)

The dot shows the fourth state of consciousness, which is a state of transcendental consciousness beyond waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.

It is often referred to as turiya in Hinduism, which means “the fourth” in Sanskrit. The dot is also sometimes interpreted as representing the divine or the absolute, which is beyond all duality and distinctions. 

Significance of Om

Om is the essence of all mantras, rituals, and Vedas. You can notice that all other mantras chanted during weddings, worshipping deities, private prayers, and any other traditional ceremonies begin with Om. 

It is also known as the Lord Shiva mantra and is among the most powerful and spiritual symbols in Hinduism. Om mantra chanting is common in meditation and other spiritual practices as it helps align our thoughts with heavenly energies. 

Om also holds great importance in yoga as without chanting it, and no yoga pose is complete. In the olden days, sages who went to mountains and did penance would chant OM to connect themselves with the universe.

Significance of Om

Om refers to Atman (within self) and Brahman (ultimate reality, supreme soul, and universe). You can find it in the Vedas, Upanishads, and other ancient texts. One of the important Omkar chanting benefits is that it allows us to communicate with the positive energy around us. 

When chanted in a quiet place, we can feel the calm and wonderful energy flowing through us, transforming our negative thoughts into positive ones. 

The sound of Om has spiritual powers that bring a sense of enlightenment to us, and chanting it repeatedly rejuvenates us. Continuous Om chanting improves the concentration of our mind, and we are able to connect with the universe. Anyone can recite it to witness the power of Om, understand the deeper meaning of life, and achieve inner peace. 

Also Read: What is Gayatri Mantra?

Meaning of Om Mantra (AUM)

Despite chanting Om daily, many people have no idea what Om means. Well, the sound Om doesn’t have any meaning to it and can’t be associated with a certain definition. Its meaning can differ for each person, depending on how they perceive it. 

It is the sound that resonates in the universe, and many scientific researchers have proved this fact. Decades ago, sages explained that Om is directly related to the universe, which means ‘God is present everywhere’.

Here is another explanation of Om meaning, suggested by many yoga gurus and researchers. 

The Om symbol or A-U-M word combines three curves or letters, respectively, each of which represents Brahma, Vishnu and Mahadev. 

A

The letter ‘A’ is the first one we speak, and its pronunciation comes from the navel, showing creation. 

When we are born, we are connected with our mothers through the umbilical cord. We get our food and drink from this while we are in her womb. As we take birth, doctors cut the cord, which signifies Brahma himself, our creator. 

U

The second letter is ‘U’, the sound of which comes from our heart and represents our living. Hence, it is related to Lord Vishnu, the sustainer of the world. 

M

The last word, ‘M’ comes out from the throat and produces vibrations. Our throat is related to Lord Shiva, marking the end of our lifecycle. 

Omkar mantra chanting invokes the three Gods- Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Therefore, Om has been given the highest place in most religions and is chanted before every mantra. 

Top Benefits of Chanting Om

By now, you must have realised the power of Om and the importance it holds in the universe. 

Now, let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of the Om mantra:

1. Connects with Our True Essence

Chanting Om allows you to invoke everything you are on the deepest level. When you practice yoga while reciting the Om mantra, you connect with your true self. 

You can do as many complicated and effective meditation and yoga poses as you want, but a simple sound of Om is enough to connect with your inner self and universe symbolically, verbally, and physically.

At hellomyyoga, we conduct Om Essence Program every year, which you can browse and join at our online yoga programs page. 

2. Calms Our Mind

Chanting the Om mantra for meditation has a positive and calming effect on the brain and nervous system. It helps you live in the moment and stay mindful. This is more helpful if you are going through “monkey mind syndrome”, which is common most of the time for most of us. 

Our mind is always full of worries, chaotic thoughts, and whatnot. We are always planning, overthinking, and caught in negative thought patterns. The situation gets worse whenever we are exposed to negative stimuli. 

Om allows us to escape from clatter and anxieties, eliminates negativity, brings positive energy, and ensures a sense of clarity and unity. It’s like a detox for our minds.

3. Improves Digestive System

Reciting Om works wonders for our digestive system and stomach. It increases our digestive power and cures common health issues related to the stomach. 

Also, it relaxes the muscles of our stomach and works as a remedy in case of any pain. One of the greatest benefits of Om meditation is it increases hunger.

4. Detoxifies Body & Mind

Chanting Om is recommended to cleanse the negative energy from our body and mind, as its vibrations have an instant effect on our body. 

As you chant Om, your body starts to loosen up, and your mind becomes light, free from all worries. Gradually, your body aligns itself with the rhythm and energy of Om, which helps in detoxifying the body. 

5. Reduces Stress and Anxiety

If you are stressed or suffering from depression, the power of Om can help you get rid of it. With a concentrated mind, close your eyes, chant Om with slow and deep breaths, and let positive energy flow through your mind. Your environment will become calm and positive, and you will feel happier and more peaceful. 

6. Brings Your Focus to Yourself

Om sound creates vibrations that reverberate through our chest, throat, and skull. You feel an instant sensory connection with your body and in sync with yourself, physically and emotionally. 

If we talk in terms of chakras, this corresponds to the throat, heart, and crown chakras, which constitute higher consciousness, the state that we aim to connect with through yoga. 

7. Connects You with Others

Many trainers and experts recommend using Om sound for meditation. When people chant Om together, it creates a sense of community due to the shared sound, which can be incredibly powerful. 

Everyone brings their energy together with each other, and with all Oms united to form one cohesive Om, you find your own place in the universe. 

Moreover, you start to acknowledge that difference between individuals is just an illusion. When you follow an ancient yogic tradition while chanting, you build a bridge between your Om mantra practice and those who have chanted for thousands of years. By joining online yoga courses, you can reap the benefits of chanting om. 

Top Benefits of Chanting Om

Also Read: Why is Sun Salutation to be Learnt by Every Athlete?

Additional Benefits of Om Meditation

Here are a few more benefits of chanting Om:

  • Improves sleep quality.
  • Helps balance emotions and keeps you calm during stressful situations.
  • As we chant Om, it raises the vibrations from within, which makes us feel happier and more blissful.
  • Eliminates negative energy, purifies the environment and people around.
  • Its self-healing powers improve immunity and strength.
  • Om chanting has cardiovascular benefits. It relaxes our mind and body, which decreases the blood pressure and regulates heart beat.
  • Chanting Om improves voice by giving strength to our vocal cords and the muscles around it. 
  • Works wonders to improve imagination and creativity.
  • Keeps worries at bay and enhances our focus and concentration.
  • When tchanted in group, the effects of Om are amplified as it produces immense positive vibrations which charge up the entire vicinity.
  • If chanted regularly, you will soon feel subtle, strong, and pure energy flowing within you. You will also feel any sort of heaviness, negativity, imbalance and confusion emotions begin to subside.
  • Astrologers strongly suggest that chanting OM cleanse the skin and is healthy for it. The internal positive energy that the Om mantra creates reflects externally with a sunny glow on our face and body.

You can join online meditation courses or programs and practice om mantra chanting under the guidance of experienced yoga teachers

The Power of Om 

In Hindu tradition, Om is believed to contain the entire universe and is the first sound from the beginning of time, encompassing the past, present, and future. Almost all religions have incorporated Om in some form, including Sikhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. 

The English meaning of the word Omni, which is related to Om, is the one who is present everywhere. It refers to the origin and destruction of the universe and helps us connect with nature, living beings, ourselves, and the universe. 

In the chakra system, Om is connected to the Ajna chakra, the third eye, representing self-knowledge and intuition. It is also a seed syllable used at the beginning of many mantras. 

Many use the Om sound for meditation to attain peace. Om is often used in spiritual practices and yoga. It goes beyond religion and is respected by people across communities. 

‘Om Namah Shivaya’, which means “I honour the divinity within myself”, is a commonly-used mantra among Hindus and yogis. ‘Om Shanti’ means “peace be with you”, and it is an alternative to saying goodbye. 

Considering its impact and historical significance, you must practice meditation on the Om mantra daily for at least 10 minutes and incorporate it into your daily yoga practice

Also Read: What is Yoga Nidra & How to Do It?

Om Symbol FAQs

1. What are the different parts of om?


According to Mandukya Upanishad, an ancient Vedic text associated with Vedanta Hindu belief, the Om sound has three parts. Patanjali, a renowned sage credited with writing and teaching the first and most comprehensive yoga scriptures, described them as three stages- the beginning, middle, and end of all the sounds in the universe. 

A is the first sound of Om, pronounced as ‘ah’.
U is a natural continuation of the sound beginning with ‘ah’.
M seals the lips and completes the Om mantra.

The silence after the ‘M’ sound in Om is called Anahata Nada or “pure silence”. In some practices, this part is beyond verbal comprehension, while many find it a peaceful state of consciousness. 

2. How to chant Om?


Om chanting can be peaceful and effective practice with ample benefits. However, you need to sit the right way to feel its impact.

Adjust your posture to sit straight. Close your eyes.
Take a long deep breath.
With the next deep breath, start saying ‘Oooo’ in a low tone from your belly.
When you are halfway through your breath, bring your lips together slowly into an ‘mmmm’.
Taper off and sit in silence. Enjoy the calming effect and feel inner peace.
You can repeat this as many times as you want. We recommend Om meditation 10 minutes sessions daily for the best effects. 

3. How to pronounce Om?


Om or Aum is pronounced as “AaaaaUuuuuMmmm”. Each letter of the mantra originates from a different part of our body, and the sound creates vibrations from the abdomen, moves to the heart, and reaches the head, creating a buzzing sensation. 

Three letters of Aum represent something different- A- creation, U- sustenance of life, and M- the destruction of life. Silence for a few seconds follows each Om. 

4. What is the right posture for Om mantra chanting?


Sit in an upright manner in a lotus pose. Your body should be in the correct symmetrical pattern to harness maximum energy while meditating. Close your eyes, take deep, long breaths through your nose, and start chanting according to your breathing pattern.

5. When and where should I chant Om?


Always prefer a natural and calm environment that is free from noise, negativity, and chaos to practice Om. Chant for at least 11 minutes in the morning to find peace. You can also play a nice calming sound in the background while meditating.

6. How many times should I chant Om?


We recommend chanting Om 108 times, but it can be less than this depending on the state of meditation you have reached. Those who practice more attain a state of calmness and find more clarity in their thoughts. You can also use beads to avoid distractions and count the number of chants. 

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Conclusion

You will find the Om symbol everywhere in the world of meditation and yoga. However, many people are not familiar with the meaning of Om. It was written first time in the ancient Vedic texts around 5,000 years ago. 

As a sound, it is a mystic syllable, symbolising the origin of the universe. It is the first sound of creation and is considered the seed syllable for chants. You can find frequent use of Om in Sanskrit mantras recited at prayers, weddings, and other spiritual or traditional ceremonies. 

As a symbol, Om represents various holy trinity references and three states of consciousness. Audio and visual forms of Om are used to achieve spiritual awareness, connect to higher levels of consciousness, and find inner peace. 

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