The following two short articles refer to the term Om also pronounced Aum. The reader will recognize We are not supporting the term and its use but using these articles in exposing it.
Om and Its Use in Yoga
A Small but Powerful Syllable
By: Ann Pizer | Updated: July 10, 2019
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Om is a very simple sound with a complex meaning. It is the whole universe coalesced into a single word, representing the union of mind, body, and spirit that is at the heart of yoga. Often chanted three times at the start and at the finish of a yoga session, the sound of om is actually three syllables: a, u, and m.
The Power of Om
Om is an ancient mantra that is used in Hinduism and Buddhism, among other faiths. In the Hindu tradition, the sound of om is said to contain the entire universe. It is the first sound from the beginning of time, and it also encompasses the present and the future. As such, its importance and power are difficult to overstate.
It is also a seed syllable, used as a building block for other mantras. In the chakra system, it is connected to ajna chakra, the third eye, which represents intuition and self-knowledge.
Om in Yoga
In a yoga setting, the chanting of om at the beginning of class ushers practitioners into the time and space that is about to be spent on the mat or in meditation. Likewise, an om at the end of class signifies that your physical practice has ended and it is time to reenter society.
Chanting with a group of people also serves to unify the group and create a sense of community. As you feel the vibration of the chant and lose the sound of your own voice among those of your classmates, it’s possible to feel at one with other people and even with the universe.
How Is “Om” Pronounced?
Sometimes om is taught with a long o sound followed by a vibrating m. Others prefer to separate the a and u sounds, so it’s more of an ah-oo-mm.
The Science of Om
Scientists have researched the effects on the brain of the vibrations created by chanting. A small 2011 study, as well as a 2018 follow-up, evaluated the effects of using om as a mantra by taking functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brains of participants as they chanted om and also the sound “ssss” as a control.
The brain activity the researchers observed during the om periods was similar to that created by vagus nerve stimulation, which is used to treat depression and epilepsy. Although these results are considered preliminary, they still offer scientific support for the positive effects many people experience from chanting om.
The Om Symbol
The om symbol has become the unofficial logo of yoga. You’ll see it on mats and T-shirts, painted on studio walls, and tattooed onto the bodies of some yogis. It’s such a ubiquitous image in the yoga world that it’s easy to forget that its significance goes beyond proclaiming your love for all things yoga.
The word OM is also used in sun worship because of the belief that the sun omits this sound.
The Yogic Encyclopedia
The True Meaning of Sanskrit Words and Yogic Terms
Aum (ॐ) is the vibration by which the Supreme Spirit brings all things into manifestation. It is the Holy Ghost of the Christian Trinity. 1) The New Path, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 20, “Twenty-Nine Palms”
Paramhansa Yogananda has explained that everything — all matter, all energy, all thoughts — exists in Aum. 2) The Essence of Self-Realization, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 16, “Ways in Which God Can Be Worshipped.”
All major religions recognize this creative vibration, though they call it by different names. For example, the Bible calls it “Amen” (its meaning in Hebrew being sure, faithful) as well as “Holy Ghost.” St. John called it the Word of God (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.… All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” —John 1:1 – 3). It is the sacred word “Amin” (which means faithful in Arabic) of the Muslims, and Tibetans call it “Hum.” 3) Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda (1946 Edition). Chapter 26, “The Science of Kriya Yoga”.
The Three Forces of Creation
All of manifestation is created, preserved in the created state for some time, then eventually destroyed. Aum, therefore, encompasses the three vibratory energies required to create, preserve, and destroy, and each of these energies vibrates at a different frequency.
The three letters of AUM represent these three vibrations inherent in creation. (Even though the variant spelling in English is “Om,” AUM is more accurate.) “A (Akaar)” represents the vibration that brings into manifestation the created universe; “U (Ukaar)” represents the vibration that preserves the creation; and “M (Makaar)” represents the destructive vibration that dissolves the manifested universe back into the Infinite Spirit. 4) The Second Coming of Christ Part 2, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter “The Baptism of Jesus Christ”.
Traditionally in India, Aum is chanted three times. One reason is to invoke the blessings to the three universes (or the three “bodies” the soul is encased in) — physical, astral, causal. Another is a reminder of these three aspects of Aum.
How to Pronounce Aum
When chanting Aum, the three letters (sounds in Sanskrit) should be pronounced properly for true mantric power:
The “A” in AUM represents the cosmic creative vibration, and should be pronounced short, as in the first “a” in “afar,” rather than long as in “arm.” When this sound is heard in meditation, it has the highest pitch of the three.
“U” (pronounced “oo” as in “moon”) is the cosmic vibration of preservation. It maintains all creation in a state of equilibrium. This sound, when heard in meditation, is pitched somewhat lower than the first.
“M” represents the vibration of cosmic dissolution, which draws all creation back into the Absolute at the end of a universal cycle. The time allotted to cosmic manifestation is known as a Day of Brahma, and spans a period of billions of years. This vibration of the AUM sound, when heard in meditation, is pitched lowest of all, like a deep rumbling. 5) a b c The Hindu Way Of Awakening, by Swami Kriyananda. Part Two: The Symbols, Chapter 11 “Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva: The Trinity of AUM”.
In addition, these three frequencies should be chanted at different notes:
The notes of the first “AUM” are higher, and should be sung loudly. The second note-sequence is a little lower, and is sung more softly. The third sequence is lowest, and is the softest of the three. softest of the three.
A final point: When chanting AUM, the “M” should be given equal emphasis to the preceding two vowels. 6) a b c The Hindu Way Of Awakening, by Swami Kriyananda. Part Two: The Symbols, Chapter 11 “Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva: The Trinity of AUM”.
If one wants to review an article that goes even deeper into the concepts of the word OM or AUM the following address will take you there. Remember these articles are written by believers in the value use of this word. This web site is not promoting it use and discourages such.
Edwin Noyes M.D.
Mystery and Origin of “Aum/OM” Mantra
|↑1||The New Path, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 20, “Twenty-Nine Palms”|
|↑2||The Essence of Self-Realization, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 16, “Ways in Which God Can Be Worshipped.”|
|↑3||Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda (1946 Edition). Chapter 26, “The Science of Kriya Yoga”.|
|↑4||The Second Coming of Christ Part 2, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter “The Baptism of Jesus Christ”.|
|↑5, ↑6||a b c The Hindu Way Of Awakening, by Swami Kriyananda. Part Two: The Symbols, Chapter 11 “Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva: The Trinity of AUM”.|