You might have noticed the silver Om symbol pendant I wear. Some have asked me what it represents.
It is a very nice shape and has significance for me because I treated myself to it on while I was enjoying a particularly lovely time in Pushkar, Rajasthan. However, there is more to it than that.
Om stands for totality – all or the essence of the entire universe. – I wear my Om symbol as a way of expressing gratitude to the universe and awareness of the importance of peace and harmony.
Om is sometimes described as “the primordial sound of the universe”. Another description is “God as sound” or the “unstruck sound”. Sometimes it’s described as “eternal bliss”. According to the Big Bang theory, Om is the cosmic sound that initiated the creation of the universe.
At its simplest Om is a soothing mantra – often chanted as an expression of the infinite truth, tranquillity and harmony of the universe to bring people together in a yoga class. Chanting Om as a mantra is practiced to achieve a connection with the universe and deepen the practice of meditation.
Although Om is part of the Buddhist faith, it originated in the Hindu faith. Om is described as a representation of the holy trinity of Hindu gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and in the Upanishads (an ancient Hindu text) as the essence of Brahman (the ultimate reality). Therefore, Om stands for the state of highest reality, where we exist only as awareness, at peace with ourselves and everything in the universe.
Although in the west, we often pronounce Om as in the word hOMe, the correct pronunciation of this sacred sound is Aum - three sounds - Aa uu umm. Each of these three sounds when chanted I can be felt creating different vibrations in the body. Aa - vibrating in the navel area, Uu- vibrates around the chest and umm, vibrates at the throat and nose/sinuses/forehead. Some say these three sounds represent earth, atmosphere and heaven. Others suggest they represent thought, speech and action. I am sure there are many opinions. Here is a link to a lovely version of Om being chanted. I quite like this playing quietly during some meditations. Click the picture below to listen.
In many yoga classes and events, Om is chanted at the beginning and/or end of the class. This can be a lovely thing to do as the sound and vibration from the combined voices strengthen the vibrations. Visually, the symbol Om is made up of three curve shapes, a sweeping semi-circle, and a dot.
At the bottom is a curve representing the conscious or waking state. The middle curve, or the top part of what looks like a number three represents the unconsciousness. Then there is the part that looks like a letter 'o' represents the dreaming state.
The Om symbol also represents the three "gunas" (qualities, found in nature). Sattva (harmony), Rajas (movement), and Tamas (inertia). Similar to the Ayurvedic doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. (The dosas are qualities said to be contained in differing amounts and ratios within every animal, human, object and plant.)
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