Chanting ‘OM’ or ‘AUM’ is a scared practice that one recites to meditate.
Om or Aum is an ancient mystical sound also an ancient mantra with origins in India and Nepal. It is sacred and holds high significance in religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism. All four religions believe Om as the origin of all divine and other creations or form of consciousness. Similar to The Holy Cross being scared to Christians – Om is sacred to Hindus. Each Sanskrit prayer starts with ‘Om’ or ‘Aum.’
In ancient Hindu scriptures and Vedas ( dating back 18th Century BCE), AUM is considered as the ‘Sound of the Sun’ and the ‘Sound of the Light’. Saying Om is considered significant as it is an imperishable word: the past, the present, and the future.
However, people of all religions and faith can practice Om Chanting Meditation without hindering their religious beliefs. Yoga sessions involve the use of Aum or Om chanting extensively. Many of you who have recently started practicing Yoga may tend to think that Aum or Om chanting is embarrassing and awkward. But ‘Aum’ or ‘Om’ is essentially a sound that unites us with everything and everyone.
“You are a cosmic flower. Om chanting is the process of opening the psychic petals of that flower.” ―
Om chanting is also pronounced with three syllables A-U-M. Each syllable has a deep meaning behind it. It signifies the nature of the cosmic vibrations present in the universe.
Part 1: ‘A’ represents the physical and outer world, the state of being awake.
Part 2: ‘U’ represents the dreaming state or our inner world of dreams, thoughts, and memories.
Part 3: ‘M’ defines the state of calm and deep sleep that represents the basis of life, thought, and intelligence.
Part 4: After you hum the ‘M’ during ‘Om’ or ‘Aum’ chanting the vibration gradually dissolves into silence. It is equated to a transcendental state of consciousness – Brahman (The Absolute). “This silence is the crown of the mantra; it is described in the Maitri Upanishad as “tranquil, soundless, fearless, sorrowless, blissful, satisfied, steadfast, immovable, immortal, unshaken, enduring.”
The pronunciation of the word Om is A-U-M. Let me break it down for you.
Say the word ‘Rome’ multiple times but without the consonant or alphabet ‘R’.
Another way of understanding this is – the letter ‘O’ should sound like the letter ‘a’ in the word ‘saw’ and ‘U’ should sound like in the word ‘put’. Blend the two sounds with the letter ‘M’. AUM should be pronounced in the right manner for its mantric power.
You can chant Aum or Om a number of times, however, it is recommended to chant it at least 3 times, 9 times or 108 times. Why the difference in the numbers? There is a scientific and spiritual reason behind it.
Let us understand the significance of both the numbers.
It symbolizes three elements in the universe.
- Three worlds of the Soul – the past, present and the future.
- Three Divine Energies – creation, conservation, and transformation.
- Three Essence of Spirit – immortality, omniscience, and elation.
As for the number 108, individually the numbers 1, 0 and 8 stands for – one thing, none and infinity. The number 108 represents the meaning or stages of the universe being one, zero and infinity simultaneously.
The number 108 is a sacred number in the books of Hinduism and Yoga. A string of prayer beads always comes in 108 beads and is used for counting the mantras as you pray or meditate, similar to the Catholic rosary.
According to Mathematicians of Indian Vedic Culture 108 is a number signifying the wholeness of existence. It also a connection with the Sun, Moon and the Earth. This because the average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. Thus, mantras (prayers) are chanted 108 times to ward off any kind of negative planetary influences that affects our existence.
Moreover, when you feel depressed or anxious, and practice chanting Om to feel calm, peaceful and strong. The vibrations felt through those words create energy within your mind and body to give you tremendous power, a pointed and focused mind.
There are a number of methods to do Om chanting which will give you the same power and benefit to your mind, body, and
soul. Om meditation is practiced either aloud, silently, or in a group. The most important elements of Om meditation are the control of breath and sound. ‘Silently chanting Om’ silently is viewed as the most effective method of meditation. However, you can chant it as per your comfort.
- Chanting Aloud
- Silent Chanting
- Group Chanting
“Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when God talks to you.”
To start with meditation, set aside time for chanting. Ideally, it is best to meditate and chant Om first thing in the morning. However, decided on a time when you feel that you are more relaxed than perplexed. The best time to do om chanting is during sunrise and sunset. You can also chant om before going to bed. Avoid om chanting right after meals as this will slow down your digestive process.
Then, decide on how long you would like to do om chanting. It depends on how much relaxed time you have in hand. Set a timer so that you are not focusing on how much time you have in case you are getting late for work. For example, you chant om for either 5 minutes, 10 minutes or even for 30 minutes.
The most important thing you need to do before you begin chanting is to find a comfortable spot to chant and meditate. Find a calm and peaceful place in your house or garden to practice Aum or Om chanting meditation. The place should be comfortable as you will be sitting cross-legged on the floor. Om chanting on the bed is also an option as per your comfort.
If you find it difficult to sit down or have a knee injury, then sit on a comfortable chair with your legs on the floor. Always make sure to keep your back straight and erect. Keep both your hands on your knees or thighs or place them one on top of the other on your lap. Close your eyes gently and keep them shut till you finish chanting.
If you are chanting in your home assign a spot specifically for it. Try lighting a camphor lamp while chanting as it helps to cleanse any negative energies. The fragrance of camphor also soothes your mind, making chanting more effective.
Relax your mind and body before you focus on your breath. Breathe in and out a few times to pay attention to your breath. Do not get baffled about chanting properly.
Once you get comfortable with your breath, you can focus on the sound of Aum or Om chanting meditation better. Try to practice it effortlessly and do not focus so much on the technique while chanting – it is all about the vibrations that you feel through your body. It may seem awkward in the beginning to clear your thoughts and have a clear mind. But, with practice, you can achieve a clear and peaceful mind.
Breathe out both through your nose and mouth as you pronounce Om and inhale deeply only through your nostrils. Keep your jaw muscles relaxed and do not clench them together to cause tension in the muscles. Keep your upper and lower teeth slightly parted and not touching one another. Repeat the Om chant in a slow and rhythmic manner and draw the sound from your navel when you exhale out. Let the vibration of the chant gradually rise upwards until you feel it in your nostrils as well. Thus, keeping in mind to match your chant with your natural way of exhaling out.
For example, take a breath or two in your natural way of breathing and then chant om and repeat the exhaling the same way again.
“Silent chanting is viewed as the most effective method because it does not rely on the external (voicebox, facial muscles or lips).”
Sit down comfortably either on the floor or chair with your eyes closed. Take 2-3 deep breaths while keeping your body still. Let your mind settle down by giving it a few more minutes or less. Now start ‘Om’ or ‘Aum’ mantra inside your mind or throat. You don’t have to move your lips or tongue while you make no sound by your mouth.
The chant is at length deeply to your inner self. After each repetition, you will come back to yourself. As you progress for a while your mind will automatically go still. This is the most beautiful experience while chanting Aum or Om. When your attention goes to the stillness of your thoughts will start coming back. It’s natural! Don’t pay attention to it. Just continue with your practice.
Get deep into the rhythm of chanting and you will see yourself going deep into the chanting mode. Don’t try to pay attention to the silent still moments again – or they will disappear.
With time you will increasingly feel the stillness and that too sooner.
The benefit of chanting Om silently is that you can chant anywhere and anytime or in any situation. For example, you can chant at home, at work, while travelling to work, in a park or anywhere outside. All you need to do is sit comfortably and keep your body relaxed and still before you begin om chanting.
Om chanting mentally is usually for a short period of time unlike chanting aloud where it is for a longer duration and is a premeditated practice. Chanting silently can be done whenever you find the need to feel peaceful and cleanse any negative emotion.
For example, having a tough day at work, or stuck in bad traffic, chanting Om for at least 2 minutes. It will certainly calm your nerves down instantly. Instead of venting out your anger in any situation, try chanting Om silently. It will make your anger subside without harming yourself or anyone else around you.
Om chanting silently is practised with or without facial movements. You can choose either, by considering the situation you are in.
For example, if you are in a shopping mall and sitting by yourself having a cup of coffee, you can chant Om with a slight movement of your lips. But, in case you are in a board room attending a presentation then it is best not to indicate with your facial expressions that you are chanting and meditating.
There are over hundreds of chanting groups around the world. It is best to find it online or ask around from friends and family for an Om Chanting Group. This is ideal for those who want to learn how to do Om chanting. Some of the yoga classes practice Om chanting before or after their sessions. Thus, before booking a yoga class, always ask if they practice Om chanting.
In fact, many workshops are held in wellness communities that practice Om chanting. These communities form groups to promote healthy living through meditation and chanting.
For first-timers, this might be a little over-whelming but try to feel relaxed and confident to voice your chants with the others. Blend your voice with everyone in the group to sound in unison. Many times, the pronunciation of ‘Aum’ or ‘Om’ might be different than how you usually pronounce. Therefore, it’s best to get accustomed to the way the group pronounces. The reason is that there could be a difference in the dialects and accents but the aim is to chant in unison by the group.
Do not be conscious of how you chant. Focus on how the chant makes you feel and merge into the vibration of the group chant.
Sometimes, it is perfectly fine if you do not want to chant with the group. If you wish to take a break then you can stop chanting and meditate silently. Om chanting is about feeling the connection and vibration rather than having a performance pressure. Imbibe all the positive energy and vibrations around you as the others from the group continue to chant om.
Some groups add meditation background music to help you to get into the mood to chant, to ease your anxiety, to help clear your mind and to focus on meditation.
“Chanting is a way of getting in touch with yourself. It’s an opening of the heart and letting go of the mind and thoughts. It deepens the channel of grace, and it’s a way of being present in the moment.” – Krishna Das (Jeffrey Kagel)
No matter what method you choose to practice Om chanting and meditation, it will change the state of your mind and body taking it to a high level of spirituality.
As you practice it frequently, you will go deeper into meditation. The vibrations become subtle leading to silence. The most amazing realization is that – Om has been active in your body and your breath flows out naturally and lightly.
Om chanting and meditation comes bearing with benefits not just for your mind but your entire body as well. Chanting not only decreases stress, anxiety, fear but instils peace, calm, and tranquillity. It increases your concentration levels, imparts a glow on your face, improves your spinal cord and hormonal imbalance and keeps your heart healthy.
Scientists conducted an experiment a few years ago to understand the power of Om chanting. The participants volunteered to chant Om for a few minutes and this was recorded for testing. What they noticed was an irregular pattern and unsteady waveform in the time-frequency which indicated the unsteady mind. To further analyze Om chanting, the participants chanted regularly for a week. As a result, the waveforms showed a great deal of improvement with regular spacing and perfect harmony and synchronization. The participants witnessed improvements in concentration, focus and reduction of stress.
It is amazing to see how a word so tiny can be so powerful and life-changing. Om chanting heals your from within and helps you connect with innermost yourself. It wards off negativity and fills your soul with positive energy.
Om chanting is a vibration frequency that connects the entire universe together. Since our bodies are made of energy, these vibrations heal our mind, body, and soul. When Om is chanted in a sequence, it activates the stomach, spinal cord, throat, nasal and brain regions creating a calming effect on the mind.
It does not matter how or where you chant, or at what speed you chant. Chanting should be felt from within and not performed under pressure. Focus on your breathing pattern and remain in rhythm while meditating and chanting.
Henceforth, pause for a moment, take a deep breath and dissolve the chaos that resides in your mind. Chant away your woes and worries and let the universe work its magic on you.