All About Om

The meaning of this sacred syllable--and how to practice om yoga meditation

Excerpted with permission of Atma Jyoti Ashram.

Om is the original Word of Power, or "mantra." A mantra is a series of verbal sounds whose effect lies not in an assigned intellectual meaning, as is the character of common language, but which possesses an inherent sound-power that can produce a particular effect, physically or psychologically--much in the way that music can produce such effects, though not as profoundly. The word mantra itself comes from the Sanskrit expression

manat trayate

, which means "a transforming thought;" literally: "that which when thought carries across"-that is, which produces an objective, perceptible change. It also literally means "a

liberating

thought."



Sound and consciousness are, practically speaking, the same. And the master yogis of India have through the ages stated that God and Om are ONE. That is, the infinite Consciousness of God is inherent in the syllable Om. Since the individual spirit and God are essentially one (though not the same), we can tentatively conclude that Om, repeated within the mind in japa and meditation, will both produce the consciousness of God and the restoration of our union with God.

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The Practice of Om Yoga Meditation

1) Sit upright, comfortable and relaxed, with your hands on your knees or thighs or resting, one on the other, in your lap.



2) Breathe naturally. Your mouth should be closed so that all breathing is done through the nose. This aids in quieting the mind. Though your mouth is closed, the jaw muscles should be relaxed so the upper and lower teeth are not clenched or touching one another, but parted.



3) Turn your eyes somewhat downward and close them gently. This removes visual distractions and reduces your brain-wave activity by about seventy-five percent, thus helping to calm the mind.

4) Now begin intoning Om over and over again, like the tolling of a resonant bell, "singing" It on a single note. Make sure the O and the M get approximately "equal time"-Ooomm. (Not Ommm or Ooom.) Don't torture yourself about this--approximately equal is good enough. It is, however, essential that your intonations should be continuous and not broken up. That is, there should be so separation or break between your intonations. Rather they should be continuous, forming a single stream of sound: OoommOoommOoommOoomm; not Ooomm. Ooomm. Ooomm. Ooomm. When a bell is tolled, the sound of the previous stroke is still vibrating when the next one occurs. It is the same with our intonations of Om. This is important.

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