From void to form, energy enters reality in a big bang of sound. According to the ancient mystics of India, this is the sound of OM or AUM. Pronounced, Ahh-ooo-mmm, this vibration represents and reflects the creative process found both in our own bodies and the greater universe as a whole. From the initial emanation of sound, vibrations permeate the space within and around us, eventually slowing down to form denser objects. Spoken and heard vibrations ripple into solidarity through our minds, thought patterns, voices, actions, relationships, fears, strengths, and personalities- all of which can create tangible change in our physical actions and lives. Vibration exists within and affects everything! It is transcendental, connecting the very cells of your body to the grandeur of the universe.
Now let’s further breakdown the significance and experience behind chanting OM. In order to understand the true power of this sound, one must understand something about Sanskrit: It is not a conversational language. Like Hebrew, Sanskrit is a vibrational language that was channeled by the ancients to communicate through direct experience of vibrational patterns that flow through the body. While each sound and word can be interpreted literally, through the use linguistic construct and mental association, the true meaning of the word is carried within the vibration itself, and where it resonates within the individual who is experiencing the sound. Specific sounds and vibrations are felt in specific areas of the body and facilitate various openings and energetic shifts within the physical experience. By tuning into these subtle shifts in the body we allow ourselves to directly experience the powerful affects of sound. The true meaning of every mantra, a phrase intended for chanting, is then meant to be understood through feeling awareness rather than mental construct. The intellectual understanding of each mantra can certainly add to our experience and deepen internalization, but understanding must be accompanied by actual vibratory experience for the full realization of each mantra to arise.
There are three distinct aspects contained within the full body of sound, A-U-M. If we observe the creation of this sound solely in the mouth, we feel Ah originating in the back of the throat, U effortlessly flows over the palate, and Mm seals the lips in completion. This vibration, however, moves far beyond the mouth. As you chant Aum, feel the initial vibration of AHH bubble up from the base of the spine to the heart center where it transforms into OOOOO and continues to rise through the throat. AHH is representative of Brahma, the creative spark that ignites light into empty space. OOO is representative of Vishnu, the sustaining force that carries this light to the far corners of the universe. As the lips seal to produce the MMM sound, feel this wave rising to completion in the center of the forehead. MMM is representative of Shiva, the destructive force of the universe, the edge where light ultimately dissolves back into the emptiness from which it sprang.
At the end of each AUM we find a fourth aspect to sound- the silence that remains. In this silence we watch and feel the vibrations we’ve voiced as they echo up to the crown of the head, where the experience of transcendence, non-dualistic TURIYA, can be found. Within this single sound we can experience the birth, life, and death of energy as it moves in and out the body. Associating a mental image with OM as you chant can support the manifestation of your intentions and goals into the physical realm, grounding it from a simple thought to a full wave of energy that is heard and felt by everyone and everything around you. It can also be engaged within the process of letting go, as we observe all that we dream, think, and create dissolve back into empty space. Explore both the power of creative flow and dissolution as you chant the sound of AUM, allowing this vibration to re-align your physical structure and experience with the ultimate nature of reality as a whole and complete process.
Other mantras may be used for attuning yourself to more specific qualities, but OM is an easy and deeply moving place to begin and end every chanting practice.
With gratitude for this strange world of vibrating molecules and the ability to engage in its evolution, we embrace life, death, and everything in between.