What is AUM (OM)?
Om is part of the iconography found in ancient and medieval era manuscripts, temples, monasteries and spiritual retreats in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. In Hinduism, Om is one of the most important spiritual symbols and sacred syllables. It is mentioned in the ancient scriptures of India, such as the Vedas, dated to be from the 2nd millennium BCE, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita, and is variously described as “the essential sound of the universe” or “the originating sound of creation.” “In some forms of Hinduism, the letter a represents creation (issuing from Brahma’s essence), u the preservation of balance in the world (as the god Vishnu balances Brahma overhead on a lotus flower), and m the completion of the cycle of existence (when Vishnu falls asleep and all existing things dissolve into their essence).” (Stephens 2010, 100-101)
As the vibratory cosmic energy, Aum flows into the human body through the gate of the medulla oblongata. This sixth bodily center is located at the back of the neck at the top of the five spinal chakras (Sanskrit for “wheels” or centers of radiating force). Cosmic energy is then stored up in the brain as a reservoir of infinite potentialities, as the “thousand-petaled lotus of light.” (Paramhansa Yogananda 1946)
Used in the yoga tradition as a mantra or primordial sound, Aum can be used as a meditation tool to help you bring awareness more inside, ultimately taking you from individuality to universality – the ultimate goal of mediation. In more simple form, you may make the sound as “om”, the sound of the mantra in your mind gradually becoming like a neutral vibration that brings you to a sense of deepening self-awareness.