Last updated on September 26th, 2023.
It is a simple one-syllable word, but it may very well be the only sound on earth that can capture the essence and mystique of the ancient healing art known as yoga. Spelled with only two letters but made up of three distinct audible components, Om not only represents everything that yoga stands for but also so much more.
According to ancient Vedic texts (considered to be the oldest scriptures of the Hindu religion), Om is a sacred utterance that encompasses all words and sounds in the universe. Om is used to open and close yoga sessions, enhance meditation, and create balance within through its mystical vibrations.
The word Om has a profound significance that goes far beyond the yoga mat. It is a sacred sound that is associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, and other spiritual belief systems. In its visual form, Om is a deeply revered symbol with many meanings. What is the full meaning of Om? It is complicated but the answers are below so keep reading.
What Is Om
Om is a sacred sound with profoundly deep meaning in multiple contexts, including yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other belief systems. Yogis open and close yoga sessions with Om while followers of other spiritual and religious practices believe that it serves as a gateway to connecting with the world around us and everything it holds.
Despite being spelled with only two letters, Om is properly pronounced as four syllables:
- The first syllable is pronounced “ah” in a long, drawn-out manner
- This is followed by an equally methodical “ooh”
- The third syllable is an extended “mmm”
- The final syllable is complete silence
As each syllable of Om is uttered, vibrations begin from deep within the chest, moving to the throat and finishing in the mouth. This is significant because it is believed that when properly performed, Om generates vibrations that are measurable at 432 Hz, which is the same frequency that is present throughout the natural world.
Where Does Om Come From?
Om is a concept that comes from ancient India, originally appearing in centuries-old Sanskrit texts like Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. For centuries, Om has been uttered by countless people seeking to open internal pathways to enlightenment and to connect with the vastness of the universe.
According to these scriptures, Om is a sacred sound from which all other words and sounds in the universe have sprung. But it also represents everlasting sound, so Om is not only the here and now, it is also everything that will ever be.
What Is the Meaning Behind Om?
To those who utter it or recognize its powerful symbolism, Om can have a number of significant meanings. In this respect, Om can have a profoundly personal and individualized significance depending on the person. But in a broader sense, Om has come to mean creation, preservation, and liberation, and together, these forces form Shakti, the other-worldly energy that binds the universe.
Who Created the Om Symbol?
There is an argument to be made that Om may be the most powerful and impactful mantra ever created. Although it originally appears in the ancient texts and scriptures of Hinduism and Buddhism, it has evolved in the modern era into a universal symbol representing many things in both spiritual and non-spiritual contexts.
Here is a sampling of what Om represents to people today:
- The symbolic trio of speech, mind, and breath
- A means of establishing a spiritual connection to the universe
- It helps to enhance focus when practicing yoga or meditating
- Chanting Om can suppress hyperactivity in the right amygdala of the brain, thereby alleviating anxiety and reducing stress
- It can be used to unlock key chakras in the body, including those associated with the heart (love), the crown (wisdom), and the third eye (intuition)
Perhaps more than anything, Om represents the pursuit of a higher purpose. Whether it is on a bumper sticker, tattooed on someone’s arm, or chanted in a yoga studio, Om is a gateway to experiencing more than this world has to offer.
Om is a powerful mantra that is not only spoken by practitioners of yoga, but also by followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other spiritual belief systems. It is traditionally uttered to begin and end yoga sessions and in preparation for meditation, but its significance extends far beyond the yoga mat.
On a deeper level, Om connects those who speak its four syllables or revere its flowing curves and contours with the vastness of the universe and serves as a gateway for seekers of enlightenment to pass through on their spiritual journey.