OM or AUM is somewhat difficult to describe with words but Om represents everything. It is said to be the seed of all of creation. Just like an acorn seed has the immense power and beauty of a mighty oak tree. This seemingly small word contains all the power of the universe. It is the beginning, middle and the end of it all or the past, present and future. Chanting Om brings into your awareness the physical reality of this world and your body, the subtle impressions of the mind and emotions and the thoughts and beliefs of your life and this world.
The best explanation of OM is found within the ancient Manduka Upanishad, which explains the four elements of AUM as an allegory of the four planes of consciousness. The perfect state or super conscious state and all that precedes it are a part of Om. The sound can also be displayed in its more complete form of AUM. When written this way it appears as if the sound has three parts. In actuality it has four.
The A (aahhh) sound represents the creation aspect of the universe and all of the gross objects within it. Ahh is the beginning of all sounds (this is the most common letter that starts alphabets). It connects us to our sense of self, the ego. With this syllable you experience the existence of the world through the activity of the senses. When you chant this sound notice that it is produced in the throat and back of the mouth where the tongue is rooted and resonates in the lower abdomen. The first sound embodies “Sat”, the sound that starts to bring you back to unity, to the truth of your existence.
The U (oooh) sound signifies the maintaining energy of the universe and the subtle impressions of the mind. It connects us to an inner sense of something greater than that which we can see and feel with our senses. Oooh lets in lightness, clarity, balance and goodness. When you chant this letter the sound moves forward between the tongue and the palate up to the lips and vibrates in the solar plexus. The sound denotes “Chit”, an illumination of knowing, pure wisdom.
The M (mmmm) sound characterizes the transformative energy of the universe and the thoughts and beliefs of your beingness. This sound unites you to the awareness of oneness. It allows you to slow down in order to feel the connectedness of all that is. The sound “mmmm” is produced by closing the lips and it vibrates the crown of the head. The sound symbolizes “Ananda”, to be at one with bliss everywhere with all things.
The fourth sound is silence or anagata. It is the vibration which is beyond verbal pronunciation. It is pure consciousness of the Self or the Atman. The unity of Sat Chit Ananda (I exist, I know, I am blissful) is experienced here.
When chanting Om aloud, the sound will naturally evolve through the tree phases corresponding to the three letters A-U-M. Like the experience of Om as a sense of completeness and pure consciousness, the three syllables are not distinct or separate phases, but a continuous motion of the body, breath and awareness.
During meditation, when we chant Om, we create within ourselves a vibration that attunes sympathy with the cosmic vibration and we start thinking universally. The momentary silence between each chant becomes palpable. Mind moves between the opposites of sound and silence until, at last, it ceases the sound. In the silence, the single thought—Om—is quenched; there is no thought. This is the state of trance, where the mind and the intellect are transcended as the individual self merges with the Infinite Self in the pious moment of realization. It is a moment when the petty worldly affairs are lost in the desire for the universal. Such is the immeasurable power of Om.2
‘OM is the sound when everything else disappears from your being – no thought, no dream, no projections, no expectations, not even a single ripple – your whole lake of consciousness is simply silent; it has become just a mirror. In those rare moments you hear the sound of silence. It is the most valuable experience because it not only shows a quality of the inner music – it also shows that the inner is full of harmony, joy, blissfulness. All that is implied in the music of OM.’ ~ Osho