The Power of Om

written by Anjula September 4, 2013

chanting_benefits_of_om_ symbol

The Chanting Benefits of Om

Growing up, I took for granted the power of chanting, mantras and kirtan.  As I grow older, I have come to realize that chanting has the power to bring one closer to feeling connected to the divine.

Devotional chanting can help alleviate stress, take you away from negative thinking and uplift your spirit.  To that end, I’ve been focusing on a select few mantras, these days.  (The toughest part is always deciding which few to focus on, as there are so many to choose from, it’s like a Chinese takeout menu).

The one we’re going to focus on today is an example of the powerful single-syllable mantras, known as bija (seed) mantras that contain much power and spiritual wisdom and creative force. One of the oldest and most widely known of these single-syllable mantras is “Om.”  Om is the “primordial seed” of the universe—this whole world, says one ancient text, “is nothing but om.” It is also considered to be the root mantra from which all other mantras come.  The syllable “om” is first described as all-encompassing mystical entity in the Upanishads. Some believe that as creation began, the divine, all-encompassing consciousness took the form of the first and original vibration manifesting as sound “OM”.

Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra and is considered to be the father of classical yoga, taught that when we chant this sacred syllable and simultaneously contemplate the meaning of it, our consciousness becomes “one-pointed: and prepared for meditation. In a commentary on the Yoga Sutra, the ancient sage Vyasa noted that through the chanting benefits of om, “the supreme soul is revealed.” Tibetan scholar, Lama Govinda wrote that om expresses and leads to the “experience of the infinite within us.”  …chanting om may be the easiest way to touch the Divine within your Self.

One often meditates on the four “measures,” or parts, of om. Though commonly spelled om, the mantra actually consists of three letters, a, u, and m. Each of these three parts has numerous metaphysical associations, which themselves serve as meditative seeds. For example, a (pronounced “ah”) represents our waking state, which is also the subjective consciousness of the outer world; u (pronounced “ooh”) is the dreaming state, or the consciousness of our inner world of thoughts, dreams, memories; and m is the dreamless state of deep sleep and the experience of ultimate unity.

By contemplating the meaning of each of these letters as we chant them, we are led through the three states of our ordinary consciousness to the mantra’s fourth part, the anusvara (after-sound): om. The vibration slowly dissolves into silence, symbolic of the transcendent state of consciousness, equated with Brahman (the Absolute). This silence is the crown of the mantra; it is described in the Maitri Upanishad as “tranquil, soundless, fearless, sorrowless, blissful, satisfied, steadfast, immovable, immortal, unshaken, enduring.”

As you begin your chanting journey, be sure and sit in a comfortable place, with your legs crossed, back upright.  If you cannot sit in lotus position, sit comfortably on a chair, with your back supported.

Clear your mind, take a few deep cleansing breaths and remind yourself as you start that chanting has the power to remove obstacles and to help you overcome fear.   Start with contemplating the meaning in your heart as you begin chanting, “Om.”  Do this for a few moments each day, preferably at the beginning and end of your day, increasing the time you spend on it daily so that you can actually begin to notice a difference in your levels of calmness and serenity.

With time and practice, you will be able to bring that same calmness into your day to day activities.

Looking for a few more resources on the power of Om? Check out these great resources:

Om Chanting and Meditation

Meditation on OM: Deep Meaning of Om

The Power of Om

Chanting Om – Meditation On the 7 Chakras


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