What is the OM, and how should it be chanted? Why is OM chanted at the beginning of every mantra? The Om is so so simple. Yet, its mystery can evade us. So how to approach the OM?
I’ve been practicing, studying and teaching the wisdom mantra for 33 years. The power of OM never fails to astonish me. Why? Because OM is not only the simplest of all mantras, it is also the most mysterious of all mantras. And OM’s holy mystery is inexhaustible in what it reveals to any mantra practitioner. And yes, there are specific ways to chant it you can explore in the presentation below.
In the Mastery of Mantra, a program that I’ve designed to train students who wish to learn to pronounce mantras the way they are meant to be chanted, one of our students wanted to know how exactly does one chant the OM. It was in response to this question that I prepared the presentation below that I am sharing with you.
First, please read the introductory passages from my book The Yoga of Sound: Tapping the Hidden Power of Music and Chant. Obviously, you are here because you have an interest in mantra, meditation, Yoga, or the Yoga of Sound.
And, if your interest inspires you to join me live, to explore my current understanding and practice of mantra over an entire weekend, you can learn more and sign up here:
Why is the Om so important? First of all, the Om is tremendously sonorous; there appears to be no other mantra that can match its resonance in the human body. Regardless of your body’s shape, this particular sound offers the maximum resonance possible. One objective of the sound yogi is to develop a resonant physical body through the regular use of sacred sound. Om is the single most important sound that can, by itself, configure the human body optimally for maximum resonance.
Secondly, this resonance is not static; the Om has a transparency that allows you to listen and perceive through its sound. Finally, the Om has an intrinsic ability to generate overtones. Overtones are the additional frequencies that occur over and above a tone; most tones are a mixture of the pure tone and these additional frequencies. Overtones are easily noticeable in acoustically resonant spaces, such as bathroom shower stalls, caves, or large cathedrals. Overtones are also produced in a resonant human body, and through the well-crafted tones of a trained vocalist. We naturally hear overtones when intoning the Om.
There are several other, more abstract, qualities of the mantra Om. First, the Om is universal; it leads us home to a place inside where we feel safe and secure, regardless of our cultural and religious affiliations. Next, the Om is self-contained, replete with its own fullness; it brings deep contentment to the user. Because it is so self-contained, the Om is also a self-propagating sound; the more you chant it, the more you are inspired to keep chanting it. Through its utter simplicity, the Om focuses our attention quickly, taking us inward and connecting us to our depth with the least encumbrance.
Finally, the Om is mysterious; it awakens in us an immediate sense of the sacred that defies rational knowledge. This is paramount to yoga practice and mysticism from any cultural stream. The Om is similar to its Christian counterpart, the “Amen.” Both affirm the Divine presence, as they indisputably declare that the Divine is present, the Divine is all there is, and we are saying “yes” to its holy presence.
Russill Paul. The Yoga of Sound: Tapping the Hidden Power of Music and Chant (Kindle Locations 3455-3479). New World Library.
The following presentation, more current, and relevant to my online students, offers additional insight into the OM and how it can be chanted. Leave a comment below if you enjoy the presentation …