I have a student, Christina. Christina was brought up with catholic upbringing. Now she is utterly disillusioned with any religion and calls herself an agnostic. When I advised her to practice mantra meditation with Om, she was a bit skeptical. However, within a few days she came back to me, all-praise about the technique. Chanting Om as a mantra can be a very powerful meditation technique.
Om, also known as Aum, is the sound of cosmic consciousness. When used as a mantra for meditation, it creates a vibration that represents three states of our ordinary consciousness, viz., waking, dream, and deep sleep. This is a mysterious and fascinating subject, which I have studied with my teacher Revered Banani Ray, during my stay at Rishikesh at a meditation retreat.
Significance of Om Mantra
I learned that the waking consciousness belongs to the conscious mind, which is represented by the letter A. The Dream state belongs to the unconscious mind, which is represented by the letter U of AUM. The deep sleep state belongs to the subconscious mind, which is connected to the cosmic consciousness. The deep sleep state represents the letter M of AUM. The Silence of AUM represents the transcendental that lies beyond the ordinary sense perception.
So, I learned from my teacher that, it all depends on how you utter the mystic mono-syllable Om. It must be a sonorous utterance that should rise from your navel, which represents the unconscious domain of mind. Mere lip-chanting will not do.
Om in Tibetan Buddhism
Om is also practiced by the followers of Tibetan Buddhism. The chanting of Om has long been a tradition in Tibet, where it is practiced by itself or as part of other mantras. Many ancient Tibetan Yogis, such as Milarepa are said to practice intense meditation and chanting of Om.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the most popular mantra that contains Om is “Om mani padme hum.” This in Sanskrit means “Om in the Jeweled Lotus is Hum.” Another mantra in Tibetan Buddhism that contains Om is “Om Tare tut tare ture Soha(/swaha )”. This is mantra of goddess Tara.
Another powerful mantra is “Om ah hum”. In this mantra Om represents the body, the syllable Ah represents the speech, and Hum represents the mind. It is believed that by chanting this mantra over and over again body, mind and speech becomes perfect and any negativity in the mind and body will be eliminated. It also bestows spiritual power .
What should you know about Om?
“Om is not just a sound or vibration. It is not just a symbol. If you think of Om only as a sound, a technique or a symbol of the Divine, you will miss it altogether. Om is the mysterious cosmic energy that is the substratum of all the things and all the beings of the entire universe. It is an eternal song of the Divine. It is continuously resounding in silence on the background of everything that exists.”
(Amit Ray, in the book :Om Chanting And Meditation)
Om mantra can bring peace, protection and abundance in your life. It is believed that chanting of Om creates spiritual light, which manifests around the practitioner like a halo and it also helps us reach higher states of consciousness.
Mantra Meditation with Om
Om can be chanted in many ways. It can be silently uttered in the mind. It can be silently uttered with the breaths, semi-verbal uttering, or mild intonation and verbal. It is believed that silent chanting yields the best results. However, if you practice Om chanting in a group, semi-verbal or vocal chanting creates a very powerful healing vibration, from which everybody can benefit.
When silently chanting Om keep your attention fixed on the silence between two utterances. Gradually, mantra meditation with Om will lead you from the chattering mind to the blissful inner silence.