Om is the sound of the vibration which pervades the entire universe. It is the sound of creation (the Big Bang). The ancient Rishis (seers) uncovered this sound internally as a result of practicing yoga.

More generally, Om represents God, the supreme, That (as in I am That). Om is used as a mantra (a word or phrase that is repeated constantly either out loud or in one's head for a predetermined number of repetitions or time period) in Japa Yoga

Aum is a variant spelling of Om. The word can be spelled either way because the letter "O" is regarded as a diphthong consisting of "A" and "U".

Generally, OM is used more frequently in the south of India and AUM is used more in the North.

According to one of the most famous Hindu scriptures, the Mandukya Upanishad, Om symbolizes the four states of consciousness. The letter "A" represents the waking state, "U" represents the dream state, "M" represents deep sleep, and the whole word represents the fourth state (turiya), which is the state of enlightenment.

Pranava is a name used for the syllable Om. For example, you might say, "I recited the Pranava a thousand times," meaning you said "Om" a thousand times. Literally, Pranava means "pronouncing" in Sanskrit. The word consists of the prefix pra (a cognate of the Latin prefix pro) and the root nu meaning "call out" and "exult."

When reciting the Pranava as japa mantra, the goal is to make yourself vibrate at the same frequency as the whole of creation. In order to achieve this, you must direct as much of the sound inwards as possible. (The universe is already vibrating at this frequency, so just shouting the mantra out into space is like pouring a cup of water into the ocean.) At the same time, you must remember that even the laws of modern physics say that when two bodies are vibrating at the same frequency, energy will pass from the larger body to the smaller body.

In order to facilitate this transfer of energy, you must keep your body stretched and fairly taut; so that your body parts can vibrate. A flaccid guitar string won't play. Conversely, if it is too tight, it will snap. We must be like a perfectly tuned instrument.

Then the sound will burst forth in all its glory, beauty and power; enveloping us, energizing us, purifying us.

Obviously, trying to do all of this while reciting the Pranva quietly, internally is extremely difficult.


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  Copyright Gary Giamboi