The Om sound and mantras are profound tools of devotion and wisdom, deserve a lifetime of study. This post looks at mantra as encountered in my experience of yoga.
Included are my related recordings, notes on the healing nature of mantra, and my interest in that area.
A vibrational reality
The Sanskrit language is vibrational oriented, rather than a primarily intellectually language. Sanskrit and mantra resonate with universal energy, perhaps easiest to grasp in context of the OM sound as a three syllable (A-U-M) direct connection, and therefore understanding of All That Is. An ingenious and astounding way to come to an understanding of creation by connecting to it on a vibrational level. In support of the vibrational quality are deep layers of meaning to each syllable and word, see the translations of mantra below.
In respect to yoga, with its philosophy of an inseparable bodymind and cosmos, mantra serves a holistic body intelligence and universal connection, not dissociated intellectualising. It’s practice is in the body, with the breath and body as a combined instrument of practice. Mantra is meant to vibrate the different energetic levels of being, from muscle, bone and organs, to chakras and meridians, and mindset and “thinking”, to help create harmonious and luminous alignment of Source of Self. See my Mantra Sound Vibrations post for more understanding and inspiration on how mantra helps to clear and activate the bodymind as an effective “tool” or “instrument” of consciousness.
Well known mantra:
OM / AUM
Apart from the connection to All That Is mentioned above, Om is also an honouring and greeting to the Supreme Being, incorporated into the two mantra examples lower down. The OM in Shanti/Namaste greeting is saying that the greeting is between two human beings is actually from one God within, to another God within.
● OM Music Video on my Youtbube channel
In yoga the AUM sound resonates through the entire body due to whole trunk ujia breathing, and connects the chanter with All That Is, therefore also to its Creator, and to the chanter, her or himself, the Divine within. OM is therefore a tremendous healing tool.
● Listen to my Deep Peace of OM in my Soundcloud player to experience it for yourself – best with headphones or a good system.
Swami Sivananda, founder of Sivanada Yoga, the lineage I am trained in, shared with the world a modern and far reaching tradition of whole, integral yoga that included mantra. It is possible to see how his famous motto, Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize, could be read as the reason, cause and effect of mantra practice. “Om Namah Sivaya” is still associated with Sivnanda’s Divine Life Society. Sivananda said this about the Tryambakam: “This great Mantra in praise of Lord Shiva works wonders, averts accidents, heals diseases and grants long life. It will also liberate you from Samsara.”
Praise to Shiva!
Shiva (or Siva) has a high profile presence in yoga culture, modern and old. The Shiva (Photo above) is from my studio, and a familiar symbol in many studios with a traditional image all around the world. Om Namah Sivaya is one of the most popular yoga chants. It is a five syllable mantra, known as panchakshri mantra. It is believed that the chanters are bowing to themselves, as the Lord Shiva is considered the ultimate reality. It lititerally means: “I bow to Shiva”.
The following words, an ode to Lord Shiva, beautifully describe the meaning of the OM mantra: “I bow to the supreme Lord who is the formless source of “OM” The Self of All, transcending all conditions and states. Beyond speech, He understands the sense perception. Awe-full, but gracious, the ruler of Kailash, Devourer of Death, the immortal abode of all virtues.
I have several new mantra recordings in production, including OM Tyambakam, in my music/yoga studio:
“Tryambakam”: Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is the greatest Mantra for Lord Shiva, found in the Rig Veda. It is often heard in the beginning, or conclusion of a yoga class, meeting or ceremony.
Om. Tryambakam yajamahe
Mrityor mukshiya mamritat.
This direct translation shows us what is teaches us, vibrationally: “Om, We Worship the Three-Eyed One (Lord Shiva)/ Who is Fragrant (Spiritual Essence) and Who nourishes all beings/ May He sever our Bondage of Samsara (Worldly Life)/ … and thus Liberate us from the Fear of Death, by making us realize that we are never separated from our Immortal Nature.” In my words; Om Salutations to Shiva, Blessings from Shiva, destroyer of ignorance, regenerator of our light being, in body, mind and spirit.
Read the Sanskrit verse quietly or chant it out loud, gain understanding of its meaning in meditation on the translation and the vibration of the sounds, and you will get the feel of Mantra Sounds of Devotion. Dwell in this thought form energy and it leads to self-realisation – when affirmed regularly it changes ones perception of self and reality.
Gayatri Mantra also begins with an Om salutation to All that dwells in the physical realm, conscious mind and omnipresent spirit. Read more about it’s praise to Primal Force of Life (link coming soon)
A sound syllable to help activate each chakra, and harmonise the chakra system, when combined with the OM, is a simple, effective way to evolve the bodymind.
● Chakra healing is an integral and essential aspect of physical/vibrational/energetic light body evolution
● The design for my OM Chakra Mantra Divine Essence (click play below to listen) incorporates the OM symbol, as it does the OM Sound
When allow the translations of the phenomenal depth and meaning of mantra sink in you will have an idea of its capacity. But it is when you practice the mantra sounds that it’s actual power is revealed. Sacred vibration or simply sound, mantra has to be put into action to work its magic.
Mantra is part of the yoga lore, and as with yoga, “works” straight away in a self-evident manner. At the same time your practice and experiences with it will evolve over time. As with yoga it is best to do a little over a sustained period, although “on-off” practice is more beneficial than none.
Listen to mantra, learn a few lines and chant them in your head, quietly, or sing out! Just keep doing it, plant their seeds in your bodymind. Nurture them and they will nurture you.
In OM, with OM Blessings
In Yoga & Music
19 April 2017
ॐ ॐ ॐ
A devotional p.s.
Mantra and yoga date back to the oldest surviving texts of the Vedas. I add this example to show the importance of the worship content:
Karaalam Mahaakaala-Kaalam Krpaalam
This is the meaning: “(Salutations to Sri Rudra) I Salute the Lord Ishana (another name of Sri Shiva) whose Form represents the state of the highest Nirvana (extinction of all desires and passions leading to the highest bliss)/ Who Manifests taking a Form though in essence He is Pervading everywhere; and His Form embodies the Highest Knowledge of Brahman present in the core of the Vedas/ Who remain absorbed in His Own Self which is Beyond the three Gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas), which is Beyond any Vikalpas (Change and Manifoldness), and which is Free from any Movement (due to desires etc)/ Who Abides in the Sky of the Chidakasha (Spiritual Sky); I Worship that Ishana”.