OM or AUM is an ancient Sanskrit word that is said to be the seed of all creation. It is the first sound from the beginning of time, and it also encompasses the present and the future. According to Chandogya Upanishad, OM is Brahma, the timeless consciousness. It is inhabited by the Trinity.
In the chakra system, Om is connected to ajna chakra, the third eye, which represents intuition and self-knowledge. Om connects all living beings to nature and the universe. Om is considered sacred in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism.
OM is the most important and significant sound in the Mantra tradition of Yoga. Yoga was first described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, an ancient Sanskrit text believed to date from about the 4th century. In 196 sutras, the sage Patanjali sets out a path to disciplining the human mind, in order to commune with the divine. His prescription is to shut out external stimuli and turn the mind inwards. The chanting of Om at the beginning of a yoga class, ushers practitioners into the time and space that is about to be spent in meditation.
Dr Hemant Bhargav, a physician and yoga expert, says “The O should be chanted for five seconds and the MMMM should take 10 seconds.” Scientists have researched the effects on the brain of the vibrations created by chanting OM. Chanting of OM mantra sequentially activates the stomach, spinal cord, throat, nasal and brain region. The energy moves from stomach all the way to the brain.
OM is also called Pranava, meaning it sustains life and runs through the breath or Prana. The ‘O” or ‘AU’ sound makes all the bones of the thoracic cage vibrate, which leads to the vibration of lungs and finally to the delicate membranes of the alveolus. This can stimulate pulmonary cells and enables a proper exchange of air in the lungs. These vibrations produce a much accentuated effect in the endocrine glands. This leads to the balance activation of several glands and organs.
Authors of the 2018 study, published in the ‘Asian Journal of Psychiatry’, noted that Om chanting is associated with an experience of relaxation, specifically citing beneficial changes in the autonomic nervous system (which regulates heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism, and other internal functions), and deactivation of limbic brain regions (an area that controls emotion, memories and arousal). Scientists concluded that chanting Om may have potential in the treatment of major depressive disorder. It has many physical benefits, as it slows down the nervous system and calms the mind.
- Studies suggest that chanting Om on a regular basis relaxes the muscle of stomach.
- Chanting Om purifies our aura, calms our mind and helps bring in positive energy into our body. Anger can be controlled by chanting Om on a regular basis.
- Chanting Om helps us to focus and concentrate on one thing at a time. Regular chanting helps in improving work capacity and performance. Thus it is said that with regular chanting, one can improve his or her personal as well as professional life.
- Chanting Om can also help one to improve one’s immunity system and self-healing power.
- While chanting Om, a vibration is produced through vocal cords that clears and opens up the sinuses. It improves our voice quality by strengthening vocal cords and muscles around it.
- Chanting Om also has cardiovascular benefits. It reduces stress and relaxes the body by bringing down blood pressure on the normal level and the heart beats with a regular rhythm.
- Chanting Om helps one to stay youthful for longer. It is believed to improve the detoxification process of the body. It helps in removing toxins internally from skin and imparts a natural glow to the skin.
- Chanting Om improves the hormonal balance.
- A research showed that Om chanting created a significant impact on the spinal cord of a person. The vibrations created during chanting improves the efficiency of the spinal cord.
- Chanting Om helps in fighting insomnia and helps one to get a good sleep.
Thus, sound vibration has a profound effect on the physical, conscious or unconscious, astral, and spiritual body. This is one of the reasons why Vedic philosophy considers OM as a primordial sound. It is considered that a person who realises Om, merges with the Absolute.