The Om Symbol and its Meaning

Table of Contents

Those who regularly practice either yoga or meditation will have almost inevitably come across ‘Om’, whether in symbol or chant form.

The Om symbol holds a powerful significance in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain practices. It can be both seen and heard all around the world, and it can be used to enhance almost any spiritual practice.

What is the Om Symbol?

The Om symbol is a visual representation of the Om sound, a sacred sound that represents the universe and everything within it. The symbol is made up of curves, a crescent and a dot to represent consciousness, and the unification of the mind, body and spirit. 

‘Om’ is a sacred sound, made up of vibrations that can energise the body’s chakras when used during a spiritual practice. When spoken aloud, the relatively simple looking ‘Om’ sounds more like a word with 3 syllables; A, U and M.

These 3 sounds represent the entire universe – with ‘A’ representing creation, ‘U’ signifying manifestation and ‘M’ destruction. This sound represents the connections between the mind, body and spirit.

The ‘Om’ symbol is a visual representation of this sound, used to give physical form to one of the most important sounds in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain culture. The symbol itself is made up of curves, a crescent and a dot. The lower left curve represents consciousness, the top left curve is unconsciousness, the lower right curve represents the dream state, and the semicircle at the top represents the state of illusion.

Finally, the dot at the top represents the highest state of consciousness – total peace and bliss, and the state in which someone could fully connect with the Divine.

The Om Symbol
Om Symbol

What is the History of the Om Symbol?

The first mention of the Om’s sound and symbol was in Hindu texts, but it’s now used in cultures and religions worldwide to signify the mind, body, and spirit. 

The Om symbol is deeply significant in a range of cultures and religions, although its roots appear to be Hindu. The first mention of Om was in a sacred Hindu text known as the Mandukya Upishad.

The Om symbol is said to be the essence of everything that exists. Om is the foundation of history, and it is said to be the very first sound of the universe. It is still considered sacred in Hindu culture, and said before every prayer, text or recitation.

Nowadays, both the Om symbol and chant are used in a range of spiritual practices. The Om symbol is used to remind people to slow down and take a breath, while the chant is used in mantra meditations and yoga classes to calm the mind and central nervous system.

The Om sound signifies the unity of the mind, body and spirit. For this reason, using the Om sound in a yoga or meditation class can bring about a deep sense of connection.

After chanting, the mind, body and soul will feel more aligned, and you may feel more connected to your peers.

The Om symbol is often used on jewellery and incorporated visually into meditation and yoga spaces. It serves as a visual reminder of our connection to the universe, as well as the fusion of the mind, body and spirit

How to use the Om Symbol

Using Om to enhance your practice involves using the sound, symbol, or both together. Mantra meditations often use the Om sound to bring attention to the present and increase the flow of energy throughout the body. Om symbols are used in modern culture to aid focus and remind us of the importance of the breath. 

Mantra

The Om chant is often used in mantra meditations, whether in a group setting or an individual practice. Mantra meditations use the Om sound to bring attention to the present moment and aid focus.

Using rhythm and sound in this way can help increase the flow of energy through the body. Many people find invigorated, empowered and better connected to those around them following a mantra meditation class.

To use the Om sound in your home practice, find a comfortable seated position, close your eyes and begin to relax into your breath. Keep your face and body relaxed.

Take a deep inhale, then as you exhale, chant ‘Om’. Break the sound down into its syllables, ‘A-A-U-U-M-M’, then take a moment of silence before chanting again. Feel the vibrations resonating through your chest, and use these waves of sound to help you to stay focused. The first two syllables should be chanted with an open mouth, before pursing your lips together for the final two syllables.

00.00
Om
  • Om

Visualisation

The visualisation of the Om symbol can be combined with chanting for a deeply powerful experience. Visualising the Om symbol as you meditate can further enhance your practice, and the Om symbol can serve as a powerful reminder of the lessons learned from meditation.

Many people use the Om symbol to remind them to focus, stay calm and breathe. The Om symbol is often found on jewellery, yoga clothing and mats. It’s almost become the unofficial logo of yoga, but it’s important to remember that it’s significance goes far beyond just the physical practice. However, it can be extremely helpful to have Om around your home remind you to slow down and breathe in trying times.

Key Facts

  1. The Om symbol is prevalent in spiritual practices all around the world; and it’s predominantly used in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain culture.

  2. The Om symbol is a visual representation of the Om sound, a sacred sound made up of vibrations.

  3. The Om sound represents the universe and everything that’s in it, and is often used to remind us of the unity of the mind, body and soul.

  4. Reciting the Om sound in a mantra meditation can be deeply calming, and this sound can help increase the flow of positive energy around the body.

  5. Meditation and yoga teachers often use the Om chant to bring a sense of unity and connection to group practices.

  6. The Om symbol can be used in visualisation meditations to aid focus and enhance your practice.