WHAT IS “OM”?
Om is the sound and vibration of the Universe!
Being primordial, or having existed since the beginning of time, it is said to hold within it all sounds, and the sound of silence as well.
As a simple mantra or mind tool, Om can be thought of as the universal seed of sound from which all other sounds and vibrations manifest. While the sound of Om is simple, its meaning is powerful and sacred. One could spend many words discussing the concept of Om, but this article is focused on the practice of self-created sounds like Om (Aum) or humming in your meditation practice.
Using Om as a mantra, you can awaken your inner world to the mystery of our existence.
HOW TO PRACTICE OM MEDITATION
Gently chant Om to yourself. Feel how each part of the mantra feels in your body and mind:
Make some noise. Feel the vibrations in the chest, head, and the rest of the body. The Om’s vibration aligns us with vitality in the body and the nature of the Universe.
Self-created sounds, such as humming and chanting, are easily included in meditation and can profoundly affect your feelings of relaxation and well-being.
According to Jonathan and Andi Goldman (2017), the effects of chanting Om vs “normal humming” are interchangeable in their effects on the body. In part, this is because the practice extends the exhale, allowing the diaphragm to hug the vagus nerve. This sends the body into rest and relaxation mode by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, and also helps with our quality of sleep.
In my experience, humming provides a tool to help me get grounded and focused on my meditation. When just beginning your meditation journey, having a way to engage your senses helps anchor your mind. Self-created sound also helps us to deepen our practice, opening us up to mystery, truth, and healing. While it may be impossible to fully explain, it can be experienced with curiosity and openness when you arrive in practice.
PRACTICING HUMMING MEDITATION
To start, find a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Recognize how you feel. As you deepen your breath, begin to hum on your exhale. Repeating this step for a few moments to get used to the beauty of your unique vibration.
I encourage you to play with this hum – the pitch, the length, and where you feel it in the mouth. Send it into the throat – give yourself permission to experiment without expectations.
Next, exchange the hum for your chant. Om with the exhale. Staying with this chant as you go deeper into your meditation. As with the hum, Om with intention, not for perfection. Feel free to go between the chant and the humming to find what feels right.
To make this experience more intense, use your thumbs to plug your ears allowing the vibrations to scatter throughout your head. This variation was inspired by the yogic bee breath. I have found it very engaging in meditation to provoke curiosity about the sensation of the physical body, as well as the subtle energy body.
Be present within yourself, the moment, and the Universe, for as long as feels right for you. I recommend trying to do this meditation for at least 5-10 minutes but make this practice one that works for you. In my experience, it helps me to decompress at the end of the day.
When the practice feels complete, let your breath quiet as you observe the effects of your practice. How do you feel? What has come up in this practice? Does the vibration linger anywhere in the body? The mind? When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and greet the moment with a smile!
Hum happily. Om often. And know that the Universe is within each of us!
Here’s the video of the humming meditation:
Goldman, J., & Goldman, A. (2017). The humming effect: Sound healing for health and happiness. Healing Arts Press.