Updated: Jun 15, 2020
🕉 OM / AUM 🕉
The 4 Parts of AUM
Today let’s look at the 4-parts of AUM and how they relate to your life and spiritual practices.
If you’ve been practicing yoga and you “AUM” in class then you have probably heard that “AUM is the essence of all creation” - or something along those lines.
But, what does it really mean?
While AUM is one indivisible mantra, we will observe the individual letters to understand its wholeness.
Yogis (ancient & modern) believe the world begins, is sustained, and destroyed with the 3 syllables that make up the one sound of AUM — A, U, and M.
The Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad begins with AUM and it stands for Supreme Reality; it’s a symbol for what was, what is, and what shall be; and it represents what lies beyond past, present, and future.
AUM as a bija mantra, or seed sound, contains the potential energy of everything in this universe.
First Part of AUM
- The beginning of AUM starts with an “aaaaah” sound.
- The letter “A” is the first letter in almost every alphabet and represents the beginning - as such, it is related to the creation energy of the Hindu trinity, Brahmā.
- The “A” sound resonates in the low belly, the area responsible for creation of another life in the womb, as well as digestion that nourishes the body.
- It represents our doing nature - when we are in a waking state (Vaiśvānara) i.e. most of our daily life the energy of “A” is present.
- It relates to Beta brain waves which is related to the waking state and heightened mental activity.
- This phase of our lives keeps us connected to worldly objects and pursuits.
- It is the habitat of the ego and living in the future, always planning, doing, seeking, stressing.
Second Part of AUM
- The middle of AUM is the “uuuuuh” sound.
- The “U” sound resonates in the chest cavity where life is maintained through respiration and circulation.
- Maintenance of all creation is performed by Viṣṇu.
- It corresponds to the dreaming mental state (Taijasa) and to Alpha brain waves.
- Our past builds our present through habits and subtle sense impressions called saṁskaras.
- The vowel “U” keeps us connected to our own personal stories which keep us living small or set us free to our greatness.
- The key is knowing all of ourselves fully through self study (svādhyāya).
- In this dream state we tend to be more relaxed, focused and creative; and we are not so bogged down by our lives.
Third Part of AUM
- To complete the AUM mantra is the sound of “mmmmmm”.
- When we finish something wonderful we often let out the pleasurable sound “mmmm” (at the end of a great meal or feeling satisfied with a job well done).
- We feel this sound up in our heads and it can be related to the completion energy of Śiva.
- In deep dreamless sleep (Prājna), we rest down into the Theta brain waves which tap us into flashes of insight, reduced outer consciousness, deep meditation and intuition.
- Imagine a time when you were so deep into something — meditation, project, great book — and all that was left was you and the thing; you were fully immersed in the present moment and perhaps there was a glimpse of oneness of all.
- When you are fully in the present with “M” you can easily let go of what isn’t YOU and just BE.
Fourth Part of AUM
- The fourth part is not actually a sound; it’s the silence after the mantra has been completed.
- Have you noticed the vibrations continue without the physical vibrations of sound; you can still feel it? This is the anāhata nāda, or pure silence.
- After repeating A-U-M several times you notice at the end of the sound vibrations there is more than just outer silence, there is an inner silence, your mind is more quiet.
- This sound of silence is said to be the source of creation, the fourth state of consciousness, turīya (peace).
- In this state of consciousness, the Delta brain waves are functioning and your ordinary sense of self is absent.
- Your body and mind are less important and your true self, ātman, is present.
- You feel the reality of sat chit ananda — that you are absolute truth, unclouded consciousness, and pure bliss.
Experience AUM for yourself - the purifying effects of the AUM mantra are better experienced than described.
- Find a comfortable seat, where you can allow the natural curves of your spine to lengthen and relax.
- Take a deep, cleansing breath, a deep inhale through your nostrils, followed by a full exhale out your mouth.
- Take a deep breath, open your mouth wide, slowly exhale, and release the sound “aaaaah”; feel it deep in the belly.
- Another deep breath in, exhale the sound “uuuuuh” with your lips round, an open chamber within your mouth; feel the vibrations in your chest.
- Again, breathe in fully and with your lips closed create the sound “mmmmmm”; feel it move upward towards your sinuses and top of your head - not just at your lips - feel the energy all the way through your head cavity.
Then put them all together in a single, long exhale, with equal emphasis on each part, allowing the sounds morph one into the other; they are no longer three distinct letters, but one resounding sound moving from the back of your mouth to the front and vertically through your body from your pelvis to your chest and head.
Chant A-U-M in this way several times.
Let your voice be heard.
Feel the experience of all of creation moving through you through this mystical sound, and then rest in the pure silence at the end.
Relish in clear consciousness and gently experience all that is.
AUM is a powerful mantra said to have the ability to destroy all your sins. To do this you are supposed to chant AUM 12,000 times in a single day.
Even with three at the beginning and end of a class you can feel the unifying effects of Aum.
Practice what you can, and let the essence of your spirit guide your practice.
I could talk about AUM for a really long time, but in the effort of keeping you interested, I’ll pause here today.
I love how sometimes it is the most simple practices that can be the most profound.
Truly, you don’t need anything more than AUM — everything is contained within it.