“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”
How cryptic of Saint John, the Christian mystic, to lay this on us in the first lines of his biblical contribution. So what exactly does he mean by “the Word”? It says “the Word was God”, but does that mean that the Word was literally “God”?
What if instead, we change “Word” to “Sound”?
Interestingly enough, the ancient Vedas point to exactly that. According to the ancient text, the first energetic utterance to enter the vast universal nothingness was the sound vibration “Aum”.
Aum is a sound of manifestation that not only created everything in the universe but is the vibratory force underlying all that exists. According to Paramahansa Yogananda, one of the people credited with bringing yoga to the west, “By listening to Aum, the yogi becomes a true Brahmachari or one who is attuned to Brahman (Supreme Cosmic Spirit). By deep concentration, the devotee can hear Aum at any time and in any place.”
“First, the devotee realizes Aum as the manifested cosmic energy in all matter. The earthly sounds of all atomic motion, including the sounds of the body—the heart, lungs, circulation, cellular activity—come from the cosmic sound of the creative vibratory activity of Aum. The sounds of the nine octaves perceptible to the human ear, as well as all cosmic low or high vibrations that cannot be registered by the human ear, have their origin in Aum. So also, all forms of light—fire, sunlight, electricity, astral light—are expressions of the primal cosmic energy of Aum.”
In other words, Aum creates and composes everything.
Aum As a Symbol
The symbol for Aum (below) is one that many in the west have seen, but might not realize the deeper meaning of. The same symbol is found in many different cultures. In this infographic I put together, Aum’s deeper meaning is revealed.
How to use Aum
1. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit upright with a straight spine. Many people sit with their legs crossed or in half/full lotus posture, but you may also choose to sit on the seat of a chair. You may hold your hands in prayer pose in front of your heart, by your knees with your thumb and middle finger touching, or clasped comfortably in your lap. The idea is to be relaxed though, so do whatever feels best for you.
2. Gently close your eyes and turn your focus in and toward your third eye, the space between and slightly above your eyebrows.
3. Progressively relax all of your muscles and nerves, starting from the top of your head and ending at the base of your spine.
4. Begin chanting Aum moderately-loudly with zeal and with the feeling that you are infinite and all-pervading. Be sure to linger on each of the sounds of A – U – M.
5. Continue to chant while becoming incrementally quieter until you are chanting only in your mind.
6. I recommend using a mala (Buddhist prayer beads), which I will cover in a later post, in order to keep track of how many repetitions you do. Your goal should be to do 108 repetitions or one cycle on a mala. We choose 108 because according to Vedics, our body contains 108 energy channels and we should allow the sound vibration to fill all of the energy lines in our bodies and balance them.
7. Continue for as many cycles as you desire and allow yourself to melt away into the ether, expanding into all of creation.
Meditating with the Aum mantra is an incredible way to start your day with a boost of peace and energy. It’s such a great practice even the Sun does it!