PYS 1.28 taj-japas tad-artha-bhāvanam
By Chanting Om one realizes the meaning of Om.
PYS 1.29 tataḥ pratyak-cetanādhigamo ‘pyantarāyābhāvaś ca
From repetition of and reflection on Om, comes Cosmic Consciousness as well as destruction of physical and mental diseases.
Although our true Self is not the body and mind, we do have a body and mind, and are very often victims of disturbing thoughts or physical pain. It is the nature of the human form to feel this way sometimes, and it is often difficult to get past. Unfortunately it has become custom in our society to turn to “pain-killer” drugs or anti-depressants to deal with these issues, but there is a better way! According to Patanjali, all we have to do is chant Om!
Om (made up of four sounds: ahh-ooo-mmm, and silence), when chanted, vibrates throughout the body, starting in the abdomen, moving through the heart, and then finally through the skull. Om is the first sound that was, when the world was created, and it resonates in all that surrounds us. It is universal. It is boundless joy. We are “Om”.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Om is referred to as pranava, ever new, and each time it is said, you are re-newed, “brought into alignment again.” Repeatedly chanting Om will allow you to start fresh, wiping the slate clean of the pain we feel.
In PYS 1.29, Patanjali prescribes the repetition of Om as the cure for antarāya – blocks or obstacles; or rather, physical and mental diseases. He goes on to name these obstacles – sickness, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sexual preoccupation, error of perception, failure to be grounded, instability, and distractions of the mind. But how? What is it about Om that can cure these ailments? Well for one, Om is God (in whatever form that means to you), and if Om resonates in everything of this Earth, including us, then we are God too. When we chant Om, we are connected to everything and anything that is part of this earth, and eventually we realize we are the same as everything of this Earth. If we are all the same, then the pain and suffering we feel is unsubstantial. Unfortunately the mental and physical afflictions we feel prevent us from realizing this right away, or even realizing it in this lifetime. In order to become a Jivanmukta, one who becomes liberated, or enlightened, in this lifetime, one must realize that they are not the pain and suffering that they feel. Om can help us get there.
Om is also considered to be the most powerful of mantras. A mantra is a word or phrase that has “transcendental powers”, traversing, or protecting, the mind. When chanting Om, no other thoughts can break through. Any distractions are forgotten about. Om is like our own personal magical elixir that causes a shift in perception – the cure is inside of us. But the trick is to keep going, working at it, practice – pratyak means you relinquish going out – you want to turn back, but you keep going.
We often feel these physical and mental afflictions when practicing asana. Tightness in the hamstrings and hips, thoughts about something that happened earlier in the day, week, month, year. If we focus on the pain, it can become a burden, stopping us from becoming a Jivanmukta. But by chanting Om while in various asanas, it will allow the mind to stop focusing on the physical difficultness of the pose, maybe even make the pose easier. Om into the pain. Feel it vibrate through the body. Let the silence that comes after permeate through you. Feel the pulsation of the entire universe inside the body, and eventually realize that you are the entire universe. You are Om. You are God.