AUM (OM): A Nice *Little* Practice

January 25, 2015


No doubt about it, the OM is epic. We know the OM from the beginning and ending of Sanskrit mantras, from multiple meditative practices, and even from a few giggle-worthy youtube videos sending up new age spirituality and yoga. From the snarky to the sublime, the OM is the topic of modern research and the simple seed sound of ancient medicine.

OM is thought to be the sound of all creation, and indeed if you break it down, it contains many sounds in the One, a myriad of sound frequencies in a single seed syllable.

The benefits of the OM are best understood in the experience of practice. Here’s a simple practice inspired by one of my beloved teachers, Chloë Goodchild. It reflects the idea of the OM as multiple sound frequencies in one,  i.e. carrying three distinctly sounded parts or aspects, the AUM sounded as roughly, “AHHH-OHHH-MMMM.”


3 Main Sounds. This practice is simply the smooth blending of the sounds Ah-Oh-Mm, on a single breath. Rather than “Ohm,” “AH-OH-MM”.

(If you’re big into pronunciation, here are a few extra notes: I break it down in this exercise so you get all of the parts, but in reality the “Ah” and the “Oh” are part of one vowel sound, blended together smoothly:  what we call a dipthong in English pronunciation. The “ah” is like the ‘a’ in “law,” and the “oh” has a bit of the ‘u’ from “put”)

Release the Sound, rather than “make” sound. Remember, whenever we sound, sing or chant, it is simply a case of releasing the sound on breath. Don’t worry about getting the tone or volume or resonance just right, don’t think about “making” sound so much as simply intending to release sound on the out-breath. As always, there are no wrong notes!

Here it is:

Begin. Imagine an angel or guide or other gentle spirit friend kissing your back, right behind your heart. Feel that, AHHH.

AHHH. Start on the sound “Ahhh,” imagining it coming alive in the back of your mouth.

(NOTE: do not let the sound drop way down into your throat. This will make the vowel sound rather flat and low-energy, and can even cause vocal strain.)

OHHH. Move into the “Ohhh,” imagining the sound now moving forward towards the centre of your mouth. It’s like the whole mouth cavity is a sphere rounding to create a rich, round sound. Again, it sounds more like the “u” in put.

Mmm. On the “Mmm,” the sound moves forward. Simply close your lips to complete on the “Mmm” and sound until your breath is complete. The inside of your mouth is still rounded as in the “Oh,” you are simply closing your lips to creating the humming sound of the “Mmm.”  Some writers suggest that the “Mmm” should be equal in the length to the vowel sound.  Try it, see what you think.

Repeat. Repeat for as long as you have time. Even 5 minutes can be really supportive. Even 1 minute.

Leave Silence. Experiment with sounding for a few moments, then taking a break for silence.  Leave some silence at the beginning and especially the end of your practice.



-Put on a drone soundtrack in the background to help create the container for your sounding. Chloë Goodchild’s “In A” is a good one, available at Or search “tanpura drone” on youtube.

-Sruti boxes, harmoniums or a synth pad setting on a keyboard also can create a drone

-Practice with a friend. Even two people together can up the energy of the practice. I’ve had wonderful calming energizing experiences sounding AUM on a phone conference line with a few people scattered around the world.

-Once you get the hang of the practice, start noticing where you feel the resonance of each sound in your body, your face and head.


The benefits of sounding OM (AUM) are many: please let me know what you experience, and if you want more you can check out the workshop, here.


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