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Om Shanti: “The Peace That Passeth Understanding”

In Yoga class, OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI is often chanted. What Does It Mean?

For eons, the sacred sounds OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI has been chanted. OM (also spelled AUM) is a sacred sound and mantra in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. OM can be said to be the universal sound of creation.

 

As Dr. Marc Halpern says in his textbook, Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine, “OM is the sound of creation itself. All of creation is understood to vibrate in harmony with OM, and OM is understood to vibrate within all of creation. We are healthy when we are in harmony. Disease can be understood as vibrating out of harmony with OM on the subtlest energetic level. Thus, the chanting of OM realigns one’s internal vibration with that of the universe.” 

 

OM is often called the “universal mantra,” and is powerful when chanted all by itself. It is also often chanted along with “Shanti.”

 

So what, then, is Shanti?

 

Shanti is a Sanskrit word which means peace. When one meditates, truly meditates, one eventually discovers the inner realm at the very core of one’s existence. Here lies our pure Self, pure Being-ness, our soul, which is untainted by the events of the material world. In this state, one experiences a peace so deep and so profound that one naturally experiences pure bliss. This is what is meant by shanti; shanti is considered “the peace that passeth understanding.” 

 

Om Shanti is invoked at the end of every Upanishad (ancient writings concerning the nature of ultimate reality) as a reminder of this sublime state. It is often repeated three times: "Om Shanti Shanti Shanti," representing peace in body, peace in mind, and peace in soul. Or peace individually, peace collectively, and peace universally.

 

As we approach this New Year, may we all experience OM SHANTI ~ and find within our own hearts the indelible peace that is our natural birthright. In so doing, may we serve as living examples for others to follow, so that we each may find the place of shanti within; for peace on Earth begins with peace within each of our hearts.

 

Om Shanti ~ Marisa Laursen 

 

Marisa Laursen, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda