Om Namaḥ Śivāya is an ancient Sanskrit chant
packed with considerable meaning and symbolism. It is an
expression of deepest respect, faith and devotion for the divine spirit to which we are all connected and from which we come. It means, "I bow to the highest form of Spirit”. It is believed that chanting Om Namaḥ Śivāya brings us blessings and leads us to the highest state of meditation and peace. When we break it down a bit we may start to understand it’s real power.
OM or AUM is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of all teaching and prayers. The Upanishads, some of the oldest spiritual texts in existence, have this to say:
stands for the supreme Reality. It is the symbol for what was, what is, and
what shall be. OM represents also what lies beyond past, present and
Whoa! So that means pretty much everything, everywhere.
Namaḥ Śivāya is known as the Great Redeeming Mantra. It’s also known as the Panchakshara Mantra (5 syllabled mantra). Śiva represents the most supreme reality and our inner Self or “true” identity. Śiva is the name given to the consciousness that dwells in all things. Śivāya is then the most holy name of the diety Śiva, this ultimate consciousness. Unpacking things further, Na is Śiva’s concealing grace, Ma is the world, Śi stands for Śiva, Va is revealing grace, Ya is the soul. Underlying this mantra there believed to be a profound healing aspect. As we chant the five syllables of Na-maḥ-Śi-vā-ya, the “five elements”, (earth, water, fire, air and ether) that are thought to comprise the body and are associated with the chakras, become purified. Na is earth, Ma is water, Śi is fire, Vā is air, and Ya is ether, (or Ākāśa). We could think of it as a kind of vibrational cleanse.
Like most symbolism in yoga, it gets sort of complicated. Ultimately chanting Om Namaḥ Śivāya is an expression of deepest
devotion, faith, belief and
respectfor the power and source which connects all things and from which we emanate. It is an expression of awe for the mystery and gift of life.