statue of buddha

Meditation Symbols – What Do They Mean?

Before we start – I am no ‘guru’ nor a spiritual expert. I just enjoy Meditation and Yoga and wanted to start a blog from my perspective of trying to create a daily routine that allows me a glimpse of the stillness they can bring. I try to link out to as many reputable sources within these posts as I can, some of these external links enable me to earn a commission which helps towards the running of the blog.

When it comes to the spiritual world, particularly that of yoga and meditation we are surrounded by mystical symbols and embellished artifacts.

Although neither is a form of any religion, traditionally, it is believed that practicing both yoga and meditation with certain symbols brings positive energy, focus, content, and ultimate oneness with the universe. Yoga symbols and meditation symbols will probably be familiar to anyone who has trained in either practice or even attended just one class.

The popularity of both yoga and meditation continues to increase, however, if you’re new to either practice or have only recently implemented sitting and stillness as part of your morning routine you may still be unaware of the importance attached to meditation symbols and yoga symbols.

The mystical symbols within the world of yoga and meditation each have a special meaning and in this article, we will take a look one by one at their spiritual significance.

Why should you learn to understand these yoga and meditation symbols?

It is believed that practicing both yoga and meditation with these symbols in mind allows an individual to come into contact with universal forces. With sustained practice, this can lead to attaining the highest level of spiritual energy through the development of positive vibrations, as well as gaining insight into one’s path.

Different meditation and yoga symbols serve a different purpose and each symbol has deep scientific meaning behind its origin. They play an integral part in healing health issues and hence, it becomes essential to understand their purpose.

What do the different meditation symbols mean?

  • The Om

    ‘Om’ is the most sacred Hindu Mantra, chanted at the beginning and end of the many Sanskrit prayers. It’s probably one of the most recognizable yoga symbols. Its humming sound creates a magical experience with the vibrations passing through the middle of the chest. This symbol represents oneness with the Almighty and the Universe. It also portrays the three Hindu Gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva symbolizing creator, preserver, and destroyer respectively. It originated in ancient times when the sages began practicing meditation.

‘Om’ is made up of three letters and all the letters have a deep spiritual meaning.

  • A (aahh)/  the waking state.‘aahh’ represents the creation of the universe. It allows us to be at one with blissful experience of its existence and elevates us to obtain the spiritual powers from the cosmos. You should begin to sense the vibrations emerging from the throat and deeply feel its presence across your abdomen.
  • U (oohh)/ the dream state.‘oohh’ represents the spiritual nature of our body. It signifies that our body is not just made up of flesh, bones, and muscles but there is something more than the physical existence. It brings purity, warmth, balance, lightness, and humanity.
  • M (mmmm)/ the state of deep sleep.‘mmmm’ represents the universe’s powerful spiritual forces and the speculation that makes us who we are. It brings us connectivity to both abstract and physical existence. This is a state where a person neither desires anything nor holds any dreams.

The silence observed after chanting ‘Om’ highlights the state of pure consciousness where the person feels blissful for their existence. The sound can help us feel connected to the entire universe. Chanting OM is also said to facilitate the opening of your intuition connecting to the divine force of the universe. You can find many different yoga asana and meditation practices that focus on engaging and connecting to the higher self.

  • The Lotus Flower Symbol:

    On the surface, the lotus flower belongs to the family of water lilies, however, it has deep spiritual significance and is considered a sacred symbol in Eastern religions and teachings. Like a water lily, the lotus flower blossoms on the water’s surface but contains roots deep down below in the mud, this signifies a ray of hope in dark times.

In Buddhism, the petals of a lotus flower represent a heart opening and the potential for our expansion and enlightenment.We can overcome the hard times of our lives by allowing the divinity within us to bloom, just like the way the Lotus flower blossoms in the still water and shines in the light of the sun.

Every problem has a solution and every day brings new hopes, dreams, solutions, and aspirations. The lotus flower symbol can help us to remember that we have the power within us to overcome hardship. When you meditate, try focusing on this heart opening symbol in your mind’s eye, like a blossom coming into bloom.

As well as being a spiritual symbol in itself the lotus flower poses lotus pose, or ‘Padmasana’, is also incorporated into meditation as well and can be practiced by sitting cross-legged and placing your wrists directly on to your thighs. We have reviewed a selection of the best meditation cushions to help you achieve this pose with ease.

This develops a good posture and allows for flexibility in the knees while making use of strong back muscles. This pose also helps in building concentration and preventing abdominal ailments. This pose is used as a base for meditation and chanting ‘Mantras’.

  • The Hamsa:

    This symbol is traditionally depicted in two forms – One by a right hand with an open palm and the other has two symmetrical thumbs surrounding the fingers. The Hamsa is also often called the hand of God. The Hamsa evil eye is when the hand also includes an evil eye symbol in the center of the palm.

The second form is widely used and it denotes the protection from evil spirits. This hamsa evil eye symbolism has made its way into many cultures and can often be seen worn in the form of amulet facing either up or down.

Many people also hang the Hamsa in the entrance of their home and it is believed to bring good luck vitality, strength, and prosperity. Usually, ‘The Evil Eye symbol’ is included in the ‘Hamsa’ hand to protect against evil spirits. The Hamsa Evil Eye symbol is an ancient symbol that represents the sum of all evil forces in the world. When it’s found in the center of a Hamsa hand, however, it’s to protect you from negative energy and intercept bad forces. The evil eye in the middle of the Hamsa is often worn as an amulet or charm to ward off bad vibes. The evil eye can be found in varied forms in many different cultures.

Interestingly this symbolism has significance in almost all world religions and made its way into the popular culture around the globe and its origins can be traced back to the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia which would now be situated in modern-day Iraq.

yoga towel with symbol

  • The Mandala:

    The literal meaning of the mandala symbol is ‘Circle’ and was designed to represent the universe.

Interestingly you will often come across the mandala symbol in a number of different designs and patterns, however, they all represent this same, overarching meaning. By representing the universe as a whole the Mandala symbol is believed to offer the balancing elements of nature that bring peace, harmony, and unity. By representing the universe and these natural forces the Mandala also connects the union of mind, body, and soul.

The concentric circles in the Mandala also represent the human body and how we are a manifestation of many relationships in the form of friends and family.

As well as the representation described above, Mandalas are also designed to predict the journey of one’s life.They can reveal the present status of an individual and suggests effective ways of achieving a peaceful, healthy, and prosperous life.

They are designed in such a way that they happen to be visually pleasing to people by distracting their negative thoughts and develop a spiritual essence by observing it continuously until the individual attains the higher state of consciousness and this is how Mandala’s should be used spiritually to gain concentration during meditation

Do not think too much about what you’re looking at, instead just follow the patterns and let yourself become immersed in the design of the Mandala, becoming at one with the universe that the Mandala represents. As we begin gazing at Mandalas, a blissful feeling arises within us that can lead to the path of enlightenment. The Mandala design is beautiful, it’s often found on yoga mats as one of the most common yoga symbols.

  • Buddha:

    As many followers of yoga and meditation are already aware, Buddha was a former prince named Siddhartha and the founder of Buddhism.

Because of this, symbols of Buddha are synonymous with the practice of eastern spirituality. Depicted as the ‘awakened one’, Buddha gave up the luxuries of life to discover the purpose of existence.

Through the practice of dedicated mediation sessions, Buddha was able to awaken the spiritual forces hidden within himself and achieve the everlasting contentment, peace, and happiness associated with enlightenment.

Through attaining this higher level of consciousness Buddha was able to gain a following of dedicated disciples, with the practice of meditation and yoga still continuing to grow to this very day.

As a result, the symbol of Buddha has spread with it and can be used to enhance focus during meditation sessions by allowing ourselves to be at peace, and at one with ‘buddha’. The Buddha also represents one of the most powerful yoga symbols, offering a sense of tranquility and inner peace.

  • Chakras:

    The term chakras literally translates as ‘the wheels’ and according to yogic tradition relate to parts of the body that we cannot see or touch but where energy flows through and can be released from.

Our body has seven major chakras that represent the energy centers of our body.

When the negativity gets blocked in any one of these chakras, there is the potential to arise from mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional problems. In order to achieve peace, it is required to balance these chakras and to follow the path of enlightenment.

The highest emotional quotient can be gained by performing asanas in yoga that make use of these vital energy centers. Yoga teachers often teach effective ways to increase the flow of positive energy through chakras which will assist in dispersing any negativity stored within the body.

Because of their complexity, the symbols of chakras are often studied at length by those new to the practice of both yoga and meditation. By studying this symbolism you will be able to identify exactly where chakras reside within your temporary body and to increase the flow of positive energy.

The first five chakras represent the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space. The root chakra is located at the base of the spine and represents earth. The second chakra is the sacral chakra, followed by the solar plexus chakra, the heart chakra, throat chakra, third eye chakra, and crown chakra.

The final two chakras are associated with the elements of light and cosmic energy, thus connecting us with the universe as a whole and allowing us to tap into infinity. Once we understand the association of each element within each chakra we can begin to gain access to the sources of spiritual energy. The third eye chakra is connected with intuition and psychic abilities, many work to open this chakra in order to gain greater clarity. When you meditate on your heart chakra, you work on all forms of love.

  • Namaste:

    Namaste is an ancient tradition as a way to greet others.

It is the equivalent of simply saying Hello and is frequently used throughout India and Nepal to begin and conclude a meditative session or even a regular conversation. In Western society, Namaste has become one of the most common yoga symbols, often used to close a session. If you take regular yoga classes, no doubt you’ll be familiar with chanting Namaste either to end a meditation or a class to say thanks to your teacher.

Broken down, ‘Nama’ translates as ‘bow’ –  People bow their heads with their hands touching close to their heart and in yoga asana tradition, this is a gesture used to thank a teacher for their teachings.

‘Namaste’ is a way of sending positive vibrations to others. When a person greets another with the spiritual and divine feeling, the same feeling is created within the person who receives it.

Because of this, it is the best way to help others develop the qualities of spirituality and positivity.

Joining both the hands together also has good health benefits. When all the points of our hands are connected together, it releases stress, pain, and fear, helping achieve a balanced healthy life.

Because of these positive connotations, the symbol of Namaste has become associated with both yoga and meditation, helping those who come to associate with the symbol to release positive vibrations just by viewing this symbolism.

How can these meditation symbols enhance my meditation practice?

To summarize, yoga practiced with the use of these symbols can benefit us spiritually and physically. If you follow any form of guided meditation, you can work to clear and cleanse your chakras or open your third eye and work on connecting to higher consciousness. These meditation symbols can help you to enter a state of tranquility, they offer a certain spiritual reverence that may assist you in gaining enlightenment.

We hope this guide has helped you to discover some of the meanings associated with these symbols and allow you to incorporate them into your practice in order to achieve the desired results. To enhance your yoga practices further you can also explore our guides looking at the best books about yoga as well as our review of yoga blocks and how they can help you achieve more during your yoga sessions.

Charlie Morley

I'm Charlie. I’m not a ‘guru’ or yogi with ten vipassana retreats under my belt. Far from it. I just enjoy Meditation and Yoga and want to create a daily routine that allows me to be present, mindful and in touch with consciousness and thought I would blog about the process.

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