In recent years, a beautiful symbol has been making its rounds on the internet, frequently accompanied by these words:
Breathe. This ancient Sanskrit symbol is a beautiful reminder to do what comes naturally. It’s the first thing we do when we come into the world, and the last thing we do when we leave.
There is no denying the wisdom of these words and the beauty of this symbol with its alluring curves and dots. It brings to mind similar designs, including the Sanskrit symbol for Om (Aum), the unalome, and the modern symbol for meditation.
As more and more people choose to get these symbols inked on their skin, they look for unique variations that feel particularly personal or meaningful to them. Compared to its rivals, this symbol is appealing because it is less commonly seen. But is it actually the ancient Sanskrit symbol for ‘breathe’?
Before getting any tattoo, it’s important to understand the meaning behind your chosen design, particularly if it’s in a language other than your own. Today, we’re going to explore the origins and interpretations of this symbol so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you.
Similarities with the Symbol for Om
If you’re familiar with the symbol for Om, you’ll quickly spot the similarities between the ancient Sanskrit symbol for ‘breathe’ and the one for Om. They share a similar structure and shape, which leads us to believe that these symbols are deeply connected.
Among the most ancient symbols in Indic religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, Om describes the sound of this most sacred spiritual symbol. Over time, it has evolved to represent many abstract concepts that are important to the Indic religions. At its most universal level, it is accepted as a tool for meditation and is used as a mantra to help focus the mind.
Om is translated and understood to mean a variety of things, including: “it is so,” “let it be so,” the “whole of Veda,” “the universe beyond the sun,” “the infinite language,” and the “essence of breath, life, everything that exists.”
It is this last translation that many people are familiar with, particularly those who practice yoga or meditation. In the practice of Pranava yoga, in particular, Om or Aum is the most sacred of all holy words. It is considered the supreme mantra and its uttering is the focal point of Pranava yoga.
In all forms of yoga, breathwork is a vital component, with intentional breathing becoming a lifelong journey for many practitioners. Given this powerful connection, it’s likely that this purported Sanskrit symbol for ‘breathe’ is in fact simply a modern variation of the better known Om.
Similarities with Unalome
The ancient Sanskrit symbol for ‘breathe’ calls to mind many of the beautiful variations of unalome that are often seen in tattoo design today, as well as in temporary tattoo designs too. This symbol also comes from ancient India and is frequently found in Hindu and Buddhist writings and artwork.
Like the Sanskrit symbol for ‘breathe,’ the unalome also contains elegant curves, lines, and dots. Unalomes start with a spiral at the bottom which represents the beginning of one’s path to enlightenment. The loops and spirals along the way represent the struggles we face on this journey.
Eventually, the line straightens out and ends in three dots. Many people believe that the straightening of the line represents enlightenment and that the dots indicate the end of the journey and the end of one’s life.
In the Sanskrit symbol for ‘breathe’ design for either a permanent or temporary tattoo, there is no denying that the presence of three dots below and above the design is a strong reference to unalome. The words that typically accompany this symbol seem to indicate the same: “it’s the first thing we do in this world, and the last thing we do when we leave it.”
In the Sanskrit symbol for ‘breathe,’ these three dots are used to represent the beginning and end of life, just as the dots of unalome represent the end of the journey.
A Connection to the Symbol for Meditation
Finally, this symbol also calls to mind the minimalist symbol for meditation, which is another popular and modern tattoo (or fake tattoo) design that reflects the essential practice of breathwork and meditation.
Those seeking a meaningful symbol to show their respect for this ancient practice may choose a minimalist interpretation, which uses a series of loops to represent the image of a person seated in a classic meditative pose.
It’s easy to see the connection between these two elegant designs, which both celebrate the incredible power of breathing. Nearly all meditation practices center around the use of breathing to calm the body and quiet the mind.
The Sanskrit symbol for ‘breathe’ reminds us of the power that our own breath holds, while the meditation symbol can serve as a reminder to always carve out this space in your life to focus on your breathing and clear your mind.
What Does a Sanskrit Symbol for ‘Breathe’ Tattoo Mean to You?
In our fast-paced modern world, many of us crave a deeper connection with ourselves. We desire the opportunity to slow down and to connect more deeply with our own spirituality, as well as the world around us. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by focusing on our breathwork, which is one of the only vital forces in our lives that we can control.
While it may not be possible to ascertain that this symbol is indeed the ancient Sanskrit symbol for ‘breathe,’ it remains an inspiring design that can serve a deep purpose in your life as it reminds you to ground yourself in the life-giving force of your own breath.
If you feel an attraction to this design and the meaning behind it, you may choose to get it inked on your skin as a way to embrace your own practice of breathwork, yoga, or meditation. Alternatively, you may be looking for an elegant design that will work as a powerful reminder to slow down and take the time to breathe, no matter what challenges life throws your way.
Referencing the ancient symbol for Om, Unalome, and the modern symbol for meditation, this is a beautiful and meaningful design that brings a hint of ancient wisdom and the divine into your life each day. Even if this isn’t actually the ancient Sanskrit symbol for ‘breathe,’ it’s still a wonderful option to consider for your next tattoo if you find it attractive and inspiring.