The meaning :
It means “I bow to Shiva.” Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner Self. It is the name given to consciousness that dwells in all. Shiva is the name of your true identity- your self.
According to Hindu mythology there are three Gods who run this creation. The Brahma – who creates the universe, the Vishnu – who preserves the Universe and the Shiva- who in the end destroys the universe. Among the three deities, Shiva, though considered as destroyer, also symbolize the – the inner self which remains intact even after everything ends.
In this mantra the chanter (one who repeats the mantra) bow to Shiva- his true self.
Om Namah Shivay is a very powerful mantra. It has been said about this mantra that if this mantra vibrates continually in your heart, then you have no need to perform austerities, to meditate, or to practise yoga. To repeat this mantra you need no rituals or ceremonies, nor must you repeat it at an auspicious time or in a particular place.”
This mantra is free of all restrictions. It can be repeated by anyone, young or old, rich or poor and no matter what state a person is in, it will purify him.
How to repeat ‘Om Namah Shivay’
Sit in a comfortable and peaceful place and position. Start repeating the mantra in your mind or loudly with the same speed as you talk:
Om Namah Shivay (Aum Num-ha Shi-why)
A youtube video wherein this Mantra has been chanted in an excellent way :
( To repeat any mantra as already mentioned in General Rules : one should repeat it with full awareness of its meaning. )Repeat ‘Om Namah Shivay’, with the feeling that you are bowing to Shiva – your true inner self. Repeat this mantra with respect. The inner self is the form of God in you. So as you say ‘ Om Namah Shivay’ i.e. “I bow to Shiva’; you are actually bowing to God – The great almighty.
The repetition of the name of God is equivalent to be merged in his very being. When you repeat God’s name in your mouth, in one way, you experience the God itself. Just repeat this mantra with faith and it’s powerful phonetic vibrations will start doing miracle for you.
Further Reading :
Let us proceed to second Mantra:
Next : Hare Krishna Mantra