The origin of the term spanda (“tremor” or “vibration”) is found in the spiritual tradition of the Kashmir Shaivism. Spanda is the primordial vibration of the Universe and of our being.
The concept of “primordial vibration” usually refers to the creation of the universe; there are texts which refer to it as the transcendental cause of the universe. The word “vibration” alone evokes the idea of a periodic movement.
As a matter of fact, in our human being, spanda captures the dimension of a deeper level of ineffable intimacy which is part of the innermost reality of our being. It is the thrill, the sacred vibration or the Sacred Tremor of our Heart.
In our daily life, the Sacred Tremor can be experienced in any circumstances as enthusiasm or an intense inner drive. A life lived within the Heart is “sahridaya,” while the absence of this experience (of living within the Heart) causes apathy, distrust, inertia. It causes the individual to become inefficient and to lack focus.
Spanda is an essential concept in Hridaya Yoga.
Spanda brings back the ability to naturally center in the Heart and regain the joy of life. In essence, Hridaya Yoga corresponds with an awakening to a state of wonderment and subtle delight through the Sacred Tremor of the Heart. It opens a new door towards the whole spectrum of life.
We all experience a range of emotions which we describe as “uplifting.” Such as the emotions aroused by the sense of the infinite before the starry night sky, by the contemplation of a view which opens up from a mountain top or of the beauty of the rising sun. And, there are other emotions related to art (artistic emotions), to love, to overwhelming happiness, longing, fervor, devotion, spiritual aspiration, etc. These emotions can help us to get to know more profoundly the Spiritual Heart, and who we really are.
If we get beyond the infinitely vast spectrum of these experiences, beyond the circumstances of the experience itself and beyond its object, we will learn that, initially, there is only one impulse and that, after all and ultimately, everything else is but an expression of the one and only vibration: the extremely subtle vibration of the same unique Sacred Tremor of the Spiritual Heart.
It is through spiritual practice of Hridaya Yoga that spanda is revealed as the underlying background of all the rhythms of life. Spanda then is revealed as being the one and the same supreme vibration that pervades both the energies of one’s body and the energies of the whole universe.
The mind can always come up with reasons to deny or affirm the existence of the divine reality. As a matter of fact, it is only within the Heart that we find the certainty of the Existence, of “Something” such as the Divine Reality.
It is only while feeling the heartbeat that one can say: “Yes, I believe in God. Why? Because, in the first place, this is an extremely intimate conviction and because I feel it here, unshakably strong, in my chest).”
It may be overwhelming to realize that the source of our faith (regardless of the religious or cultural context in which we express it) is a discreet tremor of ineffable nature which one can feel in the chest.
This tremor can be experienced at the physical level as well. For this reason, the significance of the tremor of the Heart is essential in Hridaya Yoga. It could be mistaken for a regular energetic awakening of the etheric body or even as a sign potentially identifying the activation of the Anahata Chakra or the awakening of the soul.
But these assumptions can only limit one’s perspective and spiritual endeavor. The Tremor of the Heart is the very expression of spanda, the Sacred Tremor, the highest existential vibration, the very bliss giving vibration of the Spiritual Heart. The Sacred Tremor of the Heart is present every single moment, in every human being, even if only very few spiritual traditions have mentioned it as such.
The Sacred Tremor of the Heart radiates in every person, even if it was and continued to be ignored, repressed or neglected.
The Sacred Tremor, spanda, exists at all levels of the manifestation.
The spiritual tradition of Buddhism describes meditation techniques in which the students are taught to practice awareness of the ways in which emotions express and reflect themselves through physical sensations. This is how feelings become “tangible.”
It is in a similar manner, that the Tremor of the Heart manifests one’s aspirations and faith in the Divine Reality. As paradoxical as it may seem, it is true that the innermost aspirations and one’s very faith in God become perceptible (they manifest) at sensorial level.
When the reason (mind) fails to help us, we do rely on the “Reason or Argument of the Heart,” and the reason or argument of the Heart is the Sacred Tremor itself.
Hridaya Yoga Helps us Dwell in Spanda
The practice of Hridaya Yoga is meant to help us remember the innermost Sacred Tremor of the Heart and maintain awareness of this Tremor so that we may become able to experience the divine ONENESS and endless bliss.
However, this practice is not new. It has been around, in Shaivism, in the form of two spiritual schools: Spanda and Pratyabhijna. These schools were dedicated to teaching the awakening of the Sacred Tremor of the Spiritual Heart.
The spiritual practice enabled the followers to gradually access an increasingly larger range of sensations, emotions and energies. These very experiences of sensations-emotions-energies were in themselves consistent opportunities for knowing Spanda as the ultimate underlying background of those phenomena.
The very name of the school, The School of the Tremor of the Spiritual Heart, pinpoints the importance of the homonymous concept.
At this point, we may have the intuition of a better understanding of the transcendent nature of this vibration, spanda.
Spanda is a sort of bridge between energy and consciousness. If it is correctly guided, any emotion or inner energy can be sublimated into the sacred tremor which marks the passage from the individual level to universal level, from the profane to the sacred, from the state of agitation of the mind to ecstatic peace.
Maintaining awareness of the Sacred Tremor of the Heart is in itself a way to glorify the Infinite in the Finite, Wholeness within individuality, and Oneness in duality. As a matter of fact, this is the reason why students of Hridaya Yoga should focus their attention on the chest area.
If constant awareness is maintained, this tremor develops into a vibration which expands in the entire being and brings happiness, love and freedom.
We often hear that we have to be careful about what we eat. However, we rarely get to hear about how we should “feed” our attention. In Hridaya Yoga, spanda becomes the nourishment of our soul. The Sacred Tremor of our absolute freedom radiates from the Spiritual Heart, atman. By practicing meditation (but not exclusively in meditation), we can experience the revelation of our expanded infinite nature, of the Spiritual Heart.
The Asana is the Reflection of the Spirit
At some point in the spiritual practice, spanda, the radiant essence of the Pure Presence, can be expressed directly in any authentic experience. Therefore, the student is recommended to maintain awareness of the intimate interconnection between the energies and the radiation of the Spiritual Heart, while yoga postures are practiced.
The student should consciously sense the vibrations of the energies awakened by each posture and try to recognize, in those vibrations, an essential dynamism, a reverberation, perceived as a subtle tremble or tremor. This subtle tremor is the very vibration of the Spiritual Heart expressed at that level.
The asana is not only a physical pose or a muscular ability. It is, in first place, a reflection of the spirit. Therefore, rather than engaging the yoga posture as a physical posture only, the student practicing Hridaya Yoga should engage the posture with the correct inner attitude of staying aware of the Sacred Tremor.
The attention should be first and foremost focused on the witness consciousness, clarity and stillness of the mind, on the sacred tremor, because the inner attitude prevails over the outer appearance of the posture.
As paradoxical as it may appear, the immersion into the Spiritual Heart (and therefore the action of focusing more and more intensely on a more and more subtle reality) generates, after some time, the expansion into space without limits.
During the meditation for the revelation of the divine reality, Atman, there is an ineffable emotion which surges in the Heart; it is the vibration of the divine mystery. This Sacred Tremor is spanda.
The practice of meditation contributes to amplify this vibration. It makes it reverberate in our entire being, even in the physical body. This causes the consciousness to expand outside the physical body. We continue to consciously experience this vibration and to pay attention mainly to it, without judging, without making comparisons, until the perception of the physical body has completely dissolved. We contemplate then, in a detached way, only this very perception of the all-encompassing vibration.
The vibration, which is the tremor of the Spiritual Heart, has the special quality of allowing us to experience the presence of a guiding force. Unlike the mind, which, in this case, is useless, this guiding force is taking us all the way to the Reality of the Supreme Self.
Spanda is different from any other energy vibration as it is causing something which is nothing but stillness, a void which reveals itself as another reality of this vibration. When we experience the peace preceding and announcing the immersion into the “core” of our being, the Spiritual Heart reveals itself as an ineffable reality. At this level, the perception of the Spiritual Heart is different from the perception experienced from a mental level.
Every moment is an opportunity to open our soul to love.
In Hridaya Yoga, the divine grace manifests itself as the revelation – which actually consists in the removal of the veil hiding our true self. As a way to attract the divine grace, the students should open up their hearts full of love and gratitude for the opportunities that lie before them (seeing them as growth opportunities).
The intimacy of our energies and experiences holds the potentiality which is to be found beyond our beliefs, prejudices, or patterns of reactivity. Then, spanda, the Sacred Tremor, is revealed.
Spanda itself is Divine Grace.
In Hridaya Yoga, the student does not have to rely on something from the outside world. There is no need for any secret information or a teacher regardless of his authority and fame.
The Sacred Tremor is the teaching, the message, the revelation, the mystery, the initiation awakened to life within us. For this purpose, the method we teach has, essentially, a practical nature.
In Hridaya Yoga, the goal is to get the student not only to understand spanda, but to become spanda.