Spanda—The Sacred Tremor of the Heart
The term spanda (“tremor” or “vibration”) originates in the spiritual tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. Spanda is the primordial vibration of the Universe and of your 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.
Within a human being, spanda expresses a deeper dimension of ourselves, an ineffable intimacy that is part of the innermost reality of your being. It is the thrill of existence, the sacred vibration, or the Sacred Tremor of your Heart.
In any circumstance of daily life, the Sacred Tremor can be experienced as enthusiasm or an intense inner drive. A life lived within the Heart is “sahridaya,” while the absence of this experience causes apathy, distrust, and inertia. It causes a person to become inefficient and to lack focus.
Spanda is an essential concept in Hridaya Yoga.
Spanda restores our 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.
The “Core” of Mystical and Artistic Emotion
A range of uplifting emotions are part of the human experience for all of us. That sense of the infinite you feel when staring up at the starry night sky, when contemplating a view which opens up from a mountain top or the beauty of the rising sun, or other emotions related to art, to love, to overwhelming happiness, longing, fervor, devotion, spiritual aspiration, etc. These emotions can help you to get to know more profoundly the Spiritual Heart, and who you really are.
If you go beyond the infinitely vast spectrum of these experiences, beyond the circumstances of the experience itself and beyond its object, you will learn that initially there is only one impulse and that 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 the spiritual practice of Hridaya Yoga that spanda is revealed as the underlying background of all the rhythms of life. Spanda then is revealed as the one and the same supreme vibration that pervades both the energies of one’s body and the energies of the whole Universe.
The Significance of the Sacred Tremor of the Heart
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 of this extremely intimate conviction that I feel 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 subtle 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, recognizing 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, as a sign of the activation of 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, no matter for how long it was ignored, repressed, or neglected.
The Argument of the Heart
The Sacred Tremor, spanda, exists at all levels of the manifestation.
The spiritual tradition of Buddhism describes meditation techniques in which 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 your own aspirations and faith in the Divine Reality. As paradoxical as it may seem, it is true that even one’s innermost aspirations and faith in God become perceptible and manifest themselves at the sensorial level.
When the rational mind fails to help you, you can 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 you remember the innermost Sacred Tremor of the Heart and maintain awareness of this Tremor so that you may become able to experience the divine Oneness and endless bliss.
However, this practice is not new. It has been a central element of two spiritual schools: the Spanda and Pratyabhijna branches of Shaivism. These schools were dedicated to teaching the awakening of the Sacred Tremor of the Spiritual Heart.
Spiritual practice enabled followers of these schools 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 its namesake concept.
The Bridge from Individual to Universal
At this point, you may intuitively have a better understanding of the transcendent nature of this vibration, spanda.
Spanda is a sort of bridge between energy and consciousness. Any emotion or inner energy, if it is correctly guided, can be sublimated into the Sacred Tremor. This marks the passage from the individual level to the universal, from the profane to the sacred, from a 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. It is exactly this reason why students of Hridaya Yoga should focus their attention on the chest area.
Spanda—The Nourishment of Our Soul
If constant awareness is maintained, this tremor develops into a vibration that expands in the entire being and brings happiness, love, and freedom.
You may often hear that you have to be careful about what you eat. However, you rarely hear about how to “feed” your attention. In Hridaya Yoga, spanda becomes the nourishment of the soul. The Sacred Tremor of absolute freedom radiates from the Spiritual Heart, atman. By practicing meditation (but not exclusively in meditation), you can experience the revelation of your expanded infinite nature, of the Spiritual Heart.
An Asana Is the Reflection of the Spirit
At some point in the spiritual practice, spanda, the radiant essence of Pure Presence, can be expressed directly in any authentic experience. Therefore, while practicing yoga postures, it’s recommended to maintain awareness of the intimate interconnection between the energies and the radiation of the Spiritual Heart.
In the Hatha Yoga practice, you can 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 effort. It is, first and foremost, a reflection of the spirit. Therefore, rather than approaching the yoga posture as a physical posture only, a student practicing Hridaya Yoga should approach every asana with the correct inner attitude of staying aware of the Sacred Tremor.
The attention should be primarily focused on the Witnessing Attitude, clarity, and stillness of the mind, and on the Sacred Tremor, because the inner attitude prevails over the outer appearance of the posture.
The Vibration That Evokes Stillness
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, an expansion into space without limits.
During Hridaya Meditation, an ineffable emotion surges in the Heart; it is the vibration of the divine mystery. This Sacred Tremor is spanda.
The practice of meditation amplifies this vibration. Meditation makes it reverberate in your entire being, even in the physical body. This causes consciousness to expand outside the body. You can 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. 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 a special quality that allows you to experience the presence of a guiding force. Unlike the mind (which, in this case, is useless), this guiding force takes you all the way to the Reality of the Supreme Self.
Spanda is different from any other energy vibration as it causes something which is nothing but stillness, a void that 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 any perception experienced from a mental level.
Every moment is an opportunity to open your soul to love.
Divine grace manifests itself as Self-revelation—which actually is nothing but the removal of the veil hiding your true self. As a way to attract divine grace, simply open up your heart, full of love and gratitude for the opportunities for growth that lie before you.
In the intimacy of your energies and experiences, you will find a potentiality beyond any beliefs, prejudices, or patterns of reactivity. Then, spanda, the Sacred Tremor, is revealed.
Spanda itself is Divine Grace.
Spanda—The Inner Master
In Hridaya Yoga, students do not have to rely on anything from the outside world. There is no need for any secret information or even a teacher, regardless of their authority and fame.
The Sacred Tremor is the teaching, the message, the revelation, the mystery. It is the initiation that awakens the life within you.
The method taught here is essentially practical. In Hridaya Yoga, the goal is not only to understand spanda, but to become spanda.