What Is Hridaya Meditation?
Hridaya Meditation is a spiritual practice that aims to reveal the fundamental essence of our being. The literal meaning of hridaya is “the Spiritual Heart.” The practice combines three techniques:
- The awareness of the Heart Center
- The awareness of short pauses in the breathing cycle
- Self-Enquiry, asking the question “Who am I?”
What Is the Heart Center?
“Here lies the Heart, the dynamic Spiritual Heart. It is called hridaya, is located on the right side of the chest, and is clearly visible to the inner eye of an adept on the Spiritual Path. Through meditation you can learn to find the Self in the cave of this Heart.”
Similar descriptions are found in ancient Sanskrit philosophical texts (Sita Upanishad, Maha Narayana Upanishad, Ashtanga Hridaya). While anahata, the heart chakra, is a level within the chakra system, the Spiritual Heart, hridaya, is the whole.
The Awareness of the Breath
Being aware of each inhalation, exhalation, and the pauses between, is an effective tool to calm the mind and enter the depths our True Nature. However, while this awareness is an effective tool, it is not to be mistaken with the goal—the experience of sacred Stillness—which requires more than being aware of the breath alone.
“What is essential in any sadhana [spiritual practice] is to try to bring back the running mind and fix it on one thing only. Why then should it not be brought back and fixed in Self-attention (To this feeling of ‘I’)? That alone is Self-Enquiry (atma vichara). That is all that is to be done!” –Ramana Maharshi
Self-Enquiry is a redirection of the light of awareness upon Awareness itself. Through this practice, we can experience a disintegration of the ego, a diffusion of the experience which we summarize with the word “I” (as in “I am”).
Deep in the Spiritual Heart
“The only beauty that lasts is the beauty of the Heart.” –Rumi
Hridaya, the Spiritual Heart, is a bridge between the finite and the infinite, between the present moment and eternity. It is an inner guide to the Ultimate Truth. It is the source from which all things flow, and to which all things return.