The Heart Centre: Themes and Practices
1. Themes for the heart centre
We have been working with two systems of the chakras: one, the yogic system of the seven chakras, form a vertical line corresponding with the subtle spine, the nervous system, the endocrine glands and the ascending transformation of consciousness. The second is the system of the Zikr of the Broom from the Naqshbandi Sufi tradition which emphasises evolution of consciousness through transformation in the heart, with three centres forming a horizontal line at that level, intersecting with the vertical line of centres. We will distinguish here some of the main attributes of the heart in each system.
In the yogic tradition
The name : the sanscrit name, Anahata, means ‘unbeaten (sound)’, a non-physical sound which continues without beginning or end. The primordial sound, source of all sound, which issues from beyond the material world. Manifests in the heart: eternal, unborn, undying vibrations, the pulse of the universe.
Connect with the yogic chakra, the Anahata, and its energy through:
Element: Air. Prana.
Associated: heart and cardiac plexus
Colour: green; Pir Vilayat worked with gold for this chakra, symbolizing divine love
The sense of touch ‘in the form of subtle air’
Sense organ: skin
Work or active organ: hands
In the Naqshbandi Sufi tradition
of the Zikr of the Broom there are three centres at the level of the heart: The Qalbiya in the left breast with the colour red, the Ruhia in the right breast with the colour white, the Sirriya in the centre of the chest with the colour emerald green and gold.
The Qalbiya relates to deep themes and symbols of our personal and collective unconscious and mythologies. Evolution of the Qalbiya opens cosmic consciousness and compassion. It mediates between the body and the Ruhiya.
Qalb, means turning, overturning, changing
a. God holds the human heart between two fingers and constantly turns it to align with His being. The heart liberated from the ego is aligned with Love and Truth in every instant.
Qualities: faith, vision, understanding, remembrance
b. Qalb also means mediating between spirit and nafs,
The heart is rotating back and forth between the subtle influences of the spirit and the gross influences of the nafs. It rotates between good and evil, right and wrong, spirit and body, heaven and earth, light and dark, love and passion.
c. Qalb also means resorption of multiplicity into unity, and manifestation of unity in multiplicity, ie fluctuation between divine or cosmic, and human consciousness
Only the heart through ‘fluctuation’ from one state to another, perceives God as Manifest and Nonmanifest, similar and incomparable, present and absent, near and far.
Ruhiya, means Spirit. Pir Zia teaches:
Ruhiya marks the transition to the transpersonal dimension
Our soul-spirit is an act of the divine light, of the Divine Spirit.
Spirit pervades the body as fragrance pervades a flower.
Qualities: innocence, wonderment, glorification.
Associated with the plane of Malakut: reclaiming our angelic nature.
Sirriya means the secret
This is associated with the plane of Jabarut: revealed knowledge rather than acquired knowledge, knowledge which transcends duality of subject-object: ‘I am’ rather than ‘I am [my name]’
It is knowledge by presence, the light of awareness; all light is the manifestation of a single luminous essence
Qualities: immediacy of knowing, self-presence, affinity with all things without intermediary
(With the angelic level where there is still some vague sense of personal identity)
In the Sufi tradition, the human heart is:
• the Throne of God in the creation,
• the spiritual capacity of the human being
• the site of all revelations of the divine mysteries through different levels of the Essence
It reveals true knowledge, receives comprehensive intuition, has the capacity for knowing God (gnosis)
Behavioural characteristics of the heart in both yogic and Sufi traditions include:
Clarity of consciousness. Ability to become centred, concentrate, meditate.
Mastery of one’s self and one’s life. Awareness of one’s spiritual goal in life.
Dedication, devotion, faith, self-confidence.
Faith in the divine, and become a source of faith for others.
Worshiping God with love, finding God everywhere and in everything.
Compassion and love flows through their whole being.
Harmlessness, people feel secure in their presence.
II. Practices for the heart centre
1. The Element Purification Breaths: deepening awareness of the nature of Air and its association with the Heart.
2. Breathe the colours gold and green into your heart centre, experiencing the effect on your consciousness of this combination of colours. Experience the effect of the radiating out of these colours.
3. Breathe into your Heart Centre. As each breath softens and relaxes the centre, releasing tensions with each breath, surrender into the wisdom of the Living Heart.
Ya Rahman – Ya Rahim
i. The full zikr
ii. Ishq Allah Mahboud Allah
iii. The Zikr for the Earth:
The movements are those of the zikr given by Murshid without recitation:
First, rotating the head as in the first part of the zikr, spreading the intention of prayerful blessings over the earth. Reach out with one’s being so that one encompasses the earth so that the round sphere of the earth is held in your embrace. When you make the movements you are spreading light, emanating the goodwill of your heart, loving kindness, solidarity, sympathy and hope for healing and happiness.
Second part: the head down to the heart: focus on the place or person or country on which you wish to concentrate that attention.
6. The Practice of the Four Immeasurables:
The four ‘Imeasurables’, the four qualities of the heart, are: unconditional love, compassion, joy, unity.
Take the first quality, unconditional love, and let your heart fill with it, let the quality overflow in the six directions in turn: first, forwards, to all beings close and further, to the ends of the earth and beyond. Then in turn to the five other directions: behind you, to your right, to your left, upwards, downwards.
Then, in turn, repeat the six directions for compassion, then joy, then peace and unity.
The practice may be done with one breath for each direction, though when there is time, one may give several breaths.
7. A Heart Practice in Pairs for attunement and for healing
using the 3 heart lataif (centres) of the Zikr of the Broom
i. The Qalbiya: the heart, in the left breast. Awaken its vibrations, feel it vividly, establish a connection with the other person through that level.
Exhale: extend the field of your qalbiya diagonally to the qalbiya of your partner, thinking ‘Jalil’ (the omnipotent divine power that manifests in each and everything).
Inhale – ‘Jamil’ – receptivity – feel in your heart the condition of the other – it is a dialogue, it deepens with each breath – creates harmonization between the two hearts. The heart of the other becomes tuned to a certain pitch.
ii. The Ruhiya: the Spirit in the right breast. Deeper, more subtle and pure, less individuated, less personal. Establish a diagonal line of breath with the Ruhiya. One may think ‘Ruh’, divine Spirit, on each inhale and exhale.
iii. The Sirriya: the secret, in the centre of the chest. This makes a direct line to the centre of your partner’s chest (whereas the breath from Qalbiya and Ruhiya cross over to your partner’s Qalbiya or Ruhiya)
Sometimes one has to work a long time to establish a dialogue.
Rest there. Don’t move on till you have done what needs to be done.
In the Yogic sound sequence for chakras: chant ‘Yam’ in the heart centre
Murshid gave ‘Ah’ for the heart
Questions and themes
1. Notice how do you ‘remember’ to live in the awareness of your heart centre. How do you open your heart, in what situations and with whom is your heart more ‘living’? Notice the transition in everyday life when you move from your ego consciousness (associated with your Solar Plexus) to the consciousness of your Living Heart.
2. Connect with the experience of your heart being at rest, peaceful.
3. In everyday life, can you feel and perceive from the point of view of another person? First with someone you know and love, second with someone you don’t know, third with someone with whom you have difficulties.
4. When you look out at the world with the eyes of the heart, what do you see, what do you experience?
5. Remember your heart is the altar of God.