Spanda and Compassionate Communication

What is Spanda?

Spanda is a pulsation of energy. Our universe has two concurrent energies: Contraction and Expansion. This pulsation may be seen and felt in all of life. For example, our inhale and exhale or the beat of our heart allow us to feel the power of the constant contraction and expansion of life’s pulsation.

In Sanskrit, the language of yoga, this pulsation is known as Spanda. The contracting movement inwards is known as Nimesha, while its outward expanding counterpart is Unmesha.

Furthermore, in yoga philosophy, this simultaneous infolding and enfolding of consciousness is also known as the closing and opening of the cosmic eyes.

For instance, even in our human eyes, when we blink, there is contraction and expansion. Our pupils dilate (expand) in low light levels to help us see better. In fact, studies show that when we are attracted to someone, our pupils dilate by as much as 45%. 

Spanda and Tantra

The term Tantra encompasses contrary complements. In Sanskrit, Tantra is often translated as a “loom.”  “Tan” means to extend, and “tra” is to cross or traverse. 

Therefore, within a non-dual Tantric perspective, we are both weaving together and stretching ourselves apart. Simultaneously, our constant weaving of life creates beautiful tapestries inside and out. To increase your knowledge about Anusara yoga’s non-dual Tantric philosophy, study with a licensed Anusara teacher. 

Yoga is a practice of stretching the mind, heart, and body via the awareness of the inner self and the outer world. As well, when we practice asana, we are placing our bodies in a variety of poses. The physical shapes we take in yoga asana help us benefit from a multitude of perspectives. Indeed, we literally see the world in new ways when we turn sideways or go upside down.

Particularly, how we choose to posture ourselves in the world can dictate our point of view.  We always have free will, which means we can exercise agency and actualize empowerment in every moment.  This is all fine and good, until we get triggered.

Watch this video on Anusara Yoga’s YouTube channel.

What to Do When You are Triggered

Got triggered? Congratulations and welcome to embodiment! It’s a part of the human experience. Rather than a problem, what if a trigger is a gift that keeps on giving? Might that determine how you interface with stimulating events? Watch this Samudra Shakti Online free YouTube video with Cat McCarthy, Certified Anusara Teacher, to learn more.

What is Compassionate Communication?

Compassionate Communication is a very practical way to take the Tantric philosophy off the mat and into your relationships, with yourself and others.  Similarly, just like doing challenging yoga poses, Compassionate Communication is a consistent practice over time.

Anusara School of Hatha Yoga supports a model of non-violent communication to assist its international presence and to skillfully create relationships that uplift communities and our planet. World-wide, Anusara’s licensed teachers cultivate and endeavor to model a compassionate communication framework to support

  • connection
  • peace
  • happiness
  • and fulfillment

across all cultures as reflected in Anusara’s global School’s core values.

What to Do when Triggered

When we get triggered, we have a range of responses. Let’s say someone says something critical. We can either react by

  • arguing with the judgment
  • disconnecting from the conversation
  • or we can do nothing and literally freeze.

A recently discovered 4th response, is called “tend and befriend.”

When we respond in these ways to a triggering event, they are a sign that we are in the sympathetic state of our nervous system. Specifically, we are in what is classically referred to as “fight, flight, freeze.”

Physically, we might notice a tightness or contraction in our physical, mental, or emotional bodies.  When we are in that state, there is no growth or learning, since we are merely trying to survive. 

This contracting Spanda can indicate a need to protect, but it also invites us to investigate what’s going on inside.  Most likely, an unseen, old wound is being touched by another.  With this in mind, self-empathy becomes the first step in repairing this disconnection. 

When we slow down and take a pause, we may then track where we habitually go.  Our bodies can begin to self regulate. Ultimately, it’s in the space between contraction and expansion  where we may select a more updated response. 

When curiosity is present for self, then understanding and compassion for others is genuinely possible. This is the abundant realm of expanding Spanda.

Aware and Delicious Play with Spanda

To learn to navigate a non-dual approach in a world that thrives on conditioned binary thinking might seem unpalatable and not doable.  However,   it can be entertaining and game-changing. 

Recognizing that we are in this delicious play at all time with expansion and contraction, we begin to enjoy the discovering the space in between to attune.

And most of all, it’s Spandalicious!

About the Content Creators

Cat McCarthy

Cat states that Compassionate Communication has been the most clear, practical, and effective way of applying yoga off of the mat and into her life.  Based in New York City and trained in Non Violent Communication (NVC), Cat believes these skills positively change relationships and foster more self-compassion.

Lisa Long, M.A.

Lisa wants to live in a world where Love gives you a permission slip to drop the mask and be who you are. She enjoys practicing near water to remind her to remain in Love’s flow.


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