Mudras or hand gestures is a practice to improve your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. In the Vedic tradition, the fingers of the hand represent the five basic elements that make up the human body: air, fire, water, earth and ether. Based on this understanding, finger tips of living beings have many concentrated nerve root endings which act as free energy discharge points.
On touching the finger tips together in different ways or to other parts of the palm channelizes and balances the flow of energy (Prana) within our body, and the energy traveling through the nerves stimulates the various chakras.
In Sanskrit, mudra literally means a posture/seal and has been used in different religions, art and dance forms, yoga and meditation for a long time.In yoga, using mudras in conjunction with Pranayama (breathing exercises), revitalizes the flow of energy to different parts of the body. While Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism broadly use mudras during mindful meditation.
Let’s take a look at ten important mudras incorporated by Buddha on his journey to enlightenment. You must have come across a Buddha statue somewhere in one of these mudras. As mudras have healing benefits on the mind and soul, you can generally perform these to instantly energise yourself.
1) Karana Mudra
This mudra keeps negativity at bay. To perform this Mudra, stretch your hand either vertically or horizontally. Turn the palm forward. Now using your thumb press down the two middle fingers and extend the index and little finger straight upwards.
Energy created by performing this mudra helps in expelling negativity from your mind and soul.
This gesture signifies offering, welcome, charity, giving, compassion and sincerity. It is a left hand gesture in which the arm is hanging naturally at the side of the body and the palm facing outward, and the fingers extended.
3) Uttarabodhi Mudra
It signifies supreme enlightenment as it charges one with positive energy and vibrations. The mudra helps one in staying connected with oneself and the divine universal energy.
In order to perform this Mudra, both hands are placed at the heart; index fingers touching and pointing upwards and the remaining fingers intertwined. Try holding the Uttarabodhi mudra for a couple minutes and feel the subtle energy shift in your body.
4) Namaskara or Anjali Mudra
Namaskara mudra is used in Indian culture to greet people and as a sign of respect. This Mudra is performed by pressing the palms together and holding it to the center of the chest or the heart chakra; fingers pointing towards the sky.
The mudra evokes positive vibrations in the body teaching us the fact that we are all one and we must acknowledge/adore the existence of light in one another. This Mudra helps in staying grounded and humble.
5) Vitarka Mudra
This mudra evokes the energy of teaching and intellectual discussion, or argument. In this gesture tips of the thumb and index finger touch to form a circle that creates a constant flow of energy and information. All the other fingers are extended upwards. This Mudra gives us the energy required to attain clarity of mind.
6) Abhay mudra
Abhay is translated as fearlessness. In this Mudra, the right hand is brought to the shoulder level and the palm faces outward and fingers extend upwards. History says that when Buddha was attacked by an elephant, he used this mudra to stop the flow of negative energy (fear). This Mudra gives us the energy to stand strong.
7) Dhyana mudra
This mudra depicts absolute concentration in the process of meditation. Place both your hands on the lap with the right hand placed on the left and fingers fully stretched, palms facing outwards; thumbs of both the hands will touch creating a triangle, cleansing of any impurities on an etheric level. Practicing this Mudra will fill you with deep sense of peace and serenity.
8) Bhumisparsha mudra
Bhumisparsha translates to touching the earth where the mudra symbolizes the fact that the earth witnessed Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. This was the Hand gesture of Buddha when he accomplished Enlightenment. In this Mudra, the right arm hangs over the right knee with the right palm turned inward and the left hand is placed on the lap with the left palm faced upwards.
9) Vajradhara mudra
In this mudra the wrists are crossed, over the heart, with the right forearm placed in front of the left one; this gesture symbolizes the highest energy and the union of compassion and wisdom necessary to reach enlightenment. In vajradhara mudra, one is free from judgement, notions, theories, fate, truth and any concept that defines enlightenment; as they say, enlightenment is not defining it.
10) Dharmachakra Mudra
Depicts the continuous flow of energy in the cosmos. Here the hand gesture symbolizes the energy of the universe in the form of a chakra/wheel. Both the hands are placed near the chest, the left palm faces the heart and right palm faces outwards; index finger and thumb form a circle like Vitarka mudra. This mudra represents the whole universe in a nutshell. As I mentioned before, these Mudras are used in the process of mindful meditation. But at the same time one can practice these mudras to gain the simple benefits of altering one’s state of consciousness and staying positively energized.
“Our essential nature is boundless consciousness. We are rooted in it when the mind focuses and settles.” – Yoga Sutras