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sábado, 8 de julio de 2017

Mudras: Meditation in Your Hands

According to a brain researchpublished in the National Academy of Sciences in November 2009, researchers found that hand gestures activate the same regions of the brain as spoken or written words. But with or without scientific prove, we already know that hand signs can be powerful ways to communicate. Show a thumb up gesture that promptly swings down and you have just sent an unmistakable message to someone instantly. Mudra, on the other hand, is not so much a communication with another mortal being. It is more of a wordless connection with yourself that involves your body, your deeper consciousness as well as the cosmos.

What are Mudras?

Mudra means seal in Sanskrit. It has deep roots in Eastern spiritual practices and bears important symbolic significance. You may recall seeing statues of buddhas or bodhisattvas that display a different hand gesture each. Sometimes, by just observing the way the hands are placed, you can tell which enlightened being a statue is trying to represent.
But mudras aren’t just symbols with no practical uses. Meditation, yoga and energy work practitioners believe that mudras help to complete the energy circuit inside us and allow our life force to stay within the body, instead of escaping through the tips of our fingers during meditation and yoga exercises. By adopting a certain meditative or yoga pose and then sealing it with our hands, we help to preserve and cultivate our qi, or life force.

Live Wires in Your Hands

There are hundreds of mudras being used, with each creating a different ‘energy circuit’ using your hands, fingers and for some, even your body. But how is it possible that the energy flow created by one mudra is different from the other? To answer this question, think of your fingers as colored electrical wires. Like electrical wires, each of your fingers radiates a different type of energy that connects to a specific part of your body and mind. But instead of the usual three, you have literally five in your hands.
I attempt to interpret the significance of each finger using Chinese Five Elements (Wuxing) and Traditional Chinese Medicine theories. If you are using a different theory, you could end up with a completely different interpretation from mine. When there appear to be conflicts, use your own judgment and apply those that make the most sense to you.

  • Thumb. Represented by the earth element and the planet Saturn, the thumb corresponds to the organs Stomach, Spleen and mouth. It is connected to the Yi (意), or the intellect, and its energy influences our clarity.
  • Index finger. Represented by the wood element and the planet Jupiter, the index finger corresponds to the organs Liver, Gall Bladder and eyes. It connected to the Hun (魂), or the ethereal soul, and its energy influences our sensitivity.
  • Middle finger. Represented by the fire element and the planet Mars, the middle finger corresponds to the organs Heart, Small Intestine and the tongue. It connected to the Shen (神), or the aggregate soul and its energy influences our creativity.
  • Ring finger. Represented by the metal element and the planet Venus, the ring finger corresponds to the organs Lung, Large Intestine and nose. It connected to the Po (魄), or the corporeal soul and its energy influences our intuition.
  • Little finger. Represented by the water element and the planet Mercury, the little finger corresponds to the organs Kidney, Bladder and ears. It connected to the Zhi (志), or the will and its energy influences our spontaneity.

How to Meditate with Mudras

Hold the mudra of your choice firmly with both hands, but not so tight that you drain off all blood from your fingers. The aim is to keep your hands in the same position throughout your meditation, and yet allow qi to flow freely without obstruction.
Ideally, mudras should be combined with the right pose, mind and intention to unleash their potential. For example, if you are using mudras with breathing meditation, adopt the proper sitting position (which means neutral back and relaxed shoulders) and turn your attention to your inhales and exhales. Be mindful of distracting thoughts. Gently leave them behind and bring yourself back to your breathing whenever they rise to the top of your mind. Keep your mind uncluttered, calm and peaceful as much as you can.
You don’t have to stick to the same mudra in every sitting. Match mudras to your changing needs to create meditation sessions that work for you. Having said that, note that it usually takes some time practicing with a particular mudra to appreciate its subtle effect on your energies. Be patient, take your time.
Lastly, mudra is not everything. Some people may feel a tingling sensation at the tips of their fingers, while others feel a pulse-like beating in their fingers, or warming up of their hands. There are also many who don’t feel a thing at all. Regardless of what your reactions may be, don’t focus all your attention on hand gestures alone. It is after all only a part of meditation and is not the reason why you are meditating.
Okay, are you ready to get started? Here are three of my favorite mudras which are easy to learn.

Gyan Mudra:
Uniting with the Divine

  • Function: The gyan mudra helps to clears the mind, improve alertness and enhances clarity.
    This is a popular mudra that is almost synonymous with meditation. Known as the gyan mudra to yogis, this hand gesture connects the tips of the thumb and index finger together to form a full circle, while the other three fingers are left relaxed. It symbolizes one’s unity with the cosmos, or the Divine.

Cosmic Mudra:
Coming Home to the Universe

  • Function: The cosmic mudra helps to bring your attention inward and is useful when you are trying to increase self-awareness.
    The cosmic mudra is commonly used in zazen, a form of sitting meditation practiced by Zen Buddhists. To adopt this mudra, use your dominant hand to cradle the other hand, with both palms facing up. Tips of your thumbs should be touching each other, forming a compressed oval shape together with your palms.

Prithvi Mudra:
Tapping on the Power of the Earth

  • Function: The prithvi mudra helps to ground one to Earth’s energy, promotes a sense of stability and increases tolerance and patience.
    Join the tip of your ring finger with the tip of the thumb. Extend all the other fingers and keep them relaxed.