Mudra means “seal” in Sanskrit. It’s a symbolic or ritual gesture using primarily the hands. Each position is believed to have a specific effect. Specific positions can lead to specific states of consciousness symbolized by the hand positions. For example, if a person frequently and with feeling does a position of fearlessness, they will also be freed from fearfulness in time. Mudras are said to engage areas of the brain and/or soul influencing them, sometimes physically, by their use—not unlike an affirmation, or reflexology for that matter.
“One way that all of us can better care for ourselves is by developing techniques for coping with the irritations and anxiety that are part of life…
Think of these gestures as self-talk for your hands. These simple movements, the gestures that we often make unconsciously, can help us focus on our work, calm ourselves, release anger and energize us. Used for centuries by many different cultures, mudras are seen in Eastern dance and meditation, in ancient Egyptian friezes, even in Byzantine icons of Christ. Most of us use them today, too: we wave goodbye, we press a hand to our chest in distress, we wriggle our fingers to release energy, or press fingertips together to calm ourselves.
Easy to learn, mudras can be done anywhere, at any time: at traffic lights, in meetings, in airplanes, when we’re arguing, when we’re grieving, when we need to prepare for sleep. The word mudra can be translated from the Sanskrit as that which brings inner peace, and that s what mudras are: a physical means of quieting our bodies.” Product description for Mudras: Ancient Gestures to Ease Modern Stress by Emily Fuller Williams.
I referenced a great article back in my September 2010 newsletter and it’s worth repeating:
I found this interesting reference to Yoga Mudras that details more of the science behind Mudras, as well as gives some meaning to the fingers emphasized:
“A scientific look
Any living body is made of 5 distinct elements:
FIRE WIND ETHER EARTH WATER
These are not as per science’s definition of elements but refer to the five building blocks that go into the formation of any living body. Several ancient health systems are based on the concept of the balance of the five elements. Indian Medical science according to Ayurveda and metaphysics affirm that distortion or impairment of the 5 elements create outer disturbance and inner sickness in the body.
The 5 fingers of the hands represent these 5 elements:
|The Thumb||symbolizes the Fire|
|The Forefinger||symbolizes the Wind|
|The Middle finger||symbolizes the Ether|
|The Ring finger||symbolizes the Earth|
|The Little or small finger||symbolizes the Water|
The finger tips of every living being have many concentrated nerve root endings which are free energy discharge points. Science also confirms that around every tip there is a concentration of free electrons. By touching together of the tips of the fingers or the finger tips to other parts of the palms this free energy (Prana) is redirected back into the body along specified channels, back up to the brain. The redirected energy traveling through the nerves stimulates the various chakras. Keeping the hands on the knees stimulates the Gupta Nari and makes the energy start from the Mooladhara Chakra (Root Chakra).
Thus, the tension applied to the nerve/s and/or the neural or psycho-neural circuits formed by the mudras help in balancing the five basic elements (or building blocks). This balancing of the tension and redirection of the internal energy effects the changes in veins, tendons, glands and sensory organs, to bring the body back to a healthy state.
Keeping specified nerves stretched for specified periods tones up of the nervous system. The fingers of each hand are held folded in certain specific postures and this provides the required tension on the nerves.
The fingers of each and every individual in the world are different in their shapes and sizes. These are determined and provided by nature as a tool to bring the nerves into prime condition when affected adversely.
Thus, they provide a different ‘end tension’ on the nerves when different individuals fold their fingers or the same individual folds the fingers by different methods in different Mudras. This is exactly the tension required by that individual for that particular application. Nature has already bestowed us with the tools to be used to keep us healthy.
Compare this with Acupressure where the nerves are influenced by the application of pressure on certain points or Acupuncture, where slight electrical impulses are conveyed through needles inserted in the body. The advantage in Mudras is that the pressure to be applied on the nerves is automatic and controlled by the shape and size of the fingers and not by external agencies.
Because the Mudras work on the nerves, they are a NEURAL SCIENCE.”
The ring finger is associated with the earth element which is associated with the root chakra. This newsletter focuses on the root chakra so I offer the following wonderful meditation on the ring finger found in Mudras, Yoga in your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi. The meditation reminds me of the protective knots/granthis highlighted in this newsletter; and how patience is required to release your potential energy, freeing it to move upward, to continue your growth and to live “on purpose”. “Time has no significance. Only the constant growth counts.”
“The ring finger is associated with Apollo, the sun god, and the root chakra, which rules the pelvic floor. This force gives stamina, staying power, and the power to be assertive. The Chinese have classified this finer with the deep meridian of the liver. The power of the liver gives a person patience, serenity, hope, and vision for the future. The “triple warmer” also begins in the tip of the ring finger. This meridian rules all protective functions in the body and is responsible for body temperature, which in turn regulates cell function. If it works in an optimal manner, it gives the ability to maintain our equilibrium in stressful situations. The force that dominates this finger provides stability, is penetrating, and strives upward.
Sit or lie down. Now encircle your left ring finger with the four fingers of your right hand, with the right thumb extending to the middle of your left hand. Close your eyes.
Imagine bare earth and crushed rock in all its forms—as deserts, mountains, and islands. What happens when masses of earth begin to move? When the earth dries out? When the earth is completely exposed to the sun? Now imagine fertile earth. Slowly let the vegetation be created—little plants, big plants, much green. Now focus on one single seed resting deep within the earth. With every breath, something moves inside until the seed bursts and a shoot stretches in the direction of the light. At the same time, it sprouts roots deep into the earth. It becomes a tree that grows very slowly. You wait patiently and watch how the plant develops into its full size. Time has no significance. Only the constant growth counts. The tree blooms anew every year, and bears fruit. Like the tree, we also do not know why this is. Like the tree, we want to give ourselves completely to life, and know this has its purpose, even if we will probably never be able to completely fathom the great mystery. As the tree changes every year, our inner development also continues. We decisively influence whether it is joyful or sorrowful.
Keep holding your finger for a while and feel the flowing warmth. Then encircle your right ring finger and hold it for the same amount of time.
Earlier in the book the author mentions that “If you tend to be chilled easily (which I am!), or susceptible to illness, then encircle or massage your ring finger.”