Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Copyright Lance Kinseth, Power Energy/ Riki, 2011
THE MORPHOLOGY OF the human hand facilitated primal through post-industrial tool making and many of the qualities that we term “human.”
Hasta Mudras—“graceful hand gestures”—have complex associations in many classical Indian practices. They are associated with health benefits [even as curatives] by restoring balance, as well as with the enhancement of spiritual awareness. Beyond Indian mudras, the hand is the locus of cross-cultural therapies (e.g., palmistry and Korean hand therapy). In these diverse practices, there is a sense of intense energy being present in the hands. With mudras are referenced as offering a way to intentionally direct prana or energy rather than displace and diffuse and “waste” energy. Mudras may be sensed to balance energy rather than increase energy.
The literature on mudras is extensive, as well as diverse rather than uniform. An exploration of the literature on mudras will reveal many hand position variations [involving each hand by itself, or in contact with the other hand or with various points on the body, or directed either toward the Earth or celestially]. Each finger may be associated with specific physical elements [Thumb—fire, Index/Forefinger—air, Middle—ether [fills all space and solids], Ring—earth, Little—water] and/or with specific body regions. There may be very specific associations with organs, and curative powers for various physical diseases as well as psychological disorders or the regulation of emotional states such as anxiety. Claims for the efficacy of mudras may be extreme, ranging from the stand-alone ability to stop a heart attack, improve any specific body function, from eyesight to labor and delivery.
Simply, in body-mind practices, mudras can have a value (1) in stilling the motion of the hands, and (2) in increasing one’s attentionality to a specific objective such as directing one’s attention to either increase concentration or relaxation. While anecdotal rather than testable in a Western scientific sense, there may also be a sense of “completing an energy circuit of meridians” when bringing fingertips into contact.
Two Examples [of many] for yoga in general [looking primarily at the objectives of optimizing focus and sustaining desired physiological/emotional states, rather than toward being curative or more specific in their relation to body regions]:
GYAN MUDRA: The thumb and the index finger are brought together in gentle contact, while all other fingers are kept upright. It might be utilized as an aid in concentration to penetrate more deeply into an asana.
PRAN MUDRA: Touch the points of the little finger and the ring finger to the tip of the thumb lightly. It might be utilized as an aid in directing one’s intention toward optimizing calmness, reducing anxiety to deepen relaxation.