by Leonard Lee
Why practice mudras?
Some students on the spiritual path have a faulty understanding concerning mudras. They feel that it is far beneath their dignity and that they no longer require any kriyas or external methods in order to attain enlightenment. They even arrogantly belittle others who incorporate mudras into their spiritual disciplines. Though it may be true that external forms of movement or gestures are not essential, they do offer a great boost of energy and power to maintain and support one’s position on the path towards the Light. Individuals who blatantly declare that mudras are not a necessary part of sadhana or spiritual discipline, or who find such practices beneath them for they are presently engage in “higher methods” are those that have not reached the spiritual goal themselves and have not acquired a universal point of view. They seek to fly before they can run, or run before they have learnt to walk properly; or even stand before able to walk gracefully. They remove the rungs on the ladder on which they are standing. They seek to imitate the state of the enlightened ones without undergoing the necessary disciplines to reach that state themselves.
May we state emphatically here that we do agree that mudras may not be required by some. It all depends on their present state of awareness, spiritual development, and psychic purity. Nevertheless, may we remind our readers that even high beings such as spiritual avatars, Buddhas, and celestial Bodhisattvas regularly assume mudras to teach, to invoke energies, and to carry out their spiritual tasks. By stating this we would like to point out that mudras may be practiced by anyone, no matter where he or she may stand on the evolutionary path, and with great mundane and supermundane benefit.
Benefits of Mudra Practice
It would be interesting to note the benefits of mudra practices–the effects that they have on the mind, body, psyche and bio-magnetic fields. Below are just a few worth considering that are directly palpable or perceptible through personal experience:
Empowerment of the Aura
Expansion of consciousness
Awakening of the three aspects of kundalini
Acquisition of siddhis (paranormal powers)
Transformation & regeneration of the physical body
The power of mudras clears the subtle channels and psychic centers in the etheric body allowing life-force to flow unhampered to the organs and all parts of the body. Regeneration and improved health is the result.
As the cleansing process takes place in the head, clarity of mind is felt and the mental faculties are considerably enhanced making it possible for the innate soul-intelligence to express itself with greater intensity.
Empowerment of the Aura
The magnetism produced by the mudras cleanses the bio-magnetic field of the body and empowers it with greater vitality also forming a protective shield against negative forces.
Awakening of the three aspects of kundalini
The three aspects of kundalini: prana kundalini, chit kundalini, and para kundalini are awakened and stimulated to greater activity.
Expansion of Consciousness
As a result of the cleansing process and the activation of Shakti in the form of kundalini, one’s consciousness is transformed, transcending ordinary awareness.
Acquisition of Siddhis
In concomitant with the transformation of one’s consciousness, certain powers and virtues of the soul would unfold and dormant spiritual senses would arise.
Transformation & Regeneration of the Physical Body
The overall effect of the constant practice of mudras is the complete transformation and regeneration of the mind-body principle, a spiritual expansion of the consciousness stylized in the Mystery Schools as the “Second Birth” and symbolised by the newly-born phoenix bird that grew out of the ashes of the old.
The Theory of Mudras and its Practice
Mudras attracts cosmic energy into the microcosm. They arouse the etheric body’s latent energy into awakened activity. All of the dormant nerve cells of the brain are vivified and stimulated into action. The functions of the organs of the physical body are optimized. The immunity system is strengthened. The energies that mudras awaken manifests as magnetic and electrical force depending on their form.
Like the physical body, the etheric body has its own “nervous” system, or channels conveying prana and other energies of etheric origin. In yoga teachings, these channels are called, “nadi.” In Hindu texts the number of nadis are variably given as 72,000 and 350,000, of which 72 nadis are said to be particularly important. Every mudra clears some of these channels from impurities and psychic toxins. There is not one mudra, however, that have the power to cleanse all of them. For this reason the practitioner of mudras incorporate and employ many mudras in his daily routine.
There are many components of the psycho-energetic system that mudras affect, not just the nadis. With the power of mudras, the chakras, for instance, are freed from obstructions and congestion; the aura is cleansed of negative effluvia, and the subconscious mind is purged of its negative contents.
While practicing certain mudras, especially the types that generate or attract cosmic energies, the hands if clasped together for some time, would break apart and move independently. The practitioner should not be too concerned over this but just go with the flow. The hands break apart for the simple reason that enough power has been collected and that the cleansing or magnetizing processes are now under way. When the body accumulates more power than it can handle, or when it has assimilated enough energy from the incorporeal worlds, the hands would naturally fall out of formation, vibrate and shake in peculiar ways.
Aside from the invocation of energies, of communion with divine forces, mudras as mentioned before, also have the power to purify the etheric nervous system and the energy-centers to be found in the etheric body. It cleanses all obstructions and congestion that prevents the free flow of pranic and kundalinic forces through the nadis and the chakras. The etheric or “vital” body as it is sometimes called, is the blueprint and the power house of the physical body. When the interface between these two bodies are affected adversely in some way because of the toxins that we generate through negative thoughts and emotions, and the degenerative substances found in the food that we consume, and likewise uncleared karma and trauma, then the physical body would suffer as a consequence. Ill health and a poor immunity system would result. Substances would crystallize in the tissues and the fluid-networks in the body, giving rise to muscular pain, impaired functioning of the organs, and the ossification of blood vessels which technically is the diseased condition referred to as arteriosclerosis. Certain mudras may heal these maladies.
While performing mudras, it is not unusual for the hands, arms, body and head to move on their own accord. The movement patterns that the mudras generate during practice are countless. In fact, just when you thought you have seen them all, a new one appears. Mudra gestures and body motions are kinetic expressions of the elemental forces in the psycho-physical body. The predominating force propels the mudras in a distinctive pattern. Earth energy makes the least movements. When the hands in a mudra pose remain in a single position for long periods is indicative that the earth element is prevailing. The water element moves the hands in large, wide circles or wavy movements. Fire energy causes the hands to move with great force in straight movements and jerks. The elemental force of air is graceful and flowing. Its movement is a combination of curves and straight lines. Most nondescript motions of the hand belong to the Akasha (etheric) element. In Yogic teachings, this subject of elements belongs to the field of Tattva Vidya (Science of the Elements).
The directions in which the mudras flow likewise reveal the element in power. Upward movements indicate the influence of air; downward, that of earth; to the right or forward, fire; to the left or to the rear, water.
Why do mudras cause the hands and arms to move without any direction or control by the conscious mind? As we clasp our hands in mudra formation we cause energy to build up in the various psychic vortices in our hands, arms, and body. These vortices take on different polarities–positive, negative, and neutral. These emanating centers fluctuate in their polarity and strength in concordance with the currents generated. The resultant magnetic fields of these vortices interact with one another causing the law of attraction and repulsion to take effect. This causes the fascinating motions of the mudras. However, it should be emphasized that even though the conscious mind does not produce the swaying and oscillation of the body appendages, it does have the power to cause the motions to cease. Therefore, there should not be any fear that mudra practices might cause an impairment in the conscious control of one’s motor movement.
Time and Place for Mudra Practice
Mudras may be practiced at any convenient time–at odd moments of the day. However, as a discipline, it would be beneficial to practice mudras in the morning and evenings. Practice mudras prior to meditation, for they are conducive to a more relaxed and deep meditative state.
Mudras should be practiced in an isolated place or room, well ventilated, and free from any disturbances and prying eyes. Because of the mystifying movements that the hands make we do not want any outsider to think that we have gone bonkers.
How long should each mudra be held? Generally, each mudra is to be positioned for a period of 5-30 minutes. Let your intuition function here. It will tell you when you are ready to stop or continue with a succeeding mudra if required. Sometimes in a practice session, the mudras themselves will tell you when it has done its work and that you may proceed with the next one. This is indicated by mudra movements launching from its position in front of the body or chest and then returning to it to remain still and quiet.