Meditation Hand Positions & Their Meanings

Many ancient Hindu and Buddhist mythological characters are represented by sculptures with peculiar hand positions.

When we dig deep into their origin, this relates to the science of meditation from the world of Yoga. Yes, they’re completely different practices and you can find out more in our meditation vs yoga guide.

One of the reasons yoga is widely practiced is to attain good health and its results are approximately equivalent to that of the medication. Scientifically, there is less evidence to this fact as the experiences vary depending on the multiple factors such as the age of a person, time spent, type of ‘asanas’ performed, and workout place. However, facts state that applying optimum pressure to the various points on our body can result in achieving good health naturally.

Hand positions, known as ‘Mudras’ in yoga terminology, play a prominent role in meditation and the way we position them can affect the progress you see. Regular practice of ‘Mudras’ in meditation purifies the body and can help you attain a greater sense of connection, this connection is far more important than any ‘progress’ you may be aiming to achieve.

When it comes to meditation hand positions there are different interpretations of the fingers and one of them is the five fingers representing five different elements:

  • Thumb – Fire
  • Index Finger – Air
  • Middle Finger – Space
  • Ring Finger – Earth
  • Little Finger – water

The way we position our body and the hand positions we use during meditation has a deep effect on our mental and spiritual state.

To begin with, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a posture that allows you to be comfortable, attentive and conscious. Choosing one of the best mediation cushions available can help you remain comfortable for longer
  2. It is better to place yourselves in the ‘Lotus’ or cross-legged position but meditation can even be performed by sitting on a chair, kneeling or lying down. Lying down should be the last option as the mind is habituated to fall asleep
  3. Take the support of cushions if you are meditating while kneeling as this eases the comfort level
  4. Your hands should be placed on your lap or resting on a cushion, letting your arms to be relaxed

The most common and useful hand positions are as follows

  • Connecting the Index finger with the Thumb forming a circle while rest of the fingers joined straight together and placing the hands on the knees with the palms facing downward
  • Connecting the Index finger with the Thumb forming a circle while rest of the fingers joined straight together and placing the hands on the knees with the palms facing upward

Placing the back of your right hand on the palm of your left hand forming a seal between the two, while the hands resting on your lap

Hand Positions

These hand positions are commonly known as ‘Mudras’. Now, let us understand the basic ‘Mudras’ used in meditation.

Chin Mudra

Most often used in meditation, chin means consciousness in Sanskrit. Chin Mudra may well be the most well known piece of symbolism associated with meditation it is said to uplifts our spirits, rejuvenates our energies, and brings in positivity. In this ‘Mudra’ the Individual Soul (Index Finger) is connected spiritually with the Supreme Soul (Thumb).

The other fingers represent themselves as Ego (Middle Finger), Illusion (Ring Finger), and Karma (Little Finger). Ego, illusion, and Karma are the contaminants associated with us and practicing meditation with ‘Chin Mudra’ leads to their removal from our life.

Regular practice of this ‘Mudra’ can help us experience union with the Almighty. Let the flow of pure thoughts pass through your mind and make yourselves connected spiritually to this universe.

To practice ‘Chin Mudra’ follow the below steps-

  • Choose a posture that makes you comfortable
  • Join the tip of the index finger under the tip of your thumb with the rest of the fingers gently aligned
  • Face the palm upwards and place them on the knees
  • Gather all the concentration on your breathing

The benefits of ‘Chin Mudra’ are as follows-

  • Increased concentration
  • Calms the mind
  • Cheers up the mood
  • Achieves the state of consciousness
  • Healing of common ailments like lower back pain
  • Promotes sound sleep patterns

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Jnana (Gian/Gyan) Mudra

Relates to the planet Jupiter and is usually practiced by the Yogis. Well-known spiritual leaders such as Buddha, Mahavir, and Guru Nanak were often seen in this hand position. It brings peace, serenity, spiritual elevation, and varied health benefits.

‘Gyan’ means wisdom or knowledge in Sanskrit. This ‘Mudra’ represents the wisdom of knowing that individual soul (Index Finger) and supreme soul (Thumb) are connected eternally. The rest of the three fingers represent three Gunas – Sattva (Middle Finger), Rajas (Ring Finger) and Tamas (Little Finger). It also represents the destruction of ego, as the index finger is turned down and subjugated by the thumb. Also, the palms facing downwards represent one is grounding and rooting to the earth.

It is also known as ‘Vaayu-Vardhak’ in traditional Ayurveda. ‘Vaayu’ represents air and this ‘Mudra’ boosts up air element (Vaayu) thus empowering the mind, nervous system, and pituitary gland. It also reduces joint and cartilage pains through the air element that helps in drying the excess fluid that would cause the pains.

To practice ‘Gyan Mudra’ follow the below steps:

• Choose a posture that makes you comfortable
• Join the tip of the index finger under the tip of your thumb with the rest of the fingers gently straightened. It is important to understand that you need to touch the tips from the skin to skin and not by nail to nail
• Face the palm downwards and place them on the knees
• Gather all the concentration on your breathing
The benefits of ‘Gyan Mudra’ are as follows:
• Brings in tranquillity
• Boosts memory
• Lessen tension and depression
• Brings in enthusiasm
• Helps in simulating endocrine and pituitary glands
• Helps in curing respiratory issues and nervous system problems
• Helps in healing muscular problems such as paralysis

Dhyan Mudra (Venus Hands)

It is used in meditation to improve healing and concentration. It involves focussing on a particular point and deeply understanding its true nature. It is believed that ‘Dhyana Mudra’ was practiced by ‘Buddha’ during his meditation under the ‘Pipal’ tree before he gained enlightenment. In Buddhism, this ‘Mudra’ is represented like a bowl in the lap with the tips of the thumbs touching each other.

The triangle shape represents the three jewels of Buddhism: Buddha, Sangha (community) and Dharma (teachings). This position is also referred to as Venus because the energy generated is connected to the planet Venus, love, and sexuality. The bowl represents the lower energetic storage centers with the absorbance of entire sexual energy.

The person practicing meditation using ‘Dhyan Mudra’ is completely absorbed in spirituality, unaffected by the worldly matters. This ‘Mudra’ symbolizes the gesture of equilibrium. The right hand symbolizes wisdom and consciousness while the left one symbolizes the delusion of survival.

To practice ‘Dhyan Mudra’ follow the below steps:

• Choose a posture that makes you comfortable
• Place both the hands on the lap with the right one on top of the left one and palms facing upward
• For a woman, the fingers should be placed in such a way that the right little finger is on the bottom and for a man, the left little finger should be on the bottom
• Gather all the concentration on your breathing

The benefits of ‘Dhyan Mudra’ are as follows:

• Eliminates stress
• Freedom from insomnia
• Controls anger
• Eliminate the ego
• Improves reproductive system
• Improves the concentration
• Normalizes high and low blood pressure
• Alleviates loss of memory

Buddhi Mudra

In Sanskrit, ‘Buddhi’ means intellect. This ‘Mudra’ is associated with the planet ‘Mercury’ and hence it is preferred to perform on Wednesdays (Mercury Day). It is also known as ‘Varun Mudra’, named after Hindu God of Water, and as ‘Jal Vardhak Mudra’ where ‘Jal’ stands for water and ‘Vardhak’ stands for enhancement.

It is used to improve the communication powers. To understand the intuitive messages of your subconscious, practice this ‘Mudra’ during meditation. It is intended to balance the water element in the body and progress mental clearness.

The little finger is connected to the thumb, where the little finger symbolizes water or communication and thumb symbolizes the fire or divinity. This overall signifies the flowing communication and opens the door to inner knowledge.

To practice ‘Buddhi Mudra’ follow the below steps:

• Choose a posture that makes you comfortable
• Relax your arms out to each side of the knees with the wrists resting on them
• Touch the tips of the thumbs and little finger while keeping the rest of the fingers straight.
• Gather all the concentration on your breathing

 

Prayer Mudra

Also known as ‘Anjali Mudra’ where ‘Anjali’ represents offering and Yoga class is usually started with this ‘Mudra’. It is easy to perform and practicing it on a daily basis can give great results! This hand gesture is often illustrated in the images of ‘Buddha’.

For beginners to understand, it is exactly the same hand position that is used by Christians for praying. We bring the palms together at the center of the heart, relaxing our elbows gently. Bow down your head, similar to that of praying.

A variation of this ‘Mudra’ can be performed by bending the fingers slightly, letting the air to pass through the fingers and hands. It helps in balancing your body and energy. When the palms are joined together, a strong connection is developed between the left and right hemispheres of the brain and this represents unification.

It is often used to greet people, bidding good-byes, commencing or concluding a course of action.

To practice ‘Prayer Mudra’ follow the below steps:

• Choose a posture that makes you comfortable.
• Bring your hands slowly near the heart, with the palms joining together and fingers upwards.
• Sit straight and drop the chin slightly
• Gather all the concentration on your breathing

The benefits of ‘Prayer Mudra’ are as follows:

• A remedy for stress and anxiety
• Connects to the world of spirituality/Almighty
• Promotes respect for oneself and everyone else
• Neutralizes positive and negative energies of the body
• Helps us to listen and focus physically as well as mentally

Vaayu Mudra

Vaayu Mudra’ has long-term benefits for leading a happy and healthy lifestyle. ‘Vaayu’ represents air. This ‘Mudra’ takes care of the air element in your body which in turn makes the body healthy.

It heals all the ailments and irregularities that can occur due to the air imbalance. Air imbalance is one of the major concerns of all humans irrespective of the age or gender. If you are overexcited, it calms down the nervous system and relaxes your mind.

It is believed that once you start practicing it, you get absorbed spiritually and there is no way you would stop doing it. It is simple and at the same time cease to be boring!

To practice ‘Vaayu Mudra’ follow the below steps:

• Choose a posture that makes you comfortable
• Place the tip of the index finger at the base of your thumb
• Gently press the thumb upon your finger
• Gather all the concentration on your breathing

The benefits of ‘Vaayu Mudra’ are as follows:

• Decreases the air element within the body
• Calms the nervous and uneasy mind
• Good for antagonistic, hyperactive, and people with the limited attention span
• Clears voice-related problems
• Moisturizes the skin

A lot of the hand positions – ‘Mudras’, discussed above are performed by all of us knowingly or unknowingly in our daily lives. This article, I hope, explains the importance and enlists the benefits of them. All of this is not complex and if we practice it regularly it benefits us immensely to achieve the long-term physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.