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Mudras (Finger Yoga)

Mudras are special hand gestures used in Hinduism and Buddhism to invoke a variety of energies and qualities. If you view artwork representing Eastern deities, you will notice these finger positions on many of the statues and paintings. These symbolic poses resemble asanas, the postures employed in yoga, but instead of the entire body, they involve only the fingers. In fact, you might call them asanas for the hands.

Mudras represent diverse states of consciousness. Hindu and Buddhist devotees generally use them during meditation to influence different parts of the brain or body. Hatha yoga employs 25 mudras, while Kundalini yoga has many more. Just as reflexology maps the foot, the practice of Kundalini mudras assumes that every part of the hands mirrors an area of the body or mind.

Finger Yoga
Assume one of these traditional hand gestures to facilitate your understanding of a situation in your life.

Anytime • Anywhere • Sitting or Standing • Sensation

Tools and Ingredients
• Hands

Using mudras to perform divinations as outlined here is my own modification of an ancient eastern art. As far as I know, traditional Hindus and Buddhists don’t normally use mudras for oracular purposes. But I have found that performing a breathing meditation while holding a particular mudra can facilitate my understanding of situations in my life or answer specific divinatory questions. This type of oracle might be especially appropriate for people who have kinesthetic tendencies and enjoy open-ended oracles.

Steps

  1. Formulate your question.
  2. Decide which mudra you wish to use.
  3. Ground and center.
  4. Sit, lie or stand comfortably, and then exhale vigorously two or three times.
  5. Assume your mudra position, then breathe consciously for 10 to 15 minutes (see Meditation to learn more about conscious breathing).
  6. Notice the gentle pressure between your fingers in this mudra position.
  7. While breathing out, press your fingertips gently together. While breathing in, let go of this slight pressure. This will calm and relax you.
  8. Once you have meditated for about 10 to 15 minutes, relax your hands in your lap and await any information that may come to you, whether in auditory, kinesthetic or visual form.
  9. If necessary, ask your question again, warmly anticipating an answer.
  10. Interpret your oracle, with Free Association if necessary.
The World is Your Oracle
by Nancy Vedder-Shults

Linnea Vedder Shults has collaborated with her mother Nancy in crafting The World is Your Oracle. Linnea is painting a deck of 48 cards to accompany the book, creating an oracle of oracles. When you choose a card from this deck, you select an oracular technique, not an answer to a divinatory question. You can view her other art work at www.linneavs.com.

Nancy's forthcoming book, The World is Your Oracle, compiles hundreds of divination methods, from ancient oracles to modern-day techniques. The excerpts published here will describe a few of the ways to access the deeper layers of our minds and broaden our sense of perception.


A good oracle puts us in touch with ourselves. It lets us discover our motivations, feelings and thoughts about the question we're exploring. And it connects us with the atmosphere or environment surrounding that question — making us aware of the water we swim in, but usually don't notice.

To receive inner guidance, all we need is to open ourselves to what our body/mind tells us, what our emotions display, and what our unconscious knows. In this way, we can begin to hear with our inner ears and see with our inner eyes. Using these mystical senses — what we might call the sense organs of the unconscious — we perceive holistically, noticing relationships and patterns rather than isolating, classifying and judging what we observe. Once we have gathered this wisdom, we can then use the rational mind to interpret what we have learned.

We live in an interconnected world, a web of life. Each segment of that web reflects the whole just like fractal designs or holography. That's why the patterns we discover through divination give us information. They mimic the relationships of the whole at a particular moment in time.

My Experience
Just as with other oracles, deciding on the most appropriate question is essential. This will help you specify the mudra you wish to use. There are several books you can consult for relevant gestures. My favorite reference is Gertrud Hirschi’s Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands, published by Weiser Books.[1] It outlines hundreds of mudras for a wide variety of purposes.

If you don’t have access to this resource, the Chin or Jnana mudra is a general-purpose mudra that you can use for almost any divination. (The Jnana mudra drawn by my daughter, Linnea Vedder Shults, appears in the picture at the top of this page.) Since it represents the desire for unifying human and cosmic consciousness, as well as combining intuition and inspiration, it can help you attain your deepest knowing. In this mudra, the thumb represents intuition and the cosmic or divine wisdom, while the index finger symbolizes inspiration and the individual or human spirit. Holding thumb and index finger lightly together while extending the other three fingers completes the gesture. Usually you perform this mudra with both hands resting gently on your thighs. If you find it difficult to extend your fingers, you can place them on your thighs palms down, creating the Chin mudra. Otherwise you can lay your hands, palms up, on your legs in the Jnana mudra.

pencil sketch of two hands clasped in the Ushas mudra position

Ushas mudra
sketch © 2008 Sage Starwalker.

To give you an example of this technique, I used a mudra recently to answer the question of whether to reincorporate music into my life while writing this book. Writing always takes a lot of my time, so I decided to put my musical activities on the back burner. But I missed composing and performing. I also began to realize that although writing stimulates my creative expression, music seems to come from a deeper place in me. I decided to use the Ushas mudra for this question, since it represents the dawn as well as creativity and enthusiasm. An answer came after I meditated for 10 to 12 minutes while holding my hands in the position of this symbolic gesture. I heard in my mind, “Music will add joy to your life.” As a result, I called the music director at First Unitarian Society, where I am a member, and asked him to schedule me to sing as a soloist from time to time.

In my experience with mudra meditation, if I wait with my awareness poised to receive the intuition and inspiration I’ve invoked, I’ll often receive an answer within a very short period of time, if not during the meditation itself. Sometimes, however, I need greater patience and persistence. When this is the case, I meditate the next day using my mudra once again. By then my mind has usually settled into greater resonance with my deeper self, and almost before I begin, guidance flows to me.

Be gentle with yourself — your innermost thoughts will express themselves in their own time and in their own way.

Notes

  1. Gertrud Hirschi, Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands (Boston: Weiser Books, 2000).

Graphics Credits

  • Mudras Card, © 2008 Linnea Vedder Shults. All rights reserved.
  • Ushas mudra, © 2008 Sage Starwalker after Hirschi, p. 62.
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MatriFocus Cross-Quarterly
is a seasonal web journal (zine) for Goddess Women and others interested in Goddess Lore and Scholarship, Goddess Religion (ancient and contemporary), Feminist Spirituality, Women's Mysteries, Paganism and Neopaganism, Earth-based Religions, Witchcraft, Dianic Wicca and other Wiccan Traditions, the Priestess Path, Goddess Art, Women's Culture, Women's Health, Natural Healing, Mythology, Female Shamanism, Consciousness, Community, Cosmology, and Women's Creativity.

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