Healing Mudras: Yoga for Your Hands, 2000, Sabrina Mesko, The Ballantine Publishing Group, New York
Power Mudras: Yoga Hand Postures for Women, 2002, Sabrina Mesko, The Ballantine Publishing Group, New YorkThink about statues you've seen of angels, or paintings of saints, in which the figures have their hands held palms together in front of their heart, fingers up, in a gesture of piety. That gesture is a mudra, and it's the universal hand posture of prayer.
Sabrina Mesko has brought years of study and thought to her two works on the subject, Healing Mudras, 2000, and Power Mudras, 2002. When I lived in Austin 1998 - 2003, I quickly found and made a habit of visiting the wonderful metaphysical bookstore (of which Dallas has no equal) Whole Life Books . I purchased Mesko's first book in 2000 and then was delighted when her second came out because my first was in tatters from use. Mesko has since produced more materials, including a brand new DVD that I'm eager to see.
Mudras are meditation for restless folks like me - they give you something to do with your hands and breath, specific affirmations to meditate on, and some easy sanskrit chants (mostly internal, in my case) with which to bring the mind back from its wanderings. When I was a girl, I learned in church that sanskrit was one of the languages The Holy Bible was originally written in, and I have ever since regarded it as a holy language.
Though both books are well-organized, the second features groups of two or three mudras to address specific needs. For instance, in a grouping titled "Embrace Change" (a great focus for all of you transformational specialists out there), the mudras offered are "Facing Fear," "Meditation of Change," and "Patience." I don't know about you, but patience is something I really need. But nobody gives you patience - the world seems to just take it away. You have to train yourself.
Here's one you'll like: "Mudra for Vitality and Letting Go," in the grouping "Weight Issues." Try it anytime; I find it helpful in the morning. Practice this mudra for three minutes.
Sit with a straight spine. Place your fists on your knees, palms facing up. Concentrate on the base of your spine (chakra #1, yoginis.) "Sit tall and attempt to stretch as if trying to get taller. Be aware of the ground underneath you and the life force of the earth." Breath with long, deep slow breaths. Meditate on this affirmation: "I am releasing all negative energy and am making space for the new lighter and healthier me." Optional sanskrit mantra (I like this one): Sat Nam (Truth is God's Name, One in Spirit.) Quotes: Power Mudras, etc., pp 96-97.
That's what works for me about mudra practice. The time I spend on these meditations directly affects my emotional choices and ability to handle myself in the world. Therapy is good - it has given me guidance and release. Journalling is good - it helps me to know myself and analyze issues. Good diet and exercise are necessary - they support my overall health and well-being. But there's something about mudra practice that is different from anything else I've ever done and is a big part of my mental health right now.
The effects are subtle but definite. When I spend twenty or thirty minutes of a morning in mudra practice, affirming my better self and what I want for my life, I become a more self-controlled person. Since I understand self-control as a fruit of the spirit, I know this practice is connected to spiritual growth. I have been naturally quick to anger; now I have a new "default" to go to in the moment of provocation that tells me "that's not how she meant that ..." or "isn't this silly, hah ..." or "I wonder what's happening on facebook ..." without any big emotional effort on my part. I've already done the work.
There are deeper levels of transformation as well. For some reason, I have been shy about directly asking for things, or even wanting things for my life. If you know me that may seem strange - I'm always grasping at new ideas and striving for new vistas. But that has been motivated by personality rather than true vision in my life. My relationship with The Divine has been that of a prodigal daughter and bashful little sister, content with the swirling chaos of my existence, and while it's true The Bible tells us that "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these," we are also told to "give up childish things." I am the steward of my life and have every reason to direct it with personal, studied vision.
Mudra practice has helped me see myself as unique and separate from others. It has helped me see my core person, with boundaries and authentic, unique gifts. I'm not afraid of myself, or of effects others can have on me. It has shown me that I am a person with purpose and integrity separate from others, yet inextricably and joyously linked to all of humanity. I have changed paradigm, and am healthier and safer for it.
Although I started experimenting with mudra practice back in 2000, I incorporated it steadily into my weekly routine only last year. I have been characteristically resistant to routines of any kind in my life, especially anything "good for me," but the mudra practice has kept calling me back because the results are real and lasting. My mind wanders, my feet fall asleep, but the practice still works. I'm not looking for bliss. I just want to show by the way I live my life every day how happy I am to be alive, how grateful I am; I want to show that by reflecting God's love.
Mudra practice is clearing my mind and re-shaping my emotional habits in order to do those things. It is worth my time and attention. It works. I thank Sabrina Mesko quite often for this.