Careful consideration always goes into the depictions and statues of Buddha because the position of his body, his hand gestures, and his poses all tell a different story about him and ENERGY. There are 7 different postures of Buddha, one for each day of the week. Today we'll be talking about his hand gestures because his hands gestures are actually MUDRAS!
Before we get into Buddha's Mudras, let's briefly cover what a Mudra is, what it does, and why would you want to use it.
MUDRAS are hand gestures employed in meditation or regular life to trigger certain spiritual or physical functions. Mudras are sometimes paired with particular breathing exercises to enhance and amplify certain manifestations. Mudras are also commonly used for improving certain health functions.
The word Mudra is Sanskrit, and it translates to "SEAL" because it's actually creating an energetic seal (or signature) through manipulation of the Nadis in the body.
So what are Nadis? Nadis translates to "flowing rivers" and represents the flows of energy in our body. To reiterate, Mudras are basically used in meditation to manipulate the flow of the body's energy.
Mudras were used by ancient yogis who claimed that this was manipulation of the flow of cosmic energy cycling through the body! There is also lots of different scientific research out there on the proven benefits of practicing Mudras so be sure to try these out because you can do these while you're in class, at the gym, waiting in line, in a yoga class, or for your own magical practice. I incorporate mudras into wards and when aligning myself before doing any divination.
Let's get to the 9 Mudras that we see Buddha doing and get into what they mean
1. ABHAYA: which means No Fear, because this mudra is about removing fear from the mind. This mudra is employed during meditation to promote fearlessness; it removes the influence of fear from plaguing our decisions, experiences, lives, perspectives, and thoughts. This mudra is what Buddha used when he was met with an Elephant attack - this gesture is also known as a sign of peace and friendship. This is essentially like saying "I come in peace," but when an enlightened individual employs this gesture, it can dissolve attacks from all beings, be it animals or demons. This mudra is meant to stop all external influences from affecting our mind/personal space.
This mudra always assists in dissipating fear, doubt, stress, worry, and anxiety. It's a common recommendation for anxious and high tension people to meditate with or hold this mudra often.
To make this gesture, hold up your right hand and fingers, the palm should be open and facing outwards. Meditate as feels necessary.
2. DHYANA: means "Meditation" and promotes deep meditative states while connecting you with a higher vibration. It assists one to reach deep contemplation. This Mudra is also associated with "absorption." Meditation is about being receptive enough to still the inner voice and be able to actually ABSORB what arises from the subconscious and higher self. This Mudra is great for going deep within oneself and is often employed for gaining WISDOM and INSIGHT.
For this Mudra you want to sit in a pretzel (AKA crisscross applesauce) with the left foot on top of the right foot, and the left hand on top of the right hand. Both palms must be face up. Some Buddhas are seen holding singing bowls and blessing tools in this pose. People usually only do the hand placements for the Dhyana Mudra, but since I grew up in a Buddhist family that forced me to go to Buddhist temple way too often, I had to tell you how the entire thing is done. Joining the limbs in this manner completes the energetic circuit and enhances one's own energy field.
3. NAMASKARA: means Greetings & Adoration. Much like Namaste, this word is about acknowledging and greeting the divine in others and in all things. It is said to be expressed from the Heart or Third Eye Chakras and is held at the Heart or Third eye. Many Asian cultures still use this gesture as a greeting today, I definitely still do it (I'm Thai). This Mudra can be used with the same functions as Namaste as their purposes are synonymous.
This gesture is simple as it only requires you to put your hands together (palm to palm) and hold it at the same level as your heart. In my culture (Thai), we often hold it to our Hearts and then take it up to our Third Eye.
This mudra may be used when paying gratitude to the universe, gods, or beings - personally, this is not a mudra that I hold for longer than 1-2 minutes. This mudra can serve a great deal with recharging and reconnecting an individual who has felt out of touch with spirituality.
4. BHUMISPARSA: means Calling the Earth to witness the truth. This Mudra is also known as Touching the Earth and is a gesture that Buddha did directly after he reached enlightenment. There's a famous depiction of Buddha doing this gesture and warding off a bunch of beasts coming to attack him. This was the first mudra he did after he reached enlightenment, which is just literally touching the Earth, but when doing so as an enlightened being, the results would be much different. This mudra represents resilience and unwavering courage and faith in oneself, in Source, and in Mother Earth. Buddha dispelled an army of demons by employing this Mudra, it's a testament to his "groundedness."
Buddha touching the ground after enlightenment is symbolic of how remaining in touch with this Earth, this realm, and this reality is still important in the journey for enlightenment and that being aligned with the Earth will one great power. It also demonstrates sacred reciprocity with the Mother Earth.
For this mudra, hold your left hand open in your lap (palm facing upwards). Place your right hand over your leg so that your fingertips touch the earth. Recommended to meditate in this position for 30 minutes.
5. VARADA: Translates to "Favorable Gesture" from Sanskrit. Compassion, wish granting, & sincerity. This energy bestows the user with the type of energy that emanates off of enlightened beings. This mudra helps you cultivate the same type of energy that emanates off of Enlightened and Ascended beings (like Saints), which make it so that their presence alone could heal the people and environment around them. This gesture can also evoke a pull towards charity work and helping others. Living authentically, living in truth, perpetuates what you say and do to BECOME TRUTH. This mudra helps free one from the influence that the material realm and material desires bind us to; greed, anger, avarice, or sins are all things that blind us from the TRUTH.
Meditating with this gesture for at like 15 minutes can assist in clearing sinful influences away from our ability to make the proper decisions for ourselves, others, and the benefit of mankind.
To employ this gesture, sit the way I taught you for #2 Dhyana, place the left hand in your lap, the palm curved slightly and facing upwards. People often combine this with #1 Abhaya; but you can do whatever you want with your right hand; if desired, you can even choose to do a different Mudra with the right hand.
6. KARANA: Banishing & Expelling Negativity. This Mudra wards off evil and is a powerful banishment when used with the proper focus of intent and concentration. This Mudra can be used when cleansing the self and the home. This gesture with the proper intent becomes stronger every time it's employed - demons flee when an enlightened individual properly employs this gesture. This Mudra is a great addition to any already pre-existing magical practices; great for working on wards, protection, cleansing, and banishing. Karana is also known to help with depression and is effective when using it to dissolve heavier/intense emotions (anger, grief, fear, etc).
To make this gesture, touch the tip of the middle finger to the tip of the thumb. Hold your remaining fingers upwards. This definitely looks like the hand sign for Rock N' Roll. Hold and chant whatever feels right for as long as necessary.
7. VAJRAPRADAMA: means Confidence in Self, it's representative of the worldly elements (earth, water, fire, air, and metal) in harmony with consciousness, with mankind. It's unstoppable self assuredness that is based in love, compassion, and understanding. In a way this mudra is representing the ability to live in harmony with the elements active within us and without of us. Harmony, love, balance, self assuredness, honesty, and truth are a recipe for enlightenment. Do not mistake this for having an unhealthy and unchecked EGO. Even if one does something successfully, they will never truly have success without inner strength and confidence in oneself (because they'll never be happy, satisfied, nor allow themselves to be) - these lessons can further be easily understood by meditating while employing this will cause you to process whatever is needed to start to understand why self love, inner strength, and trust in oneself is a big bonus.
TLDR; This mudra basically brings you into alignment with yourself and your inner power. It helps you navigate how to orient your psyche and outward expressions in order to come into balance with your inner truth.
This mudra is made by interlacing the fingers together, but making sure that it is the right hand that goes over the knuckle of the left hand. The tip of the right forefinger should touch the tip of the left forefinger. Demonstrated in photos below. Deep breathing to relax. Hold the other fingers straight. Meditate for 10 minutes or for 108 breaths.
8. DHARMACHAKRA: Wheel of Dharma/Cosmic Order. This is believed to be a Mudra that teaches you lessons that come from your heart on the Comic Order/Karma and how to navigate your own Karma so that we learn how to live in balance and accordance with our Will while not participating in repeating patterns/Karmic Patterns that do not benefit or serve our Soul and Spirit's evolution.
This mudra is a bit more complicated so be sure to check photos. Separately on each hand make a loop by touching your thumbs to your index fingers. You're going to touch these loops together, but first hold your hands up at heart level. The left hand should be in front of the right, but the right hand should be slightly higher than the left hand. Turn the right palm to face outwards and turn the left palm to face inwards. Meditate in this position for 10 minutes.
9. UTTARABODHI: Supreme Enlightenment. This Mudra helps the user focus and concentrate, enhancing meditation by preventing thoughts from drifting. Meditating and going around holding this Mudra can help you see things from an enlightened perspective along with inducing gnosis and wisdom. The Mudra has etymology that translates to "going beyond duality." Meditating with this mudra helps bring an unshakeable connection with Source and highlights the lessons on your connection to it. This Mudra helps increase self awareness, lucidity, while enhancing your spiritual connection to this web of life.
To make this Mudra, put your left hand on top of your right. Touch your thumbs together in a straight line, and touch your index fingers together in a straight line. You can hold this mudra up anywhere from below the neck, down to resting at the hips - as long as everything points upwards.
If you meditate and employ these Mudras, I would recommend to journal the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that arise so that you can observe whether a Mudra is powerful for you and something you want to use more often or incorporate into your daily practice. The results may very as some effects may seem more subtle and others may become more powerful with time and practice.
Let me know how these work for you!