What should you do with your hands when meditating?
Ultimately, you have two options: 1) nothing special or 2) use mudras or meditation hand signs.
What are mudras, you ask?
They’re ancient hand signs used that bind mental and physical health for optimal balance.
Since hands and fingers have many nerve endings and energetic nodes, mudras channel vibrations in specific directions.
Let’s look at seven helpful mudra hand signs to incorporate into your meditation practice.
- What Are Meditation Mudras?
- What Do Different Hand Positions Mean in Meditation?
- 7 Meditation Hand Mudras and Their Meanings
What Are Meditation Mudras?
Mudras are hand formations associated with yoga, Indian folk dancing, and meditation.
Since ancient times, people who follow Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain spiritual traditions have used mudras to channel and balance energy flowing through the body.
Linguistically, the word “mudra” comes from Sanskrit and means “hand gesture” or “hand position.”
How long should you hold mudras? It’s up to you.
Sometimes you may only need 30 seconds; other times, you may wish you could sit for 30 hours straight to soak in restorative energy.
However, don’t expect to experience immediate relief the first time you try it. While some people take to mudras instantaneously, most don’t start seeing results for several weeks or even months.
What Do Different Hand Positions Mean in Meditation?
Prana is the life-giving force of breath, and a central part of meditation is controlling and acknowledging it.
That’s where mudras come into play. They’re used in several ways, including:
- Cycling through hand symbols during pre-and post-meditation breathing exercises
- Keeping hands in a single position for an extended meditation
- Changing mudras during meditation
- Using mudras in traditional cultural dances and performances
- When practicing yoga
- During the middle of your work day, when chaos swirls, and you need two minutes to center yourself
- When you’re falling asleep
How many mudras are there in meditation? Currently, there are about 400 mudras used across several spiritual traditions. However, most people have a staple of 10 or 20 they use regularly.
7 Meditation Hand Mudras and Their Meanings
Are you wondering about hand placement for meditation?
Just what, exactly, should you do with them? Fold them? Place them on your knee? Hold them above your head?
In truth, you can do whatever you want with your hands while meditating — whatever is most comfortable for you.
But mudras help if you want to turn up the energetic impact.
Which mudra is the most powerful? It depends on you and your situation.
Read up on the practice and pick what best fits your strengths and weaknesses.
1. Gyan Mudra (Gesture of Knowledge)
Also known as chin, jnana, guyana, gian, the gyan mudra is one of the most well-known hand formations associated with meditation.
People looking to strengthen a connection with their higher self or a divine source typically turn to the gyan mudra.
It’s also a useful mudra for clearing a foggy brain.
How It’s Done: Rest your wrists on your thighs or knees. Touch the tip of each thumb with the end of each index finger and extend the middle, ring, and pinky fingers.
Use It: When first trying out meditation mudras; to maintain and promote stability during meditation practice.
What are the gyan mudra’s benefits?
- Improved memory
- Enhanced creativity
- Alleviation from insomnia
- Boosts Vayu, the body’s air element
2. Dhyana Mudra (Gesture of Enlightenment)
Many depictions of the Buddha show him using the dhyana mudra. Primarily, it’s a connection mudra that enhances the bond between wisdom and enlightenment.
It’s also a helpful mudra for improving focus. The dhyana mudra is associated with the sacral chakra, Svadhisthana, your body’s emotional energy center.
How It’s Done: Hold your hands, palms facing up, in front of your abdomen. Place your right hand over your left hand, so the backs of your right fingers lie in your left hand’s palm. Then touch your thumbs together.
Use It: When you feel discombobulated and need to focus; to get in touch with your higher self or other cosmic energies.
What are the dhyana mudra’s benefits?
- Enhanced concentration
- Decreased rumination
- Promotion of proper breathing
- Helps spiritual growth
- Help bring you into a meditative state
3. Varada Mudra (Gesture of Generosity)
Are you feeling a bit disconnected from others? Did your compassion tank light flick on? If so, maybe you need varada mudra in your life? The varada hand sign erodes the “delusion of pride.”
Associated with the heart chakra, Anahata, Varada means “boon giving” or “granting whatever the practitioner seeks,” and the mudra is all about generosity, compassion, abundance, and charity.
You can use the mudra to both welcome and offer energy, and many people report its positive effect on mental health.
How It’s Done: Place your right hand on your thigh and stretch out all fingers toward the earth — five extended fingers, open and pointing downwards. Your left hand is free to do another mudra.
Use It: When you’re feeling angry, overly cynical, or annoyed by the world; when things are seemingly going all wrong, and you need to be reminded that hard times birth better times.
What are the varada mudra’s benefits?
- Increased empathy
- Increased patience
- Development of stronger morals and generosity
- Enhances our understanding and capacity for giving and forgiving
More Related Articles
4. Vajrapradama Mudra (Gesture of Trust)
Are you feeling squeamish in your own skin?
Or perhaps life isn’t exactly cooperating at the moment. In either instance, the heart-centered vajrapradama mudra may prove helpful. It’s a good energy channeling tool for grounding and breath control exercises.
How It’s Done: Interlace your fingers from both hands. Then, place your hands on your heart.
Use It: When you’re going through it and need as much love flowing your way as possible; to calm the nervous system; when asking for wisdom.
What are the vajrapradama mudra’s benefits?
- Diminishes insecurities
- Builds confidence and positivity
- Balances emotional, physical, and mental energies
- Boosts self-assurance
- Builds trust
5. Shuni Mudra (Gesture of Openness)
The shuni mudra — sometimes called “the shield of patience” — is a bit ethereal and a little tough to explain.
Essentially, it’s connected to openness and emptiness and balances the body’s excess space. It also allows the soul to detach from quotidian concerns.
How It’s Done: Touch your middle finger to your thumb, with the latter on top. Extend the rest of the fingers.
Use It: When you want to mentally check out for a bit because life is a bit maddening at the moment; increase your connection to your higher self.
What are the shuni mudra’s benefits?
- Unblocks the heart chakra
- Improves physical balance
- Can provide pain relief in the form of numbness
- Enhances ability to absorb positivity
6. Bhairava Mudra (Gesture of Awareness)
The bhairava mudra is associated with Lord Shiva — the Destroyer of Evil — and the Anja chakra, which regulates consciousness and intuition. Performing bhairava is an exercise in harmony and inward balance.
How It’s Done: Place your right hand atop your left one. The back of your right fingers should rest on the palm of the left. Some people believe placing your left hand on top of the right activates one’s ability to manifest.
Use It: When your ego is getting in the way; your chakra system is clogged and needs balancing; to get in touch with yourself.
What are the bhairava mudra’s benefits?
- Increased peace of mind
- Balanced energies
- Prana stimulation
- Helps alleviate symptoms of problems and troubles
7. Buddhi Mudra (Gesture of Perception and Intellect)
Are you feeling lost? Or maybe you’re interested in developing your intuition or psychic abilities. The buddhi mudra may be handy since it’s associated with wisdom, insight, and divine guidance.
How It’s Done: Place your hands atop your thighs and turn your palms up. Touch your pinky finger and thumb and extend the other three fingers skyward.
Use It: When you crave a deeper understanding of the universe and your place in it; when you’re seeking clarity about a situation.
What are the buddhi mudra’s benefits:
- Improves mental clarity
- Helps digestive issues
- Balances the body’s water element
Meditation does wonders for the mind and, ultimately, the body. Using mudras enhances the experience. Alternatively, you can deploy the hand signs in a moment of stress to center yourself and calm down.