word `mudra` is translated as meaning a seal, and are one of the aspects of ancient yoga which are regarded as being a secret
imparted only to the serious yoga disciple.
As usual different teachings approach the subject from their own perspective, and indeed even the number of mudra varies.
mudra are said to have great power of curing and rejuvenation and liberation for the practitioner. Some mudra are described as having actual physical effects, such as in `shan-mukhi-mudra`, where the ears,
eyes, nose and mouth are blocked to exclude external sense awareness while focusing on the `inner sound`. Other mudra are mainly gestures of a symbolic nature. The
mudra most generally considered are:
Abhaya-mudra – is the hand gesture
often seen on images of bothe Buddha and Lord Shiva. The right hand is held palm
face forwards, the left resting palm up in the lap. It is a gesture of peace
towards others, and a gesture to dispel fear.
Anjali-mudra – bringing the two
palms together at the level of Anahata. This mudra is often used as a greeting
in India and says `I honour the
Divine within you`.
Dhyana-mudra – used as a meditation
posture. The two hands are placed palm up on the lap with the thumbs touching.
Jnana-mudra – the `wisdom seal`, brings the thumb and index finger together forming a circle with the other fingers
extended. It is often taught that the index finger should be bent under the thumb signifiying the suppression of the ego.
This is a commonly used hand position in meditation.