What do you think about when you picture someone meditating? If you’re like most people, you will envision someone sitting in the lotus position chanting a mantra. They might even be in some religious wear.
For others, meditation is a different process. They might try to collect their thoughts while listening to water sounds, breathe deeply in the night’s silence, or take a moment to focus on one visual reference point.
What is unique about all of these meditation methods is that we don’t see people doing anything with their hands.
Hand mudras (gestures) are often symbolic, like placing your palms together when you take time to pray.
The gyan mudra is the gesture associated with the lotus pose, connecting the thumb and finger to embrace the energy at that moment.
Would this gesture help your meditation practice? This guide will take a closer look at what it is, how it looks, and what the potential benefits could be.
History of Including Mudras in Meditation
The word “mudra” refers to a “seal,” or a promise of sincerity. If you think about a child who begs for something they desperately want, they might clasp their hands together to reinforce the message offered.
If someone clasps their hands in prayer, the gesture might add emotion or fervency to the moment. It’s a way to tell the Divine of your sincerity.
When someone initiates the Abhayamudra, it is a gesture meant to offer reassurance and safety.
How did we get to this place where hand gestures become a formal part of our meditation practices?
A closer look at the history of using mudras shows that several ancient cultures incorporated them into their spiritual practices. The traditions from as far back as Ancient Egypt let us know that humans have used their hands to implore for peace, understanding, wisdom, or guidance.
Although the movements have similarities to them across all cultures, the purpose is often a little different. The goal is to uncover the energetic systems that the individual needs to harness for a specific purpose.
An example comes from yogic traditions. Each finger is an element, which means individuals can suppress or stimulate specific body signals based on how they’re pressed. When you initiate a mudra, you’re changing how energy flows through the body.
With the gyan mudra, the ancient traditions state that you’re stimulating the air element with your gesture. This activity can enhance an individual’s connection to a higher consciousness by directing energy flows to the appropriate locations.
What Is the Gyan Mudra?
Gyan mudra is a specific hand gesture that requires the individual to connect the thumb to the index finger. The remaining three are held out straight while relaxed, with the palms maintaining an upward expression toward the sky.
The backs of each hand would rest on the knees to support the position.
An alternative to the gyan mudra is called “chin mudra.” It’s essentially the same position, but it requires the palms to face downward.
By embracing the universal consciousness energy that flows through the thumb, the goal of the gyan mudra is that an individual can connect it to their individual consciousness.
Without that connection, a deeper understanding of ourselves and the rest of the world is harder to achieve.
What Are the Benefits of Incorporating the Gyan Mudra?
The energetic properties from the gyan mudra are what provide individuals with specific benefits when practices. It’s a gesture that stimulates the root chakra to increase the air element so that any lingering stagnation clears.
Several potential advantages are possible with the regular use of the gyan mudra.
1. It can reduce your heaviness while increasing your energy.
The gyan mudra is particularly helpful for individuals with above-average levels of kapha energy. It’s associated with the earth element, providing the foundation for feelings of security, connection, and safety with our planet.
According to ancient traditions, individuals with too much kapha energy can experience depression, lethargy, and fatigue. By stimulating the air energies, the gesture can awaken the vital life force living inside each person.
2. It can deliver more clarity and balance to the central nervous system.
Since the gyan mudra stimulates the air element, it can calm the mind when it feels nervous, worried, or angry. As these harmful fuels dissipate, creativity enhancements fill the void while offering memory and concentration benefits.
When this gesture is part of a regular meditation routine, the energy flows may balance the nervous system, pituitary gland, sympathetic responses, and an individual’s parasympathetic responses.
3. It connects people to their higher consciousness and wisdom centers.
When the gyan mudra receives regular practice for extended periods, it enhances an individual’s inner wisdom. The gesture bridges the gap between universal and individual consciousness, creating a unique connection that enables access to some of the most powerful energies on the planet.
It is crucial to remember that results take time when practicing the gyan mudra. Each person taps into their energy centers differently, so some effects might occur faster than others. The best results often happen when complementary modalities are part of the daily routine.
How Does the Gyan Mudra Work?
The gyan mudra works by directing energy flows through the body. Everyone carries a combination of the five elements: air, earth, fire, water, and ether. Our health and wellness are dependent on the balance of them in our daily lives.
When a deficiency occurs within any element, it can lead to an imbalance. The same result happens if someone is holding too much of one compared to the others.
If you have too much fire energy, the result can be more jealousy or anger in your life. It can also fuel you into competitive endeavors that lead to successful results.
When you have too much earth energy, fatigue and depression can result.
Implementing the gyan mudra is one of several gestures that help redirect the energy flows so that imbalances can start correcting themselves. It stimulates specific points that send signals through the nervous system to the brain, creating a loop that can improve functionality metrics like memory and concentration.
Are There Any Side Effects to Using the Gyan Mudra?
Although practicing this mudra is generally considered safe, there can be times when it might be necessary to explore it in moderation. Some practitioners might even veer towards a different gesture.
What might be beneficial for one person could end up becoming an unwanted side effect for another. That’s why it is vital to take the time to listen to what your body is asking for at each moment.
The gyan mudra increases the presence of the air element in the body. For that reason, it isn’t ideal as a gesture for those with excessive levels of vata energy.
When someone has a vata constitution, they might still feel comfortable practicing this gesture. Still, it should get explored in moderation.
It is better for those feeling ungrounded and disconnected from their physical reality to use a grounding gesture than the gyan mudra. The best way to know if it will be helpful or harmful is to listen to your body and take your time.
Energy patterns shift slowly and subtly, which means it can take some effort to understand what they’re trying to communicate.
As the session continues, keep checking in with how you are feeling. Does this practice make you feel safe? Are you feeling more inspired and alive while incorporating it compared to when you were not?
What if the inclusion of the gyan mudra makes you feel unsettled, anxious, or uncomfortable in other ways?
When people take the time to embrace their internal energies, it’s much easier to avoid the unwanted side effects that come with imbalance. The best practice is to listen to your inner compass, allow your efforts to grow and change as your needs do, and be persistent with your efforts to seek wisdom.
How to Practice the Gyan Mudra
Practicing the gyan mudra requires more than just a few pointers about where to place our hands and fingers. It requires patience, presence, and mindfulness.
If you wonder when it would be appropriate to do the gyan mudra, the answer is that it’s up to you. Many practitioners suggest that the best time to start this new routine is first thing in the morning.
You might also practice for short sessions of 10 minutes several times per day.
Although there are various ways to use gyan mudra, this option provides a straightforward result that could help you to connect with what this gesture offers:
1. Take a few moments to move into a comfortable and seated position. If you are a seasoned meditation practitioner, you might make your way to the lotus pose right away.
If this option is out of reach for you, try sitting down with your heel drawn to your body while the other rests just on top or in front of it. If you must sit on a cushion or chair to make this more comfortable, please feel free to initiate that change.
2. Straighten your back while softening the shoulders as you get into the pose. You want your neck to form a straight line with your spine. When you feel settled, gently close your eyes.
3. You might want to take a few seconds to settle by grounding yourself through the breath. When you are ready, place the backside of your hands on each corresponding knee or thigh (depending upon your seated posture of choice).
4. Bring each thumb’s tip to meet the end of the index finger beside it. You can extend the other fingers without using force or relying on rigidity.
5. Take a few deep breaths to settle even further into this space. For a few breath cycles, witness the air flowing up and down the length of the spine. Let your breath be slow and steady, calming and opening the mind.
6. Practice a simple, straightforward meditation for up to 20 minutes, such as breath awareness or mantra meditation. You could also explore a more contemplative practice by bringing questions for your higher self to contemplate.
Open yourself to deeper understanding levels by asking a question to the universal consciousness we are all apart.
Meditate on the crown of your head. As you rest your attention on the third eye point, repeat the following affirmation: “I am open to the higher wisdom within me.”
As you repeat the phrase, try to be mindful of the feelings, thoughts, and beliefs that come up in the silent space between each effort.
7. Spend 10 to 20 minutes here, regardless of the path you ultimately select. Hold the gyan mudra throughout, choosing the meditation practice that feels best suited for your needs at this moment.
8. Once you’re prepared to come back into the present world, return your attention to your breath for a few rounds. Take a few moments to become aware of the earth beneath you, the air around you, and the sounds that fill the space you are in to continue the restoration process.
9. When you become grounded in this reality, gently open your eyes. Take the time you need to reflect on your experiences during the meditation session. Incorporating the gyan mudra is a practice that grows and shifts as you do.
Your gyan mudra does not have to be fixed to be an effective inclusion in your daily routine. This gesture can look different with each attempt, but that doesn’t mean the energy flow benefits will change.
No matter what events your practice brings daily, please remember to ground yourself assuredly and open-heartedly into the space you occupy.
When you let your mind stay open to all the higher possibilities and insights that are yet to reveal themselves, you never know what the universe might show with the gyan mudra.