Mudra, literally means, hand gestures that direct the live current through the body. Prayer, or Namaskara Mudra, is a beautiful gesture, performed by joining the two hands together. In this Mudra, the two hands are pressed together, and held near the heart, with the head gently bowed as one says, “Namaste.” In the simplest of terms, it is accepted as a humble greeting, straight from the heart, and reciprocated accordingly.
This Hindu salutation says, “The divine in me honors the divine in you.” The expression is used on meeting or parting. This position is always adopted before starting, and finishing, a Yoga class; and some of the Yogic postures, such as: Suryanamaskar, Tadasana, and Tree Pose, etc. It has various forms, viz hands held near the chest in greeting equals, held at eye level in greeting one’s Guru, and hands held above the head in salutation to God. One form is with the open hands placed side-by-side, as is done by beggars to receive tips, or a worshiper beseeching God’s grace in the temple.
HOW THIS MUDRA WORKS AND ITS WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE
By performing Prayer Mudra, palms and the five fingers, fully touch each other. Hands are organs of action, and the motor nerves (which end in the motor cortex) control their movement. At the same time, hands are sensory organs.
On the palms and fingertips, skin tactile sensibilities are provided by different nerves, whose impulses are transmitted to the sensory cortex, and also to the adjacent association areas, where it is assumed that sensory stimulations have the final elaboration of sensation. Fingers are also shown to have ‘extra-sensorial’ ability, cutaneous optical and sound sensitivity. Experiments show that, subliminally, the skin of the hands perceives light stimuli, comprehensive of color differentiation.
This Mudra neutralizes the positive (male) and negative (female) sides of the body. When the fingers touch another part of the body, a circuit is produced. This allows energy that would have been otherwise dissipated, to travel back into the body, along the Nadis. Hand Mudras, where fingers are joined, engage the motor cortex at very subtle levels. Once Pingala Nadi is engaged, then a signal goes back through Ida Nadi, to the brain. By holding these extremely sensitive areas, in a certain fixed position, a loop of energy moves from the motor cortex, down to the hand, and then back to the brain. Thoughts and experiences are generated, and our detached observation of these, can give useful insights into discovering our more subtle dimensions.
By pressing the palms of the hands together firmly, we connect the two hemispheres of the brain, and bring them into balance. The right hand is controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain, and the left hand by the right hemisphere. When we join the hands, we create a closed criss-cross circuit, a situation of equally distributed brain stimulation, which generates mental balance. This leads to a greater possibility of relaxed concentration.
The circuits, stimulated, are then brought into the sphere of conscious awareness. Repetition, over a period of time, makes this subtle action more conscious, and we become increasingly aware of the effect. Then, the Mudra gains power in its expression, brings knowledge to the practitioner, and connects us with our higher self.
SOME MORE EFFFECTS OF NAMASTE
• A Mudra can work successfully by itself; but when it is associated with the proper mental and emotional attitude, the efficacy is multiplied.
• From the cognitive psychological point of view, Prayer Mudra involves a mental state of humility, regard for something other than oneself, a submission and appreciation of differences in status.
• The practitioner recognizes the existence of a superior entity. Here the term ‘superior’ is employed in its philosophical sense – the practitioner recognizes something existing sine principium, in fact, timeless. This implies the abandonment of one’s identity, individuality, and the egoistic attitude of possession.
• Further steps, on the expansion of awareness, are related to the inner control of the mind, by a total disintegration of the ego. This state consists of facing and confronting the shadow self, the unconscious forces, facing the perception of the polarity principles, manifesting as one creative/destructive continuum. At this stage, one either advances towards total liberation, or returns to material conditions.
• The nerve current of the body converges in the feet, the solar plexus, and the hands. Psychic energy leaves the body at these junctures. To “ground” that energy, and balance the flow of Prana streaming through the nerve system, Yogis cross their legs in the lotus posture and bring their hands together. The Prayer Mudra acts like a simple Yogic Asana, balancing and harmonizing our energies, keeping us centered inwardly, poised, and mentally protected. It closes our Aura, shielding us psychically. It keeps us from becoming too externalized; thus, we remain close to our intuitive nature, our super consciousness.
• Namaste is a gesture of friendship and kindness, also of thanks or special recognition. This form of acknowledgment is so lovely, so graceful. Just look at two people in Namaste, and you will see so much human beauty and refinement.
• In the Namaste Mudra, we unite or balance the two sides at the heart centre. So, the gesture indicates that we relate from a space of balance and love. This is a simple and beautiful gesture, which serves as both an internal, and external, signal for these two qualities. This is what divine love is. It is balanced and unifying and not just a demonstration of emotions. The more balanced we are, the more love we exude. This Mudra is one of the most refined ways of greeting, as it acknowledges the light in the other, and reminds us of our own.
As much as Yoga is an exercise to bring all levels of our existence, including the physical and intellectual, in complete harmony with the rhythms of nature, the gesture of Namaste is Yoga in itself. Thus, it is not surprising that any Yogic activity begins with the performance of this deeply spiritual gesture. What we call life is within the body; what we call eternity, is also within this body. The body is not ‘that’, but ‘that’ is in the body. Our existence, in this world, is always plunged in a dimension of life that is psycho-physiological in itself – we are body, mind, and psyche (soul) – all together.
According to Indologist Renov, “Meditation depends upon the relationship between the hands (mudras), the mouth (mantras), and the mind (Yoga)”. The performance of Namaste is comprised of all these three activities. Thus, Namaste is, in essence, equivalent to Meditation, which is the language of our spirit in conversation with God, and the perfect vehicle for bathing us in the rivers of divine pleasure. This understanding is reflected in the practice of Mudras, which are psycho-physiological attitudes.
Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna’s Yogashaastra Studio.