Mudras ExplainedMar 05, 2021
Close your eyes and pray. Do your hands not naturally come together in some form, providing some formality or signaling this time as unique? Why? Because we long to extend from ourselves our complete self and the hands are an integral part of this extension.
Close your eyes once again, bring your hands into whatever position they take during prayer. Notice where your hands naturally join: in your lap? At your heart? Intertwined beneath a bowed head? Sense your hands as an extension of the words you lift toward Heaven, cradling them out from within you and elevating them. They symbolize peace, stillness, strength - you in your created uniqueness.
What are mudras or "handy" postures of prayer?
A Mudra is a term symbolizing a gesture, plea, or prayer. As Christians, they are our way of bringing to our mind, body, and spirit the awareness that we are about to communicate with our Blessed Lord. We gather them to both offer and receive; sometimes, they entangle whatever we hold and others open to surrendering. Many of us have felt the power of someone's hovering hands above our head, infusing us with mercy and grace.
Consider how the hands take their form as a mirror of the current condition of our body, mind, and spirit. Created as an intimate connection between you and the Lord, they serve to reach toward nourishment. He so meticulously formed them, each of your digits He designed as a means of communication.
Try this, join your thumb and index finger together so that the tips touch and form a circle. Your thumb symbolizes divinity - the index finger humanity; by connecting the two, we realize that through Christ, this is the one thing we share with God - our humanness. Close your eyes and bask in this thought for a moment. God understands what it is to be human, and He installed this reminder upon His vessel.
Let's try another one:
Extend your thumb upward from a fisted hand as if you were giving the "thumb's up" sign. Bring the tip of your thumb to touch your forehead between the two eyebrows. This contact between hand and third-eye is symbolic of intuition - our inner connection with His moving Spirit. Close your eyes, feel this internal relationship, perceive the threshold of a doorway that is never closed.
Again, form a loose fist with your hand. Extend your index finger upward, pointing toward the ceiling. This finger embodies inspiration - our outward desire to be present to the people and experiences the Lord bestows upon us.
Lamentations 3:41 beckons us to "[ ] lift up our hearts and hands to God in Heaven." 1 Timothy 2:8 writes, "I desire then that in every place the [people] should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling." Psalm 134:2 sings to us, "Lift up your hands to the Holy place and bless the Lord." From biblical times comes the invitation to utilize our hands to pray, to elevate to God in both offer and reception.
Think about how much our hands are involved in gesture, embrace, reflection, and need when we communicate with others. They serve to animate our emotional desires. Extended from our heart, they long to grant another a piece of ourselves and accept their loving gratitude. Does it not only make sense we would desire to speak with God from such a place? Imagine for a moment being in front of Jesus. How would you express yourself? Now notice in this scene - where are your hands? While I cannot say where they might be in your imaginative encounter, I can almost assuredly say they are not in your pockets or limp by your side. They reach for nourishment.
Grace for those missing their hands or fingers:
We, as Christians, faithfully believe that the invisible resides within and beyond us through the Spirit of God. You are and will always be whole to Him. Memory and energy extend beyond the confines of our physical body. So, all remains even if we cannot see it.
A uniting exercise for all:
Close your eyes. Begin to pray. Do not use your hands. Instead, allow the Holy Spirit to extend from within, forming spiritual extremities. Now, create a mudra in your mind. What shape does it take? Extend and lift that vision upward. God smiles and receives.