Meditation often involves using your hands to form specific gestures. These hand gestures or also known as “mudras” are a catalyst to open energy channels and bring them on the right path.
Along with mudras, you might have noticed that yogis keep their hands in a particular position – palms facing up or palms facing down. You might have also heard an instruction from your teacher to place your hands on your thighs with palms facing upwards or place them on your knees with palms facing downwards.
Have you ever wondered about the significance of palms’ hand positions in meditation?
When is it okay to keep your palms up or down?
Which specific mudras should be practised with palms facing up and which one should be palms facing down?
These are some of the important questions we will look into in this article. Let us see how the hand position helps you enhance your meditation practice.
Significance of hand position in meditation
Most often than not, you keep your hand on your knees or thighs with palms facing up. But on some occasions, keeping your hands with palms down is advised. Below is described significance of both types of hand positions;
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Palms Facing Up
When you place your palms facing up in meditation, you are essentially surrendering to the divine. You are allowing the cosmos to fill you in with the energy and information that you seek for true awareness. Palms up also signifies your humbleness and gratitude to the higher realms. It is a way to allow love and kindness into your soul while also spreading this feeling to the world.
Physically, the palms up hand position in meditation help open your shoulders and chest. So it basically lengthens your breathing; both inhale and exhale.
When you flip your hands to face your palms upwards, your shoulder rotates outwards. This prompts the opening of the chest which further leads to better breathing. It also encourages you to sit straight and tall and boosts blood circulation throughout the body.
Sitting straight in meditation also enhances the smooth flow of energy through the chakras, which will improve your physical, mental and spiritual body.
In meditation, opening the hands creates a state of openness that improves listening by bringing the body and mind into a relaxed state.
Palms Facing Down
When we face our palms downwards, we are essentially grounding ourselves during meditation; for example, to cultivate focus on root chakra meditation. Our fingers are pointed towards the earth which takes in any excess energy we have stored in our body. It helps in removing any anxious thoughts and helps calm our overactive minds.
Meditating with our palms facing downwards encourages us to look inwards and bring awareness to our internal self.
In terms of physical postures, your shoulders rotate inwards when you keep your palms down. You will observe a slight slouch in your posture with the shoulders hunched and chest moving inwards.
Also read: Steps to perform Kundalini Meditation
Which mudra is associated with each position?
Typically speaking, any mudra can be performed with palms facing up or down. It all boils down to your intention, your mood, and your need.
Even though almost all mudras are performed with palms facing upwards, some mudras often use the palms down technique.
One mudra which is commonly practised with palms facing downwards is Chin Mudra.
Chin mudra is variation of Gyan Mudra, also known as mudra of knowledge and wisdom, is usually performed by joining the tips of the index finger and thumb. Practitioners keep this hand formation on their knees and turn their palms downwards.
Another mudra that is often performed with palms facing down is Adi Mudra. Adi mudra is performed by wrapping the thumb with all the fingers of the hand such that the thumb lies at the base of all fingers. When you practice this mudra with palms facing down, you are essentially promoting a calm mind and curbing anxious thoughts.
There is one more mudra where the palm faces downwards, even though it is only one hand, which is the bhumisparsha mudra. Here, one hand is kept on the lap with the palm facing up while the other is placed on the knee, palms facing down. The fingers of the palm down hand should touch the ground.
It is said that this gesture was adopted by buddha during his meditation under the bodhi tree. He adopted this gesture to signify that the earth is the witness of his determination and loyalty towards his practice when a demon came to disrupt his meditation.
Thus, this hand formation is practised when you need to achieve a goal and enhance your determination.
When do adopt palms up or palms down hand position in meditation?
There is no right or wrong way of keeping your hands in a particular position. As previously stated, it all depends on your intention and current mood.
Before you perform a mudra, you should first look within to see what your body is going through.
Is your mind calm or overactive?
Are you feeling exhausted?
Has the day ruined your mood or do you feel lively?
Based on your answers to questions like the above, you can determine whether your palms should face upwards or downwards.
If your mind is anxious, is working on overdrive, or is extremely chaotic, you might want to release some energy by placing your palms down. When you need a sense of security and safety, use an appropriate mudra and keep your hands on your knees with palms down to ground yourself.
On the contrary, if you feel content or want to show gratitude to the universe, share this feeling of love and kindness with the world by keeping your palms facing upwards. And whenever you are feeling low, sad, or depressed, facing your palms upwards will allow you to receive the same love and kindness in return.
It will also encourage you to gain some positive energy from your surroundings while absorbing a wealth of knowledge the divine has to offer.