Anjali Mudra Meditation – For Peace & Healing
If you have attended even just one yoga class, you will probably have seen the familiar gesture of drawing one’s palms together at the (spiritual) heart. Often yoga teachers will bring their hands together while saying “Namaste” at the beginning or end of a class.
Placing the hands in front of the third eye, bowing the head and bringing the hands back down to the heart, is an especially deep form of respect.
This sacred hand position is called anjali mudra (AHN-jah-lee MOO-dra) and often done in certain yoga poses (asanas) such as Tadasana (Mountain Pose), before beginning Sun Salutations, or in balance poses such as Vrksasana (Tree Pose). It is found throughout Asia and has become synonymous with many images of the East, from the ever smiling face of the Dalai Lama peering over his fingertips to images of devotees bowing before a Hindu or Buddhist altar.
Anjali is Sanskrit for “divine offering”, “a gesture of reverence”, “benediction”, “salutation”, and is derived from anj, meaning “to honour or celebrate”. Mudra means “seal” or “sign”. The meaning of the phrase is thus “salutation seal”.
The gesture is also known as hrdayanjali mudra meaning “reverence to the heart seal” (from hrd, meaning “heart”) and atmanjali mudra meaning “reverence to the self seal” (from atman, meaning “self”).
The gesture, although tied to the East, can be practised by anyone anywhere. Those who goes to church will pray to the Divine by placing their palms together in front of their heart, for example. This act, when done mindfully, acknowledges the Divine Spark within us.
Saying the word ‘Namaste’ can be translated as “I bow to the Divinity within you from the Divinity within me.”
But the gesture is more than symbolic.
As you bring the hands together at the centre, you balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain to work in sync, and unify your energy fields. I am referring to the yogic process of unification, the yoking of male and female, our active and receptive natures. All of this ‘energy centering’ happens through this deceptively simple gesture, so long as there is awareness of the present moment and the breath.
Anjali mudra is thus accompanied by the word “Namaste” to nourish the “lotus heart” with awareness, encouraging it to gently open as water and light do a flower.
Anjali Mudra Meditation for Peace and Healing
Get into a comfortable sitting position. Lengthen the spine out of your pelvis, connect with your sitting bones, and extend the back of your neck by dropping the chin slightly. You will feel your crown ‘lift’ upwards to the sky above you:
- With open palms, slowly draw your hands together at the centre of your chest as if to gather all your resources into your heart.
- Repeat the movement several times, contemplating your own metaphors for bringing the right and left side of yourself â€“ masculine and feminine archetypes of the self, logic and intuition, strength and gentleness â€“ into wholeness.
- If you feel like it, perhaps shift your hands from one side of your midline to the other briefly. Pause for a moment and see what this feels like. Do you feel more at ease on one side than the other? Do you feel “off-centre” when you do this?
- Now shift back to the centre, and notice any changes.
- Gently touch your thumbs to your sternum (the bony plate at the centre of your ribcage) as if you were ringing a bell to open the ‘door’ of your heart.
- Broaden your shoulder blades to spread your chest open from the inside. Feel a little more space under your armpits.
- Stay here for a while and focus simply on your in-breath and out-breath. Notice any shifts in your mood and awareness.
- Next, intend that you will be centred and fully conscious of how your inner state will affect the outcome of your experience.
- Next slightly part your palms as if to make a cup, so that your hands resemble the bud of a lotus flower. Ask for something meaningful to you to be delivered under grace in a perfect way. Plant a seed prayer, an affirmation, or quality such as â€˜peace’, â€˜clarity’, â€˜vitality’ within your mudra.
- Acknowledge you have already received the blessing you have asked for.
- It is important that this anjali (“offering”) be true to your self as that will be the most effective and uplifting for you.
- Remember you are aligning your mind (awareness), feeling (heart), and action (body) within this simple gesture.
- When you feel the meditation is complete, draw your fingertips to the centre of our forehead (third eye chakra) and pause there, feeling the calming effect of your own touch.
- Bring your hands back to your heart centre.
- Now start whatever you have to.
- With time and patience, this simple practice will help you feel joyous, connected and in the present. The moment will resonate with peace and meaning.
Anjali Mudra can be done at any time you wish to but the most effective times are first thing in the morning, upon awakening (before thoughts arise and carry you along!). Or at the end of the day, just before retiring to bed.
In daily life, this prayerful gesture can be used as a way of bridging inner and outer experience.
Anjali Mudra is an age-old means of helping us remember the gift that our life essence brings to us, and to use it wisely. In a moment of simplicity, we are transported into the eternal nature of reality.