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Make Meaning With a Daily Mudra Practice

“Close your eyes. Draw your palms together in Anjali mudra.” If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you have probably heard this instruction articulated in a number of ways. Instead of Anjali Mudra, this gesture might have been referred to as prayer pose, or simply prayer. As a regular part of the ritual that begins a yoga practice, forming Anjali Mudra may feel sweet and welcoming; a pleasurable invitation to connect and go within. But through repetition, this mudra can sometimes feel rote, just a routine for the beginning of class. 

So why is the ritual of mudra so important? And how can we shift this practice from a comfortable habit to a conscious and meaningful daily ritual?

Defining Mudras
A mudra is a seal, something that creates an impression, and it is also the impression itself. A mudra is a seal in the form of a hand gesture, containing and evoking meaning. When you make a mudra, then, you are both creating and receiving information. Each mudra has a particular function and symbolism, so when you make a particular mudra, you seal that information and purpose into your body and your consciousness. 

Do you want to experience peace? To access your inner energy? To experience reverence? To connect to the world around you? To make a commitment? Begin with a mudra. 

You can create mudras at any time and in any place. A beautiful way to begin a regular mudra practice is to start and end your day with one. Try holding a mudra for a few minutes, experiencing what the mudra feels like and contemplating its meaning. If you sit to meditate, try creating the mudra at the beginning and at the end of your practice. 

Here are five basic mudras with which to begin:
Anjali Mudra. Anjali Mudra is a gesture of reverence. Drawing the palms together to evoke a closed lotus, Anjali evokes gratitude, reverence, and vast peacefulness. When you want to express gratitude, experience wonderment, or connect to peace, create Anjali Mudra. 
Chin Mudra. Chin Mudra is the gesture of consciousness. Touching the tip of your index finger to your thumb, you connect your individual self(index finger) to the universal self(thumb). This mudra is often used in meditation, and you may choose to rest one or both hands in chin mudra on your knees while meditating. Any time you wish to feel more deeply connected to people, to the world, to the universe, practice Chin Mudra. This mudra is great to use with your free hand during japa meditation.
Prana Mudra. Prana is the Sanskrit word for breath and for life-force.  Extending your index and middle fingers, use your thumb to hold your ring and pinkie fingers curled in toward your palm. You can hold this gesture up in the air or rest it on your body for meditation. When you want to connect with your inner energy and with the energy of the universe, form Prana Mudra. 
Dhyana Mudra. Dhyana Mudra evokes contemplation or meditation. Resting your left-hand palm-up in your lap, rest your right hand, also palm-up, easily in the left so that the tips of your thumbs touch. This is a perfect mudra to make when you sit to meditate or when you simply wish to calm and center yourself. 
Sankalpa Mudra. Sankalpa means intention, determination, or will. Reaching your left hand across your body to rest palm-up on your right knee, place your right palm on top of your left, as if you are holding hands with yourself. This is Sankalpa Mudra, the seal of intention. At the beginning of your meditation or as a brief practice by itself, form this gesture, and set an intention for your day. 

Just as you form an asana with your body and are then formed by the experience, you shape a mudra with your hands and are consequently shaped by it. When you arrange your hands in any mudra, you seal a specific impression into your consciousness. Your body and mind can and will shift as a result of a regular mudra practice. You become the artist and the artwork, the creator and the created.

Opening Your Heart to What Was Already There

On a recent morning, I found myself looking through my journal of notes, thoughts, and anatomy diagrams, to find a reflection on a mantra meditation session during my yoga teacher training. This was my first ever attempt at the practice of the miracle of meditation.

I recall that I had a breakthrough—through discomfort, and through cramping limbs. It was the commencement of the second half of the Kundalini practice that marked a profound turning point for me. It was a clear mental shift. The tedious, repetitive movements and long-held positions were no longer just physical endurance but were indeed rustling up something deep inside.

Something that felt like it had been covered up and buried under layers of dried up fall leaves for many years, deep in the pit of my stomach. That something remained but a vague idea, an uncatchable essence, that—once its existence was realized—loomed above my head and swirled violently. All this time it was calmly sitting, and waiting for me to discover it. 

Hari Gopal, our petite-framed, but energetically explosive guide, asked us to think of our legacy of goodness on this Earth. She invited us to visualize all the good that we had left on this planet in our time—a trail of positive deeds manifested and bookended by our existence. That did it. The rush of physical aches hit the wall of unlocking many surprising things for me.  

The first vision took over so vividly. It was my childhood self, on the last day of pre-school—a culmination of my many young efforts and attempts to understand the world and my place in it at the ripe age of 4. I stood, hugging Kevin under a tree. He was my self-proclaimed boyfriend of the time, and there I was, in my fancy giraffe-print skirt holding him so tightly. The clear picture projected in my mind as if on a movie screen, and I took a back seat to watch the feature with dumbfounded wonder at the randomness of the subject and what it meant.

Kevin had not been a major force in my life (I honestly can't even remember his name), nor did the memory count as even a blip in my personal history before its random emergence. Why was this scene, of all possible scenes—so vibrantly exact, yet completely random—triggered when Hari asked us to envision our legacy? The story that wove through the image and answered the question suddenly became clear: my legacy was the unabashed willingness to provide unconditional love without judgment.

In this memory, I hugged him tightly, even when he did not care, when all he probably wanted was to do what all four-year-old boys do: play. Still, I smiled and held him as if to say; this hug will linger even when it's done. I hugged him just in case years from then he'd need that love in its simplest form.

My memory of that moment had never held any meaning before. I had always remembered him as a silly crush; a cute moment for our parents to gush about for years to come. If anything, I was probably a little ego-bruised and embarrassed looking back. Time and social construct quickly taught me to be careful in putting all of myself out there or to wear my heart and passions too naturally on my sleeve. That was probably the last time I loved out in the open so genuinely and unconcerned.

Then, there was another vision like that—another hold or hug. I thought of my dad one time when he cried—it was the first time I ever saw him break down. It was the night Kalei, my sister, wailed over the apartment my dad had tried so hard to decorate and make homey after my parents were divorced. I remember how the coconut-lime candles, with their hue of happy tropical green, slowly lost their cheer. That night seemed like the world came crashing down for all of us. So messy, so bright with emotion—the pain and anger of misunderstood efforts.  

It was the first time that I understood the sensation of being helplessly out of control; the first time that something told me to close my eyes and to go inside to depend on and trust myself. Remembering my dad's face that night, bright red and unable to look me in the eye for more than a second, I wanted, as a foreign source of love, just to hug him. I wanted to hold my sister, who couldn't seem to understand the why of it all. And I wanted to hold three of us together—to reassure that efforts were not wasted; that it would be OK one day, and that, in fact, love was underneath all of the pain.

The cries came from the loss of some other familial love and the frustration of trying to communicate love through our very different languages. I had blocked that memory from my mind. What could come next during this session? I watched...

The third thing I saw took me on a ride that I would never have anticipated. Everything shone gold. Then, there was my mom, hugging me so tightly. I felt an unbelievable amount of love. I felt it first, the golden hug as if it held my entire heart or my essence in its hand—her hand. It spoke as if it never had the chance to before, but like it had been trying to communicate. "Oh, sweet baby." Comforting the tears that were about to come.

We both knew what was released, for we had been waiting for this moment to meet again. "You've given me everything. You were my everything. I love you infinitely, and you have loved me so." She didn't say "You loved me in the way I couldn't love myself," which I had thought about many a time before. Instead, she was teaching me, solidifying my legacy, redirecting me to my purpose as a soul, here on earth. I was able to see like I never had before, that I had given both my parents so much by merely holding a particular space in their lives without even trying. 

My being able to play that part as their daughter continues to be my most authentic legacy—to see how I've infused, indefinitely, love and the realization of it, into the lives of two humans to the extent that I have, feels like the biggest blessing I've ever had. It has been undoubtedly, my highest purpose. It's not to say I'm amazing, or I've done so much, but instead, I was picked by a universal force to be a space holder for my parents—to be a part of my family's experience—that is the magic of it.

Strangely, this made me realize the connection to my parents as humans, and that any soul could have held my place. I don't think I'd be able to see that if I didn't travel spiritually through the times when love was a challenge—back to situations when it was easier to be angry than to believe that love existed.

The pain of witnessing the loss of my mom in my life has taught me to savor the short experiences we have with the people we briefly come across on our path. It's different than the idea of 'count your blessings,' or 'appreciate the things you have in life,' or 'live life to the fullest.' Instead, it is to remember your temporality by acknowledging your purpose, to keep searching for it, and to live by it.  

Benefits of Japa Meditation

There are many benefits of Japa Meditation. Chanting a mantra can make us better people, and it can help make our brains stronger. Mantra meditation also creates inner peace and a deep state of calm. Plus, chanting a mantra is a simple and easy type of meditation to practice!

1. We become healthier versions of ourselves through practicing Japa Meditation

Meditation enhances and optimizes all the bodily systems so that they can function as they’re meant to work.

Chanting or mantra meditation is one of the most effective, powerful and efficient ways of purifying the body of stress while making us smarter and more creative at everything we do.

When people start a mantra meditation practice, they begin experiencing more synchronicity and more serendipity in their lives. Meditation practitioners are more attuned to the natural rhythms of the universe. Mantra meditation uses a Bija, or seed mantra, and the sound quality of the bija mantra induces a deep rest and healing.

When there’s less stress in our bodies and minds, we perform much better—with whatever we do in life. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, mantra meditation makes us better at everything we do. We often think that we need to be stressed out in order to be efficient or productive. However, this is an antiquated mindset and only creates more suffering in our lives.

Stress and distress serve to make us more irrational–like when we’re rushing all around the house and can’t find our sunglasses because they’re right on the top of our head.

We get irrational, distressed and crazy because our body reacts to stress as if it were being chased by a saber-toothed tiger. Your body and brain are using so much energy to fight off this imaginary tiger, that it can’t deal with the actual tasks at hand.

2. We access and align the power of the two sides of our brain through Japa Meditation

In our ordinary states of consciousness (when we’re eating, sleeping or dreaming), the right brain and the left brain are functioning separately from one another. But in the fourth state of consciousness, also referred to as transcendence (which happens when we’re meditating with mantra), all the waves on the left brain and all the waves on the right brain begin to rise and fall in unison. 

Our left brains are placed in charge of the past and future and take care of language, critical thought, and analytical thought. Most of us don’t use our creative right brain because we barely ever engage with that side of our mental abilities.

When we practice Japa meditation, it’s as if we’re taking our right brains for a good workout at the gym and the left and right brain start talking to each other. The right brain becomes more activated and balanced, and our intuition and gut feelings are more available, as are problem-solving solutions when we’re in the heat of a challenging moment. 

If we want to enhance our lives, beginning a mantra meditation practice is an absolute no-brainer! For even more benefits, use some malas for meditation.

A Meditation to Clear and Activate Your Chakras

Human beings contain an unlimited supply of energy. And while we might not always feel this way, our bodies are energized continuously. This energy can change based on our thoughts, elements, and surroundings. Our chakras, or energy centers, are continually radiating and receiving this energy.  And while our chakras do a fantastic job maintaining our essence, too much negativity can throw them off kilter. 

There’s no reason to feel sad about this; We’re all prone to stress and anxiety from time to time. But when this stress becomes too much, our chakras become dirty, heavy, and swollen. The negativity thrives, and it becomes harder to pull ourselves out of the rut.

Luckily, chakra cleansing is a way to detoxify your energy systems and make room for the good vibes and feelings once again. There are dozens of ways to help clear your chakras, many of them unique to the location of the chakra on your body. For instance, the throat chakra (which is all about speaking your truth) can be cleared by journaling. When you need to replenish the root chakra, go for a long walk to help bring you back to Mother Earth. 

If you feel as though your entire being needs a deep chakra cleanse, try this meditation. In just twenty minutes, you’ll experience a gentle clearing and activation of the chakras, bringing you ease and positive energy. 

Together, these chakras influence all areas of your life, from relationships to health to spirituality. Give them the attention they need, and savor those balancing benefits.  

A Guided Meditation for Peaceful Sleep


Nights without sleep are painful and torturous. You try hard not to look at your clock or phone, knowing that the amount of time you have to sleep is getting shorter and shorter. "If I fall asleep now, I'll get five hours of sleep. If I fall asleep now I'll four hours of sleep." The constant tossing and turning is brutal. The more we think about how we "should" be sleeping, the harder that rest seems to achieve, and we continue to spin in this vicious circle of anxiety and restlessness. 

In those pesky middle-of-the-night moments where we can't seem to stop tossing and turning, it's imperative that we are kind to ourselves. By reminding our brains that sleep is coming, we can turn off our thoughts and ease our way into rest. 

Meditation can be an excellent way to provide focus and distract the brain from unnecessary anxiety. If you find yourself suffering from insomnia, or need helping winding down before heading to bed, try this meditation. The soothing voices and gentle encouragement confirm that everything is okay. Rest is coming...just play the below video, softly close your eyes and breathe deeply.

Receiving Answers From Your Higher Self


There are many times in life when we feel overwhelmed with options.
Our brains are filled with incessant chatter while waves of anxiety wash over our body. Thoughts trigger thoughts, and we fall down the rabbit hole of wondering "what if?".  

If you've been in this situation, you know it's no fun. With so much going on in our headspace, it becomes hard to connect to our most authentic self. The loud thoughts get all the attention, and we can't hear anything else. But when you are less stressed, you can think clearly, and that "inner guidance" or "highest self" is finally allowed to say a few words. By connecting to your breath and focusing on the present moment, those pesky thoughts begin to dissipate.

This meditation allows you to sift through the things that do not serve you, and instead enter a relaxed and open state. You're able to communicate, or at least slightly witness, answers from your most authentic self.  Don't worry if the thoughts still seem muddy, especially if you're new to meditation. Sometimes these answers are not what we expect, or sometimes they come very subtly. Regardless of what you feel while meditating, entering a more relaxed state allows you to open your mind to new possibilities. It is in these moments of peace when we can make our best decisions. 

Find a quiet spot and let this meditation guide you into peace. Don't feel pressure to find a solution; merely take comfort in knowing your most real self is also available to you, if only you give it some time to speak. 

Guided Meditation: Releasing Anger


Anger is a frustrating emotion. It's common yet strong, gripping us in a tight headlock that only seems to get worse the more we try to analyze it. 

Triggered by a multitude of different things, anger is an emotional response to a real or imagined grievance. We often experience this feeling when we perceive a threat due to negligence, conflict, humiliation, betrayal, injustice, and fear. Perhaps your anger was caused by something external, like a friend’s lie about his or her whereabouts or a traffic jam on your way to an important event. Or perhaps you’re brooding over something in the past, like lover’s betrayal, or your regret over a perceived mistake. 

Regardless of the reason, holding onto anger can increase our overall feelings of discomfort. While anger may draw our attention to something important, it can also prevent us from thriving and moving forward.  When we dwell in our anger, we allow it to work like the one in control. 

Don't be ashamed of your anger, but try not to let it work as your inner guidance. When anger becomes too powerful, those negative emotions can leak into our personal lives and our mental health. It can disrupt our relationships, our work lives, and our bodies.

"You will not be punished by your anger, you will be punished for your anger." - Buddha

But like any emotion, if we separate our feelings from the experience, we are better able to get a grip on reality. Rather than focus on one tiny element of the situation, we can garner a perspective of the entire picture, and realize that our anger might not be as heavy as we once imagined. 

In this meditation, you’ll find soothing guidance that allows you to take a step back from your anger. Using positive imagery and calm words, you’ll be able to relax both mentally and physically, and give your brain some much-needed self-love. 

You don't need to carry onto that extra weight. Give yourself this twenty-minute dose of mindful love, breathe, and let go. 

A Five Minute Meditation Miracle


Sometimes all you have are five minutes. After all, we live busy lives. Whether we're juggling our time between teaching yoga classes, leading team meetings, getting the kids to school, or earning a degree; finding time is hard. 

You may not always have the time to head to a yoga class or settle into your homemade meditation den. And while that's understandable, we believe you can always snag a simple five minutes to give your brain some love. 

In this five minute meditation, you'll be guided through soothing instruction to help you garner nourishing and positive thoughts. It helps you recognize that you are in control of your day and hold the ability to make it amazing. 

If you need a quick reminder of how to be mindful, or simply a small break to find equilibrium, take these five minutes and donate them to yourself. It's amazing how just a lit bit of attention can restore our entire energy. 

Watch the video below:

What are Mala beads and How to Use Them


What are Mala beads
Mala beads are a form of prayer beads and are considered the Buddhist Rosary. They can be made from various materials. Some are made from beads made from various wood, different crystals or even seeds. Traditionally a Buddhist bead necklace is made from either the wood of a Bodhi tree or from Bodhi seeds. The Bodhi tree is symbolic to Buddhists as Prince Siddhartha Gautama is said to have meditated under a Bodhi tree until he becomes enlightened, becoming the Lord Buddha. Many Buddhist Temples have Bodhi trees growing in them. These are said to be cuttings from the very same tree Buddha reached enlightenment under and are therefore viewed sacred and also believed to represent the Buddha's presence.

How To Use Mala Beads
Mala beads are used in meditation where a Mantra is used and act as a way to count how many times the Mantra has been repeated. You can use any Mantra but a very popular Mantra used by Buddhists is Om Mani Padme Hum (which is pronounced OHM MAH NEE PAHD MAY HUM). Alternatively you can use any Mantra or sentence you feel comfortable with as this would work just as well. Traditionally each Mala comprises 108 beads plus a Guru bead. 108 is also a significant number in eastern thought. The Muktika Upanishad contains 108 canonical Upanishads. Ancient Buddhist teachings suggest there are 108 invisible threads connecting each person to the divine. Repeating a mantra 108 times awakens these threads, connecting us to the divine. The purpose of the Mala is simply to enable that the Mantra is repeated 108 times. To achieve this simply place your Mallah Beads in your hand with your beads hanging over your middle finger. The middle finger is used as the index finger is considered in the east to represent the ego and the ego is to be avoided while meditating and repeating Mantras. Use your thumb to past each Mala bead over your middle finger. Each time this is done either mentally or verbally say your chosen Mantra. Repeat this process by using your thumb to pass another bead over your middle finger while repeating your Mantra. Once you have reach the Guru bead your meditation is complete and you have repeated your Mantra 108 times.

Finding and Using the Right Mantra

It is beneficial to have a clear purpose and intention to be able to choose which mantras fits you the best or will convey the outcome you are after. Your mala mantras will influence you to feel the dynamic vitality of the chanted words, and help you become more relaxed and into a more profound meditative state. The vibration levels are diverse with every mantra, so examine for the ones that can bring you nearer to your objectives, goals, and intentions. 

The 5 Most Popular Mantras 

There is an extensive variety of mantras which you can browse. Beneath we made a short rundown with the most famous ones and arranged them by their impact. 

1. Om/Aum 

This chant is the most basic mantra out there, making positive vibrations. You will feel these vibrations for the most part focused in your lower body. 

2. Shanti 

Signifying "peace" in Sanscrit, it is normally blended with the Om/Aum mantra to accomplish a considerably more profound reflective state. 

3. Maha 

This  Krishna mantra will help you to put your psyche settled, while others view it as a the way to salvation. 

4. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu 

Signifying "may all creatures wherever be cheerful and free, and may the musings, words, and activities of my own life contribute somehow to that satisfaction and to that opportunity for all." This sentence makes a stream of positive vitality. It ought to be rehashed no less than 3 times. 

5. Om namah shivaya 

As a tribute paid to Shiva, this mantra encourages you to fabricate certainty your certainty and spotlight on your otherworldly associations. You should rehash it no less than 3 times. 

Instructions to Start 

In the wake of settling on the mantra that fits your requirements, first take a couple of moments before meditating to clear your psyche. Clear all considerations and focus on what you might want to accomplish that day. On the off chance that you get yourself stuck concocting a particular objective for the present mantra, consider basic things unwinding. This should enable you to get into a significantly more profound thoughtful state. Find yourself a comfortable seated leg over leg position. Close your eyes and unwind. When you have an inclination that you are drawing near to the coveted state, close your hands together, to shape an asking hand. If you leave a little space between, it may enable you to feel the stream of vitality. At long last, bring down your jaw to have the ideal stance, helping you accomplish the ideal condition of meditation.

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