Between Rock and a Deep Mudra

Who wore it better? Ekajata or Eckhart Tolle? Bhutadamara Vajrapani or Beyonce? In our world, mudras have jumped the shark from religious statuary to making the list of conspiracy theorists’ favourite evidence that [insert celebrity] is BFFs with the forces of evil.

Eastern and western beliefs collide right in the middle over \m/ – or do they? The sign of the horns appears similar to Karana Mudra, a common mudra in Buddhist and Hindu meditation, yoga and devotional practice. It also draws some formal similarity to the signs of the Corna (Italy) and the Zafu (Dominican Republic), both of which are intended to ward off evil.

Frankly, it’s quite refreshing to think that the superstitious grandmotherly impulse behind expelling bad juju is in many a heavy metal moment. ‘The Gesture Warding off/Ban of Evil’ protects the one performing the gesture from negativity and demons. Not its critics though, sadly. It’s strange how the literal meaning of Karana, which is simply ‘doing’ is said to soothe thoughts and feelings of anxiety and depression.

How to do Karana Mudra:
1. Stretch out the hand with the palm turned forward.
2. Press the thumb down over the middle and the ring fingers
3. Extend the index and the little fingers away from the palm.
4. Verify similarity to yak horns. Headbang without neighbours seeing. JK!*

On a more serious note, you may ask: what gives mudras their power? Many are based on subtle body principles that can be accessed by anyone during acupuncture/reflexology or even involuntarily. Case in point: we place our hands and bodies in certain ways every day that affect how we feel physically and psychically long after we have stopped holding that pose.

If you look more closely (either inwardly or to observe your own behaviour), you may realise that mudras run through our day-to-day gestures: where we glance involuntarily when we remember, anticipate or imagine something, or the unique cultural-inflections we transmit as we gesticulate while talking. Yes, mudras are all around us (and you do feel them in your fingers and your toes).

Just remember: no one will ever be more qualified to observe your body than you are, if you are so inclined. Personally? If anyone asks me, I’m all for it.

– Jennifer Lew

*Please excuse writer’s complete lack of respect for yaks and their contribution to our societies.