Photo from the author's website.
Meditation, as I understand and practice it, has become an indispensable aid in my life. I use it at any time, and everywhere, for everything. As a result, I bring clarity, light, and lightness into my life. I recharge my inner batteries and solve my problems, make decisions, get advice and comfort, refine my character traits, mobilize my immune forces, develop visions for the future -- and seek my connection with the Divine.
We can use meditation for everything, which includes dissolving anything that bothers, burdens, or annoys us, as well as achieving inner and outer wealth -- and naturally also for achieving our spiritual goals. Let's make full use of these possibilities!
Hindu healing practitioners already discovered long ago that too much or too little of an element (earth, water, air, fire, and ether) causes the body to become imbalanced or even seriously ill. Just as every element can have a positive influence on us, it can also destroy us.
The individual elements naturally influence each other. Every element has special needs that can be easily satisfied in a balanced and calm dynamic state. But how often are we stressed, rest and exercise too little, eat too much, or let ourselves be plagued by worries? All of this throws us off balance. When the body is no longer capable of attaining harmony, we are out of balance and we become susceptible to disease.
The following meditations can be done during the sleepless hours of a long night or an illness. It demands nothing more of the body than lovingly embracing one finger with the fingers of the other hand.
Meditation 1: Thumb Energy
The fire element, the lung meridian, and Mars (the planet and/or ancient god of war) are associated with the thumb. The fire of the thumb nourishes the energy of the other fingers and absorbs excess energy. It thereby restores equilibrium.
When we think about the incineration of garbage, we sense that destruction through fire can also have a power that creates order. Even in nature, when during the course of the decades a monoculture of the strongest has been created, the forest fire once again creates the preconditions for a larger variety of new plants. The overheating within our bodies, the fever, kills entire cultures of bacteria.
Fire is dependent upon air since it dies without oxygen; the same also applies to our cell respiration. The metabolism in the individual cells can only properly function with adequate oxygen. We can actually strengthen every part of the body or every organ by visualizing and/or breathing light and warmth into it.
Either sit or lie down. Now encircle your right thumb with the four fingers of your left hand and place your left thumb along the inner edge of your right hand. Close your eyes.
Focus on a part of the body that is weak or ill. Now imagine that a light is burning in the lower center of your body (at the height of the navel). Every time you exhale, direct the rays of light toward the respective part of the body. First let large, dark clouds of smoke (things that make you ill, pain, etc.) escape from the illuminated body part. Then concentrate solely on the light that slowly fills, illuminates, and heals this part of the body.
Calmly keep holding onto your thumb for a while and feel the flowing warmth. Then encircle your left thumb and also hold this for a while.
Meditation 2: Index Finger Energy
The heart chakra, the large intestine, and the deep meridian of the stomach are associated with this finger. Here we also find the "sure" instinct, having "a good nose", the ability to reflect, and inspiration. This energy goes to our innermost core and back to the cosmos from there. We can also draw on our innermost being (intuition) and receive from the cosmos (inspiration). This finger includes both closeness and expansiveness. How much closeness can we stand?
The air element represents the mind -- the power of thought. Thoughts are as invisible as the air and yet, as the yogis have discovered, they are the cause of all the actions that we take or refrain from taking, of everything that we reject and attract, for our health and for every mood, and for the entire design of our life. The planetary power of Jupiter is also associated with this finger, and indicates the eternal change of things -- accepting life with all its facets, working through (digesting), and letting go again.
There is also a clear, purposeful look into the future in this finger. Since our thoughts are so important, we should consider their quality more frequently. If we do the following meditation several days in a row, we will notice that there is a certain habit in our thoughts. Habits can be changed as soon as we become aware of them, but changes always require a certain amount of time. If we continuously replace harmful thoughts with useful ones, we can also change the circumstances of life accordingly.
Sit or lie down. Now encircle your right index finger with the four fingers of your left hand, letting the thumb extend to the middle of your right hand. Close your eyes.
You are sitting in front of a field and observe the swaying ears of grain. When you inhale, the ears of grain move toward you. When you exhale, they move away from you. Sometimes you see the entire field, and sometimes you see the individual ears of grain. You also see how the space gets smaller when you inhale, and larger when you exhale. The yellow ears indicate transience, the great dying that is already contained in the seed of a new beginning.
After a while, look into the expanse of the blue clouded sky and then inwardly to the safety of your own heart. Now observe the thoughts that come and go, and think about your thoughts for a while. How do you think most of the time? In a positive, negative, confident, fearful, brooding (turning over worries), critical, memory-dominated, or future-oriented way?
Keep holding onto your finger for a while and feel the flowing warmth. Then encircle your left index finger and also hold this for a while.
Meditation 3: Middle Finger Energy
Hindus call this finger the heavenly finger and classify it with the throat chakra. Take a look at it. It is the longest finger, and towers over the others. Its energy radiates far into infinity. It could also be considered the stairway to Heaven.
Saturn, which is classified with it, is located toward the edge of our solar system and is also called the "keeper of the threshold." We are held accountable for our lives at the gates of Heaven. We also find this symbolism in the throat chakra, the gateway of purity, which only opens when the student is pure in spirit and in heart. However, in order to progress on our spiritual path, we must first fulfill our duties on Earth. This is indicated by its inherent meridians: the circulation meridian and the deep meridian of the gallbladder. Both help us seize and master the challenges of life. Drive, activity, risk, and the joy of taking action are their qualities.
The spectrum of the middle-finger energy ranges from an active life to spheres far into the world beyond. It could be briefly summarized with the following saying, "God helps those who help themselves."
Sit or lie down. Now encircle your right middle finger with the four fingers of your left hand. The left thumb extends to the middle of your right hand. Close your eyes.
Imagine yourself doing what you like to do most. Make full use of your inclinations and talents as you master all the obstacles placed in your path, and enjoy your activities. You are successful at what you do and mentally envision what your success looks like. What you do enriches the world (your family, individual human beings, or the entire world). Extensively imagine the constant contact with the divine forces that help you and show you the way.
If your occupation does not satisfy you and if you have no leisure activities or interests that suit you, then it is time to ask within, to press your inner wisdom until you receive an answer. At the same time, also ask for the initiative, which the middle finger symbolizes, to actually tackle the matter at hand. And, above all, request help from the divine powers -- enter into a close, trusting partnership with them.
Keep holding your finger in silence for a while and feel the warmth flowing into you. Then encircle your left middle finger and hold it for a while. These hand positions also have an excellent effect on tension in the neck.
Meditation 4: Ring Finger Energy
The ring finger is associated with Apollo, the sun god, and the root chakra, which rules the pelvic floor. This force gives stamina, staying power, and the power to be assertive. The Chinese have classified this finger with the deep meridian of the liver.
The power of the liver gives a person patience, serenity, hope, and vision for the future. The "triple warmer" also begins in the tip of the ring finger. This meridian rules all protective functions in the body and is responsible for body temperature, which in turn regulates cell function. If it works in an optimal manner, it gives the ability to maintain our equilibrium in stressful situations, which is also the precondition for a well-functioning immune system.
The force that dominates this finger provides stability, is penetrating, and strives upward.
Sit or lie down. Now encircle your left ring finger with the four fingers of your right hand, with the right thumb extending to the middle of your left hand. Close your eyes.
Imagine bare earth and crushed rock in all its forms -- as deserts, mountains, and islands. What happens when masses of earth begin to move? When the earth dries out? When the earth is completely exposed to the sun?
Now imagine fertile earth. Slowly let the vegetation be created -- little plants, big plants, much green.
Now focus on one single seed resting deep within the earth. With every breath, something moves inside until the seed bursts and a shoot stretches in the direction of the light. At the same time, it sprouts roots deep into the earth. It becomes a tree that grows very slowly. You wait patiently and watch how the plant develops into its full size. Time has no significance. Only the constant growth counts. The tree blooms anew every year, and bears fruit.
Like the tree, we also do not know why this is. Like the tree, we want to give ourselves completely to life, and know this has its purpose, even if we will probably never be able to completely fathom the great mystery. As the tree changes every year, our inner development also continues. We decisively influence whether it is joyful or sorrowful.
Keep holding your finger for a while and feel the flowing warmth. Then encircle your right ring finger and hold it for the same amount of time.
Meditation 5: Little Finger Energy
The second chakra, which is the energetic center of sexuality, is associated with the little finger. It deals with interpersonal relationships in general, as well as partnership in particular. This classification of sexuality corresponds with Hatha Yoga. (In Buddhism, sexuality is associated with the ring finger.) It also contains the ability to communicate.
Since the Chinese healing practitioners found the heart meridian to be in this finger, this confirms the yogis' thesis relating the water element to it (water symbolizes the realm of the emotions).
Joyful, fulfilling relationships not only warm the heart, but also nourish and strengthen it. And, in turn, strong heart energy gives us the ability to be happy. It gives us sublime feelings and improves our mood. Our mood, which is always the sum of present feelings, can be compared with the waves on the surface of a lake. They are rhythmically harmonious or vehement; the water is clear and clean, or shallow, heavy, dark and dirty.
Sit or lie down. Now encircle your left little finger with the four fingers of your right hand, with your right thumb extending to the middle of your left hand. Close your eyes.
In your mind's eye, you are sitting by the sea and observing the waves -- they come toward you, and roll back out and disappear. The same applies to your feelings, moods, and also to your relationships with others.
Giving and receiving love is also subject to this law. Be aware that you only receive as much love as you can unconditionally give. This doesn't even have to mean great deeds. A friendly, warm heart for fellow human beings, animals, plants, water, air, and earth are entirely enough.
Imagine someone (someone specific or in general) happy and encourage him or her, if necessary. Believe in this individual's abilities and good heart. Imagine entire scenes in which this person is cheerful and smiling happily. If you have no one close to you, then do this little exercise perhaps while riding the bus, train, or streetcar -- in relation to a stranger. I guarantee that you will experience wonders if you keep this up for several days or weeks. T
he time will come when your heart will overflow with joy. But the most important thing is: don't expect anything at all for the time being. Radiate your goodwill and your love unconditionally. Just have some patience until the seeds sprout.
Continue holding your little finger for a while and feel the flowing warmth. Then encircle your right little finger and hold it for the same amount of time.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Samuel Weiser, Inc.
Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands
by Gertrud Hirschi,
Mudras--also playfully called "finger power points"--are yoga positions for your hands and fingers. They can be practiced sitting, lying down, standing, or walking, at any time and place. Schooled in the traditional knowledge of this eastern art of healing, well-known Swiss yoga teacher, Gertrud Hirschi, shows how these easy techniques can recharge personal energy reserves and improve quality of life. These mysterious healing gestures can calm the stress, aggravations, and frustrations of everyday life.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book. Also available as a Kindle edition.
About the Author
For over 16 years, Gertrud Hirschi has taught yoga in accordance with the latest medical findings at her own yoga school in Zurich, Switzerland. She holds seminars in Switzerland, Germany, and Greece. She is also the author of Basic Yoga for Everybody, a book and card set, as well as of Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands. Visit her website at www.gertrudhirschi.ch