the five elements - mudra sadhana
nourishing, flowing, transforming, expanding, clearing
Muladhara, Svadhishthana, Manipura , Anahata, Vishuddha
Earth, water, fire, air, ether
The Pancha Mahabhutas
Earth, water, air, fire and space (ether) - Each of these elements shows us life in its full diversity. They serve us as guides through our bodies in order to better understand it - that's how I learned it in Ayurveda. Each element embodies an area in our body and each of them is assigned to certain emotions, qualities or values. The five elements help us to better identify and express the complex relationships between body, mind and emotions. But we are also surrounded by the five elements. Everything we smell, taste, feel, see and hear consists of the five elements.
Many years ago I started to face the elements with awareness. I not only honor them every morning in the Sandhyavandanam ritual (see Gayatri page), but dedicate a whole sadhana, spiritual practice to them. Every week is under the aura of an element. My sadhanas consist of singing bowl meditation and mudras. Each element is embodied by a specific singing bowl in my sacred roOM. The sadhana begins with these sounds and I use the respective mudras in everyday life, in religious practice (asana and meditation) and in dance all day long.
The name “mudra” also means that which brings joy! And it gives me great pleasure. Not only for myself, but also to share my knowledge of these mudras with you!
AWAKE THE EARTH,
build a grounding foundation!
Om Vasundharaayai Vidmahe
Tanno Bhumi Prachodayat
Tanno Bhumi Prachodayat
“O Divine Energy of Earth, strengthen my harmony and balance
O Divine Energy of Earth, give me higher intellect and illuminate my mind.”
Mother Earth, called Bhumi Devi, is the mother on which we live, on whom we have incarnated, of whom we are part. There are earth mudras where you point your fingers towards the earth, there are mudras in which the earth finger functions as the main energy carrier and there are mudras that activate our root chakra. The root chakra (Muladhara chakra) is closely related to the earth element. Earth mudras strengthen the earth element, which stands for stability, perseverance and calm. If we “ground” ourselves, then we are very close to our hOMe!
I would like to start with the very simple earth mudras.
If you put your ring finger (earth) directly on the earth, you are best earthed. If you are looking for calm, balance and firmness, this mudra is the easiest. You can do it with one hand or both. But you can also put your left hand in the meditation position on your lap.
But you can also put your ring finger and your little finger on the ground. The little finger stands for the water element. So when you put water on the earth, the earth becomes fertile. When you feel that something has to flourish within you or you have a desire to have children, this is a very effective mudra when performed with awareness. I also like to use the mudra before planting my herbs or flowers. But while we're at planting and harvesting ... If you give light to the earth and the water, then the growth is perfect. In this case, the light comes from the thumb, which stands for fire.
Have you ever seen Buddha shortly after his enlightenment? Do you know which mudra he is doing? It is also an earth mudra. The name is BHUMI SPARSHA MUDRA. Back then, Buddha was sitting alone under the bodhi tree. Only the earth witnessed his enlightenment. That is why this mudra is also called "enlightenment mudra". Bhumi is the earth and Sparsha testifies to the infinite vastness that was created in Buddha through his enlightenment. Put your right hand on your knee and let your fingers look down. Your left hand rests on your lap in the meditation position. Buddha was in meditation when he became enlightened. Perhaps it is more original if you meditate first and then form your right hand into the Bhumisparsha Mudra. Let the earth witness your silence!
But maybe you also need some grounding during meditation if your thought images do not allow you to calm down. Then put your right hand in the Bhumisparsha Mudra.
Prithvi, is the name of the earth, the earth element, the planet earth, mother earth and the earth goddess. Prithivi is the source of all life.
The ring finger corresponds to the element earth. If the thumb, which contains the fire of the sun in this mudra, touches the ring finger, it makes the earth element fertile and strong with its energy. This mudra will make you feel grounded. Your mental roots will be strengthened. When you combine this mudra with the Prithivi-Gayatri mantra, your connection with Mother Earth is strengthened!
“We meditate on the goddess of the earth. May you, who has thousands of shapes, give me clarity.
Oh Prithivi, please bring enlightenment and inspiration to me.”
Prithvi Gayatri helps to gain a deeper access to nature. If you recite it 108 times, i.e. do Japa Yoga, then it will help you to find inner peace, stability and grounding.
Muladhara Chakra Mudra
It's a beautiful mudra, it really connects me to my roots. I feel deeply connected with the earth, with Prithivi, with Bhumi. The root chakra is in contact with the ring finger, the earth finger. Maybe I love this mudra so much because it is a little more demanding. But don't worry, with a little practice it suddenly works by itself. That's why I have a series of photos with which I explain how to shape it step by step. Interlace your middle and index fingers so that they look down and connect the tips of your two ring fingers. Then also interlace the two little fingers. The left little finger is on the outside. Your ring fingers will then automatically press upwards. Finally, use the index fingers and thumb to form the "infinite" knot.
With this mudra you can connect with your roots as I said. Rotate the mudra so the ring fingers are facing down. So you are deeply rooted in the earth and can cope with all storms. You can also let your ring fingers look up. Then the earth element rises up the chakras. Your roots are strong enough to attach to the air. You can also let the ring fingers look outwards. With this you create a certain calm in your environment.
I like to combine this mudra with yoga, for example, the tree, Vrksasana. But I also practice it by also connecting my whole body to the earth. A combination of prayer, a variation of Balasana and Muladhara Chakra Mudra. There are no limits to your imagination!
And last but of course not least
Ganesha blesses all beginnings and as the deity of the first chakra, he asks us to connect to our bodies and to the earth. Ganesha, commonly depicted with four arms, holds a goad in one hand to prod humans forward on the path to enlightenment. Muladhara chakra establishes survival, stability, and security. Without a strong connection to your body or to the earth element, how can you expect to listen to your breath or manifest intention?
Hold your left hand palm out in front of your heart. Now grasp the fingers of the left hand with the right hand with the palm facing the body. In principle you hook both hands with your fingers. Exhale and pull your hands apart without releasing the grip. Release the tension and inhale. Repeat 10 times for a total of 11 rounds (for all directions, center, up and down)
Recite the mantra for Ganesha three times, for the three worlds (bhur-bhuvah-swaha/ Bhur: the Earth/the physical body/physical realm; Bhuvah: the space/the life force/the mental realm Swaha: the heaven/the soul/spiritual realm)
Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha – Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha – Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
Change hand positions with the right palm facing outward and left palm facing inward.
Repeat the exhalation and inhalation 10times and intone the mantra for Ganesha three more times.
Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha – Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha – Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
Focus on the root center in silence for a while.
Ganesha is the primal force that supports the foundation of every aspect of life. He removes all obstacles in all your undertakings.
I use all the mudras that I have now listed for you in my everyday life. But many of them during my time on the yoga mat and during my pujas, daily practiced ritual. There I also use one of my sound bowls, with which I connect the earth element.
Singing bowl mandalas for the five elements of being,the EARTH.
Years ago I chose a very large singing bowl for the element “earth”, because it has a very deep tone. Deep tones vibrate not only on the hand in which you hold the bowl, but also through the lower part of the body where our roots begin. When I think of the element “earth”, I feel a deep connection with my origin. I love touch earth or sand. Gardening, for example in my herb garden, arouses deep satisfaction in me. I arrived. The same thing happens when I feel warm sand under my feet or let it trickle through my hands on beach. I feel hOMe. Have you ever heard that the earth has its very own sound? And depending on its nature, it sounds very different. The earth-ground gives a seed the opportunity to grow. The earth is the mother of life. Don't you also speak of Mother Earth? Earth is so changeable and yet it doesn't actually change. I can learn so much from earth. For example, the power to create something, to create something new, to transform something, to be able to participate in creation. By the way, this is supposed to express my “flower butterfly” in the mandala. The earth gives me security to feel safe. Maybe that's why I prefer sitting on the floor than on a chair for my whole life. I am firmly rooted in the earth. But what makes me very sad is that many people do not really honor the earth, but exploit it. And by earth I mean both the planet and the soil. We blow deep holes in the mountains or in the ground, undermine the land on which we live. We contaminate soils with toxins. I could list so many things. This sad list is almost endless. Where's the gratitude gone? The appreciation? I am deeply rooted in the earth. It gives me healing and it goes without saying that I also give healing energy to the earth. I start with my own body and soul. I give them love and attention. I can only pass on this light if I am solidified in myself and trust myself. I am very grateful for the power of the earth element. That`s why I would like to share with you the sound that the earth vibrates in me.
Listen and connect to the EARTH through your body,heart and mind!
Let earth or sand trickle through your hands, root yourself in the ground you are standing on,
become one with the earth you are sitting on.
“Whenever you have the opportunity, lie down on the earth -- in a meadow, in the forest, on the bank of the river... Just lie down on the earth and feel one with it. That will give you much energy, fresh energy. Just sit silently on the earth and feel joined with it - as if you have roots, and those roots are going into the earth and the earth is vitalizing you, nourishing you.”~ OSHO
ॐ ॐ ॐ ॐ ॐ
AWAKE THE WATER
open up, become a river of surrender, letting go
tanno varunah prachodayat
Om, we meditate on Varuna, which can be experienced in the reflection of the water.
Oh cosmic soul, you manifest yourself in the color blue, please give me clarity and knowledge.
Oh Varuna, please bring enlightenment and inspiration to me.
Warm water always gives me a sense of hOMe. Maybe I feel transported back to the time when I was safe in my mother's womb, surrounded by nourishing water. We are made of water. There is no life without water. Water stands for fertility, for creation and thus also for creativity. Water stands for devotion, driving - and letting go again. Letting go of old patterns, letting go of negative feelings.
Water nourishes and sustains the spirit as well as the body. Water is high among the elements, as it purifies and uplifts the individual from the mundane to the transcendental. Mountain water, spring water, and rainwater collected are highly beneficial and considered noble by the wise. Taking a bath in spring water, rainwater or river water can bring benefits to both body and mind. These benefits can be further multiplied if you were to chant a Sanskrit mantra or special before taking a bath. With water mudras you can purify not only yourself, but also the space around you. There are different water mudras. There are the very simple ones that you can do with your little finger. The little finger stands for the water element. Then there are also very harmonious “mudras” that simply let you relax or with which you simply let go. And I'll also show you mudras that look a bit complicated at first glance, but are very powerful. You can also find the water element in your second chakra, the sacral chakra (Svadhishthana), which is permeated by the male and female energies.
Let us go into the water, be surrounded by ocean waves. Let the water gently splash us. Let us become one with the water element.
I would like to start with very simple water mudras:
Your five fingers represent the five elements and your little finger embodies the water. You don't have to form a complicated mudra to connect to the water. For example, if you want more access to your feelings or want to be more creative, then hold your little finger up. Let the energy flow upwards. But divine blessings can also flow into you through the upturned little finger. But if you notice that all of this is too much for you, then hold your little finger down towards the earth, towards home. Return to the Source.
Budhi Mudra, for tolerance
Budhi means something like understanding, clarity and flow. When you sense that you are feeling torn, practice this simple mudra. On the one hand you want to enforce your will, your beliefs, you may also be plagued by too many emotions; on the other hand, you may also notice that your soul has the greatest desire to let go of all these things. This mudra harmonizes the water and the fire in you.
Use the tip of your little finger to touch the tip of your thumb. The little finger corresponds to the water element. The thumb strengthens the water through its fire and thus balances the water.
This mudra also has another name: Varuna mudra. Varuna is the Hindu god's name for water.
You can practice the Budhi or Varuna mudra all day long in any position, i.e. while sitting, meditating, lying down, standing, walking and running. Try it!
Makara Sadhana Mudra
This is a mudra that I learned in Bali. This mudra is formed by pointing the left hand down, the right hand pointing up, and the middle fingers touching each other. Your one hand is open to everything that happens, the other lets go. Hold your hands under running water and take a deep breath. Makara Sadhana Mudra is, on the one hand, a mudra of letting go. Everything that depresses you, everything that hurts you, everything that makes you heavy can simply be washed away with the water. On the other hand, it is also an opening for new things. Also practice the mudra in the meditation pose. Then practice it at the level of your second chakra.
Karana Mudra is a peaceful mudra for harmonizing and cleaning a room or your inner space. Like all water mudras, it is also a mudra of flowing. If you have a room where you have the feeling that there is restlessness or there is a destructive, painful or aggressive energy somewhere, then practice this mudra. Buddha Gautama made this sacred gesture many times. Karana gives you inner peace and opens the way to enlightenment for you. You see the Karana Mudra quite often in dances in my beloved home Bali. Vishnu and his mount, the mythical bird Garuda, also perform Karana. Karana removes obstacles, just like my beloved Ganesha. You can therefore recite a Ganesha mantra to support the mudra. With the Karana Mudra you can bring the feeling of contentment and happiness back into you.
To perform this mudra, the left hand is brought up to the heart, palm facing forward. The ring and middle fingers fold in toward the center of the palm, held down gently by the tip of the thumb. The index and little fingers point straight upward. You can also do the mudra with both hands. You don't have to keep your hands rigid either. Make circular motions. Imagine how water (little finger) and air (index finger) flow in from above. Use an incense stick in right hand und do Karana with the left. Clean your room, clean it in all corners, clean the last corner in the space of your being! Make space for love, joy, and the blessings of the divine
In the Balinese culture, the water is very revered. Every spring has a temple. Every religious act is sealed with water, in large ceremonies, but also in everyday life with the distribution of small offerings for the gods and demons. Water is holy, water also makes every act holy. There are even four terms for water in Bali:
Odakem is the "ordinary" water that we use to cleanse our bodies, for cooking and for drinking.
Toyem is the water that is used for smaller ceremonies. It's already cleaned.
Tirtha, that is holy, purified water. It was purified by a priest in an elaborate ceremony. He uses special mudras and mantras for this. Tirtha comes in many different versions depending on where it is kept or what it is used for.
Tirtha Wangsupada, that is holy water straight from the divine. It comes already purified from the source, for example from the Tirtha Empul in Tampaksiring (highlands of Gianyar)
Holy water is always sprinkled three times in Bali, symbolizing creation, life and transformation. First, give it three times over your head as a spiritual cleansing. Then wash your face three times as a physical cleanse. Finally, sprinkle it three times at the level of your third eye as a respect for the power of Tirtha. Tirtha, they say, gives you immortality.
I love the Balinese culture and try to practice it as best as possible in my life here in Spain. I cannot get holy water from a priest here, but I can make water holy myself by intimately reciting a mantra and a mudra:
The following mantras combine the purifying power of water with the spiritual power of the names of the divine. To do this, you first put a few drops of water in the cupped right hand. Look at these drops of water and recite a “lightful” mantra. The mantras are very different, depending on which divine manifestation you believe in. Therefore I use a "neutral" mantra from the Vedas:
Om apo va idagm sarvam vishva bhutanyapah prana va pashava
Apo amritam apo nnamapas samradapo
Viradapas svaradapaschandagsyapo jyotigsyapas satyamapassarva devata
Apo bhur bhuvaha suvarapa om
Apo bhur bhuvaha suvarapa om
I love this mantra. I always recite it when I come into contact with water.
It says that in the beginning everything came out of the water - everything that breathes, all beings. The milk of the holy cows consists of water and also the holy drink of the gods, amrita (tirtha). Everything that creates, everything that grows, the world soul and the individual soul came out of the water. The sound of wisdom, the course of the planet, what is, reflects water. The gods, the three worlds (bhur bhuvaha svaha) emerged from the vortex of the oceans and the OM is in every single drop.
The last line will remind you of the light-flooded Gayatri mantra and just let it follow ...
In this way the spiritual and purifying power is transferred to the water. You can strengthen it with a water mudra. For example with the Bhumi or Karana Mudra.
Now sip the water from the palm of your hand without your mouth touching your hand. This is how you absorb the cleansing power of the mantra through the water. Recite two times a mantra. The following mantra is the very common mantra for this sadhana:
Akala mrutyu haranam, sarva vyadhi nivaranam
samastha papa kshaya karam, sri uma maheswara (for Shiva)
or Lakshmi narayana (for Vishnu) padodakam pavanam subham.
Let thy be cleared of untimely death and ill health, let all your sins
be cleared at the holy feet of Uma Maheswara/ Lakshmi Narayana.
But you can also use the Gayatri or any other mantra.
It is best to keep holy water in a silver jug or in a copper vessel. After the purifying ritual, I keep the water that I prepare when I eat or drink in a copper vessel. It is then additionally energized.
Kilaka Mudra is a mudra for harmonious relationships, for harmonious togetherness. It is the key to a mystical secret. This mudra is full of bhakti, devotion, deep trust in existence. You connect thumb (fire), index finger (air) and middle finger (ether) on both hands. Then cross your hands. Then you hook your little fingers together so that your right hand is on the left and your left hand is on the right. The back of the hand points to you.
Your hands represent the two poles that are connected by the water (little fingers). The little fingers also represent your feelings. With this mudra you express that you feel connected to someone, a person, an animal, a living being, a group, a sangha and yet leave room to breathe between you and the other. It is best to practice this mudra in a meditation seat. Say a prayer, recite or chant a mantra and open yourself to the divine. The divine that dwells in everything and everyone. Feel the divine power that lies in this mudra, feel the harmony, feel the understanding of the space that it creates.
Mahatrika Mudra literally means "the mudra of the great triangle". It is a mudra that connects you to the second chakra, the Swadhisthana. There is male and female energy in everyone and this mudra is used to feel your feminine side. The mudra is a sacred hand gesture for consciously feeling your emotions, your sensations, but it is also a mudra of letting go.
With both hands, bring your index fingers (air) to the tips of your thumbs (fire). Then connect these two "circles" at the tips so that it looks like an eight. This is the male pole in this mudra. Then connect the tips of your little fingers (water), which in this case not only stand for the water, the flowing element, but also for the feminine energy in you. The middle and ring fingers simply stay relaxed in this mudra. Let the little fingers look down and keep it level with the Swadhisthana chakra. The mudra looks like the female symbol triangle, which points from the horizontal, the level of consciousness, to the depth, to the earth, to the physicality and to nature. This opens up the depth inherent in life, which is experienced and explored in the middle of life. The symbol of the female triangle is water, the elixir of life that makes things flow. It is the power that brings everything back to an end and causes a new beginning.
Svadhishthana Mudra - seal of the water chakra
This mudra helps me to flow from the gross experience that lives in my roots and everyday life into the subtle realm. The Svadhisthana Chakra stands for the unconscious and the feelings in us, but it also stands for surrender, letting go, love, humility, compassion, pity, intuition, flow and trust. This chakra decides how we behave towards others and how we allow connections.
The Svadhisthana Chakra is the center of the feminine and masculine energies. And thus also the source of my creativity, because it is precisely these two poles that make the act of creation come true. You own creativity is nothing else as the creation. A bubbling spring that brings water and life to flow. This mudra supports this flow, not downwards, but upwards through the energy channels. Whenever a transformation to something new is to take place, it comes from this source. In times of greatest challenges, it is important to find inner balance. Maintaining a balance between our inner feelings and external control to fit into everyday life. Don't you sometimes feel helpless and incapable of dealing with certain aspects of life? It often happens to me because I want to do everything perfectly and somehow expect others to do the same. Letting go of this view and the risk of simply being imperfect is so important when dealing with others. Forgive, forgive yourself, forgive others. All of this lies in this center of our body. Here we learn to be light.
Take a meditation posture. Hold your two hands parallel to each other and feel the energy that is in the space between your palms, a flowing energy. Also feel the love that lies in the connection of the polar energies. Form compassion and have trust in yourself, in the nature of things, in the divine that flows in everyone and everything.
Interlock your little fingers and your ring fingers as shown in the picture. Then you place your middle fingers over the index fingers and connect the two index fingers on the top link. The index fingers are straight. They point down during mudra practice. To close the mudra seal, place your two thumbs parallel to each other (version a) and touch the tips of your middle fingers (version b). Keep this mudra at the level of the Svadhishthana chakra.
Singing bowl mandalas for the five elements of being, the WATER.
Years ago I chose a small singing bowl with a fish pattern for the element “water”. I like the tone very much, nothing too low, but not that high either, but very intense. The longer I let the bowl vibrate on my hands, the more I become one with the sound and let go of the thoughts …
In me, around me.
Everything is constantly flowing,
and yet sometimes I don't want it to be true.
I notice the flow best when I see water.
Water is completely unresistant, it also adapts to every shape
And yet it also shapes our world.
It is colorless, but it reflects its surroundings.
It is transparent and lets the world of colors shine through.
It is so alive.
It flows, it bubbles, it rushes naturally,
only if man stops it is it dead.
I love to hear the sound of the sea, a traveling stream or
a lavish waterfall.
Water sounds in all shades.
But I prefer to become one with the water,
for example when bathing, showering, ...
There I always feel that nothing distinguishes me from the water.
I am the water and the water is in me.
There is no separation, only flowing love.
For me, water is healing, energy, a source of inspiration and transformation.
Water teaches me trustful devotion.
Why swim against the current, i.e. against life, against my very own soul?
Just let it float
like the water that never flows uphill
but always towards the endless sea.
That's why: Let's just float like a beautiful, colorful autumn leaf on the river without thinking about the past, without thinking about the future, just floating in the now! Yes! OM
Listen and connect to the WATER through your heart, body and mind.
I am not one of those creatures who swim in the sea, in the river or in a pool, but nevertheless I am deeply connected to the water. I honor it, I don't waste it, I know how precious it is, even if it comes out of the tap. In all the years in Bali I experienced every day that this cannot be taken for granted. We only had water at night. A sad reason. Bali is actually in the middle of the tropics and it rains in buckets. But the water table is falling ever lower because the water is needed for the many hotels with their huge water landscapes.
I love to touch water with my hands and feet, I am aware of it. I love listening to the water. I like to close my eyes and listen to the rain falling on leaves or a roof, every single drop. I like to listen to our fountain in the pond, I listen to the water as it starts to boil in the kettle. I like to sit in nature and listen to the water as it searches its way over stones to the sea. I listen to a river as it rushes through a cave to finally plunge into the depths as a waterfall. I sit by the sea and listen to the waves ... there is so much magnificence near the water, there is so much magnificence near the ocean,
waves are coming in, waves are coming in ...
“One should be like water – flowing, fluid, fresh, always moving towards the ocean. And one should be like water – soft, femi-nine, receptive, loving, non-violent. One should not be like a rock. The rock appears to be very strong but is not, and water appears to be very weak but is not. Never be deceived by appearances. Finally the water wins over the rock and the rock is destroyed and becomes sand and is taken to the sea. The rock disappears finally – against the soft water.”
~ OSHO, The Secret Of Secrets Vol 1
fire, air and space