Counting on your fingertips
Your hands are very important, you use them to touch, feel, express, work, write, pray and for everything. You also sense the energy of your food, people your touch, stuff you pick up with your hands. The energy chakras in your palms and fingertips are directly connected to the main energy vertices along your spine at the heart chakra. Be very aware of your hands fingers and palms. Look at your palms, the lines and softness/hardness of your palms, see your fingers, how they taper, your nails and look at them, feel them. Sometime when you are relaxed hold objects in your hands, close your eyes and actively try to sense their energies, You will get a sense of light, dark, slime, clearness, weight or maybe a flash of color from these objects. This is a good way of exercising your energy-sense!
I had written a post on Dhyan. Here your fingers play a very important role. You need to count 108 repetitions your chosen Mantra during the process of Dhyan. You count these 108 using your fingers and the segments on them. This is how you count on your fingers. Refer to the diagram above.
- When you do your first mantra count, you will have your left thumb placed on the ‘1’ position and your right thumb placed on the “1-10′ position.
- When you repeat it the second time, your left thumb will move to ‘2’, right thumb will remain steady on ‘1-10’. Thus you will count to 10.
- When you have to count 11, your left thumb will touch ‘1’ again and your right thumb will move and touch ’11-20′. So you count the ‘units’ with your left thumb and the ‘tens’ with your right.
- When you reach 100, your left thumb will be on ’10’ and the right thumb on ’90-100′.
- Now shift the right thumb to the ‘gnyan mudra’ by touching it to ’70-80′ again. And continue counting 8 more counts of your mantra with your left thumb.
- You will complete 108 with the left thumb also coming into gnyan mudra at ‘8’ of your left hand. Thus you have counted to 108.
Now your fingertips are very important. Modern science has shown that the fingertips are a huge collection of nerve endings and extra sensitive. But our ancients with infinitely more knowledge and understanding of energy knew that the fingertips and their energy chakras/vertices can be used to balance the vital energy/pran looping throughout the body. The energy diagram of the body is at your fingertips!
There are 5 elements/Tattvas, Prithvi/Earth, Aapa/Water, Tej/Fire, Vayu/Air and Akash/Space. Our body is composed of these in various proportions. If these are balanced then the body is healthy and bright. These can be accessed and regulated most easily through fingers! This is the reason why astrological remedies in terms of gemstones are worn in the specific fingers.
Mudras are used for harnessing the power of the raw Tattvas and are very powerful if used with the right intention and the associated Mantra. These are made by touching your fingertips with each other in specific ways. This in the picture below is the Gnyan Mudra most commonly used during meditation. So here are a few basics.
The thumb/Angushta represents Tej, the conscious energy of fire, the index finger/Tarjani is Vayu the conscious energy of air, the middle finger/Madhyama is Akash the conscious energy of space, the ring finger/Anamika is Prithvi, the conscious energy of earth and the little finger is the Aapah, the conscious energy of water. These are Conscious energies of the 5 elements/Tattva, you can interact with them. (These fingers/segments are also linked to your Antahkaran, the inner self, will write about it in my next post.)
Now the 4 fingers, index, middle, ring and little have 3 segments each. The lowest segment is used to reduce the quantum of its Tattva energy, the middle segment to bring it to an equilibrium with the energies of Tej, and the topmost finger to increase the quantum of its specific tattva energy. To do this you will need to touch your thumb/Tej to the segment you wish to use/regulate. The energy of Tej provides the necessary intention which activates these other 4 conscious Tattva energies.
So when you count 108 using the fingertips, you touch your thumb to all the segments of your fingers (except 2 segments, middle and lower, on the middle finger). And this is not just touching them randomly. You are on your Asan, focussing at your third eye, breathing deeply, in a yogic posture/Yogasan and reciting a mantra with your breath, and consciously touching the fingers together several times. The pattern that your thumb traces counting every 10 units is the spiral in the shape of the ‘golden mean’. This has a very powerful effect on the energies of your body and balances you on the deepest level. During Dhyan there are only 3 mantras possible, So-hum, Ham-sa and pure Om which flow and merge with your breathing. The power of the mantra merges with the conscious energies of the Tattva and increases the quality of the its energy. Ultimately the body becomes ‘lighter’. (No other word can describe it, the body feels like its lighter than light!))
One thing to remember. The lower and middle segments of the Middle/Akash finger are not touched/linked/charged with the thumb/Tej. This middle finger/Madhyama is very important. It is linked to Akash, the source of all the 5 tattvas. You increase its quantum by touching the top segment with your thumb but you should not attempt to balance/reduce it by touching the thumb to the middle/lower segments. It can cause problems.
So learn the counting system and use your fingers to count. If doing full-fledged Dhyan is not possible for you. Then at least do a regular mantra-jaap, choose a mantra of your choice, Gayatri or Mahamrutyunjai or Navavarna, or even a single OM is an extremely powerful Mantra. Mantras are Sanskrit no other language. Do a regular mantra-jaap counting on your fingers. You will see a difference in your own self, (physical, emotional, spiritual) within 21 days.
How to do Dhyan
I have written about doing Dhyan as the first step towards self-realization or Moksh. I have put up a small 10min audio on youtube. However it seems that I will have to write a proper post on it detailing the process. So here goes this technical post.
Dhyan is not ‘meditation’ , it manipulates the movement of pran/vital energy in your body, specifically it manipulates the pran and the apan.
There are 2 steps in Dhyan, first is more of a Pranayam phase and the second is the actual Dhyan. Dhyan is a Sanskrit word so has lots of meanings but at the simplest it means focus.
The physical requirements will be
- A silent dark room, no sound and no light, pitch dark. In modern cities it may not be possible, so manage the best you can with curtains and closing the windows etc. Do not use ear-plugs or eye masks. You should be alone in the room.
- Your asan, this is a four layered mat, have written about it in this post. This asan is the foundation of all your spiritual practice and energy work. As the 4-layered mat may not be available at least use a wool blanket with a piece of silk. It should be about 3ft X 5ft in size. It should be set up facing the east or north east or north.
Your preparation will be to get ready by going to the toilet, having a bath/washing hands, legs, face/sprinkling Ganga-jal on yourself as per what is available. Then wear loose fitting cotton clothes. Men should ideally wear a dhoti and women a sari, but it may be too much. So men can tie a cotton lungi around their waist and women can use a light coloured loose cotton nightie (but then don’t wear this for sleeping!). You should be barelegged, no socks/shoes. Do not eat a heavy meal for about 2hrs before Dhyan else your energies will be engaged in digestion and you will derive limited benefit. A small snack or tea is ok.
- Now sit on your Asan with all your body parts/dress tucked inside the mat.
- Fold your legs in the Padmasan or Siddhasan (or if cannot do either then at least Ardhpadmasan). You need to perfect only one of these yogic postures. You are doing Sadhana/spiritual exercise not physical exercise.
- Your hands should either be in the Gnyan mudra or the Bhairav Mudra.
Bhairav Mudra – right palm on left
- Now first put your hands in Namaskar position and think of your Guru or favourite deity. Request help and guidance.
- Recite Om aloud, three or more times as you feel. The sound should come from your belly and resonate inside your body. Drag the ‘mmm’ part of Om.
- Now stretch your body in the Mahamudra. First stretch out the right leg, fold the left leg inwards, with your left heel touching the joint of your legs and inhale. Bend down in the Mahamudra posture and count to 12. Straighten up and exhale. Then similarly stretch out your left leg, fold in your right leg and inhale, bend down and count to 12, straighten your back and exhale. Repeat this three times for each leg. Remember while doing the Mahamudra, your legs should not stretch outside the mat/asan. Thats why you need a 5ftX3ft asan.
- Now settle back in your chosen yogasan posture and set your hands in your chosen mudra.
- (If you can do the Mool Bandh, start doing it now onwards, it is optional but if you can do it, it would help. I have written a detailed post on all the Mudra/Bandha mentioned in this post)
- Your neck should be very slightly lowered. (The young woman in the Padmansan posture above is doing it perfectly, try to copy her neck angle. This is called the Jalandhar Mudra. There are some sites/images where they show the neck literally drooping, that is incorrect.)
- Deep breathe a few times, and relax. Remember when you breathe in and out your abdomen should also move not just your chest.
- Now breathe in, focus your attention on your (greenish colored) Anahnata chakra/energy vertex in the center of your chest, and breathe out in a sharp exhale. This fixes your Dhyan posture in the energy sense.
- (If you know how to do the Khechari mudra, start doing it now onwards. It is optional, but would help if you can do it.)
- Now focus your complete attention on the Third eye chakra, Ajnya chakra, in the center of your eyebrows. You will now be focussing your entire concentration here, do not waver from this point.
- Now breathe in and in your mind recite the sound ‘so’. Breathe out and in your mind recite the sound ‘hum’. This is one set of ‘so-hum‘. This set will be recited in your mind 108 times on 108 breaths.
- (You can also mentally recite one single ‘Om’ as you breathe in and one single ‘Om’ as your breathe out.)
- (Or you can mentally recite ‘ham’ as you breathe out and ‘sa’ as you breathe in.
- (There are just these 3 options Soham, Om or Hamsa, as the Dhyan mantra. These are the safest, mildest and yet the most powerful.) (Do read the posts on Soham for details.)
- To keep count of the mantra, you can use a Jaap-mala of Rudraksh. But better would be to learn to count on your fingers.
- This is how you count on your fingers. Refer to the diagram above. When you do your first ‘so-hum’ set, you will have your left thumb placed on the ‘1’ position and your right thumb placed on the “1-10′ position. When you do your second repetition, your left thumb will move to ‘2’, right thumb will remain steady on ‘1-10’. Thus you will count to 10. When you have to count to 11, your left thumb will touch ‘1’ again and your right thumb will move and touch ’11-20′. So you count the ‘units’ with your left thumb and the ‘tens’ with your right. So when you reach 100, your left thumb will be on ’10’ and the right thumb on ’90-100′. Now shift the right thumb to ‘gnyan mudra’ by touching it to ’70-80′ again. And continue counting 8 more ‘so-hum’ with your left thumb. You will complete 108 with the left thumb also coming into gnyan mudra at ‘8’. Thus you have counted 108 breaths – 108 ‘so-hum’ and your pranayam phase is complete. (Initially you might finish this phase in 20 mins, it will later extend and will keep on extending, till you will sit for hours!)
- After you finish the pranayam phase, you will now continue sitting in this pose and attitude of ‘attentive relaxation’ (no other way to describe it) for some time till you feel your body getting stiff. During this phase you will not recite any mantra in your mind or think of anything. Try to be blank as possible concentrating at your third eye.
- Then you should perform the Mahamudra again, right leg stretched out first, stretching your back for 12 counts, then with the left leg stretched out. 3 sets.
- After you finish the Mahamudra, again sit in relaxed attention for as long as you can. Do not recite any mantras in your mind and do not think of anything, focus on your third eye.
- When you feel that it is time, you will open your eyes, think of your Guru/favourite deity, feel gratefulness and love for the Parabrahma (your own higher self) and slowly get up. (Release your Khecharimudra and Moolbandh if you have been doing them.)
- Do not eat anything heavy for 30 mins at least after this and do not go to sleep for 30mins after this either.
This was just the bare-bones on how to actually do the Dhyan. There are several points here where you move the energy/pran in specific ways. I may write on it in a later post.
This is based on one of the techniques given in the Vignyan Bhairav tantra, and have written more about some of the experiences during Dhyan in this post.