One of my coping mechanisms in life, but especially during the last few weeks has been walking. I take several walks a day and I am grateful for the extended daylight so I can walk even earlier in the morning and later into the evenings. There's something about being outside, seeing the trees and the lake and the birds and the humans that gives me a sense of peace. We're still here. We're still the same really, though the birds seem happier. I think it's because there are fewer airplanes disturbing their space.
I've noticed lately that when I am walking, when I feel overwhelmed but also when I feel a sense of grace, that my hands go into prayer position (Pranam Mudra). The joining of the hands in Pranam Mudra is said to create a closed circuit whereby both sides of the brain are stimulated and balanced. It's a visceral response to my heart feeling a certain way--- either gripping with anguish and fear or soft and open from gratitude. It's funny but also logical that those two opposites elicit the same hand gesture.
I am a physical person. I've been doing yoga for more than twenty-five years and teaching for almost twenty. It's in my body, this movement of bringing my hands into prayer position. The very act gives me a sense of okay-ness, like touching back into a very deep, often buried insight that I am going to be okay. I believe this is an old knowing, one I was born with, one we are all born with. For me, this Pranam Mudra takes me back there, to a far away yet deeply familiar place.
My involuntary Pranam Mundra reminds of a my friend Sonja. When we were in India together a few years ago, we would often walk a sacred path together, sometimes talking and sometimes in silence. At the end of several days of walking the path several times a day, Sonja noticed that her hands had been making their way into the Hakini Mudra where all five fingertips touch one another. Upon noticing this pattern Sonja looked up the meaning of this mudra and learned that doing the Hakini Mudra helps boost thinking and concentration. At that time Sonja was trying to come to clarity about a big professional life transition. For Sonja, the repetition of the Hakini Mudra showing up in her body made perfect sense.
And so too does this persistent and repeating Pranam Mudra make sense for me. In this extended moment of time in my life, I am, at the same time, filled with both unrelenting fear and profound gratitude. And as I walk my path every day, my body and my brain are trying to make sense of these opposite extremes, my two palms coming together to create balance.