Mudras – Health in Your Hand

Last week I had the chance to escape from the city chaos and spend my lunch hour at the London Buddhist Centre. I am not religious, nor a complete atheist – let’s just say I have an open mind…

Buddha 2 LBC

I would highly recommend retreating to the LBC at lunchtime or during eves or weekends if you are experiencing any kind of stress, anxiety, or just seeking to enhance your awareness and peace of mind, to cultivate loving-kindness or be more patient. Meditation is a tonic for anyone and great also for depression, anger and addiction.

During this hour I felt totally de-stressed and relaxed and carried this feeling home with me. We learnt how to hold the Mudra hand position as seen in the photo here. I was intrigued by the positioning of the hands of the Buddha in front of me (different to above) so fascinated to research in more detail in my handkind quest to explore ways of helping to improve the lives of people living with dementia and other mental health needs:

“Practicing hand mudra positions can help improve your wellbeing, fitness and strength immensely. Mudras are powerful centres of energy. The regular practice of these hand mudra positions can result in wonderous health benefits and a strong body.”

Practicing the following hand mudra position in particular found at 10 Hand Mudras for Better Health and Fitness  apparently helps to enhance your knowledge, improve your memory and brain power as well as offering a host of other benefits:
Hand mudra positions yoga Indian medicine health fitness wellbeing strength weakness strong body pranayama gestures healing mudras

1. Gyan Mudra (Mudra of Knowledge): This hand mudra requires you to touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger, with the other three fingers stretched out. This hand mudra helps enhance your knowledge. The tip of the thumb connects to the centers of the pituitary and endocrine glands. When we press these centers with our index finger, the two glands get stimulated and work actively to increase and retain knowledge. There is no particular time duration to practice this hand mudra. It can be done sitting, standing or lying on bed at whatever time and place you wish.

– Increases memory power and sharpens the brain
– Enhances concentration and prevents Insomnia
– Regular practice ensures the cure of psychological disorders such as hysteria, anger, depression and other mental problems.

I also found similar interesting instructions at Health in your Hand – Seven Mudras for Amazing Health Benefits.

Loneliness in Old Age Linked to Alzheimer’s

A new study in the US published in this month’s issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry suggests there is a strong link between loneliness and Alzheimer’s in old age.

“Dr Wilson said that loneliness probably has a physical impact as well as an emotional impact on the old person at risk of Alzheimer’s. Perhaps loneliness affects the brain so that as people get older they are more susceptible to the age-related decline in neural pathways.”

The Lonely Society Report examines how modern society has changed the way people connect – It aims to raise awareness of loneliness and its effect on our mental health, detailing steps people can take to reduce isolation.

Apple of my eye

My own grandmother pictured above who recently passed away aged almost 92 was a gregarious character who raised five children. She lived through two wars and eras in which a sense of community existed. She spent the last 30 years of her life living alone – but was lucky to have had many visitors and her memory intact right until the very end of her life “God gave me a remarkable memory” she would say. Many other elderly people are not so lucky and spend months on end without seeing anyone at all, or having any conversation, on a daily basis: a sad and harsh reality of today’s society.

Ophelia Has A Dream

Cruising the internet, or what my beloved Grandma used to call the interset – I came across this exquisite video Orphelia Has A Dream by Miharayasuhiro and Paolo Roversi via an inspiring blog:  The Artful Blog. This magical, interactive film was apparently made in celebration of the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde exhibition on show at Tate Britain

A brilliant in depth discussion of John Millais Everett’s original painting of Ophelia, which the contemporary version is clearly inspired by, can be seen at Khan Academy. The original painting is a scene deriving from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which Ophelia who apparently “loses her mind” when her father is murdered by her lover Hamlet, drowns herself in a stream. Shakespeare’s scene can be read here plus Ten things you never knew about Ophelia

Intentionally seeking out art that incorporates the human hand in some shape or form to inspire my research: Ophelia’s left hand in this contemporary version immediately captivated my attention. With her delicate palms turned upwards, seemingly in submission and in acceptance of her fate, before she drowns, floating in a ditch of flowers. I would be fascinated to hear the response and reaction of people who are living with dementia.  Some of the flowers, in the original painting, which include forget-me-nots, resonate as a powerful symbol of dementia.

Dementia Patients Find Their Memory Through Art – as in some museums in the UK which are becoming more and more dementia friendly i.e Royal Academy and National Portrait Gallery, it is now commonplace in cities across Germany to provide museum guided tours for people who are living with dementia – followed by a hands-on activity after interactive discussions of a specific theme of painting/s in the gallery.

“The fact that music can instantly evoke memories and emotions in those with dementia is well known. But that images can have a similar effect on the collective and personal memory is not as widely accepted” according to Andrea Kasiske.

“All that they take, colour, form, shape, and they process it in some way, that is real, and in the moment, and it translates in an Alzheimer person’s brain to have some meaning. The creative arts are an avenue to tap into a non verbal emotional place in a person. When they are given paint, markers, any kind of medium for art making and their hands are involved, and their muscles are involved, things are tapped in them that are genuine, and active and alive, so the creative arts bypass the limitations and they simply go to the strengths. People still have imaginations intact all the way to the very, very end of their progressive disease.” – Judy Holstein – Director CJE Senior Life Day Service Chicago from the film I Remember Better When I Paint