The question regarding the gesture while sitting for meditation has always intrigued me. When I tried to ask this to a Vipassana teacher in my 10-day course, he put it off saying I should concentrate on meditation first without worrying about these matters. Does it mean that it doesn't make any difference?

I personally use the dhyana mudra (fore-finger touching the thumb in a circle, and other three fingers straight out) while sitting cross-legged. But in many of Buddha's statues, I've seen him keep the left hand over right, and in some others, thumb touching forefinger and hand kept straight across the chest gestures.

Want to know from advanced practitioners, what do the Buddha's postures indicate? More importantly, does having a certain gestures have any good or bad effect on our vipassana practice?

4 Answers 4


Yes and no.

Certain hand gestures cause better energy flow through your body and vibrations. These vibration can be some times an aid in dissolving pain and also fabrication.

If you get attached to the vibrations and gestures this will do more harm than good in your progress.

So my advice is do not bother too much about these as their contribution to your final goal is marginal or non existent through it might give a mild boost to better practice in certain situation is making you conferable to be seated for a long time by creating Piti which is one of the enlightenment factors but keeping in mind you cannot bake a cake with one ingredient and attachment to the feeling or creating view and perception around the gestures will hold you back


From my reading of around 40 suttas that mentioned Anapanasati, Buddha never mentioned about where to place your hands or arms. However, in those suttas, he mentioned sitting down crossed legs in quiet place (forest, under a tree, empty house (room) etc. he didnt even mention that you have to close your eyes. then place your attention to the present and your breathing. knowing clearly if breathing is short or shallow etc.

Here we go http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

  • 1
    True, those statues of Buddha sitting in dhyana mudra must by only artistically inspired then. Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 22:33
  • As regards closing the eyes, it certainly aids insight meditation. Considering the Buddha didn't have an opinion in this regard, we can certainly use it to aid our meditation. Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 22:35

In traditions such as Zen, holding the hands in a mudra position is another way of directing mindfulness to the body, just as is having the legs, arms, torso, etc in proper alignment. Other traditions emphasize complete relaxation of the body, and the hands are just kept resting loosely. It is true that meditation is about what goes on between your ears, not your fingers -- see what works for you but don't let it become a source of distraction or frustration.


No one seems to have answered this from the obvious point of view: tantra. According to the 9th century Japanese Tantric Buddhist practitioner, Kūkai, the abhiṣekha, or initiation, is a communication aimed at the body, speech and mind of the practitioner. As such it consists of gestures, words, and images (mudra, mantra, and maṇḍala). The communication of the abhiṣekha recapitulates the first communication of the Dharma from Mahāvairocana to Vajrasatva. The primordial Buddha, Mahāvairocana had been sitting in the perfect equanimity of full and perfect awakening, but realised that until he communicated his experience. So he manifested a being called Vajrasatva and through mudra, mantra and maṇḍala directly communicated his experience to Vajrasatva who was immediately fully and perfectly awakened. Mahāvairocana then asked Vajrasatva to pass on the abhiṣekha to other beings (who are also manifestations of Mahāvairocana).

This all takes place in a world conceived of as the body, speech and mind of Mahāvairocana. All phenomena are the body of Mahāvairocana; all sounds are the speech of Mahāvairocana. All mental acticity is the mind of Mahāvairocana.

So in terms of Tantric Buddhist practice, yes, the mudras are a vital part of the process. In doing a Tantric visualisation one is attempting to repeat that first ever conversation in mudra, mantra, and maṇḍala.

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