In InnerDialogue™ we have over two thousand mudras, as well as body and other challenges to the somatosensory cortex.
These simple and complex hand modes are the main stay of the process, acting as a protolanguage and giving us feedback, through allowing a story to emerge as we use mudra after mudra to elicit the subtext or hidden dilaogue that lies underneath any state. They create a backdrop, a sentence, phrase, paragraph or chapter in someones life portraying the depth, origin, etiology of a situation, eliciting resources, finding old patterns and forgotten secrets, or simply pointing the way to emergence as a human being.
Gestures were used as a protolanguage prior to the advent of language. Most animals have verbal or behavioral mannerisms that act as primitive but in some, elaborate, gestures to warn, attract, alert and lure others of the pack or herd, or as a general warning in moments of danger. Certainly higher mammals such as chimpanzees and gorillas appear to have elaborate signing gestures that also alert others to various needs, dangers or for social interaction. In the University of Washington, the experiments with signing taught to chimpanzees by Faulks was initiated by early recognition in the forests of Tanzania, that these animals in the wild, use gestures to communicate.
In tribal / indigenous situations with many local dialects and languages, gestures developed because most indigenous peoples were localized or lived in isolated territories. They only knew one language. This isolation was initially maintained by poor means of travel, and thus strangers had to develop an early lingua franca which was gesture-driven rather than spoken. This enabled travellers, or those who were lost in the jungles, or who had strayed into another’s tribal area, a means of communication. Gestures were then used to sign their intent or explain their situation.
Babies will often illustrate, even with an immature central nervous system, this early communication language – animal in origin – as gestures. [Clinically we have seen damaged or disturbed new borns illustrate their woes with gestures – their little fingers curled in very simple contortions as well as elaborate configurations. After forty years using gestures as a language we now see that these little gestures made by babies are modes, which often (but not always) indicate what is ailing them, and pinpoint the area damaged or dysfunctional.
In contemporary society we see the re-emergence of mudras from practices of old into present day use. We observe them in two forms – in dance and worship or ritual. Many of us will have seen them in books, libraries and exhibitions as elements of old icons, statues, paintings – and in present-day exercise as in yoga, or in meditative or martial arts practice.
The ability to travel into the furthest reaches of the world, necessitated a more complex but more generally understood language – usually of commerce or trade – and these were termed lingua franca. This obviated the need for a simple gesture skill. However societies have used this basic protolanguage skill – the use of the hand to convey communication, for the benefits of the deaf - sign language – and with braille in the sightless.
As language became more inventive and skillful, rules and syntax governing its use became more and more the norm. Parallel to this, the use of religious and ritual processes designed to alter the state of the human were also developed. This sophistication of both language and gestures perhaps parallels the awareness of the force or power of language and of symbols. Early icons, carvings, sculptures and paintings depict humans in ritualistic poses (known also as a gestural pose) as well as depicting hand gestures or mudras. Bronze casting of eastern sages or a Buddha in meditative pose will often depict one hand or both in a particular gesture. The word mudra comes from the Sanskrit for seal, mystery, or from ancient [Iranian] Akkadian musara meaning object bearing a royal inscription. East Indian Classical dancing revolves around the telling of ancient religious stories through elaborate gestures both in body and hand pose.
In the countries of Asia where the religious or philosophical were seen as parallel to the martial and secular, attempts to elevate the rank of warrior to initiate was probably exemplified by the monks of Shaolin in western China. These monks became expert martial artists as they needed to defend themselves against petty bandits and rogue states. Their high art form and prowess and almost supernatural capacity was ritualized with mudras and gestures that either symbolized the need to stay pure in heart and mind, and to impart physiological changes in their state to help them fight in such remarkable ways.
In our Western world, the Eastern Christian Church – exemplified by the Greek and Russian Orthodoxies – had an iconic art form depicting Jesus and his disciples, and subsequent Saints, holding particular mudras or gestures. Some are explained as an illiteration of Jesus’s name – a sign of his initials, but others are more obtuse and obviously not simply his gesture signature. They are often explained as signs of Grace or blessing. There has always been a ‘fog’ or obtuseness in these ritualized forms so as to impart symbolic wisdom to the initiate or to invoke a change of state on those who contemplated the icon itself. The secrets of these ancient gestures may not have been revealed but merely copied over the years in the monasteries that produced them.
Mudras as a language, both symbolic and literal
Mudras are used now in therapeutic protocols as a language. Coupled with the art of ontological kinesiology, an offshoot of the practice of muscle kinetics and function, the mudras can be used to ‘ask’ the human body – and inner essence – as a dialogue to ascertain what has occurred, to cause the present situation. This enables the practitioner to both reveal and read the present narrative of the person, and to understand the root cause or dynamic that needs to be addressed. This cuts through normal models of illness and pathology, for it allows us to understand the inner processes that occur within a human – the loss of connection, the lack of value, the disorder of their natures, the loss of dynamic as a human being. Through helping people to understand the etiology of their state, the person can begin to rectify and re-order their own internal self which in turn can promote health and wellbeing. This is facilitated by the person beginning to connect with, adjust to, reorientate with a central connection, to what we may call, the Great Life.
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