Buddhist Mudras (Hand Gestures) and Their Meanings

How to use Buddhist mudras in feng shui practice

Image illustrating various buddha hand gestures (mudras)

Illustration: The Spruce

What is a mudra? A mudra is a Sanskrit word that means sign. You may have used a mudra in your yoga class. Or if you look at any images of the Buddha, he is always holding a mudra. On the superficial level, a mudra is often indicated as a hand gesture. However, mudras have deeper spiritual significance. You could even say that your life, or your home, can be a mudra. It can be a symbol of great meaning.

Buddhist imagery can be used in the feng shui of your home as a spiritual reminder. The Buddha represents the potential for true happiness and goodness that is inherent within each human and every sentient being. If you want to take it a step further, select a deity to display in your home holding a particular mudra to enhance your spiritual aspiration.

When it comes to feng shui, Buddhist imagery is not at all a requirement. However, if it’s something that you’re attracted to, you’re reading the right article! Imagery of any of the mudras (or even making the mudras) may be supportive for any area of your home. Here are some of commonly used Buddhist mudras and their meanings.

  • 01 of 05

    Dhyana: Meditation Mudra

    Buddha statue in a garden

     Roberta Sá / EyeEm / Getty Images

    The dhyana (or meditation mudra) is commonly used in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, a path of compassion for all living beings. With this hand gesture, you place the right hand on top of the left hand, palms face up and thumbs lightly touching. The thumbs touch to symbolize the union and enlightenment of masculine and feminine in mind, body, and spirit. Typically this mudra is depicted with the hands resting in the lap or at the heart center.

    Best placement: Since this mudra is connected to meditation and contemplation, it would be supportive for the meditation area of your home.

  • 02 of 05

    Bhumisparasa: Earth Touching Mudra

    buddha on a table with mirror, flowers, and lamp

    Andreas von Einsiedel / Getty Images

    Bhumisparsha, the earth touching mudra, is one of the most well known mudras. You will often see Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, in a seated posture with this mudra. The right hand is poised with the fingertips downward and “touching the earth”, with the palm facing inward. The left hand is in the meditation (dhyana) mudra. When the Buddha became enlightened, he touched the earth with this mudra during his meditation. The earth was touched and witnessed the awakening.

    Best placement: Since the Buddha touches the earth, this is a mudra that can ground and support you in any room of the home. The center of your home is also a recommended spot since it's connected to the earth element.

  • 03 of 05

    Vitarka: Teaching or Discussion Mudra

    Wat Inthakin Saduemang, Chiang Mai. Detail of a Buddha statue. Vitarka mudra. Thailand.
    Philippe Lissac / Godong / Getty Images

    The vitarka (teaching or discussion) mudra is used with Buddhist iconography to symbolize the transmission of the dharma, or the truth teachings of the Buddha. In this mudra, the thumb and index fingers touch, creating a circle that symbolizes an uninterrupted flow of wisdom. The other three fingers pointing up towards the heavens with the palm facing outward. This is held at around chest level.

    Best placement: This mudra can invite receiving and discussing teachings for growth and awakening into your life. Rooms such as a library, study, and or the Gen/Knowledge area of the home would benefit from imagery of this mudra.

  • 04 of 05

    Abhaya: Fearless Mudra

    Buddha statue on a lotus flower

    CHRIS TAYLOR / Getty Images 

    The abhaya mudra is a symbol of fearlessness and protection. The left hand is in the meditation (dhyana) mudra, while the right hand is upright with the palm facing outward. All fingers are pointing up towards the heavens. Typically the right hand is at chest or shoulder level.

    Best placement: This mudra is related to the notion of fierce compassion, where you can let go when it’s necessary. This mudra may be helpful in your home when you need to strengthen your boundaries while still opening your heart with confidence. Boundaries are related to earth element and so this mudra can invite more fearlessness in how you engage with the world.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Dharmachakra: Dharma Wheel Mudra

    Golden Buddha Statue in Dambulla, Sri Lanka

     1001nights / Getty Images

    The word dharmachakra refers to the turning of the wheels of teachings frp, the Buddha and how they are carried into the world. Both hands are used in this mudra. The right index finger touches the right thumb and the left index finger touches the left thumb so that two circles (wheels!) are created. Left palm is facing inward in front of the right palm which is facing outward. This mudra is typically held in front of the heart. 

    Best placement: The Buddha is said to have used this mudra when he first taught after his enlightenment. A wheel rotates, and so represents movement and transition. Similarly, the placement of the dharma chakra mudra in your home can inspire movement and flow.