Bhairava mudra is a gesture that is commonly associated with meditation. It can be taken in one of two ways. In both variations, the hands are flat, palms facing up with one hand resting on the other. In its most common form, the right hand is placed atop the left with both hands resting in the lap. In this variation, it takes the name ‘Bhairava mudra’, Bhairava is the name given to Shiva when he appears in one of his more terrifying forms. Shiva, ultimately is a symbol for our consciousness and in his incarnation as Bhairava his function is to sever us from our ego. His destructive nature is ultimately designed to liberate us from the confines of our small mind. This is, of course, what meditation is designed to do too.

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The other variation is to place the left hand atop the right. In this variation, the name changes slightly. Now it is known as ‘Bhairavi mudra’, which is the name given to the female counterpart of Bhairava, a reference to the fact that the second variation gives us greater access to Shakti; to power or subtle energy as it flows through the body.

Together Bhairava and Bhairavi – masculine and feminine – are merged when the hands meet. Their union is a union between consciousness and the creative energy by virtue of which consciousness can be made manifest.

Further symbolizing this, the two hands also represent ida and pingala nadis. Within the subtle-energetic system, ida nadi is considered to be our lunar force; passive, introverted, still, cool, intuitive and creative. Pingala nadi, on the other hand, is our solar force; active, hot, striving and extroverted. The merging of the two energies within the spine is what gives rise to the experience of kundalini awakening, which in turn gives rise the merging of our individual consciousness with universal consciousness; an obliteration of the ego.

Bhairava mudra is thought to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain and body and create within us an inner sense of harmony that is conducive to meditation.