Author: Gertrud Hirschi
Trade Paperback, 240 pages
Publication date: May 2000
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Mudras, hand positions believed to be conducive to physical health or spiritual states, are ancient in origin, to the extent that it is difficult to obtain any hard and fast data on where and when they came into usage, much less why. However, several are found in ancient artwork in various parts of the world, suggesting either a universality of use or a common origin. Hirschi offers some insight into what is known and what is speculated of the origins of the art of mudra as well as the more practical aspects of how to use mudras.
Most importantly, in my opinion, she explains how she was taught and has researched this art, and provides a bibliography for further research. Unfortunately, though understandably, nearly all of the bibliographic entries are of books and articles written in German. This English-speaking reader hopes they may be available in translation as well.
She also spends some time comparing other systems of healing that involve the hands, such as acupressure, reflexology, Ayurveda, palmistry, and deep meridians. While she does not go into any of these in depth, a survey of each is presented, along with her thoughts on what connection, or at least correlation, appears to exist between that practice and the practice of mudras.
Hirschi presents 50 mudras, along with clear line-art representations of the hand positions, descriptions of how they are to be practiced, and suggested visualizations and affirmations. Her descriptions are thorough and clear. This is a welcome change from the "just put your hands like this" formula that seems prevalent in current books on the subject.
She includes herbal suggestions for the related physical health issues, though one could wish she would more carefully advise the reader to investigate such remedies thoroughly before using them. This may be a cultural difference, as in Germany, herbal remedies are handled quite differently than in the US, probably making it more a matter of course than a necessary caution that one should learn a bit about an herb before quaffing teas or popping capsules.
However, I believe it would have been prudent to include such a caution in the US printing, because while this is touched upon lightly in the "Dear Reader" section and "Appendix B: There is an herb for every malady." Sadly, many readers, at least in the US, are prone to skipping such sections.
Reviewed by Diane Verrochi