Did you know that in yoga the middle finger represents patience? This fact poses an amusing irony given that the obscene gesture commonly known as “the finger” represents the opposite of patience. Let’s see how the former finger has the power to overcome the latter.
A little background first. According to yogic tradition, the middle finger is associated with the planet Saturn and the law of karma.* Karma is a cause-and-effect proposition kind of like Newton’s law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Plainly put, whatever you do has a consequence. Exercising patience has an effect and so does showing impatience.
When you touch the pad of your middle finger to the pad of your thumb, you form a mudra or seal.
This particular mudra is called Shuni mudra, and its practice invokes patience, discernment, and discipline. By touching the middle finger to the thumb, “the finger”—a lightening bolt of rage—becomes a grounded gesture of calm.
Last week, a car charged at Femme Banale while she crossed a busy street on the Walk signal. She wanted to give not one but two “fingers” to the driver, but instead she formed Shuni mudra with one hand in her pocket—a reminder of the choice.** What karmic fallout could “the finger” have brought down? At best, a flood of the stress hormone cortisol for all parties.
So much can change with the touch of a finger.
*Femme Banale has heard that you should not wear a ring on the middle finger because like a sled out of control on Saturn’s icy rings, it spins your karmic stuff back at you. In other words, what goes around, comes around.
**Shuni mudra is typically practiced in meditation, not on the fly as described here. If you would like to explore more, seek an experienced yoga teacher. Try Yoga Alliance for starters.