Out of the darkness of muddy waters, beauty is born.
Without doubt, the most surreal moment of beauty during my trip to Montpellier in the summer, was the unexpected stumbling upon an enormous pond of flowering and seeding lotus blossoms.
We had heard of Le Jardin des Plantes (founded in 1593 – yikes that’s old) and had spoken about visiting it, but we happened upon it while I was admiring the architecture of a derelict building while fulfilling one of my mild obsessions – taking photos of windows with shutters.
Now owned by Montpellier University, I had no idea of the kind of botanical inspirations that the garden held.
Certainly, as we arrived it looked pretty burnt out from a long hot summer, and my initial feeling was to just enjoy the structure of the landscape; so we began a little journey along a meandering old pathway into a bamboo wooded area with no expectations of colour.
As I followed a little lizard around a corner, my breath was literally taken away.
A truly awe inspiring moment of magic unfolded.
With fossil records dating back 130 million years, this sacred flower is one of the oldest plants on earth. At one time it proliferated in both Northern and Southern hemispheres, but due to climate change its native habitat has declined.
Revered in the art, literature and mythology of a wide range of cultures (including the ancient Greeks), it is well known for being sacred to Buddhists, Hindu religions & yoga teachers. There is even ethno-botanical evidence that Native Americans used the lotus as a herb in sun ceremonies.
What is particularly fascinating about the lotus is the journey it undertakes to flower.
Having its roots immersed in water, every night at sunset the flower retreats into the murky pond. At dawn it pushes its way through the darkness toward the light, to flower once again, untainted by mud or water.
Due to its journey from the depth of murky waters toward the light the lotus flower is associated with death & rebirth, which is why ancient Egyptian mythology describes the lotus as giving birth to the sun.
Due to its magnificence & beauty, the lotus is also considered by many cultures as the embodiment of purity & perfection.
Such incredible imagery teaches us that it is possible to unfold from the dark-night of the soul into awareness, to expand into a state of higher consciousness & find healing & wisdom, while keeping firmly connected to our roots.
I love to work with the imagery of the lotus in my own yoga practice, as it enables me use visualization to enhance my connection to how my energy moves - charges & discharges - through the different Chakras (energy centres).
Regarded as a bridge between our ‘inner and outer worlds,’ the lotus blossom’s bud is often compared to a folded heart or soul that has the ability to blossom or awaken to divine truth. It is possible to either use this imagery symbolically through meditation & visualization, or explore hand or finger gestures that are called Mudras in the yoga tradition (sometimes the whole body becomes part of the Mudra). While mostly associated with Japan, China & India, Mudra type gestures have been incorporated into many culture’s language, dance traditions (such as Flamenco) and healing ceremonies all over the world. Indeed, they date back as far as Stone Age times.
In yoga, Mudras have a number of meanings including gesture, seal, mark & ‘to draw bliss’. They act upon the body’s subtle energy systems (meridians, chakras, aura) to create balance and support the body’s natural healing processes.
Subtle physical movements & symbolic Mudra gestures are used to affect the flow of Prana in the body.
They unblock chakras & cultivate a specific state of mind or focus.
They alter mood, attitude, perception and awareness.
The therapeutic use of the Lotus Mudra is thought to open the heart center, generating compassion for ourselves and others.
Similar to certain types of ancient body-work, Mudra’s are associated with the five elements (water, earth, space air & fire), and have energetic links to a certain parts of the brain or organs.
How to do the Lotus Mudra
Sit in an easy pose, but with the back straight (connecting with sit bones) and if in a chair, both feet on the ground.
Settle into the natural pathway of your breath.
Bring the base of the palms together at the heart centre in prayer.
Touch thumbs and little fingers together
Spread the rest of the fingers out like the lotus flower, while keeping the base of the hands touching.
Close your eyes
Take 12 deep long full in-breaths and out-breaths.
Take time witnessing your heart energy.