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or, experiments with the control system

I have mentioned, previously, that I had learned, as a long distance runner, to hold my fingers in a certain way for more endurance and years later learned that this was the yogic method, called mudra.

A mudra can be defined as a gesture or position, usually of the hands, that locks and guides energy flow and reflexes to the brain. By curling, crossing, stretching and touching the fingers and hands, we can talk to the body and mind as each area of the hand reflexes to a certain part of the mind or body.

When I was running, I held my hands in a posture, wherein the tips of the index fingers touch the tips of the thumbs and the remaining fingers are curled and lightly touching the palms. In a burst of foolishness this past summer, I challenged my 15 year old athletic grandson to a 25 kilometer run, up and over a mountain in the Swiss Alps. As a precaution, and to allay my wife's fears, I underwent a series of cardiac exams at the cardiology medical school, in Lyon. It entailed a 24 hour hospital visit and all sorts of devices.

For the stress test, I decided to have some fun with the cardiologist, who was monitoring my heart functions as he increased the resistance on a stationary bicycle, which I was furiously pedalling. The object of the test is to bring the heart rate up to a theoretical safe limit and watch the heart's behavior through its electrical activity. Every time my heart rate approached the theoretical limit, I lowered my pulse rate and blood pressure. After this happened a few times, he was shaking his head from side to side, in confusion. He could not stress my heart to the theoretical maximum.

At the end of the stress test, the cardiologist watches the monitors to see what happens when the stress is suddenly released and to time the recovery period. At this point, I used a mudra, which signals the vagus nerve to return the heart rate to normal resting rate. I simply joined the tips of my thumb, index finger and middle finger of each hand. (The alternative to this mudra, which can be used to lower one's own or another's heart rate, is to grab the tip of the middle finger with the thumb and index finger of the opposite hand, apply pressure behind the first joint and pull so you slide over and past the fingernail, repeat for the index finger and thumb.) When my heart rate returned to resting state in less than three seconds, the cardiologist actually shouted, "FANTASTIQUE!!"

The sequel to this foolish challenge is that I learned that the body's cardiovascular system is in great condition but the mechanical system needs some maintenance. I tore a knee ligament and have been walking with a cane, since.

Experiment with these mudras next time you go jogging, or walking up a steep hill.

Some background info is in order: To the yogi, the physical body is made up of five elements namely - Air, Water, Fire, Earth and Aakash (ether - the tiny intercellular spaces in the human body). Imbalance of these elements disrupts the body's' system and causes damage. By utilizing mudras, deficiencies in any of these elements can be made up by connecting one part of the body with another in a particular manner.

When a finger representing an element is brought into contact with the thumb, that element is brought into balance. Therefore the condition caused by the imbalance is cured. Mudras start electromagnetic currents within the body, which balance various constituting elements and restore health.

You have used mudras for your entire life but may not have been aware of their significance or function. I am sure you recognize the mudra illustration, as the 'peace sign', or 'anti-war sign'. Any guesses as to its psychological benefits??

Any questions??