Over the last few weeks, the world has completely changed… we no longer shake hands, hug or kiss each other’s cheeks in greeting or at departure. Instead many people around the world are adopting a time-honored Indian tradition, that of Namaskar, which is the act of bringing your two hands together, palms touching, fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the body and over the center of your chest, near your heart chakra. The act is synonymous with word Namaste, which many people identify with the practice of Yoga.
I love the term Namaste! The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Namaste as from Sanskrit and literally means “bowing to you” or “I bow to you”. The word Namaste is actually a Sanskrit phrase that is formed from namaḥs, meaning “bow, obeisance, adoration,” and the enclitic pronoun te, meaning “to you.” And while that alone makes it a beautiful expression, I once had a yoga teacher explain it as “the divine in me, acknowledges the divine in you.”
At the time, I remember thinking what an amazing way to recognize your teacher and fellow students, but it wasn’t until a few years later, on my first trip to India that it developed a deeper meaning for me. Everywhere I went, I saw people performing the Namaskar and saying Namaste. Each time there was a smile and each time it made me smile in return, as I found myself returning the gesture.
Suddenly, what was a simple gesture to me, took on more meaning. I began to associate the word with the idea that we all have a Divine Spark within us and to knowledge that power is important. Whether you call it your: soul, energy, life force, chi… there is no doubt that we all have it. If we focus more on seeing the divine, not only in others, but also in ourselves, we will surely have a greater capacity for love and even develop more tolerance and acceptance towards everyone.
While we don’t agree with everyone that we meet and in fact there are many that we dislike, if we can get it into the habit of bestowing even the smallest bit the grace that Namaste intends, we would truly all be the better for it.
I would love to believe that the world is adopting the gesture as a way of bestowing the grace, I am not naïve, for most it is simply copying a gesture that they have seen countless times before… but just for a minute, I’m going to pretend that they are in fact, attempting to honor each other and spread the love.
And on that I will close.
Stay well, take time for you and remember to breathe.