The Hindu greeting “Namaste” has become an integral part of most yoga classes. In India, it is used as a polite bow of greeting or farewell that means “The divine in me salutes the divine in you.” In Morocco, people greet each other by touching their heart and saying “Salam Aleikum” which means “peace be with you.” Even getting out of a taxi, a Moroccan will say “May God bless you” to the cab driver. In many cultures, “the divine” figures heavily into people’s daily interactions.
As many of you have experienced at the end of a yoga class, the teacher will bow her head with hands in prayer position in front of her heart and say “Namaste.” The students will then mirror the teacher and say “Namaste” in return. As a yogi, ask yourself if you are doing this by rote or are you truly connecting to the higher, divine essence of this greeting?
What does it really mean to say “Namaste” and how can you use it purposefully to shift your interactions with friends, family, work colleagues and people you encounter as you go about your daily life? Below are a few interpretations of “Namaste” that can positively transform your life.
1) “Your Spirit and My Spirit are One” – If this is true, isn’t the Golden Rule so easy to take on? The Golden Rule encourages us to treat others the way we wish to be treated. If we acknowledge our oneness with Namaste, it’s easy to treat people with the respect that we desire.
2) “All that is best and highest in me salutes all that is best and highest in you.” – Wouldn’t it be amazing to focus on the best and highest in each other? That would mean less gossip, less judgment and more compassion. Instead of simply reacting to what someone is saying that may hurt us or trigger a negative response, we could choose to focus on the bigger picture; their higher self. We can stand back and see that perhaps this person is fearful or crying out for love, connection or validation. Our reaction can change the course of any interaction.
3) “I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.” – This is my favorite interpretation. There is a divine place in all of us where love, truth, light and peace dwell. If we could focus on those parts in ourselves and in others simultaneously, we would be authentically saying “Namaste.”
So, the next time the yoga teacher bows with a “Namaste” at the end of your class, respond with intention and take it with you out into the world. You can even say it silently before or after meeting with people. Most importantly, see if it can ‘up-shift’ your daily interactions. With great respect and loving-kindness, I say to you … Namaste.