I live on a beautiful ashram in a small beach town in Florida. The setting would be perfect for a Hollywood movie where a young yogini has a magical adventure ending with an unexpected windfall of good luck and spiritual enlightenment (Dear Universe: What do you think?). But, I’ve run into a little problem. Walking around the grounds I’m Namasting so much, to a guest it probably looks like I have a nervous twitch. I love everything about the temples that are beautifully offered throughout the grounds, and placing my hands in Namaste as I pass each of them, reminds me of their place in my heart. But, on my walk from one ashram house to another, there’s the possibility of passing numerous Namaste opportunities and I don’t want the mudra to become automatic.
Namaste is the new version of flashing a peace sign. We say it in yoga, wear it on t-shirts, put it on bumper stickers, some celebrities even stroll the red carpet palms touching in Namaste. It’s a beautiful gesture, but what does it mean? One of my favorite simple translations is “The Light in me Honors The Light in You.” I also use Namaste as a greeting in the numerous yoga classes I teach and take every week. I have begun to wonder: as one of the most popular yogic philosophies, what does Namaste mean on a soul level.
The Light in me Honors The Light in You: First we must be able to see ourselves as light, even while knowing everything about our stuff – our egos, our “mistakes” – and still believing that we are light in its most spiritual form. When we look at ourselves, it’s easy to see the struggle, the darkness, but there is always light.
Light doesn’t always shine at the capacity of the Sun, but by definition it shines. Sometimes our thoughts and even our lives can get kind of dark. In those moments, where is our light? The Sun is surrounded by darkness, but it shines bright enough for everyone to take from its daily offering. Sometimes in life we feel like the Sun, and sometimes we feel like a dull light in a dark room, but truthfully we are always light. The dark of space does not cancel out the light of the Sun any more than the darkness of our lives cancels out our ever-present light.
So no excuses: you are light! It is in your breath, your constant companion.
Once we see that light in ourselves we can see it in others.
The Light in me Honors The Light in You: When we have found the light in ourselves, we can begin to truly see it in others. To see and honor the light in others we are met with paths we don’t know or don’t understand. It can be easy to rationalize our own bad moods or idiosyncrasies but with others we have to go on faith.
If someone comes into our workplace with an attitude or worldview that we can’t relate to, tension can rise, and thoughts of light and love may be hard to find. Light is not solid. It cannot be touched or held. The truth is, we don’t have to understand their struggle or their journey, but we can understand that struggling is hard. Knowing that we all struggle, that we all have bad days, or challenging aspects of our personalities brings us closer to the light in others.
We can see how their unique views and experiences of the world have given them a light as unique as their fingerprint. Look for the light in others. Who knows, their light may one day set your light ablaze.
So what am I saying, when I greet a temple, or start a yoga class?
NAMASTE: The Light in me Honors The Light in You: The light in me – that with which I connect and feed every time I practice, every time I breath with consciousness – this light that continues to grow and expand fills me from the inside out. I am filled with light, and as I fill with light I continue to share my light with others. I Honor The Light in You as I become part of your light, and as you become part of mine. In this way we are always full, and we are always connected. We are community, we are connected to each other and I am here for you as you are here for me. Namaste!
What does Namaste mean to you? Leave a comment