II. The Case for Considering Namaste
When I ask people if they know what the word Namaste means, most know this as the closing blessing of a yoga class. Though this is generally true, that’s not the most important thing to know about the word, or why someone might say it to you.
There are many different ways that Namaste has been defined, but most commonly and simply, it means: “The Divine Spirit within me recognizes and honors the Divine Spirit within you.” It is an acknowledgment of respect for another and their unique energy and presence. You might have seen people use it as a gesture of thanks, welcome or gratitude, paired with joining both hands over the heart, palms together, with fingers pointed to the sky. For whatever reason, I have always found it to be a very graceful, peaceful way for two people to acknowledge each other, whether as equals or as teacher and student.
Five years ago, I didn’t know what the word meant. So when I learned the true meaning, I was quite taken with it and paid more attention to how and when people use it. What became clear to me was that for the majority of people, they really felt the connection to the energy of honoring another person….to acknowledge that they “see” them and meet them as an equal divine being. But I soon realized that it wasn’t that part of this word that I connected to, but instead, to the honoring of the divine spirit in myself.
It has always been easy for me to see the divine in others. I regularly see the beauty and talents that others have that awe and move me, so saying Namaste to another has been very easy and applicable. I ultimately realized that the real opportunity was for me to see and honor the divine in ME. I am just like so many of us who see our own flaws first, and don’t see the divinity in every detail of who we are. So acknowledging the divine in myself took more intention and work. And that work included some serious reflection and inner searching that still continues every day.
Ultimately, the word Namaste has come to symbolize for me an internal journey, and “seeing” the true essence of who each of us is. And this can be in stark contrast to the journey of the Type A personality. The Type A existence is largely an external one. It is rarely about what our essence or soul wants and needs. It is more commonly about what the people we care for need, what our job demands of us, and what we feel obligated to do. While taking care of others is certainly an admirable use of our time and energy, it can’t authentically be done without balancing it with the same care for ourselves. We can’t truly know our own essence without the devotion of time to discover it, and yet we allow external obligations to continue to distract us from this discovery.
Why would someone who is apparently thriving in their Type A behavior patterns want to make a change? Why would they want to have less external validation of their self-worth and intelligence? Truth is, often they don’t. Like the smoker who would prefer to smoke if it weren’t for the consequences, Type A personalities operate under the “I’m sticking with this plan until I don’t have a choice” program. They see slowing down in the polarity rather than along a continuum. They are either going 100 miles an hour, or “doing nothing”. But in truth, being open to small changes toward living more in a place of “Namaste”, honoring the divine spirit in yourself, can actually create a more sustainable way to live in both spaces…..thriving in a balance of internal and external validation.
The case for Namaste comes down to the question of what is the most sustainable way of fulfillment. Relying on external validation for sustenance is fraught with challenge. Career success and relationships ebb and flow, and people and circumstances come in and out of our life, so looking to them as the key feedback to our happiness is setting us up for trouble. Alternatively, what IS enduring and sustainable is our relationship with ourselves and our connection to divine source. Investing in deeper knowledge of this part of our lives provides solid roots and a strong foundation despite external circumstances and life transitions.
Stephen Covey guided us to “Begin with the end in mind.” He felt that to find the motivation to keep going despite challenges that might deter us, if we kept in mind the result that all the hard work was leading to, that it would provide the vision to keep us going. If we look at life with the end in mind, the enduring source that we need to draw from is internal, not external. When external circumstances challenge us…….jobs are lost, relationships end……a strong internal connection to ourselves will remain. It is worth being nurtured and explored.