nepal spirituality

The Practice of Namaste

IMG_0407One of the most beautiful things in this country, and there are many to choose from, is the custom of greeting another with the word “namaste.” It is often said with a slight bow and hands pressed together in a prayer-like position. The word itself means “I bow to the God within you” or “I bow to that which is divine within you” or some similar translation. While trekking, one is regularly coming into contact with others on the trails so one’s day is full of exchanges of “namaste.

In America, we’ll commonly say, “How’s it going’?” Or “How you doing?” but rarely will care enough to really expect a response. Here with “namaste,” I found it to be easiest to use it as a simple “hello” greeting without attending to the actual meaning of the word. As such, I began to make a practice of saying “namaste” and actually trying to embody in my heart the true meaning. When IMG_0116saying “namaste” I would do my best to connect my heart with the other person and truly bow to that which is divine in them. It’s not as easy a practice as one might think.  Seems like I’m not nearly as present with the other person during a greeting as I would wish myself to be. As greeting interchanges are generally very brief, if you haven’t quickly acknowledged the divinity in the other, they are off and your chance is missed. To do this in such a short time frame we really need to practice staying connected to our own hearts on a more moment to moment basis.  It’s a lovely practice, though, as it generates a sweetness and compassion in your heart and engenders a love and respect for another.

How much easier it can be to not connect, to remain absorbed in our self-centric worlds, to have cursory exchanges with others without engaging our hearts.  I won’t claim that I’ve been mostly successful with this practice, but I have certainly been trying and it has brought a lot of sweetness to my inner experience of connecting with others.


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