Namaste is one of those words many use but few really know how to accurately define it. The reason for this is likely twofold:
- Modern culture uses the term in a wide variety of ways (from speaking it at the end of a yoga class to using it in fun slogans on shirts and stickers, i.e. “Namaste in bed”), some of which are not reflective of the true meaning of the word
- There are several translations passed down from the original Sanskrit texts
Generally speaking, Namaste is a sign of respect and an acknowledgment that means so more than just “hello” or “thank you.” It speaks of a respect for and/or an honoring of another. Trying to track down one definition can be a bit challenging in that you’ll come across numerous translations and explanations.
One example of a contemporary break down of the meaning of this Sanskrit word is: Namah = salutation, adoration, or bow and Te = to you, therefore making Namaste = salutation to you; I bow to you.
Another common description or definition is “the divine in me sees and honors the divine in you”.
Regardless of which of the definitions out there you choose to go with, what’s clear is the reverence toward others built into the meaning of this ancient word.
And if you’ve ever been to a yoga class before then you probably know what Namaste “looks like”. Palms together in “prayer pose” at your heart or third eye followed by a bow, usually with eyes closed. It is a way for the instructor to show respect toward and to honor the students who participated in the class. In essence it is a kind of thank you and show of respect. When students mirror the teacher and Namaste back, they share the same thing with the teacher in return.
So, as we spend this month thinking more about gratitude, about the things we are grateful for, let’s take a moment to connect with this notion of Namaste…of honoring, respecting, and revering others. While Namaste means so much more than just “thank you”, a deep sense of gratitude is certainly a piece of it.
And speaking of gratitude, a huge thank you to our Veterans. Thank you your sacrifices and your service. Namaste.