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Today in an 11th Step Centering Prayer group I was introduced to the Hindu/Sanskrit greeting of  “namaste” (Nah-muh-STAY). It is a spoken greeting accompanied by the particular action of holding your palms together in the front of your heart and bowing your head towards the person you are greeting. So, of course I had to go online to find out how to spell the word, how to say it, and more about what it means. Perhaps the best and most easily understood definition of namaste  I found (and it very closely matched what our leader told us in today’s group) was this: Namaste is “an ancient Sanskrit greeting still in everyday use in India and especially on the trail in the Nepal Himalayas. Translated roughly, it means ‘I bow to the God within you’, or ‘The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you’ – a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness.”

(accessed 10/1913 at http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Namaste)

Of  course, my  favorite quote about it comes from Gandhi:

” Namaste. I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides… a place of light, of love, of truth, of peace, of wisdom. I honour the place in you where when you are in that place and I am in that place there is only one of us. ”

Source: Mohandas K. Gandhi as cited on web-page accessed on 10/19/13 at http://www.wisdomquotes.com/quote/mohandas-k-gandhi-1.html

What I love about the practice of namaste is it acknowledges the spiritual God essence in every human being. It acknowledges I and whomever I meet are one within God’s creation.  I need to be reminded about this. Often. This greeting reminds me to operate from my heart rather than my head and to respect God’s creation in myself and in others. It keeps my “head and heart” in the right place, right-sized, and right-focused. I wish we would adopt its use in our culture.

How can I communicate the same thing in my culture? With a smile, an offer to help, holding a door open, or giving a friendly nod? Would my intent to  acknowledge God within all humans be effectively communicated? I doubt it. Perhaps one way for me to show this type of mutual spiritual respect is to keep quiet, listen, and not finish other people’s sentences for them—–an irritating habit I have in spite of  my efforts to avoid doing so.

I am going to try practicing namaste “in my mind’s eye” when I meet others in the next few days. When I am home I may actually use the greeting when greeting the four dogs that so often greet me with love and respect—-after all,  I believe the universe described by Gandhi resides in animals as well as humans. It should be an interesting experiment. I will also do so when walking towards the full length mirror at the end of my home’s hallway…..this will teach me to acknowledge and respect the “God essence” within myself.

Please comment and share your thoughts about this Hindu practice and its application to living one day at a time. May God bless and keep you.