I just got back from my second year at Floyd Yoga Jam. This year’s meditation was on Durga, the Warrior Goddess and Protectress of all that is just and honest and good. More on her in another post. Again it was a great time and the music was even better with Donna de Lory, Durga Das, DJ Drez and MC Yogi as guests. And please don’t let me forget local (relatively) favorites Bryan Elijah Smith and the Wildhearts.
Beryl Bender Birch led several classes that I really enjoyed. She is quite down-to-earth as one would expect a person who’s been meditating for 40 years to be, and she had many good things to say regarding the benefits of yoga and how to incorporate the practices into your life.
But what I want to mention this morning is the greeting from those driving down the back roads on the way to and from the YOJam. Have you seen this out in rural areas? People drive with a hand near the top of the wheel, and when they pass you they lift a finger. Index Finger. Not the one next to it that could mean something quite different. The one index finger lift is a greeting. A simple acknowledgement that you and I are both out here on this skinny road that is two lanes but at some points seems more like one. When people would do this to me, of course I would do it back — I’ve seen this before where my parents live in Lake Gaston, VA, and it is definitely rude to not respond — and it made me think about how such a simple gesture acknowledges a profound aspect of being human. We are in this together.
In the middle of relatively no where, which I am judging by lack of cell phone service, people acknowledge each other just for being there. It is a great practice. Here we are, never met before, but I know that you know that we have a shared human experience. Why not just be cordial to each other? Well, why not?
Take the greeting in yoga, and of course throughout India and other Asian countries too… Namaste. It is like Aloha, or even Shalom, in that it can be used as hello and goodbye. It means salutations, greetings. Douglas Brooks puts a nice spin on it when he examines the root word nama. He talks about how nama can mean “I defer” to you. And defer is in the sense of equals, not subordination in any way. Namaste is a deference to what is great and auspicious within you. I acknowledge that you are a being of light and consciousness and because I am the same, I see you, acknowledge and accept you just as you are with all of your gifts and your challenges, in short, your human-ness. With the recognition that you accept all of my human-ness too.
What a relief to not have to put on a show for someone. When we meet each other where we are, so much unnecessary tension dissolves. It is defused. It becomes easier to smile when you meet someone new, rather than wondering ‘what can I get from this person?’ or ‘how can this person help me?’ Just simply be there. Together.
If you meet someone who has exceptional artistic ability and you get to enjoy their art, we are all better people for it. Likewise with talented musicians or writers or even doctors or healers. We all have unique talents, and when we develop them and hone our skills, we all become better for it. Namaste is an acknowledgement that we are all in this together and we are all human with our greatness and our challenges, our joys and sorrows, our laughter and our fears. I love the one-index-finger-lift-greeting in southern Virginia.
The light within me honors and greets the light within you. Namaste.