The True Meaning of Namaste and Empathy

The True Meaning of Namaste and Empathy

I haven’t been teaching yoga very long, but what I have learned is that there is something therapeutic about speaking and explaining your intention to the class. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, usually the teacher will offer or invite you to set an intention for your practice (a mantra, quote, poem, etc.). Both as a teacher and a student, I like to center my intentions around something I am working on/towards or a lesson I’ve learned. The word that keeps coming up for me lately is empathy.
I don’t often share these intentions with the world, but I feel this one is important. In yoga, we say Namaste when we conclude our practice. But what does Namaste actually mean? My soul honors your soul. Sounds great, now can we start saying this to everyone and not just to our fellow yogis? Let’s end our meetings by saying Namaste. Tell the cashier at the grocery store Namaste. The guy at the deli who fixed you a sub, Namaste to him. You catch my drift. This word has been so glamorized on social media (I am also guilty of it) that I feel it’s lost its true meaning. Namastay in bed, Namastay at home, Namastay on the couch. We are “namastaying” everything and everywhere.
I came across this quote on Pinterest, “See the light in each other. Be the light for each other.” It made me think of the true meaning of Namaste. Honoring one’s self as well as your neighbor. We are all going through our own difficult battles so why not come together and be there for one another? You don’t need to be best friends with everyone, but showing empathy is a great place to start. In a world where there are some people who aren’t very nice, be kind. It doesn’t mean you are weak, it means you are strong and true to yourself for showing kindness and love to people that test you. 
I attended a restorative yoga class last year and the instructor had us spend a few moments in a seated meditation. She had us think about someone that is very difficult to get along with (all I could think of is that this is not going to be very meditative). Then, she instructed us to send love and positive thoughts to that person even though it might be very difficult to do so. Let go of the anger and negativity you are holding on towards that person and counteract those emotions with kindness. This is something that will stick with me forever. We are all human. When faced with difficult situations and people, we react a certain way. We can’t go back in time and change the way we reacted or the emotions that came up, but we can change the future. We can send kindness and love to those people that test us. It might sound crazy, but once you let go, you create space for really great things to come into your life. 
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