Down Home Namasté

by Martha Agan

I sat on the back deck of my not-quite-new new home and was blessed with the sighting of a doe walking along the thickets. She owned the land like I did as a child. She was mindful and wary all at the same time. When my little Maltese, Bella, barked, she stopped and turned her head to us, all stillness. I convinced her with several namastés that we were no threat. She wanted to blend into the background and I realized that her immobility is a tactic I’ve used. Flight, freeze, or fight is a natural instinct. She, like me, uses the freeze instinct to gather more information, to listen to her soul. I am rewarded with her own namasté: the beauty of her continuance along the copse. Her body is graceful, timeless in this very moment. Her movement is acceptance of me, and I rejoice in that.

If only we all treated each other this way.

Namasté. I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one.

I’ve practiced yoga and meditation for a few years now. It is not how I was brought up. In my Western and Christian upbringing this would come closest to the Golden Rule: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” I was an adult when it occurred to me that inherent in that commandment was love of self. This love is a form of self-respect, self-acknowledgement, and self-care. Once this behavior is learned, then we can do the same with others, and fulfill the first part of the second commandment.

Even so, I appreciate the beauty of namasté. It accepts and honors the good in all beings and doesn’t search for the bad. It acknowledges that we have a commonality. That we are all children of the universe. It speaks to me of respect and kindness. A meeting and greeting that begets love. There is that small part of us that sees the darkness in others. We are concerned with someone disrespecting our boundaries, and taking advantage of us in some way. Yet, if our boundaries aren’t strong, we are the ones who allow them to encroach and intrude, and then resent it. Then, in turn, we continue to seek the bad, never acknowledging the good. We are all a product of light and dark; there is good and bad in us all. We strive for the good, and berate ourselves for the bad. We judge others according to our own values. It is simply the way we have been taught. Namasté doesn’t make a judgment; it gives room for fault, but allows the conditions for meeting in a place of sameness.

Our differences are what make us unique: our harmonies are that we all share this world. To connect in namasté and to honor namasté we must see every other person as the same. It only follows that every creation is divine, and worthy of acknowledgment; that judgement is placed behind us as we look for the good in others.

To do this, we must place our boundaries and lovingly keep them without disrespect to those who would disrespect us. The word No is a good word (we learn from an early age that this is a bad word, to keep us safe as small children). We are not obliged to say Yes if it causes us pain and will lead to resentment. If we empty ourselves on the altar of others, we are sacrificing a divine creation. That doesn’t mean that the word Yes is bad. It just means that we can weigh what we can offer without the need for resentment and anger.

As the doe froze, she made the determination of whether she would go into flight. Too many times when we are not accepting of our surroundings, or the restrictions and needs of others, we choose flight or fight.

Sometimes “freeze” is better. An answer is not always required the instant a favor is asked, or a demand is made. Take that moment to freeze, give your namasté, and weigh the options you have. Sometimes that choice will be to accept, acknowledge, and continue your way through the thicket of life. Sometimes it will be to walk a little closer, and if you have enough of yourself, you can give freely. I’ve traveled all over three continents, and it took a beautiful doe in my own backyard to bring this epiphany to me.

Namasté permits us to learn from all creations, just as I did on a summer evening. I looked across the beautiful hill country vista. The view boasted myriad verdant greens, fields, and fencelines of trees spread out before me. I met and recognized another creation, and learned that there is a power to respect and honor within us all. It made my world a better place.

I give you this one summer evening of my life, hoping it will do the same for you.