on my use of ‘namaste’

I just got a comment from a reader calling themselves, IndianRoots, who was questioning my use of the word ‘namaste’ in this blog.  This concerned reader asked that their comment not be published, which is fine, but they also didn’t give me a real email address.  So, given that I can’t respond directly to them, I’m going to say a little about it here.

Yes, in fact, I do know what ‘namaste’ means.  I understand that it is sacred and not something to be tossed about casually.  I am a yoga practitioner of many years standing now, and if I said it to you in person, you’d see me holding my hands in prayer position in front of my face, bowing my head to the recipient as I said ‘namaste’.

For those of you who don’t know, namaste is greeting or salutation you might hear in India, or in yoga studios.  Namaste is actually a shortened version of Namaskar (my yogi tends to use the longer form).

When you greet or salute someone with ‘namaste’ you are saying (to paraphrase) that the divine in you recognizes the divine in the other person.  Other meanings are “be well”, “good day”, “greetings”, etc.  It is something to be used in respect and reverence.  When I use it, I am not saying it from my head, I am saying it from my heart, from my sacred self.  The comment indicated I’d used it quite frequently, but that’s only if you’ve not read very much of my blog [see note below].  So yeah, I guess I have used it more lately.  Why is that, you ask?  A couple of reasons spring to mind.  One, I feel more and more comfortable in this space sharing more of myself, including some of my less carnal leanings.  I am spiritual, though not religious.  Secondly, I’ve been aware of the power of spirit and faith and hope and other sacred ideas in my life lately.  That power has been moving in my life and I’ve been feeling more connection with others on a deeper level.  So if I end a comment or blog post with ‘namaste’, I am responding out of that feeling, that sense of spiritual commonality between myself and others.  I might use it especially if I feel that myself or the reader has opened up in an intimate way.  I am using it in very intentional ways.

So, IndianRoots, if you would like to engage in further conversation on this topic, I encourage you to email me directly, especially since you are shy about having your words published.  Please don’t use my comment queue as a way to critique in anonymity without a chance for discourse.

thank you all, have a great weekend.

*as a point of fact, IR, I’ve used ‘namaste’ exactly 3 times in posts out of a total of 664 over the life of my blog (4 if you count this one).  I’ve used it in exactly 2 comment responses.  So to say I use it ‘fairly frequently’ is quite an exaggeration.

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4 Responses to on my use of ‘namaste’

  1. Wilde_boy says:

    It always puzzles me that people feel the need to criticize and question other people’s spiritual practices and beliefs. Especially since pretty much every major and semi-major religion in the world preaches non-judgment of others. Because guess what? It’s not our place to stand as a judge to what others do or do not. If you feel that someone is not acting “appropriately” don’t criticize, be an example. Live and let live. And I am not familiar with Yoga and it’s traditions so I will end with a phrase I am familiar with. Blessings and Peace unto you Kyle.

  2. IndianRoots says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write this post – I appreciate it. I wasn’t criticizing Kyle’s entire “spiritual practices and/or beliefs” (of which I knew nothing about), but his usage of one word. (You’re the one being judgmental Wilde_Boy – since you didn’t even read my private comment.) I understand now, that you’re not using this sacred word casually – but with honor and intention. (I’m also a relatively new reader, and haven’t explored your entire site.) My family and I come from a long lineage of Yogis, and we’ve become tired of namaste being bandied about. It’s heartening to know, however, that some Americans are using it with reverence and respect. And, as I said in my previous comment – Namaste, Kyle.

    and thank you for responding publicly. I appreciate where you are coming from, and am sorry you have to see so much inappropriate appropriation of your family’s culture.

    However, I think the criticism of Wilde_boy is unnecessary — you chose to hold your comment back from public viewing, inviting speculation. Wilde was responding as my friend and ally and was being no more judgmental than you are being by criticizing him without knowing him.

    Take a deep breath, everyone.. and now out… and deepen the stretch… and, breathe….

  3. Wilde_boy says:

    I was going to leave this commentary with Kyle’s last words but I think it’s important to point something out. Whether Kyle chooses to publish this is up to him but I will write as though he did. IndianRoots you may have seen it as only questioning one word but to question that one word is to basically ask whether or not Kyle knew what he was saying. Whether he understood the depth and meaning behind the word. And to understand the depth and meaning of that word he would need to have a firm grasp on the spiritual beliefs and practices of Yoga. You may not have meant to be that extreme but we all need to be conscious of the connotations of our statements and questions.

    Thank you. I think the lesson is that even if IR has found a lot of people who use that term incorrectly, it’s wrong to assume that everyone does. It’s a good rule to assume the best when you don’t know, rather than the worst – K

  4. Kyle, I think you should try to use “namaste” in every post from now on. As in: “I was stressed out today, so I had a cigarette and felt a little bit of namaste.” Or: “My masseuse totally namastes me.”

    Kidding, kidding… Your blog continues to totally rock, Kyle. Just wanted to say hi.


    heh heh, thanks for the the comment, BW, always nice to get a chuckle at the end of the day 🙂 – K

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