The essential nature of the universe is the coexistence of opposites. Everyone we see in the world is a reflection of ourselves, and the traits we see most clearly in others are the ones that are strongest in ourselves. This is called the mirror of relationship and it is a powerful tool for emotional freedom.
When we have a strong negative reaction to someone, we can be certain that they’re reflecting traits that we also possess but have been unwilling to embrace. We spend so much time denying that we have a dark side, and then end up projecting these denied qualities onto other people. For the same reason, we are attracted to certain people because they have the same traits that we have, only more so.
In essence, what we see in others is a reflection of what lives within ourselves. The reflection offers us a great opportunity to increase our awareness of ourselves and others. We can change our relationships when we pay attention to our response to the people who cross our paths. As we see ourselves in others we have the opportunity to move through life with compassion and acceptance. As the Vedic seers observed, “The measure of your enlightenment is your level of comfort with your own paradoxes.”
Namaste is both a spoken Indian expression and a symbolic gesture that people use when greeting each other or in parting. Pronounced “na-ma-stay,” the term derives from Sanskrit and literally means “I bow to you.” It’s more commonly translated as “the divine light in me honors the divine light in you” Namasté is the recognition that we are all equal and share a common divinity.
To perform the namasté gesture, place your palms together in a prayer position in front of your heart and slightly bow your head. You may also close your eyes if you wish. In the West, people usually speak the word namasté as they bow, but in India it’s understood that the gesture alone carries the same meaning. To indicate especially deep respect, you may put your hands together in front of your forehead (the site of the mystic third eye), gently bow your head, and bring hands down to your heart.
In the United States, many yoga instructors close their classes by performing namasté as a sign of appreciation and honor for their students, inviting them to connect with their own heart and truth. Westerners who have adopted the term and gesture generally endow it with a deeply sacred intention. In modern Southeast Asia, on the other hand, some individuals use namasté more informally to greet others in everyday life. Nonetheless, many people in India and elsewhere believe that the greeting is more than a simple “hello” or “hi” and use it to recognize that everyone shares a common and sacred divinity.
We are powerful beings with great potential to change the world. Our sum influence, body, mind and spirit, is more influential that we often know or believe. Our presence extends beyond our physical body, our energy is a presence that reaches out and creates a relationship of our making with the world around us. One of the most powerful steps we can take to transform our relationships is to become very aware of our energy and how we are projecting ourselves. Your emotions and state of being give off energy that can be positive or negative. It's a common experience to walk into a room and immediately feel the emotional and energetic in the air. The atmosphere can be tense and isolating or cheerful and relaxed. What we are feeling is the collective energy of each person in the room.
Transformation begins when we recognize that we are in control of our own energy. Our emotions, beliefs and thought patterns can lead us to a habit of responding to life in a depressed, negative, or even angry way. Our energy in these states is powerfully influential and creates separation between ourselves and others as what we give creates what we will receive. When happiness, patience and cooperation are present in our energy these qualities ripple out into the world and you will notice that interactions happen with ease and people want to be with and around you.
Through meditation we begin to connect with our essential truth, that we are each loving and loveable. We begin to breathe in peace and exhale all that is not serving us in our lives and relationships. Through meditation our self awareness increases allowing us to notice our energy empowering us to choose how we show up in the world in each and every moment.
Forgiveness is a gift that we give to ourselves. When we forgive ourselves or others we are gifting ourselves with healing and liberation, we make space within for peace and love. When we hold onto a grievance, shame, anger, or pain from the past, our entire body-mind suffers. Our body produces excessive amounts of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which over time can compromise our immune system and contribute to cardiovascular disease. Hostility is an inflammatory emotion and, as researchers have found, the number-one emotional risk factor for premature death from heart attacks and strokes. Hostility is also linked to autoimmune disorders. It’s not a coincidence that we speak of people “dying from a broken heart” or describe a betrayal as “a stab in the back” or say that a deep loss was “gut wrenching.” As we’ve known for more than three decades, the body and mind are inextricably connected.
The body-mind is incredibly flexible, and when we let go of emotional toxicity, our body immediately begins to return to homeostasis, which is a state of self-healing and self-regulation. On an emotional level, the benefits of forgiving and releasing the burden of judgment are valuable beyond compare. In forgiving, we free ourselves from attachments to the past and we clear encumbrances that constrict our heart, expanding our ability to love and be loved.
Ultimately forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves. We can benefit from forgiving even if the person we forgive isn’t aware of our feelings or is even no longer alive. We all have the ability to forgive, for it is the nature of life to release toxicity and return to wholeness. At the same time, forgiveness often doesn’t happen in one fell swoop. Particularly in cases of deep violation, forgiveness is a process that requires us to forgive a layer at a time. Sometimes we have to forgive someone many times before we finally let go of all the emotional residue of the past. Once we take steps to restore peace in our heart, we will feel a shift. We will feel lighter as we expand our capacity for love, compassion, and healing.
The primordial vibration Om (or “aum”) is considered the most sacred sound in Hinduism and Buddhism. Thousands of years ago the Vedic seers knew what modern science has only recently discovered: everything we see in the universe consists of energy vibrations – even those objects that appear solid. According to tradition, the ancient sages were able to hear the subtle vibrations produced by everything in the universe, and they identified Om as the most elemental sound of creation. In a quiet environment, you can hear the vibration of Om in the crashing of ocean waves, in the stillness of a forest, or in the rush of wind.
People have used Om as a mantra since ancient times, chanting the sound or silently repeating it in meditation to expand their awareness of the divine. In the Yoga Sutras, the philosopher Patanjali states that the repetition of Om, along with a deep contemplation of its meaning, is a direct path to enlightenment. He writes, “Om should be repeated and its essence realized. Then the mind will turn inward and the obstacles that stand in the way of progress will disappear.”
Although Om is considered a sacred syllable, in India those of the Hindu faith use it frequently in daily life, beginning the day, a journey, or a project by uttering the sound. The symbol is also incorporated into the design of all Hindu temples and family shrines. In the Western world, repeating Om at the beginning and end of yoga classes is common, and more and more people are using the sound as a mantra for meditation and sacred ceremonies.