Yoga teacher, therapist, and author, Nischala Joy Devi, has a new book: The Namaste Effect: Expressing Universal Love through the Chakras. In this article, she shares what inspired her to write this book and her vision for what the effect could be on ourselves and our world if we recognized our oneness and our hearts filled with universal love and compassion.
Setting the Stage for Love and Compassion
My intention in writing this book is to offer a way to live in this world, expressing love and compassion as a primary action. I often wonder, Could the message of love be too soft a whisper over the loud and boisterous threats in today’s world? Even in the midst of a major crisis, if we are able to encourage the heart toward openness and love, we are then prepared when, at a future time, a valiant act is the perfect remedy.
As a small child I would frequently enter into a semi-trance state and find myself, on the return, seeing colors and feeling love for all. My sweet mother would even comment “You cannot love everyone!” and my innocent reply was “Why not?” My experience could not be expressed through any normal rationalization. As much as I asked and searched sources, I was unable to define the vastness of what I was feeling. When I revealed that I was able to see color surrounding an object or person, the condescending smiles would relegate the experience to child’s imagination. It was not until many years later I discovered insights into these unusual behaviors by piecing together information from books and spiritual teachers. Although the word love is well used, or some say overused, it stays in its limitations, as we tend to think of loving as a personal affair. This makes it difficult to find a fit for the feelings of love we might experience for the earth, or those we have yet to meet.
Being trained and working for many years in western medicine, my hope was to find compassion in serving those in pain and at their most vulnerable. Sadly, although I looked to the medical community for that compassion, I was most of the time disappointed. There are some moments in our lives that, when lived, change our minds and hearts challenging the course we have set for ourselves.
The following story is from my student days working at a large metropolitan hospital. This was a situation that could have turned me away from the profession or encouraged me to be one of the ones who make a difference. “Don’t tell me you have been in with a patient, simply listening to her talk and comforting her when she cried. That is a waste of time. Keep that up and I will have to dismiss you from this training program.” This was the response from my supervisor after I was summoned, failing to report exactly on time after I’d performed a procedure in a patient’s room.
Systematically working though the list of patients for that morning’s rounds at the hospital, I had confidently walked into the room of a young woman with terminal cancer. Six months pregnant with three young children at home, she appeared very frightened and hopeless. I was there to do some procedure, can’t even remember what it was. Starting to take out the instruments, I glanced up and our eyes met. At that moment, I could feel a shift in my heart that transformed the room. Placing the instruments on the bedside table, I enacted what my heart dictated. Tenderly edging myself into the hospital bed I gently embraced her. Almost simultaneously she moved toward and encircled me with her arms. Embracing each other, we wept. Breaking the spell, the crackling loud speaker called my name. Coming back to mental consciousness, I excused myself and walked toward what I knew would be a scolding for obeying my heart rather than hospital rules.
After so many years, my reflection of the events still holds sway. Accused of wasting time with the sweet young mother with cancer became a turning point and everlasting example for me of two hearts recognizing each other as one. It was the aspect of oneness that in its depth, soothes as it heals—not only the patient, but also the therapist, and ultimately the world. It fosters the connection between heart and soul, remembering that in all situations we are one. That is what is termed “The Namaste Effect.”
“One who passes through the veil of tears makes it a well.” —Psalm 84
Could the Namaste Effect, offering love and compassion, be a counter to those difficult times mentioned? Could a comforting effect be going on all around us but somehow we are unaware? Next time you are at the grocery store, the gas station, picking up dry cleaning, etc., notice whose hand is on the other side of the counter, at the cash register. Could that be the hand that needs love at that very moment? Could those eyes be the messengers of the heart asking for a sliver of kindness? Tap into the heart’s consciousness on alert to spark the release of love from your heart to theirs. With that action, we affect each other, and eventually the Namaste Effect enriches the entire globe.
Namaste. When I am in the place of love and oneness and you are in the place of love and oneness, we are one. Namaste
The Namaste Effect
Namaste, a word used in many cultures, means when we come from a place of love and oneness we connect with others, to become one. Our modern times are plagued with senseless violence, bullying, prejudices, and blatant hatred, all played out on the earth’s stage. What has happened to the model of love that all traditions expound upon as the greatest virtue—the concept of treating everyone as we wish to be treated? What would happen if we could all regain our sense of connection?
The Namaste Effect shows the way to connect by tapping into our higher consciousness through the subtle energy centers known as chakras, to spark the release of love from our hearts and send it to others. With that action, we affect each other, and eventually the Namaste Effect enriches the entire globe. It offers a way to live in this world by expressing love and compassion as our primary actions.
Symbolic meanings in Global Culture
The word and gesture, Namaste expresses respect to all we meet. It is a typical greeting in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and throughout most of Southeast Asia. It is honored by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists alike. “Namaste” is an expression and gesture used in everyday life. It is an affirmation of spiritual oneness acknowledging a shared divinity within each of us.
The physical posturing (or mudra) for Namaste is reminiscent the placement of the hands during prayer. It is a poignant symbol made by aligning the five fingers of the right hand with the five fingers of the left hand. Symbolically, the gesture of joining both hands expresses oneness.
In many traditions, each of the hands are relegated to various meanings and duties. Often the right hand represents masculine qualities of reason, and intellect, which draws forth the power of the sun. Conversely the left hand represents the feminine qualities of intuition, emotion, the power of the moon and represents mundane or worldly duties. By uniting the two, the person offering Namaste, rises above her differences with others, and identifies herself with the spiritual aspect of the person whom she greets. The modest gesture emits an aura of love, respect and oneness. In the simplest of terms it is accepted as a humble greeting straight from the heart and reciprocated accordingly. The gesture can also be accompanied with or without the spoken word. When we bring the right and left hand together in a gesture of oneness at the heart center, we act, live and experience the whole world as love.
A Faux Pas
Sometimes, in our effort to stay with our cultural nuances we are shocked when those less familiar with them stumble in etiquette. On one of my early trips to India I was unaccustomed to eating with one hand—in this case only the right hand, as is their custom. I had been schooled on the cultural necessity of using only the right hand, as in the Indian tradition each hand has its designated duty. The right hand is for eating, offering items to others, edible or not; basically any “clean” duty is reserved for this hand. The left hands duties, however, are less attractive, designated to be the official wiper of “unclean” areas, including after toileting. It’s easy to understand how basic hygiene is involved in such a segregation.
My major faux pas came while struggling to eat a chapatti (Indian flat bread). Using only the right hand, I could not seem to tear it into bit sized pieces. Looking around to see if anyone was watching, cautiously the left hand rose and joined in for the wresting match. Once the chapatti was tackled and divided, the left hand retreated back to its idleness as the meal continued. Feeling relieved to have successfully completed the clandestine task; I heard an audible gasp from my host and hostess. Flushing a bright crimson, I apologized and verified. “Please remind me, the right hand is the clean hand, used for higher duties, the left is relegated to the dirty jobs.” Heads bobbing my hosts agreed. “Please forgive me”, I said. Bringing both hands together in a gesture of oneness, I repeated, Namaste. The subtle humor was not lost on any of us as we realized both hands are elevated when joined together.
The Cosmic Flute
Take a long empty hollow tube made of bamboo, wood or metal. Fashion round openings at regular intervals. Even still it is not much more than a hollow empty tube. The simple shape allows for the passage of vital life force to flow through it. At a prescribed time, with divine orchestration, cosmic energy circulates through the simple tube and it becomes a musical instrument!
Even as the energy is being blown into the flute it does not make a sound. But put a little pressure on one of the openings; then you begin to hear a melody. And the most beautiful melodies are experienced by the people who have the gift to play their instruments. We have such a flute within us, in our spinal cord. Housed within this great spinal channel are seven mystical vortexes that blend the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical worlds. The energy centers or chakras allow various tones and energies to flow through us, which enlivens our being. As the energy flows and dances around the spine, it is as if it is being played by a maestro calling forth life and love. Sometimes one note will be played more often and sometimes another. A few may be activated or remain dominant. And so the symphony of love and life has begun.
Life is like a flute—it may have many holes and emptiness, but, if you work with it carefully, magical melodies can flow. —Anon
The Seven Mystical Powers Within
Within us there are whirling vortexes of energy, called chakras. These seven mystical vortexes are connected through subtle channels that allow cosmic energy to flow up and down our spines. As the universal energy flows from the heavens into our physical, emotional and intellectual bodies, it polarizes into two parts. The right side becomes the masculine, cognitive energy; and the left side becomes the intuitive, feminine energy. These two channels traverse at various points along the central channel. They are called respectively Pingala on the right and Ida on the left. Pingala represents masculine characteristics, and Ida feminine. Crisscrossing around the spine, they allow vital information to be transmitted from the chakra to our bodies, minds and emotions. They encourage us to function as spiritual and human beings concurrently.
Engaging your intuition, coax the chakras to reveal their secrets and the way Love is expressed through them.
Love, Love, Love, Love is All There is
Much time is spent philosophizing about what love is and what it means. Perhaps, we talk about it more than we actually spend being loving. We speak of loving the earth, loving our mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. We love our children, love our neighbors. What then does it really mean to love someone or something? Is love a learned skill, something we are taught along with electronics, math, and reading? Or is it an inherent quality that is infused at birth that we are destined to share?
Within each of us there is an eternal source of love and compassion. Enriched through heart opening experiences, our birthright blossoms, love is liberated and available in all situations to heal and transform.
Namaste with Mother Earth
I have a fond memory of accompanying my spiritual teacher Sri Swami Satchidanandaji, one of the great Yoga masters, on a walk toward a grand peak in southern Switzerland. Enchanted by the scenery, a small group of us tarried behind Sri Swamiji’s lead. As we walked, the damp grass imprinted our footsteps proving to the earth that we had been there. Walking directly behind Swami Satchidanandaji, I was enjoying the beauty of the day and the feel of the soft, slightly damp grass under my feet. Realizing that many creatures made their home in that same earth, I was aware that the simple act of walking could cause harm to them.
Feeling childlike in my wonder, it took me some time to realize that while my feet imprinted on the earth Sri Swamiji’s did not. Placing his foot on the grass it flattened, just like mine did. It was the next movement that surprised me. As he lifted his foot before taking the next step, the grass perked back up. Looking over my shoulder at the lawn I had just treaded upon, it remained flat. Curious to see if it was the same for my companions, I glanced over to see that the grass flattened beneath their feet as well as they walked.
Perplexed, the three of us approached Swamiji. “Why is it,” we asked, “when you walk on the grass it stands back up when you lift your foot, while under our feet it stays pressed to the earth?” Slowly pivoting, he glanced at our imprints. “Hmm” was the only sound that came from him. Not willing to miss the opportunity for an explanation, we gently prodded. A sweet, reverent expression came to his face, and he put his hand on his heart. “It is not the weight of the body that made those steps in the earth, it is the weight of the heart.” And then as if in a distant whisper, “You see the grass as a place for you to walk, to get to where you want to go. I have reverence for the Earth and She knows it,” he said. “Whenever I walk on the earth, I feel I am walking on my Mother’s body, and I walk with a light heart, leaving no trace of my being there.”
I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand what happened that day, but the incident clarified how deeply our consciousness to love and respect the earth can be altered with attitude. Even now as I walk through a park or on grass, I am conscious that the earth is my Mother, and I am treading on her. It is the Namaste moment, of realizing that we and earth are one.
The Namaste Effect, gives those of us who have had a glimpse, or even accumulated intellectual knowledge, a way to place those elusive experiences in their lives. In the case of Love, we may experience some of the intimate aspects; but, through the telling of examples and stories, we are able to expand this precious gift beyond our normal circle and limits.
The Namaste Effect suggests a way to bring two opposing forces together, ultimately leading to a state of Oneness. The gesture recognizes equality in all and honors the sacredness inherent in all beings. We are part of the whole body of humanity, yet we tend to live in our own little milieu surrounded by life’s dreams and dramas. To touch and embrace another allows us to feel the rhythm of our own heart.
My hope is that The Namaste Effect reignites your heart to experience boundless love. Within this powerful energy lies the experience of universal love. It is present and available to all you meet in the vastness of this universe.
“I honor the place within you where the entire Universe resides;
I honor the place within you of love, of light, of truth, of peace;
I honor the place within you, where,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
there is only one of us.”
About the Author:
Nischala Joy Devi is a masterful teacher and healer. For many years she has been highly respected as an international advocate for her innovative way of expressing Yoga and its subtle uses for spiritual growth and complete healing. Her dynamic delivery and deep inner conviction empower each individual, allowing the teachings to expand beyond boundaries and limitations of any one tradition enabling her to touch people’s hearts. She was graced to spend many years as a monastic disciple with the world renowned, Sri Swami Satchidanandaji, receiving his direct guidance and teachings. She also was blessed with teachings from great Yoga masters in US, India, and worldwide.
Originally trained in Western medicine, she began to blend western medicine with Yoga offered her expertise in developing the yoga portion of The Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease and co-founded the award-winning Commonweal Cancer Help Program. Her book The Healing Path of Yoga, now in its sixth printing, expresses these teachings. With her knowledge of Yoga and her experience in assisting those with life-threatening diseases, she created Yoga of the Heart, a training and certification program (and an Integral Yoga Affiliate program) for Yoga teachers and health professionals designed to adapt Yoga practices to the special needs of that population. She is now dedicated to bringing the Feminine back into spirituality and the scriptures, in her book, The Secret Power of Yoga, a woman’s guide to the heart and spirit of the Yoga Sutras. and Secret Power of Yoga audiobook (Nautilus Book Award Winner). Understanding the need for more love and compassion in today’s world, The Namaste Effect, her most recent book, explores a heart-centered way of living through the mystical chakras.
The Namaste Effect came into being, with the intention to shed light and understanding on two distinct aspects of our mystical selves. The first being the Chakras, while foreign to most are one of the most influential of all the subtle aspects that govern our every thought, word and action.
Then there is the sublime and coveted entity, we call Love. It is a universal concept which is exhibited in all walks of life, even though most are hard pressed to define its vastness and noble qualities.
The ominous quality of each of these precepts has the ability to effect both the mundane as well as the more rarified spiritual realms. If we agree that these perceptions forester daily functions why then would they be so difficult to discern ?
Namaste, when I am in the place of loving and you are in the place of loving we are one. Namaste