Today, after visiting a good friend and borrowing some CDs to copy, I came up on this word again. This time a whole CD was devoted to this word! In its cover it had a beautiful description, and after doing some more research, I added on to the text...
In much of the world, people do not shake hands when they meet. They may hug formally or kiss one another on the cheek, as in some parts of Europe and the Arab states. They may bow softly, eyes turned to the ground, as in Japan and China. One Hawaiian greeting consists of placing the nostril gently beside that of the person being greeted, a kind of sharing of the breath of life, or prana.
For hindus and now for many others as well, the greeting choice is namaste, the two hands pressed together and held near the heart with the head gently bowed as one says, "namaste." In Sanskrit namas means "bow", and te means "to you". Thus namaste means "I bow to you." The hands held in union signify oneness, the bringing together of spirit and matter, or the self meeting the Self.
The namaste gesture also acts like a simple yogic asana, balancing and harmonizing our energies, keeping us centered, inwardly poised and mentally protected. It closes our aura, shielding us physically. In keeping us from becoming too externalized, thus we remain close to our intuitive nature, our more expanded being. It draws us inward for a moment.*
It is an expression of happiness. It is compromised of the activities of the hands (mudras), the mouth (mantras), and the mind (yoga). Thus namaste is equivalent to meditation that depends upon the relationship between these three. Namaste could just be casual or formal greeting, a cultural convention or an act of worship. Namaste means a declaration of submission..
Therefore, Namaste is not just a word, but it is a feeling and expression in one's heart.
*Excerpt courtesy of Hinduism today, www.hinduismtoday.com