Worldwords: Global Reflections To Awaken The Spirit

Worldwords is a collection of words from around the world, which express concepts not clearly stated in English. They are presented in a format of daily reflections. Encompassing greetings, expressions, holiday celebrations, as well as nouns, verbs and adjectives, they delight and inform. Through the process of contemplating their relationship to our daily living, we are moved and inspired to explore new ways of looking at the world. Like the Anyaneanyane drum poetry of the Akan people, they awaken and invite: “I am learning, let me succeed!” 

January 27

tasadimos  (tah-sah-DEE-mos) Romany

Pregnant with tears.

We all recognize those first moans of sadness that come from depths untouched for so long. There is the catching of the breath as painful groans begin to emerge in spurts from a shaking body. The urge to surrender, to embrace being tasadimos is compelling. We feel a choking, suffocating, stifling sense of strangulation or drowning because of being so full of tears. The only choice is to cry! The waves of wailing sorrow drown attempts to speak, sentences are broken by the storm’s fury, the body simply collapses into the moment. A good cry helps us remain open and vulnerable to life. It is through such cleansing that you are renewed, able to go on.  When you are unable or unwilling to cry, then your grief will transform into anger and fears that will only cause tears in another. Tears flow from a well of inner strength, not weakness. There is also the sweet joy in those soft snifflings as the face relaxes, and the deep sighs and palpable calm of release signal that another part of another wound is healed. It is such gentle human rain that washes away the violence within and around us.

I welcome the delicious abandon of a good cry.

March 7

ma ta la shol (mah tah lah shohl) Mayan

How is your heart?

Being fully present with another is a profound experience. Normally when we exchange brief social amenities, our eyes meet momentarily, we offer a few words, then our energy drifts elsewhere, along with the deepest parts of ourselves. These casual contacts take on a different tenor when our initial greeting invites a transformative response. Rather than  “How’s it going?” or “Hello” or “What’s up?” we might try “Blessings on you, friend. Are you awake to the glory of this moment?” or perhaps “There is a special reason we are sharing this moment. Let us discover it!”  The Mayan ma ta la shol will certainly generate some interesting responses.  With such an opening, we acknowledge the seat of the soul, and the source of wellbeing. Hearts nurture love as the earth nourishes corn – a crop sacred to the Maya – hence greeting another with this form of social embrace, we gently clear the way to a seedbed of affectionate support. We then join in a special bond of meaningful, generative exchange.

With each being I meet I acknowledge that it is safe to let my heart lead my mind.

May 3

mano po lolo (MAH-no po LO-lo) Tagalog

As a sign of respect for an old man or woman (lola), taking the right hand and touching it lightly to your forehead.

We often define aging as the absence of youth. We focus on what has been lost, ignoring the rich potential that is present throughout our lives. Elders have so many gifts to share. They are like mirrors, reflecting light into the dark places of the world, continually wiping the dust away so that our reflection may be bright. Their love is like misty rain, coming softly yet flooding rivers. Grandmothers and grandfathers embody not only wisdom, but also the transforming, stubborn energy of persistence and survival. When we practice mano po lolo, we consciously acknowledge such goodness, and ask for their blessings. Many elders know when to break the rules, and follow their heart. Some even experience the passion created by knowing that death is imminent, and that all life is vibrant. They remind us of the fleeting nature of youth, and the beauty of strong character that does not fade with age. They continue to explore both the near, and the far places of who they are, in the garden, on the streets, in the stores, with young ones. They have memorized the seasons of their lives, as they walk towards eternity.

Acknowledging the old ones, in some way, is part of my daily practice.

June 27

gule gule (gu-leh gule) Turkish

Go smiling; form of Goodbye.

We seldom reflect on the possibility that when we bid farewell to someone, it might be the last time we ever see them. Yet with every person close to us, that experience will occur if they pass on before us. It is very interesting to contemplate how different cultures proclaim the essential commonplace ritual of departure. There are many variations of blessings, and the “until we meet again” sort of withdrawing salutes. Gule gule is quite remarkable for its profound simplicity. We wish for those who are departing what we most desire for ourselves. “Hold happiness in your heart. May you have much to delight in!” An element of conflict resolution is also manifest. “If differences are present let us set them aside. Never should we leave each other in anger or with bitterness in our hearts.” And finally, there is no better way to hold in one’s memory the last image of a dear friend, than of them smiling as they exit.

This week the language of my goodbyes is laughter! 

August 16

hanare (HAH-nah-ray) Japanese

The moment when an arrow is released of its own accord.

Zen archery involves creating a timeless interval in which the arrow and its target have already become one before actual contact is made. There is a flash of spontaneous release when the bow appears to have absorbed all of the archer’s strength and energy. As quickly as an outbreath, hanare, the leave taking, occurs. This motion is simply the natural completion and outcome of all previous movements, as well as the concentration of physical and spiritual dynamism on the part of the practitioner. The holder of the bow and the arrow are simply the conduit for the universal force that flows without restriction and that compels the arrow to fly forward. In such a practice one is liberated from the small self, and opened into the all-embracing oneness. How wondrous it is when our intention and our actions are clearly joined. When we can distance ourselves from our clinging to a specific outcome, and just relax into the process of summoning our best efforts. Through diligent exploration and repetition of any form, the ever-present power of all creation can be effortlessly touched, the dissolution of the ego accomplished, if only for a moment.

I welcome increasing synchrony of mind body and spirit. 

September 13

chidelglo (ch-EE-deel-DLO) Navajo

A baby’s first laugh.

Babies are born with an instinctual drive for social interaction. At about six weeks, the first smile acts as an automatic social reinforcer, washing away the parents’ fatigue and intensity of the earlier time. Babies at this age soon begin to smile at anyone who smiles at them, since each person in their immediate environment may be important for future survival. Around four months cooing sounds erupt into a giggle. This is perceived by Navajo people to be such a special occurrence that it has its own name, chidelglo.  It is a wise and rich culture that takes the time to honor this remarkable event, and views it as a cause for gift giving. The Navajo highly value humor, which plays a significant role in many stories and tribal mythology. Laughter is prayer, for it helps us discern our own crazy patterns of living. Its lighthearted message constantly reminds you to not take yourself too seriously.

Nothing compares to the joy of hearing children’s laughter. 

October 7

mbuki mvuki (MM-bookie MM-vookie) Zulu

To shuck off clothes in order to dance.

Dance is a living entity, vitally present in your body. Newborns move in synchronous rhythm to the speech patterns of their parents. When you enter the timeless place of such stirring, you touch the center of the universe, the heart of being. The surrender and abandonment involved in dancing is manifested in the urge to mbuki mvuki. More than just a simple foreplay, this sensuous release demonstrates a serious yet playful commitment to celebration. Unfettered by unnecessary garments, one can get down to the essentials. From the beginning motions you move through an increasing buildup of intensity, ultimately climaxing in the sounds of heavy breathing and the flow of sweaty bodies. The entire process embodies the perpetual creation destruction rhythm of all life: awakening, unfolding and cessation. To be lost in such powerful passionate rhythms elicits the awe and mystery of the untamed parts of who you are.

After a long day, I can strip down and dance spontaneously in my living room.

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