SALAM is an Arabic word that literally means ‘’peace,’’ but is also used in many Arab countries and by Muslims as a form of greeting. Indeed this is my first post for Bad Yogi, so I have to start somewhere, greeting the first reader!
When I first pronounced the word salam during an Arabic classes I was attending 4 years ago, I heard myself speaking a language that I really started to learn just a few months ago. I felt more comfortable with my Italian ciao instead. For me at that time, it didn’t make any difference the greeting I used was from Italian or Arabic, because I still didn’t know the meaning of the word salam.
As most language students and language lovers can confirm, the drawback of many language books which are supposed to teach a foreign language to non-native speakers is that they often tend to categorize some idiomatic expressions, in this case a greeting, without explaining the meaning. You can learn a language this way, but you will never truly grasp its soul.
So Muslims and Arabs exchange everyday piles and piles of “peace,” and I wish that the radio and televisions and newspapers, from time to time, would discuss how this foreign habit proves how warm and kind folks are in the Middle East. And I am happy to say that I have found much kindness and love in Islam.
Before my arrival in Amman, the city where I am currently living, I was able to learn kindness toward myself and others through my yoga practice. I started to practice yoga two years ago and while at the beginning it was just as a workout, the exercise evolved eventually into something else that I still cannot fully put into words. Yoga gives me strength, it give me clarity where my mind is blurred, it gives me graces and cozyness, it gives me acceptance and kindness. It gives me authenticity. I learned the ancient Sanskrit greeting we all know from yoga Namastè, translated as “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit within you,” a knowing that we are all made from the same consciousness. Nowadays it is spoken in India, Nepal, and Himalaya and widely used abroad, even by western yogis. I can still find these virtues outside in the street where I live, and I can authentically connect this to my life in the Middle East, giving a smile or greeting each other with salam as the Arab people do.