We all have names. Ones that we are given at birth or that we acquired somewhere along our journey and these names are significant to us. They represent who we are and where we come from, they denote lineage, and evoke emotion. Mine was given to me at birth and forever connects me to the place from which I come, India.
Bamboo is a name of a grass but it’s name is more than that. Bamboo is a word that was introduced by the Portuguese during the 1500’s and became the Latin work bambusa. It’s origin is not known but it is thought to have come possibly from India or Malay. In the west we associate it with Asian Zen. It evokes calm and tranquility. In the east it has many meanings mostly referring to it’s beauty and it’s strength.
I find that most people have an immediate connection to the word bamboo even though they may have never seen a bamboo plant. It is fascinating and yet not surprising that the symbology of bamboo relates to the medicinal qualities of the plant as well. Silica is the essence of bamboo and translated into our bodies it brings both strength and elasticity to us at a cellular level that permeates all parts of our body.
What follows are five symbolic translations of bamboo from the Chinese culture. It’s a great time of year to think about what intentions you are setting for the coming year. I am using these concepts to think about the changes that I want to make daily in the New Year. What does bamboo mean to you?
Many blessings to you all and Happy New Year,
What’s in a name?
1) Bamboo is known as the perfect gentleman in Chinese. It represents upright integrity with accommodating flexibility. This is echoed in it’s silica content. The large amount of silica allows bamboo to grow with great strength and yet remain flexible so as not to break. So in our lives as we look into the New Year can we find places to bring more of our steadfastness and yet be open to new possibilties especially the unexpected?
2) Bamboo represents the balance of grace and strength. It is the yin and the yang. I love that in a name we are given both gifts and lessons. Because to know happiness we must also experience sadness. And yet as we try to balance between polar opposites in our lives let us strive to do so with the grace of bamboo. We shine our gifts on the most difficult of situations because those are also where we will gain the most balance.
3) Bamboo is always ready. To be present in our daily lives is a struggle. In business and in our personal lives so much of what is needed is from us is to show up and be consistent. If we can stick with the simple tasks of kindergarten, of starting and finishing tasks, we will go far in the New Year for ourselves and for those who count on us.
4) Bamboo’s hollow culms represent humility. So many of our actions are based on pre-concieved notions of what we are suppose to do. Expectations passed down from people we may never have met. As we start to question why we do what we do, we can begin to re-write our own story of what we want and who we want to be. To be open to a new path, a new story, is a gift that we should give to ourselves everyday. So empty the vessel and open up for new beginnings.
5) Bamboo symbolizes longevity. The longevity not only refers to the life span of the bamboo plant, but also to it’s ability to adapt and to withstand extreme conditions. High winds will not pull a mature bamboo from the ground. Some bamboos can sit for extended periods of time in water, others can survive temperatures well below zero. Adaptability is key to longevity and bamboos do that very well.
May the strength and flexibility of bamboo be pervasive in all aspects of your life.