Asteya which means “non-stealing” (or to me, to live with integrity), is more than just the obvious. My initial reaction to the third Yama was “O.K., do not steal” my thinking was much of the Ten Commandments. Brought up Catholic, this was something I knew by heart; don’t steal someone else’s possessions, money, “anything” that doesn’t belong to you.
But after two decades of being raised in this understanding yoga shed some light onto this concept and way of living that allowed me a much, much deeper look at what I believe my childhood teachers where teaching as well but somewhere along the way also lost translation of this sacred offering of truth.
- For yogis the concept of stealing goes much deeper than the tangible, and in essence it should for everyone, and I believe that the tangible is the lesser of it all. Asteya asks us: Do we control? Do we manipulate? Do we manage? These are all forms of acting out the ego and in the end we are stealing from the people we engage in these behaviors with; we are stealing their opportunities, stealing their creativity, stealing their potential.
To put it simply, can you just let someone speak, tell their story and explain? Or do you constantly have to make it about you, have your part in the conversation, end up making the conversation about you and what you have done? It usually sounds something like this: “I just had the most amazing time with my family in Florida”. YOU: “Oh, last year my family and I went there and did this and that and this and we when here and this is what happened” totally squashing their story and time to speak with your dialogue that was never asked for. Here, you are stealing their time, their need to be heard and instead you have made it about you. Try the next time you have a conversation with someone to just listen, and try to not make the responses about you - it is hard, but now you are more conscious and aware!
- Are you the forklift or the bulldozer? When in conversation with people or even in thought, is what you are thinking or speaking lifting people up or crushing them down. This is not something meant to get you down in the dumps, but rather bring to your attention how frequently what we say goes one way or another. So think forklift! And know that you will most likely attract more forklifts rather than bulldozers into your circle of friends.
- How is your relationship with the Earth? We are spirits having a human experience here on Earth, and that being said, nothing is really ours, it’s simply on loan for this time here. I spent time in Thailand twice as a teen on mission’s trips, and there I had the opportunity and privilege to spend some time in the village of Musukee in the foot hills of the Himalayas. There the Thai people live very simply, they take only what they need and share everything. But what was even more profound was their relationship with Mother Earth. Walking the beautiful land just outside the village you would look up and see the horizon, lit by the sunset and many trees cut down, a clustering of new trees growing and one single tree much taller and larger than the rest. That one tree was a reminder to the people the history of the land, how much they have been through, a gratitude to what and how much the Earth has given them. And a reminder of their ancestors in how much they sacrificed, and a reminder to them asking how much they are doing for future generations. This concept I still carry with me, garbage on the ground, simply giving back to the Earth, as the Earth too is on loan to us in this human experience.
- How much do you use the words mine, my, I and can you stop this lingo? We often get a sense of pride to say “this is my house”, “my fancy new cell phone or clothes”, “my wonderful kids”, or “my great idea”, are these things really ours, or are they opportunities in this lifetime, gifts in a sense, and at any moment a gift can be taken away. Now don’t get upset, but what I am trying to point out is celebrating those things and people in a sense of ownership versus a sense of comradery, it should be a celebration not a comparison of yours to theirs.
- Finally, are you stealing from yourself? Are you stealing from your own uniqueness? Are you too worried about the conflict of others, what others will think? Here you steal your own unique outlook and damper it with concepts you don’t even know to be true (and usually they are not). Here you are living in something other than the now, and anything other than the now is simply not real.
Who are you in three words: 1. 2. 3. Now does this coincide with how you believe other people reference you? If not why so?
When do we start to want what others want? As a baby and toddler we are so strong in what we need and we never bat an eye to other people’s ideas and ways or values. But then somewhere along the way we begin to accept others values as our own. As a mom, this is one of the most important things to me for my kids, and what I have discovered it’s a 24/7 awareness I must bring to the table. Constantly to be aware of what I say to them, what I want them to do and also just to really listen to what they are saying; I’ve worked with kids for over 15 years and what I have found is that kids know what they want and who they are better than any adult, we can learn a lot from them if we just listen and follow in their footsteps.
So can you get excited about your life rather than trying to live like someone else lives or live like you believe someone else wants you to live? When we do this we steal from the other person and most important we steal our time, our experiences and our journey.
So are you available for your own life or too busy trying to live someone else’s?
In this very moment what do you want to share with the world? Why aren’t you sharing these gifts right now? By not sharing these gifts you are stealing joy from your own life and potential joys and experiences from those around you.
Know that life is not punishing you but rather teaching you, offering you a great opportunity to grow and expand, so don’t steal this wonderful opportunity from yourself and then steal the hopes and dreams from someone else merely because you didn’t get what you wanted. You are in the driver’s seat, so start to enjoy the view.