Yamas for the 21st Century. Yama #3 Asteya: Non-Stealing
We are brought up being taught stealing is wrong.
We all grow up also wanting and have probably all stolen at least once, at least a small chocolate bar or an extra cookie when mum wasn’t looking. We also grow up become attached to our belongings, and as we get older these belongings become more expensive, and we most certainly wouldn’t want these things stolen. Most of us still may have the desire to take what other’s have but we have stopped stealing and aren’t grabbing the keys off our friend’s and driving away with their new car.
Patanjali is going to set you on your self righteous non-stealing ass because he says we are all thieves. That we steal from the environment every day. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we use…we steal from the most giving of all Mother Earth.
We obviously need the earth to survive and this is where asteya becomes less about not stealing and more about balance. What you take you must then give back, maybe not in equal but provide something to offset your time on earth. How can you live the most fulfilling and caring life? How can you offset your carbon footprint? What charities do you give back to? Have you ever planted trees? Yoga helps with this. As we move through the postures we are always analysing, self assessing and questioning-we can take these skills off the mat too. We can take them into our actions, our morals and the choices we make.
What about stealing of things that aren’t tangible-like wifi? Done that one before? Jumping on someone else’s wifi or used someone else’s phone to make a long distance call? What about time? Someone else’s time? Seriously, we all know we HATE our time being wasted, being stolen from us and it angers us so much because we CAN’T get it back. Stop for a moment and think about how often or whose time you’ve wasted? If you know how much you hate your own time being wasted maybe take more caution with other’s too. Arrive on time, finish meetings on time and don’t be so flakey in bailing on plans when another person has taken their time to plan it.
You can also think about the people you spend time with. How do they affect your time? Do they have a positive influence or a negative influence. This can be a very uncomfortable task to do. In Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning he asked you to put your friend’s into 3 categories (he asks you to do this with your family to) Category 1 is for those who are a drain and only negatively influence your time. Category 2 are neutral friends and family, these are fine. And Category 3 are you zing-a-ling friends and family, these people bring you up, inspire you and make you a better person. Not easy and a list you probably want to burn after writing so it is never seen by anyone in Category 1…BUT important to do. How you then go about slowly phasing out Category 1 is up to you and I suppose it is down to how much you value the impact on your time?
How can we then take this idea of asteya and time to the mat and our yoga practice? First of all you have been lucky enough to have the time to carve out some self practice or maybe even make it to a class. So respect that time. Use it wisely. Focus on your breathing, your postures, your mind. Turn your phone off and fully immerse yourself in the space. Try to keep the buzzing thoughts of whats happened so far in your day quiet and what you’re going to make for dinner on the back burner as well. This of course takes TIME. It takes time to practice quieting the mind but this respect of your time is also an act of ahimsa (non-harming) and we already know how important that is so seems worth it right? If we can quiet the body and the mind in our practice we will gain so much more from it. Albert Einstein put it so clearly linking it to science, and we can’t argue with that!
‘Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.’
I can’t agree with Einstein or Hannah Whittingham more in their thoughts of religion vs science. I don’t believe in god but I believe in energy and the universe, like the author of Greed, Sex and Intention. Whatever takes must then give back. This yin and yang. This push and pull. This ebb and flow. Non-stealing is about living your life in balance. We need to recognise that we have to steal from the universe, from time, from the earth but if we can recognise this and then let it impact how we live our lives then we can bring the universe back into balance, bring our lives into balance. Again it all comes back to intention and how aware we are of the actions and reactions we take and make.
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