On the surface, Asteya seems easy to understand. We all know that we are not supposed to steal things that don’t belong to us and have learned since childhood that stealing is wrong. Yet on a subtler level, Asteya means more. It means not taking things that are not freely offered to us by others like their energy and attention, not stealing from Mother Earth by taking more than we need - like how many pairs of jeans do we really need??? Can we recycle and reuse more in our lives? Asteya also means not stealing from ourselves.
Stealing from ourselves??? Can we steal from ourselves? Well, I have realized that I have been robbing myself lately of joy and contentment in some interesting ways…
Time. It is something we all want more of. More hours in the day, more days of the week, more time for our weekends…I could go on and on but you don’t have time to read all of that.
In an effort to be more efficient with my time I decided to link my email accounts to my smart phone so that I would not miss important information and would not need to waste time logging in from home from my computer to check email. At first this time saving idea seemed innocuous; a brilliant idea even!! And then it started to happen. The first notifications of new emails came rolling onto my smart phone screen accompanied by the chime noise I had assigned to it. It was great. I was saving time, keeping up with information I needed, and being more efficient!!!
Soon I noticed that these phone notifications were pulling me away from joy I was feeling while experiencing living in the moment. I would be going about my day enjoying a walk at the beach or listening to a beautiful song and then it would happen: my phone would chime and I would look down at the screen to see another email in my inbox. My enjoyment in the moment was altered and I was getting irritated with my smart phone. I was stealing my own joy and contentment and then resenting my phone!
What is a Yogi to do???
I sat with my breath in quiet reflection and the answer appeared. A simple answer that took me one minute to implement and stop the stealing. I turned the email notifications off on my smart phone and now I can look at my emails on my phone when it is the right time for me to do so.
This example may seem comical to some yet it can serve as a catalyst to begin contemplation of Asteya. Where in your life are you stealing from yourself? Stealing your joy, your appreciation of the present moment, your time for yourself?
Furthermore, where does this desire to steal come from? I have studied and believe that it comes from fear of not having enough; enough time, enough resources, enough (fill in the blank). After we familiarize ourselves with the concept of Asteya we are able to recognize that energy when it comes up in our lives and to meet it with compassion for the Self. Taking a breath of clarity in situations where we might be grasping or stealing and choose instead to let go of fear. I cannot expand time to suit my needs and my enjoyment of the present moment is more valuable to me than being interrupted by emails on my smart phone. Asteya…
If you would like to read more about the Yamas and the Niyamas of Yoga I recommend a book written by Deborah Adele. It is a small book packed with lots of wisdom. Next month I hope to write about another Yama for contemplation.
With love & gratitude,