Asteya

Do not steal your success by telling yourself you aren’t good enough.

Do not steal from others by only thinking about yourself.

Do not steal from the earth by supporting misuse of it.

Do not steal from God by not giving him credit where it is due.

Do not steal from your future by dwelling on the past.

Do not steal precious time by forgetting to be in the moment.

Asteya: Non-stealing

Each month I’ve been studying a different yama sutra in yoga. Think of a yama as ethics or a good rule for living by. A sutra can be thought of as a rule. (If you’re not a yoga person, that is ok! Just a little context for you.)

The yama asteya is translated to mean ‘non-stealing.’ Now of course we all know that the literal idea of stealing is a bad one. You don’t go to a person’s house and just take what you want, or go to a store and steal a shirt. Here we are talking about something less literal. Non-stealing is an important concept to apply to yourself and to the people around you.

Let’s think of an example.

You’re catching up with a friend at church, or a coworker at lunch and they are telling you about something that happened to them. If you jump in and say “oh yeah that happened to me once” and begin to tell your experience, you have just stolen them of their time to express what they are going through or what they may be feeling. The idea of ‘one upping’ another is a form of non-stealing. Your life and experiences don’t out weigh someone else’s just because they are yours.

Here’s an example of stealing from yourself.

You’re in a yoga class (or working out, reading, praying or hanging out with friends….whatever you do that is relaxing) and all you can think about is planning for the next thing. You’re going through your grocery list, you’re thinking about the trip you’re taking next month and the present you need to buy for that wedding. You are robbing yourself of living in the moment. It makes me think of the quote:

Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon

And how right that is! Take a minute and view your surroundings, notice the things you see, the smells, the feeling you have there; enjoy each moment.

Based on the book The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele I’ve been pondering questions about asteya such as:

  • How do I steal other people’s time?
  • Am I being a forklift for others and lifting them up (instead of only comparing their experiences to my own?
  • How am I stealing from the earth? Am I treating it like I own it, or just as though I live here? Can one actually own the earth?
  • Where am I giving back without expecting anything in return? Where am I taking without giving back?

This concept hit me in a new way this past week. My husband and I have been taking Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey and working on our finances. In this final week we talked about how, as christians, the money we have is not ours. Sure we work hard and are entrusted with it, but it is our duty to give generously and be stewards of this money. This struck me as another form of asteya. We can’t hold on too tightly to money or material possessions, because in the end they aren’t ours and they aren’t going to make our lives better.

I love when two parts of my life overlap. We must live life with open hands and hearts, not taking, but giving!

What thing in your life do you have a death grip on? Is it something you can let go that might open yourself up for something even better? Are you living in the moment or stealing from yourself precious moments you may never get back?

Ponder on this and see how you can practice asteya in your life.

~Shelby

Ahimsa: Nonviolence

I’m a yoga teacher on the weekends. As part of my goals for this year, I wanted to take time to think through some basic principals of yoga, as well as take some workshops for continued education. In yoga training, I was introduced to the yoga sutras, yamas and niyamas. No, you don’t need to know what those things are to reap the benefits! Basically, they are guidelines for living a meaningful life. Who doesn’t want that?

This month, I’ve been focusing on something called Ahimsa. Ahimsa is respect for all living things and avoidance of violence toward others. Obviously we don’t want to go out and punch the next person that frustrates us (I’d be in trouble if that was allowed). The idea of nonviolence is to treat yourself, and others with respect. It is to understand that when you say harsh words, or are inconsiderate, you are not only hurting the person you’re speaking to, but also hurting yourself by hardening your heart.

Ahimsa means something different to everyone. To me, it means thinking kind thoughts about people around me, assuming the best, loving the unlovable, recycling and loving the earth God gave us, leaving a place better than you found it, spreading kindness and goodness, not speaking poorly behind someone’s back, being open to new adventures, and for me it even means not eating meat.

Do I actually do those things on a regular basis? Probably not. It is something I work towards and try to be very conscious of. Each week, I focused on new questions surrounding ahimsa from the book The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele. The book has challenged me to mull over questions throughout the week. I did this every week for the month of January. Some of the questions include:

  • Practice courage by doing something you normally wouldn’t do. How does your relationship change with others when you courageously step into unknown territories?
  • Guard your balance. Think of the things you need and be ok with them. Do you base your decisions on what you need or what you THINK you need?
  • Are you a fixer? Do you run interference on other people’s lives? Discern the difference between help and support. Are you avoiding something in your own life by involving yourself in others?
  • Pretend you are complete. Don’t criticize or change. Do you need to offer yourself more grace or kindness?

Each of these questions were a good mental exercise in being kind/fair to myself as well as others. Sometimes my introverted-ness means I’m not courageous in stepping out to help others. Many times, I’m not kind to myself and often criticize the things I do. Those bad habits can be mentally taxing, soI enjoyed spending my last week of January loving the person I am. Now to make that a daily habit!

Learning something new can be wonderful. Next month I’ll be studying a different yama on my own time. If any of these questions were helpful try assigning them to your mental free time. How can you be more loving? Maybe it’s thinking kind things and sending warm vibes in the office, maybe it is taking a day of rest for yourself and family. Whatever it is, give it a try! The root of non-violence (ahimsa) is love after all.