This week, we turn our attention towards the third of the five yamas, Asteya, nonstealing. In the yoga tradition, Asteya is about more than just not stealing physical objects. One may steal from others through time and attention. It is also possible for one to steal from oneself.
Stealing someone’s time may take the form of not being fully present when spending time with him or her. You may have experienced this if you have ever had a friend who is distracted by repeatedly checking their cell phone while you are talking or enjoying a meal together.
Stealing attention can look like shifting the focus to oneself when someone is sharing excitement about an exciting event or accomplishment. Instead of being there for them, and simply holding space for their experience, we chime in with our own experiences, maybe even trying to “one-up” their stories.
There are many ways one might steal from oneself. Have you ever found yourself giving and giving or doing and doing to the point of depletion? In essence, this is stealing from your own health and vitality. It’s important that we receive as well as give, and that we take time out for rest and relaxation. Another example of stealing from oneself is living in the past or the future. Here, we are robbing ourselves of the joy and wonder of the present moment.
And if you think you’ve never stolen anything from anyone, here is a point to ponder. Have you ever not spoken up when you realized you hadn’t been charged for something at a store or restaurant? It can be a real challenge to be honest in a moment like this. If you ever have, you probably remember the surprised and appreciative response you received. As you may have guessed, Asteya works hand and hand with Satya, truthfulness.
I hope I have given you a few points to ponder when thinking about how the principle of Asteya, nonstealing applies to your self-care. For the next week, you might reflect on the following:
- Notice when and how you steal from others through time, attention, “one-upmanship”, and not being able to celebrate the success of others. Notice what is happening in you that prompts this stealing.
With two more yamas to explore, next week we will examine the principle of Brahmacharya, nonexcess.