Were the words my ego muttered as my Yoga Teacher Bronnie introduced us to the concept of “Asteya – Non-stealing”. Asteya is one of the five Yamas, or restraints that were outlined in the 8-fold Path in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali written about 400 CE. “Thou shall not steal” also happens to be the eighth commandment in the Christian faith. Just like the 10 Commandments, the Yamas (restraints) and Niyamas (observances) of yoga were written as guidelines to help us to live a happy and joyful life.
To me, “thou shall not steal” always meant that I should never take anything that didn’t belong to me, but growing up, I had only ever thought about material goods. As I came to learn more fully, the concept of Asteya (and also the eighth commandment) goes deeper than this. Of course, it’s important not to take material things that don’t belong to you, but have you ever thought of all the other things that you take from others without thinking?
The first thing to consider is other peoples’ time. Are you a time thief? Do you always arrive late to appointments or meetings? Do you book an appointment or meeting and then cancel at the last minute, or worse yet, don’t show up and not let the person know, regardless of the reason? Time is our most precious resource. Once time has passed, we cannot get it back regardless of how wealthy we are. Stealing other people’s time is a serious deal. When you disrespect somebody’s time it indicates to that person that you valued something else over their precious and finite time.
Secondly, do you steal from the Earth? Do you steal from the future of your children and grandchildren by not being mindful about the resources you are exponentially consuming and the rubbish you are leaving behind?
Thirdly, do you steal from yourself? Do you over commit, become exhausted and leave yourself depleted so that you are never giving anyone your best self? Do you self-sabotage by not believing in yourself, constantly talk yourself out of things because you believe you’re not good enough, and hence rob the world of your unique human essence and the gifts you should be sharing with the world? Consider the following really awesome quote:
“The world needs the fully alive, well rested you, not the exhausted you. Imagine a world where women make rest and rhythm a priority and operate more from their full power.” – Karen Brody, Daring to Rest.
The next thing to consider is where you give people permission to steal from you, especially in regards to your energy and your time. You wouldn’t leave your house or your car unlocked or leave your wallet unattended in plain sight, so consider ways you can ensure your valuable energy and time are safe. Have a read of my blog post about managing energy vampires if you haven’t already. In regards to keeping your time safe, place a high value on your time and be strict about it, just like a you place a high value on the money you work hard to earn. When you place a high value on your time, others will learn to value it also. An example of this might be placing a do not disturb sign on your office door at certain times of the day so that you can work without distraction, or it might mean saying no to somebody you usually say yes to regardless of how put-out it makes you (Devil Wears Prada style).
The moral of the story is, after considering all these things about Asteya that I was introduced to by my yoga teacher, I became very aware that I was a MASSIVE THIEF, even if I’d never stolen any material good in my life! Fortunately, only awareness can bring the winds of change, so with that awareness I am committed to being mindful of all these things. I started with acknowledging the value of other people’s time. I do my very best to ensure I am on time for appointments and meetings and if I know I’m going to be late due to things I cannot control, I do my best to alert the person and apologise, acknowledging that I value their time. I’m working on avoiding stealing from myself and from the Earth, but both of those elements are proving to be a work in progress. Small steps, day by day.
Where can you commit to stealing less?
© Written by Amy Vaccaro for Chill Mama Wellness, 24th September, 2018.