The third of the Yamas (the yogi moral ethics) is Asteya (non-stealing).
There’s so much more to this Yama than meets the eye – and we’ll get to that in just a second!
But, first, there’s something about this ‘Thou shalt not…’ business that has been bothering me…
I don’t know about you but if someone tells me NOT to do something it makes it more appealing!
Maybe it’s just the rebel in me that doesn’t like being told what NOT to do!
I’m pretty sure there’s some psychology behind why I feel the need to rebel against society, but I’m not a psychologist so let’s stick to the yoga!
Reframing negative statements and turning them into positives just feels better in my perspective.
So, what’s another way of saying ‘non-stealing’?
How about ‘giving’, ‘donating’, ‘preserving’, ‘receiving’ or ‘contributing’?
So, ‘don’t steal’ becomes ‘give, donate, preserve and contribute’.
Ah, that feels much better to me!
Now then, where can we apply our new interpretation of Asteya into our lives to stop stealing and start giving?
Can you stop stealing from yourself?
When you think of ‘stealing’, your mind probably doesn’t immediately jump to how you might steal from yourself.
But think about it now.
Are there ways that you are stealing the joy and enjoyment from your own life?
It seems ridiculous, right?
But, whenever we choose to follow our minds down a negative avenue, we prevent ourselves from feeling content and experiencing happiness.
Every time we decide to say that hurtful, untrue or judgemental comment to ourselves or out loud, we are robbing ourselves of love, gratitude and compassion.
Have you noticed yourself stealing your own joy?
But we are only human so let’s not give ourselves a hard time about it!
Instead, when you notice any negative self-talk, switch it up and give yourself some love!
“Watch out for the joy stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, fault-finding and a negative judgemental attitude”Joyce Meyers
I love you; but I can’t stop stealing from you!
We’ve seen there are many things that we steal from ourselves including our own pleasure, time and freedom.
But there’s one thing that I am guilty of stealing from other people and I’m trying – but mostly failing! – to improve.
I’m guilty of stealing other people’s time.
However hard I try I am always at least a couple of minutes late!
I don’t know how it happens. Honestly!
Perhaps I value my time so much that I try to cram as much as possible into every free moment.
But that means I end up stealing other people’s time as a consequence.
Another thing I’m aware of not stealing from other’s is their energy.
In Ayurveda, I’m a Pitta type so I can be a bit hyperactive. Oh, and I can talk A LOT! But I’m working on not projecting my hyper energy onto others.
Instead, when I meet up with someone, I try to give them space for their energy and leave them feeling happier and calmer.
Are there any other ways you can contribute to other people’s lives?
The most innocent victim of stealing
We’ve seen how we can practise non-stealing by giving ourselves and others good thoughts, time and energy.
Thinking on a global scale, it is so easy to steal from the environment without being aware of our actions.
Every time we buy more food than we need at the supermarket, leave the bathroom light on or drive to the corner shop instead of walking we are stealing from the planet.
And yes, these are all things that I do on a regular basis.
But I am not perfect – none of us are!
It’s inevitable that our actions will cause harm to the planet.
It’s impossible to live in this modern age without doing so.
Personally, I try to offset my carbon footprint by giving back wherever I can.
Of course, giving back to the planet will look different for each of us depending on our individual circumstances.
Ultimately, however we give back to the environment, we will all receive the benefits of a cleaner and greener world.
“You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”Greta Thunberg
Start giving, donating, contributing!
There we have it – Asteya.
Stop stealing and start giving!
OK, not easy at all. But it is most definitely worth the effort!
Start giving to yourself and others today, yogis!
I would love to hear whether my experience of stealing resonates with you! Let me know in the comments below or join in with the conversation on social media!
PS Get in touch if you have a great idea for a blog post!