As we continue our journey through the Yamas, my wish is that you have been able to make some connections and apply these concepts. Yoga philosophy is useless unless we can find practical applications to help ease the load upon our own lives. We have now arrived at our third Yama, Asteya, or non-stealing. Again, much like the previous Yamas that we have discussed, it seems like a no brainer. Since the beginning of our lives, we have been instructed not to take things that don't belong to us. We even have laws to make sure that we comply with this. As with the other Yamas, let's look at some different ways in which we steal that may not immediately come to mind.
In the last few decades, we can see a refocus on the self, by the self. To me, this phenomenon began in the decade of the '80s. We got great music, but in turn, we became more selfish and self-centered. The use of social media has promulgated this selfishness. Sure, there are good aspects of social media, but it comes at a price. So, what does this have to do with stealing? Selfishness is a two-pronged offender.
When we try to hold space for someone, do we give them our full attention and focus? Or do we begin formulating a response in our heads without giving them our full attention? Your intent may be to help your friend by allowing them to share. However, you may be "stealing" their 'space' by immediately trying to make comparisons with their predicament. I.E., "Oh, I hear what you are saying, that happened to me one time." Perhaps, your friend calls you to tell you about a raise or promotion that they received at work or school. Is your immediate reaction to express 'one-upmanship' by touting similar accomplishments? This, too, is a form of stealing. Next time we are engaged in conversation with someone, let's be determined to truly hold space and genuinely listen.
I am sure that by now, someone has encouraged you to 'live in the moment.' Being present is not as easy as it seems, given our hectic modern life where multi-tasking is considered a virtue. The challenge of being present is the challenge to not steal from ourselves. If we are stuck in the past, we are stealing from our present. The more thought and focus we keep on past transgressions and events, the less time we have to fulfill our dharma (duty, in this sense of the word). The same holds true when we focus solely on the future. This is a challenge in our culture because it seems that we are always working towards something. Whether it is the fulfillment of a relationship, the perfection of our family structure, or reaching our careers' pinnacle, it is a balancing act. It's not inherently wrong to have a goal, but the abdication of our present reality in pursuit of something that hasn't been realized, in effect, steals from us the ability to stay present.
As I've written before, when we approach these Yamas, let's do it with a sense of compassion toward ourselves.
Frank de la Cruz, E-RYT 200, YACEP is a Yoga teacher and writer who lives in Central Florida. Frank began his Yoga journey in 2011 and strongly believes that Yoga is for everyBODY.