Raise your hand if you’ve ever stolen something.
Fine, THINK about raising your hand if you have ever stolen something EVER. Cosmetics, candy, over the counter medication. These are examples of some of the most commonly stolen items. How about skipping out on the check?
Stealing is something that many of us do regularly. Most of us are also completely unaware that we are doing it (if you read last month’s column, give self-study a try!). Some of us simply just don’t care that we are doing it or we think its “OK” because the thing that we are stealing isn’t “illegal” to steal – like a parking spot or a place in line to see “God Is an Astronaut” (coming next month friends, get your tickets).
Asteya (pronounced ah-stay-yah) is a practice in yoga that translates to ‘non-stealing’. Asteya goes beyond the candy or the spot in line. Did you know that you can steal time?! For example, have you been stopped by someone who wants to talk to you about something and they just go on and on without any consideration as to what you are in the middle of doing or where you need to go next? Do they even ask you if you have a moment to spare for them (when you really do not)?
This is a prime example of someone stealing your time. How about that boss who habitually asks you to stay late, but you’re not getting paid, it is beyond doing favors at this point and half of the stuff you are asked to do could be a completely separate job of its own? Yep, he’s a thief! OR how about stealing thunder – like the family member who will combust if she isn’t the center of attention, but it’s your wedding day? Last example – when you are in the middle of what is SUPPOSED to be a conversation, but every time you try to start or finish a sentence, you can’t because the other person is cutting you off. Thief! There are far too many examples of how we steal from others.
We also steal from ourselves more than we steal from anyone else simply because we are with ourselves more than we are with anyone else. We will rob ourselves of the opportunity to be fully immersed in a moment because we are busy with the “list” that never ends. Yoga and meditation are not just making shapes and learning to calm the f*** down (although it is very helpful).
These are practices to learn how to LIVE your life with intention. This one principle, along with others like the self-study practice (Svadhyaya) from last month, allows you to uncover beautiful gifts that we all have to share and discover deep and purposeful meaning in every single day. But, these principles also allow for us to bring into focus some of our worst fears, dark corners that we may be ashamed of and unresolved issues. Are you willing to face your demons? This is all part of the human experience and it can, if you choose, wind up being a magical experience.
So, how can you tear off the robber’s mask? Today, when in a conversation, practice listening rather than chiming in. Hold space for another person to talk and notice your urges. Notice how you manage your time. Are you constantly running late or cutting it close? Not only are you robbing yourself by rushing around and missing out on presence, you may not be honoring another’s time by making them wait for you. Be more spacious with schedule today. Five minutes more here and there will not break your day! Now, after all of that, have you ever stolen something? If your hand isn’t raised, not only are you a thief, but you may also be a liar 😉