The 3rd of the Yama (5 moral precepts) ~ Asteya (non-stealing) is intended for us to live fully with abundance, joy and fulfilment. Yoga addresses this dilemma beautifully: Gather only the resources you need to support your particular service in the world. No more; no less. In other words we are asked to walk a fine line between stealing from others and stealing from ourselves. If we take more than we need, in any area of our lives, we are stealing from others. If we deny ourselves the resources we need to reach our full potential, we are stealing from ourselves.
In words of the great master Lao Tzu, “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” This is the true spirit of Asteya. Asteya means abandoning the desire to possess or steal anything ~ whether it is natural resources or of the material world or a person's talent, relationship, gift, achievement, success, their time ~ even if just by words or thoughts. The urge to steal in this way arises out of greed, a sense of lack, powerlessness, and comparing ourselves to others. When we realise that everything that we need lies within us and that the source of all intelligence, power, strength, love, happiness, and peace lies within, when there is nothing outside to look for, asteya naturally starts to manifest. This sense of self-reliance, inner richness, and resourcefulness is another important element of the practice of asteya.
The Minimalism Movement (ie Marie Kondo) of today is probably the subtlest but greatest act based on this principle of asteya, it compels us to question our tendency of hoarding our wardrobes, storage places, and homes. This tendency arises out of nothing but excessive greed, envy, insecurity and lack of fulfilment. If we notice when we feel like we need more or something someone else has, we may also find beneath that wanting there is a void we are trying to fill, perhaps you notice behaviours below associated with this void and lack.
5 Surprising ways of 'stealing' are...
1. When we wish that we could have the same belonging, looks or ability as somebody else….
Such as when we're thinking ‘I wish I had those looks’; ‘I wish I had that voice’; ‘I wish I had that car’; ‘I wish I had that power’; ‘I wish I had that money’ we rob ourselves of the bliss we experience when living in gratitude for what we do have in our own lives. When we can truly look at another and be genuinely happy for them, we give our own gifts permission to shine through.
2. When we say to others that they are so blessed that they have this thing/ability/skill/grace….
An acknowledgement of what we do not have may be preventing own unique gifts to flourish, stealing our own light. However, we immerse into a feeling of abundance and joy when we can instead look at others blessings as our own too because we get to experience them with them through them!
3. When we worry about the future or brood over the past…
We literally steal joy from ourselves, worrying about the future causes us to plan things to perfection, when something does not go exactly as planned we miss the joy of chaos and the present moment. We allow people, situations, things, environments, and experiences to impact our ability to be happy. We get caught up in our regret and guilt. Thereby also stealing away an opportunity for someone else to enjoy our pure bliss and joy.
4. When we hold onto prejudices or judgments...
It’s human nature to be judgmental, but it’s not always useful to us. The tendency to be judgemental creates division between people. An interesting scientific study proves that being non-judgmental can lead to lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress-related illnesses. We may be stealing away another's confidence and freedom with our judgements. When we are not judgmental, we become open and free to give and receive love on so many different levels. When we are not creating positives and negatives, we feel calm and connected. When we hold prejudices and judgments about our own selves, we limit our infinite possibilities.
5. When we stay in our comfort zone...
When we remain in our comfort zones, we steal away our own possibilities to enjoy the best things in life. We restrict our own potentials, progress, and growth. When we chase our infinite potential we are also able to uplift and inspire those around us and help make this world a better place. Practice asteya, dream big, get out of your comfort zone, and let those dreams manifest!
Enjoy your practice of Asteya Yogis - living in abundance, joy and fulfilment!
These words are inspired by Sejal Shah, Art of Living Teacher