Monday, May 26, 2008

Asteya

The first time around I had trouble with the third Yama of Asteya, which means non-stealing or non-coveting. I don't know if it was because I didn't understand it properly or if it was because I just wasn't sure what to do with it but it was a hard one to come up with practices for. I thought this time was going to be the same until I read into it a little bit more and got a better idea of all the implications this could have on my life.
The first time we discussed Asteya in teacher training we seemed to focus on the fact that downloading music for free and 'borrowing' things from work were bad karma. I don't even remember what my first commitments were for the two weeks we looked at Asteya, I have them written down somewhere, but I do know that I haven't downloaded music since the whole Napster fiasco and I have trouble with the idea of not using the photocopy machine at work sometimes. Luckily after I read into the topic a little more I realized that there's so much more than the physical stealing of objects.
Some of the interesting ideas I came across include our coveting of things other people have (Yes this sounds like the bible, but remember this stuff has been around a lot longer, so I swear we're not posers:). When you think about it this one happens all the time. You wish you had someone else's cool car or house, or even beyond the material stuff you wish you had their good looks or job. Asteya asks us to look at all these things on our list of desires and truly question whether having them ourselves would make us happy or if we're just thinking from the negative position of greed. It's not wrong to have the goal of a secure job or a comfortable living situation, but the point where this becomes a problem is when we stop being grateful for the things we already have. Then you're stealing from yourself the joy that comes with all the things you have and have achieved.
Another one I'm notorious for is wishing I had the relationships other people had with their friends and family and partners. This one is so unfair to the people already in my life, because I'm stealing from them the gratitude of what they've given me by implying it's not enough. So this comes down to being grateful for what you have as well.
There's the idea of stealing people's time and resources by being late to meet them or assuming they have time to talk to you without asking when you call. The same goes for when people do the same to you. When you let people take your time without asking you're letting them imply they are more important than you and taking from your self worth. Something to consider when that telemarketer calls but you're trying to eat dinner.
I read that not letting people work through their own problems when you become impatient is a form of stealing because you are taking their chance to learn for themselves.
Also taking others ideas as your own is stealing (obviously, but maybe you don't notice you're doing it).
So there's a whole bunch of ideas that go above and beyond stealing cable.
It's said in yoga when a person uses Asteya to guide their life things they need will come to them. At first glance I thought that seemed a bit hocus-pocus, but if you learn to stop stealing from yourself by convincing yourself you are not enough and that you don't own enough maybe just realizing you have so many of the things you truly need is the gift you receive in and of itself.
So for the next two weeks I've chosen a few new practices to commit to:
For my first I'm going to work at listening in conversations. I always assume I already know what people will say before they answer and that means I'm stealing their freedom to be themselves by pre-deciding what their opinion is.
My second practice is going to be around the coveting what other people have. Every time I feel jealous over something someone else possesses I have to remind myself of something I already have that's awesome and be grateful for it. It's easy to find things to complain about in our lives but it takes an active practice to find things we like in our lives.
And my final practice is similar in that I'm going to practice being content with myself. Now that I live alone I find I have trouble having a free night because I feel like it means I'm not good enough just because no one is hanging out with me that one night. So I plan to sit in contentment with myself and not seek out other people on those nights I find I have no other plans. By insisting I need someone around all the time I imply I'm not good enough to hang out with. So that's my goal, just to be content alone when this occurs in the next 2 weeks.
Now I'll stop stealing your time with my long post *Wink* Hope every one's enjoying the rain, Happy Monday!