Asteya

My name is Jessica and I am kleptomaniac, a burglar, a robber, and a thief.

This revelation came to me this week after reading, Judith Lasater discuss Patangali’s Yoga Sutras (see link below). In particular, Lasater was talking about the Yamas and the Niyamas. And while I have read about both before, it wasn’t until I read her discussion of the third yama, asteya – non-stealing – that I realized how guilty I was of taking things unfairly. She writes,imgres

“While commonly understood as not taking what is not ours, it [asteya – non-stealing] can also mean not taking more than we need. We fail to practice asteya when we take credit that is not ours or take more food than we can eat.” 

All of this I understood. Don’t take what’s not mine. Got it. Don’t take more than I need that could be used by another. Got that too! The part that really got me, that really made me wonder whether I was practicing asteya, was when she said:

images“We fail [to practice asteya] also when we steal from ourselves—by neglecting a talent, or by letting a lack of commitment keep us from practicing yoga.”

My first thought was, “Oh crap! I’m definitely guilty of that one.” I mean honestly, how many of us have found one reason or another to not take the time to treat our bodies better through proper nutrition, exercise, and rest? How many of us, have put off following our dreams, our heart’s desires and our soul’s expression, simply because such pursuits seem “objectively” impractical? And how many of us have said “no” to things we really wanted to say “yes” to, or “yes” to things we wanted to say “no” to, because it seemed like that is the “right/proper” thing to do?

As we move into today’s practice, I would like each of you to consider one area in your own life where you might be unknowingly stealing from yourself and the beautiful, unique creature that you are. And then, to the best of your ability, I would like you to ask yourself, what are your reasons for doing so and what are its associated costs?

Lasater argues that, “In order to steal, one has to be mired in avidya, or ignorance about the nature of reality.” Such ignorance (avidya) thereby separates us from the reality that everyone and everything is connected. Thus by stealing from yourself, those around you – including your loved ones and peers, as well as people you may never meet.

To close, I would like to share a quote from Marianna Williamson’s book “Return to Love” that seems completely appropriate for the present discussion. She writes:

mariannewilliamsonquoteFurther Questions to Consider:

How are you stealing from yourself right now?

How are you stealing from yourself by playing small?

How are you stealing from yourself by biting off more than you can chew?

How are you stealing from yourself by keeping more than you need

How are you stealing from yourself by being angry at people because you can?

How are you stealing from yourself by doing things that aren’t helping you move forward in the way that you aspire?

How are you stealing from your personal dharma and the ways that you could contribute to others if you were to show up fully as the person that you are?

 

Sources:

Lasater, Judith:

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/yoga-101/beginning-journey/

Williamson, Marianna: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Marianne_Williamson