Updated: Nov 11, 2020
For the month of October, I have been diving into the yama, Asteya or non-stealing. When addressing this principle and following my weekly prompts, I am observing the ways in which I experience Asteya, personally and outwardly.
Life as co-participation of your will with divine will.
THESE PROMPTS COME FROM THE BOOK by Deborah Adele: The Yamas + Niyamas, Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice
How do I steal from others through time, attention, one-upmanship, power, confidence and not being able to celebrate others successes?
My first reaction to this was, "I don't!" and I think that is typically because if I were asked this off guard or in front of people I wouldn't want to be someone who steals from people, that sounds like a terrible trait to have. But the more I think on the question, the more I see how I may inherently do so. This question takes a big amount of honesty and loss of ego. I began to think, if I am not asking myself this question regularly, I am sure to be doing it in some area of my life.
I believe I may steal from others by assuming what I think is right. My mind is very active and I can definitely get situations or things worked up in my head to the point that it is hard for me to consider other point of views or methods for approaching the task at hand. When I do this, it is an act of assumption. I notice a lack of communication and my vision becomes very narrow, destination oriented. I get attached to the my idea of "right" and/or "being right".
I think all in all, social media is an act of stealing. I am personally a victim to it myself and my activity on there contributes to the act of stealing. I truly enjoy interacting with others and creating content, but it is a vicious cycle. The main thing I can think is unknowingly causing someone to envy your portrayed life. I am aware of this so I approach my online presence with realness and honesty, as I sit and write this now. But I also understand it is inevitable and participating in the world of social media is a modern version of the masses stealing from the masses. These interactions are totally breading narcissistic behaviors in everyone. Doctor Ramani Durvasula says, "Taking a selfie doesn't make you a narcissist but living and dying by that selfie, that's where it becomes a measure of your self worth." When your entire presence on social media is about validating yourself, everything you post is about yourself, it begins to reflect the insecurities.
Lastly, I think there are times where I put so much pressure on myself and the things I am working on I am not able to be fully invested in the successes of others. This is a tricky balance because to be successful yourself, you have to dedicate a lot of time to your practice. But sometimes I am too focused and unable to hold space for others. I also put a lot of pressure on "perfect". And in being oriented to aim for perfect, I steal from myself in the unperfect process that guides me to the final iteration or goal.
Notice where you are stealing from the Earth and stealing from the future without returning something of equal value.
Reciprocity of Earth, awareness of future.
Ugh, such a tough subject because the long answer is pretty depressing. I steal from the Earth in many ways. Things I am actively trying to break my habits with include; fast fashion, methods of recycling/composting, and waste production. In today's world it is so easy to mistreat our Earth, it is first nature of what is available to us. I feel like I am most susceptible to this behavior and these patterns when I am indulging. I try to stay conscious of the way I treat the Earth but whether it is absolutely fawning over an un-ethical outfit or indulging in fast food/plastic wrapped food, I choose to take the easy way out and disregard the debris of what I am leaving behind. Acknowledging the ways I actively try to reduce my footprint is by aiming to live a vegan lifestyle and sustaining a healthier relationship with all beings on Earth. I feel the next step to really contributing to a healthier food system is truly monitoring where what I am buying is sourced from. I also try to reduce carbon emissions by using my OneWheel as a primary source of transportation. By riding my Wheel around, I cut the amount of time I spend in a car nearly in half. Practicing acts of kindness like this to the Earth continues to lead me on a path of desire to do better.
Live as a visitor to this world, rather than an owner. What is available to you to use + enjoy without needing to own them?
My connection to nature always brings me back to this yama. The beauty that is alive for all of us, that carries us and creates the air in which we breath. I do not own the natural world around me and living as a visitor has helped me feel grateful for all that is around. I feel small surrounded by divinity, it is very humbling to say the least.
This prompt has been challenging for me because it is easy to get caught up in control and wanting power over things that I may not be able control or should not be seeking to control in the first place. I think quietness comes with this. Observing, treading lightly, and practicing a minimalist approach to what I am accessing. Money and buying things gives us this sense of owning or feeling as though we can use things we pay for. This week, I tried to be very conscious with money and spend as little as possible. I attempted to only enjoy things that I could do for free-- a hard task in this world. When I spend time in free places or participate in things that do not require monetary value, the feeling of coexistence is way more mutual and pure.
Think about your dreams + goals. Make a list of things to do, study + try that increases knowledge + competency, bringing you closer to your goal. Thus, adhikara.
As I am a lifelong student to many things, I am always seeking to increase my knowledge. This week, this prompt feels very related to my thesis project "react." I have basically finished constructing the pod, but there are so many elements that I now have to incorporate into the space that touches on all of the topics I hope to infuse into the experience. I have been studying and writing and participating in the process of combining my interests and a major thing I believe I could improve is my delivery of knowledge, both for self and others. I have so much information in scattered forms and I am working to sift through and make sense of it all.
I look to those artists and writers before me that are able to process all of their knowledge and deliver it in a cohesive, well informed manor. The best way of defining adhikara to me right now is, "How you tend the ground within so that when the teachings come they can sprout and grow from inside out." Constantly coming back to this, I use my time in the mornings to expand my knowledge and my time before bed to sit with my thoughts and absorb to hopefully make sense of the old and new information I have gained and contemplating on ways I can improve when I know I have made mistakes. Doing this through writing and drawing have proved to be very effective. Reading, writing, and adding it all up. My biggest struggle is drawing lines. As I learn and expand knowledge, I am presented with a new path every second, some worth following, some worth revisiting, and some that completely change the course of what I set out to understand. As I work to stay on a path, I find myself and the different parts of me that have interest in so many things kind of running wild. I think this is okay and I continue to work to let those little detours lead back to the main path. Setting an ultimate goal and trusting the unknown process and thousands of detours that will ultimately get me there.
A wonderful practice with Adhikara as it relates to the elements and ways to access if my Self expansions are well rounded and grounded, adapted from Sianna Sherman::
In the way of this element, am I as a student, being humble? Do I have a beginners mind?
In the way of the Earth's energy, am I grounded? Am I regular in my practices? Do I have a stamina and endurance for these practices? Do I really commit myself to the practices and teachings?
Water: How am I willing to flow in my studentship? How am I willing to be receptive and accommodating and to move in the energy of water? The energy of water also holds deep compassion and as I'm a student on this path, do I have compassion for myself as I move one foot in front of the other in these practices?
Am I on fire for the teaching? Am I on fire in my heart's longing as the Student? Is there desire is there longing is there aspiration? Do I really want the transformation that comes in the pathway of sadhana itself?
Air: Am I willing to be creative in my studentship? Am I willing to hear many different perspectives all at once and to have a curiosity to be intelligent in my studentship but have a deep inquiry and to be able to hold many different perspectives?
With these prompts, there is no be all, end all. I will probably never have a direct answer to these questions as they are ever changing. But in my practice in balancing the yama of non-stealing, I work to make sure I am not stealing from my own successes or participating in any form of self-defeat-- I mean, we all do it, but that's why it's worth practicing and calling attention to, right? Also, as I experience other's who are not in alignment with Asteya, and I experience how it feels to have other's steal from me in many different forms (copying, unauthenticity, flat out lying) I hope to dig deep inside to stay true to MY path so that I am not stealing from others. There is a fine line between inspiring and being inspired and down right just taking for our own success. As I navigate these experiences, I apply them to areas where I may do the same and work to separate myself from everything around me. Giving other's credit where credit is due, and communicating to help both myself and others achieve what it is we are aiming for. We are all students to life. With a collective aim for internal and external betterment, Asteya is absolutely necessary to balance.