In studying asteya, we can view it from more than one facet. The English translation is “non-stealing”, literally meaning not taking anything that doesn’t belong to us. When we steal or covet something we don’t have, it arises from a sense of lack, a sense of we are not enough as we are. The taking of an object that we want and don’t already own is a crime in every country and goes against all religious and spiritual teachings, yet it is something that is committed daily around the world. Jealousy and coveting another person or a person’s possessions also fall under this definition of asteya. In this current age where so many people complain about not having enough time and show up late to an appointment or cancel with little notice, is also “stealing”, taking time away from others.
Personally, I have, and I think many people do, struggle with this practice. To acknowledge that we are born divine, that any deficiencies and lack we perceive in our lives is made up, is the invitation of asteya. To see models in glossy magazine and wish we were the “perfect” weight, or more beautiful, or more muscular, or have prettier eyes, or a square jaw, or longer legs, or, or, or… This line of thought only keeps us from recognizing who and what we truly are.
Professionally, I’ve been struggling a bit with people requesting time to spend with me for tutoring, and then canceling within an hour to a few hours prior to us meeting. I understand things come up and that sometimes plans have to change. I’m also completely aware of the adage of “life is what happens while you’re making other plans”, or as Joseph Campbell said, “We have to let go of the life we planned to receive the life that is waiting for us.” It is partially a lack of commitment on the client’s part, and partly an inability to stick with what they said they would do. When they cancel, there is often no concern for how the change in their plans affects the change in my plans. I also realize that this is a lesson for me: to let go of my expectations of other people being able to commit, and perhaps also my reluctance to be more assertive with my time and boundaries.
When we practice asteya, we reconnect with that part of ourselves that has the solutions. The moment we begin to look outside ourselves to feel whole and complete, we turn away from that divine guidance. Conversely, the more we release struggle over perceived lack of a big house or a more expensive car or a better relationship, the easier it is to reside in that space that we are enough. So often, this belief of lack is programmed, sometimes unconsciously, into us as children. As adults, yoga invites us to rely on ourselves and our divine connection, to let go of what we think we don’t have or what we think we want because something outside of ourselves will make us feel whole.
Do you practice asteya? Any stories or suggestions to share about “being enough”? Please leave them in the comments. I have written poems based on yogic techniques and tools, including the yamas and niyamas, and compiled them into a poem project. A few of the poems are available on my website: www.myjoyenterprises.com