This past week, I explored the yama of asteya, or non stealing.
Much like ahimsa, I thought this was one I did not have much work to do on, because I had already mastered non-stealing. I used to be very good at stealing, in fact, and then I got really good at non-stealing.
When I was in middle school, I started shoplifting and begin to do it on a frequent basis. I wore big pants and cut holes in the pockets and stapled cut pillow cases all the way down to my feet so I could shove tons of merchandise all the way down my legs. I brought a backpack with me when I entered a store and would find a secret spot to fill up. I took clothes, make-up, hair accessories and many other oh so necessary things to my middle school mind. I would give things away to friends and became known for being an impressive thief.
Until one day I wasn’t and I was caught.
I was super embarrassed and ashamed to have my mom have to pick me up at the police station after I was arrested. My mom came down on me hard and the worst part was I had to apologize to my younger sisters for being a bad example to them.
I learned my lesson and stopped stealing, never to pick the habit up again. I still wanted things, so I baby-sit and cleaned houses to buy my own Herbal Essence shampoo and glitter eye shadow.
I am a reformed thief and complete winner at asteya.
Well, like the other yamas, the more I studied, the more I realized I still had more work to do. This yama is about abundance and not needing to take anything from anyone, because there is abundance.
In thinking about abundance, I have tried to be more mindful of how much I focus on lack. I complain about not having enough time and steal joy, peace and a sense of presence from myself by becoming frustrated over a lack of time to accomplish the tasks that I created for myself.
Often times, I create my own busy-ness and stress. I deem it necessary to “have” to attend certain yoga classes, cook certain meals, spend a certain amount of time at the gym and attend various social events. And just like the importance I was placing on the silly things I was literally stealing in middle school, I do something similar with needing to do “things” as an adult and steal sleep, alone time and relaxation from myself.
The mantra I chose to associate with this yama is “I Am Abundance.” I first was using “I Have Abundance” but then replaced it with AM. To have something indicates that one day, you can not have it. I would rather work towards embodying abundance as opposed to having it and no longer focusing on misperceived lack. It also helps remind me that I am enough and do not constantly need to work towards changing or improving. I am working to find a more balanced relationship while still growing spiritually.
I chose Mountain Pose with hasta mudra to demonstrate asteya and abundance. In the hasta mudra, the pinkies touch and the palms are open, indicating an overflowing of enough and a willingness to give.
Do you find yourself focusing on lack? Can you change your perspective to one of abundance?