The 3rd Yamas is 'Asteya' or non-stealing.
After a week of riding my bike around to all my classes, and side jobs, today I feel I need to take some time for myself. My body, mind and soul are asking for rest. About a month ago a friend of mine and I had arranged some private yoga sessions , somehow life got in the way every single time the day of our meeting approached…including the hurricane. Today was meant to be the day we finally got to it. So last night I prepared my bag for the day, knowing I had to get up fairly early in order to get my practice in before I went to see her, especially calculating that the train I usually take into the city is still not running.
This morning at 6 am my alarm goes off: I get up, and start my morning routine. As I am doing this I notice a voice inside of me that keeps whispering "Bibi you are feeling achy, you need to take the day for yourself, you have been running around like a mad woman all week, stay home and rest". I acknowledge the voice but choose to keep going about my business. As the moment to leave my warm house and sleeping husband gets closer and the voice louder, I try to avoid it by thinking how awful it would be to cancel the class, we have been putting it off for 3 weeks now, it seems such bad energy to cancel just 4 hrs before, plus last week I barely worked, it would be so irresponsible of me to cancel. The voice:"Bibi If you cancel you would be an unreliable failing yoga teacher". On the other hand I know that when I don't listen to that voice things don't turn out well, and then it messes up my whole week. I decide to text my friend at 6.30am, and let fate decide: if she answers I will take the time to restore, if she doesn't I will go on my way. She of course responded and was very sweet about the whole thing.
Now I am left feeling happy about having the time to rest and take care of me, but at the same time this huge sense of guilt builds up inside of me for not having respected our date, for being an unreliable teacher, a selfish friend. Self judgement voice kicks in at real high volume inside. So I sit down and think what can I do to fix this? Here is what I did:
1)I made a nice pot of tea
2)I started writing about it in full honesty.
So here is the deal…why am I writing this?
This week I was thinking about Asteya, non stealing. Patanjali says "when abstained from stealing is firmly established, precious jewels come." Non stealing is not taking things belonging to others and not even harboring the desire to do so. The action of stealing is initiated in the mind so the more one desires something the more one is incline to acquire it.
As I sit here sipping my tea, in my warm living room (when I should really be on the subway going to practice, to then offer her a good practice), I think about my friend, pregnant with a kid, looking forward to our yoga class, after 3 weeks of postponing, as things kept coming up for her enabling her to make it to the mat. I feel as though I have stolen something from her. Perhaps she doesn't feel the same, as a matter of fact I'm pretty sure she doesn't, but I know I was not loyal to our agreement, and I stole from her the opportunity to have an hour of enjoyment for herself.
If you look at it as a big picture, its an hour in a day, in a life time, so you might think, its ok, you have time to offer her that next week. But you see the practice of non-stealing, like any other practice is a day to day, moment by moment conscious decision to be disciplined and devoted to not taking anything away from anyone. I took an hour of pleasure away fro her.
There are always two sides to a reality, and we should all be aware of it. Had I gone to her today, I would have not been able to offer her my whole being, I would have been partly absent in my service to her. So this morning my choice was either to stay true to myself or stay true to her. Had I gone to teach her I would have been stealing resting time from myself. Staying home I took quality time away from her. Tough one right?
I took time away from a dear friend, to give myself some time. Objectively this a very small example of stealing, or taking from others. The point is that it is good to be aware of our actions and to be willing to shift our behavior so we don't have to choose between taking from ourselves or taking from others. In order to practice 'asteya' we must identify what stealing is, so here are some forms that I have found relate to it and are a bit more tangible:
stealing, taking, appropriating, possessing, desiring, wanting, grabbing...
You might have more to add to the list, but all these take form both in thought and action
Now I'll leave you to it, find where you are taking form others or from yourself, and take note:
1) why do I need this?
2) what will i get out of it?
3) what am I taking away from the other?
4) do I really need it, and if so how can i manage the situation so I am not taking or stealing?
Remember every thought turns into an action, and every action that you take, will eventually come back to you. So its good to only offer the best of yourself.