“To one established in non-stealing, all wealth comes.” —Yoga Sutra 2.37
As we continue to explore the yamas as ethical guidelines for living, we come to asteya, or non-stealing. On the surface, you may think, “I’m good on this one. I don’t steal.” But there are plenty of ways to define stealing aside from taking money and other things that aren’t yours. Here are a few other ways to think about asteya as it pertains to your daily life.
Think about the times when you’re at work, but you’re not actually working. I have definitely been guilty of this in the past. Maybe you have a hectic job with no spare time to slack off. But for the many of us who do, this could be interpreted as stealing from your employer.
You may be checking your email or talking to your friends—anything that is irrelevant to the reason you are getting paid. To practice asteya in the professional world, use your time to better your situation at that particular job and not to steal from company hours.
Are you hoarding anything physical or emotional in your life? If you’re collecting physical possessions, you likely don’t need as many as you have. Here you’re stealing the opportunity away from someone else to have something that you have in abundance. Holding onto material possessions can also cause anxiety and stress, so if you’re hoarding something, you’re also stealing peace from yourself.
You can also view this yama from the standpoint of emotional hoarding. Many of us have been hurt in past relationships, and we tend to build up walls as a result. We hold back emotions from our partners, friends, and even family, for fear of being hurt. In situations like these, you’re stealing the opportunity for closeness and love from them and from yourself.
In general, we waste a lot of time. Are you watching television, surfing the web, and checking for social media updates? All of these little things add up, so be mindful of how you spend your time.
We need to be careful not to add to other people’s sunken time, too. Send emails that are short and to the point. If you’re asking someone for help, make sure it’s something you’re not able to do on your own first. And as my grandmother instilled into her whole family, always be on time.
Since gossip is mostly practiced for personal gain—to get ahead, to fit in with a certain crowd, to put someone else at a disadvantage—you’re stealing a reputation away from someone else. You’re also hurting the person who you’re talking. Gossip flies in the face of at least three of the yamas, including satya, or non-lying, since a lot of gossip isn’t based in fact.
As we dig deeper into each of the yamas, we see that ideas like asteya encompass a lot more than meets the eye. Adhering to these restraints requires a lot of work, and hard work at that, but it’s work that’s worth doing. Asteya teaches us to appreciate what we have. If we don’t take more than we need from the universe, the universe will make sure we have everything we need, honestly and fairly.