Asteya: The Art of Non-Stealing
By Vlady Peychoff
When you hear the word ‘non-stealing’ what does your mind jump to? Personal possessions? Time? Energy? Friendship? It may be none of these answers as each and every one of us have been influenced by different experiences, people and environments.
Non-stealing in yogi terms refers to Asteya, a branch of the Yammas and Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in yoga).
Stealing is a term that stereotypically extends itself to the taking of personal possessions. At any rate, stealing has the potential to encompass in its scope non-material forms such as time and energy. When engaging in a conversation, whether it is in a professional, social or amicable setting, there can be dips in our attention span, we are human. Have you ever dozed off when a friend has been telling you about something seemingly unimportant that does not resonate with you? Sometimes you catch the last part of the conversation, then you tangent off to another topic without acknowledging what was just said. This is an example of stealing, time and energy were wasted; it can even be an unconscious unintentional act, but it happens.
An interesting excerpt from the Huffington Post titled How to Practice Asteya: Non-Stealing of Others' Time by Alexandra Franzen suggests the following ways we can adopt Asteya in our daily lives:
· Write short, concise, elegant emails. Most working professionals receive upward of 100 emails a day. If you're going to add to the queue, strive to be precise.
· Think before you reach out for "help." Can the answer you're seeking easily be Googled? Do you really need assistance? Do you have a specific question, at all?
· Consider not speaking.
"Open your mouth only if what you are about to say is more beautiful than silence." -- Arabic Proverb
· Show up on time. Model punctuality and inspire others to do the same.
· Don't commit to projects that you have no desire to complete.
· Make it easy for people to help you. If you're reaching out to someone to request a favor, tell them exactly what you need, and when, and why.
· Make it easy for people to understand you. Nothing steals away time like struggling to decipher what someone is trying to say!
· If you tend to be overly-wordy, pretend as though you're appearing on a morning talk show and only have a few moments to captivate your audience. If you tend to use a lot of convoluted jargon, pretend that you're speaking to a very young child.
· Try to avoid changing your mind mid-stream -- especially if your new choice creates a significant inconvenience for others. If you must shift gears, do it fast and do it right.
Be concise and precise. Don’t steal your time and the time of others.
A note on Vlady's personal experience:
Asteya is a practice that I try to integrate on a daily basis. It takes discipline and patience, but over time I've noticed a difference. Asteya is not limiting in regards to awareness in conversation, though it has taught me how to attune to the tone of conversation being spoken. Perpetual boredom or feeling complacent can be mitigated when you realize that your time matters. For instance, crossing something off your to do list that you've been procrastinating. "I have no time to do _______" is an expression that has become meaningless when even the simplest of tasks such as 'washing the dishes' turns 'impossible'. In brief, Asteya is to respect the value of time.
What do you do to practice or incorporate the art of non-stealing?