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Asteya (Non-stealing)

Following the concepts of the third Yama, Astaya, may seem easy. Most of us would say we have never taken anything that didn’t belong to us or if we did as a child, we apologized and returned the item. Perhaps our parents used the incident as a learning opportunity to teach us about the importance of respecting others’ property and our own. However, practicing Asteya is more complex than avoiding theft or not spending needed household money on the newest shiny technical device. Yoga asks us to expand the definition by suggesting we consider all we have as precious gifts that are not really ours but merely on loan to us. When we take care of natural resources, we gift them to all who follow us and their future. We are stewards of our lives as well as Earth’s precious natural resources. If we neglect to respect and replenish nature during our lifetimes, we risk leaving future generations with a planet depleted of enough food and resources to offer them a full, robust life. The children of the world deserve the same opportunities to grow into healthy adulthood and nurture their families as did the generations before them. They also need unplanned time with their parents, siblings, and relatives to form unique family bonds that will carry them through the challenges of life. This attention to acting as stewards of our land, resources, and fellow human beings extends to our personal minds, bodies, and spirits. If we waste time engaging in unhealthy habits, we steal from ourselves and our future well-being. If we spend time jealously observing other people’s lives rather than enjoying our own, we wear ourselves down and miss the vitality felt by those who are enthused about life. Hard work needs to be balanced by time spent in quiet contemplation. The stress that builds up in the body from working long hours deserves some time set aside every day for practicing Yoga and/or engaging in a relaxing activity. Asking for and accepting help from those who care about us fosters connection. For those who insist on doing every task themselves and following an unyielding schedule, the remedy for their exhaustion may be to take a moment to remember how good it feels to lend an ear, a hand, a hug, and say “I love you.” Instead of responding to offers to help with “I’ve got this,” try saying “yes, thank you!” Let’s all make a commitment to find opportunities each day to spend time alone and with the people who make us feel whole.

American culture in particular has instilled in us the bizarre notion that to ask for help amounts to an admission of failure. But some of the most powerful, successful, admired people in the world seem, to me, to have something in common: they ask constantly, creatively, compassionately, and gracefully. ~ “The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help,” Amanda Palmer

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