The third yama in our series of Yamas and Niyamas is "Asteya", or non stealing. Again this has a pretty obvious meaning - not taking things which do not belong to us - but also deals with more intangible forms of stealing; jealousy, hoarding, cravings, cheating, dissatisfaction and coveting the belongings and lives of others.
And again... it's not so easy now is it! :)
One of the main ways to practice Asteya, or to stave off "non asteya-ish" behaviour, is to practice acceptance and contentment with ourselves and our circumstances. We need to make a switch from our usual practice of thinking "if only I had that [possession, job, house, partner, body... whatever] I would be happy" to a feeling that in this moment we do in fact have everything we need.
Not to get to hippy on your ass but we need to cultivate a sense of abundance. And we need to do it now!
If we go through life with a perceived lack of abundance we will always be craving for more... no matter what we get! We might get that [possession, job, house, partner, body... insert that thing which you crave] but we will still not be happy and satisfied... and then we move onto the next item we "need" in order to be content, repeating the cycle over again and again. NEWSFLASH PEOPLE: There is no magical item that will finally make us "happy"!
Lest you think I'm preaching from above I am totally yelling this at myself too! This kind of thinking is insidious in our culture, because we have been taught from tv, from ads, from movies, maybe even from our friends and families, that this is the way things go. Check off certain things, buy certain other things and voila... happiness! Is it really true though Brogis??! What do we all think?
Now I am definitely not saying all cravings are bad and never, ever want for anything again! It's great to have ambition and dreams, to have goals for ourselves... and to buy a new pair of freaking awesome shoes once in a while. These things in themselves are not bad, it is the emphasis and expectations we put upon them. The switch lies in the words of my amazing teacher Sunny Richards-Glasser... "We can still have desires, but we are not attached to them giving us happiness"
Can you see the difference, my Brogi friends?
We can have plans... but not attach ourselves to ONLY being happy if we achieve them. We can want nice things... but know that they are just that, not Magical Bringers of Happiness and Fulfillment. We can hope for a lovely relationship, but not feel like all our problems ever will be solved when we get one (as nice as that would be!) ETC! I could go on, but I feel like you are getting the idea gang... Don't think something outside of yourself will bring you happiness within. Because that comes from... well... within :)
So it's all very well me ranting on about how we won't get happiness from external objects and that we have everything we need in this moment... but how do we actually go about feeling that this is really true??! As I touched on at the start, one important method is to cultivate a sense of abundance (it's so important I bolded it twice, LISTEN UP BROGIS!!!)
This means instead of comparing ourselves to others or focusing on what we don't have, we focus on what we do have. And be grateful! So you don't have such-and-such's amazing blah-blah... so what! What you do have is your own special quirks and talents, attributes and good points. Maybe you have a lovely family? A nice dog? An ace job? Maybe you have none of these but you can make the people around you laugh. I don't know... but you should find out! Start finding things you can be grateful for, however small. Be grateful you have internet access so you can read this blog... there that's the first one for you :)
I'm sure some of you are reading this and thinking "sure, it's easy for her to say that she doesn't have x-problem or have to worry about y"... and you are right. I don't know what cards fate dealt you in life. But I do know that I have had my fair share of problems and low days (weeks/ months) and that practicing this form of thinking helped me, so I would love for you to give it a try. It may seem Pollyanna-ish to "focus on the good things", but by doing so we move from habitual and negative craving and dissatisfaction into a place where we can be more content and appreciative of the positive things we do have. Even if at first it may feel like there are only a few. Appreciate the hell out of those suckers!
As you go about your business this week try developing this mentality of "non-wanting" and see how you go. If you feel jealous of others, try and foster those qualities you envy in them in yourself. If you drink a super yummy cup of coffee, get a nice text from a friend, or see a great movie... appreciate that. If you find yourself focussing on what you "lack", focus on what you know you do have. Try not to look outside of yourself for things or people or situations to bring you happiness, but rather try and cultivate a sense of that within, through gratitude and contentment for what you already have.
And soon you will be practicing "Asteya" with the best of them! :)