About a month after we moved, I was in the parking lot of Trader Joes in Santa Fe when I lightly side swiped a parked car.  There was no one in the other car. The next full minute went like this:

Maybe no one saw me.

It’s not that bad, maybe they won’t notice.

I don’t have time to deal with this.

These parking spots are so damn small!  It’s not my fault.

I’ve never hit anyone before.  Surely this does not count.

It’s the freakin wind!!  It has me feeling so ungrounded!!

If I leave, I’m sure their insurance will cover it and my insurance won’t have to go up.

I’m so tired and stressed. I really can not deal with this right now.

I’m sure no one saw me.  Do it.  Just drive away.


It’s hard to do the right thing sometimes.  Really hard.

I didn’t drive away.  I got out of the car, wrote a note, and just as I was putting it under their windshield wiper, a pretty blond stressed out looking mom arrived at her car, which I soon found out was brand new, as of yesterday.  And would she please consider handling this privately between the two of us?  Ummmm….no.

Sure seemed like I brought more trouble onto my plate by sticking around and “doing the right thing”.  Maybe I should have just driven away.

But I knew I could not sit in front of my next yoga class and talk about being a good person if I did.

There are many subtle ways that stealing can show up in our daily lives.  The littleral stealing of resources and things that don’t belong to us of course.  But what about stealing energy? Time? Ideas? Trust? Lord knows there is a lot of stealing happening in our society along these lines right now. But a better society is only going to be made up of better individuals.

The full yoga practice is really an amazing thing. For me, teaching has been a critical part of my self development.  I swear there are many things I do “right” simply because I don’t want to be a hypocrite.  I don’t want to steal the trust a student might be putting into the words I share.  I don’t want to be a teacher who says one thing but does another. Clearly, I don’t always succeed.  But I have been steered many times in the direction I hope to go by the north star of the yamas and niyamas.  

Essentially, behind the practice of non-stealing is a willingness to accept that you are enough the way you are.  You don’t need more and more and more, you don’t need to take things that are not yours to be better somehow.  And if that you makes a mistake, is not perfect, has an accident let’s say – it’s ok.  This is not the you that makes excuses in exchange for the temporary comfort of not feeling bad. It’s the you that values time, energy and resources.  It’s the you that can stand up and say “here I am”.  I’m trying.  And hopefully this version of you is able to stand up more and more for those from whom things are being stolen.  To work towards a more equitable world for everyone.

Added bonus: if you are enough the way you are, then what does come your way feels a lot more valuable. The smallest thing can make you feel like the richest person in the world. 


2 thoughts on “Asteya

  1. From a Buddhist perspective the moral precept is “to refrain from what is freely given” – I have been reflecting on this as it arises as the time I take from myself, attention taken away from loved ones when I am preoccupied (usually resulting in my toddler throwing food at me), and also on a macro level the foundational thefts of our country and environment. With my group we have been reflecting on how this “taking” feels in the body and emotions. This is the Guardians of the World in a Buddhist view showing up in our conscience. It is an eye opening practice!

    Liked by 1 person

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