Ask Kyczy about Yoga and Recovery; Asteya – Non-stealing

Non-stealing is so much more complex than the idea of avoiding being a bonefide thief. It is the idea of “not taking that which is not freely given”. Again – using the subtleties of thought word and deed – what could one steal? I stole my own adolescence and young adulthood from myself by my addictive behavior. I stole the experience of being a mother from both myself and from my children. I stole people’s love and concern for me in my resolute tenacity to putting my addiction first. Well, to tell the truth, I did the thief thing, too, stealing from others to feed my own habits.
Then I got sober and started the path of recovery. But, as they say, when you have a lying, cheating, drunken horse thief and sober him (or her) up – you get a lying, cheating horse thief. More had to change than abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
Asteya asks us to refrain from all forms of stealing, it ask us to consider all manners of stealing and WHY we might be compelled to steal. Manners of stealing include things, of course, but also time, concern, attention, another’s opportunity, and the future of our planet among any other nuance that you can bring to mind. If I finish your sentence, solve your problem, ask your advise with no consideration to taking it, if I over buy and over trash, I am taking what is not freely given. Sometimes theft can be of things we covet –someone’s things or life style. We might want someone else’s capability on the mat and we over do – hurting ourselves. We might feel entitled to more than the money we make at work and steal time or accolades or office supplies. We might steal from the moment by living in the past or the future.
In recovery we are encouraged to dig into ourselves – finding the “exact nature of our wrongs” and to make a start on remedying them, making amends, and leaving our shortcomings behind us. We engage the help of our higher power, making use of our growing spirituality, to help us in dealing with what we know about ourselves. Asteya is another tool we can use to look at the finer aspect of stealing, at thievery, and circle back – using our HP, the help of our sponsor, and the steps to figure out WHY. Do I feel less than – so I have to ask for “advise” when I really want attention? Do I steal the limelight to take focus from someone else? Do I desire your pose or practice because I feel bad about my own? The growth away from stealing, the growth towards asteya comes from finding gratitude in one’s own thoughts, feelings, actions, and ideals. If I want for something more – I should work for it! Whether it is a deeper practice, more grounding in the steps and literature of my 12 Step area, or if it is STUFF. I will feel better about myself if I “work for it”. Just like the promises suggest (see for a copy).
Regarding the stealing of solving another’s promises, stealing their right and obligation to find their own path, is so tricky. It is a balancing act – between offering advise and providing asked for advise. A balance between speaking your truth and taking action which rightly is the other’s. I myself struggle with this with my family. When is helping my children “over-helping”? My gut knows. I have to slow down and listen, but my gut knows when I am overstepping. Solutions don’t go together easily – and in fact I am more invested in a positive outcome that the other person! But this is always an area ripe for investigation. I must not steal ownership of my children’s future from them.
Finally – consider asteya in regards to the future of our planet. Be wise in what you do and use, be wise in what you buy, be wise in what your waste is and how you dispose of it. Practicing asteya can wake you up to your own true values and the opportunities you have to grow.

Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200 is the author of “Yoga and the Twelve Step Path”, a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a teacher certification training she holds with her good friend Kent Bond E-RYT500. Find out more about her, her classes and the training at