Nonstealing – Respecting Time, Energy, Boundaries, and More
One of the most common ways that we steal from others is by trying to control them, or having expectations for how they should behave.
How to Honor Nonstealing
Asteya means nonstealing, which let’s be honest we all know actual stealing is wrong. Whether that be shoplifting from a store, or cheating the stock market, or stealing by omission, i.e. not fixing a mistake when a cashier gives you too much change. Most people can agree that these are standards that we live by, legally and socially.
But what else do we steal from society? From each other? From the earth? From ourselves?
Society – Time, Money, Energy
A big part of our culture involves stealing a lot of time and energy from one another. This is not something that’s really obvious unless you start digging, but it can look like over packing our schedules so that we are late all the time. It can show up as not respecting other people’s time and stealing that away from them. This can also appear as distraction – being too tired, too distracted to fully pay attention to somebody, thus stealing away our attention instead of being able to be fully present with them.
With our busy, stressful, insanely packed schedules, we are also stealing peace from one another. This is something an individual could bring back into their life, if they worked at it, however, it would be difficult for the collective to reevaluate society and reschedule everything so that everyone’s lives could slow down. For example, we’ve got schools starting at a devilishly early and unnecessary hour and then after school activities going for 2 hours post-class. We’ve got exhausted teenagers, working parents, and then homework, and then do it all again. This is not something that an individual can escape unless they choose to homeschool their children. So as a society we’ve stolen a sense of peace and calm and an easy way of life. I don’t have any answers for that one, but if you all do feel free to share, I think we could all use a little more peace and stillness!
Each Other – Time, Energy, Not Honoring Boundaries
I believe one of the most common ways that we steal from others is by trying to control them, or having expectations for how they should behave. This is stealing from them their own life experience. This is stealing from them being able to truly be the essence of who they are without our manipulation and interruption. This can be especially hard in relationships, not stealing energy and space from your partner. I can be very guilty of this by expecting that my husband should behave a certain way or do certain chores a certain way, without realizing that he is his own person, and he can do what he wants, whenever he wants.
There’s also something good to be said about stealing lessons from people. We often think we are helping people when actually we are enabling them. Often times it would be better to let people fail and learn their own lessons in life, in regard to almost anything, than to step in and try to save people. Because when we save people we are trying to control them, which is not love, and also we are stealing their life experience. Even a hard life experience is one we should let others have for themselves.
Earth – Resources, Life
When I think of stealing from the earth it’s really more about lack of gratitude for that which we take. I believe that everything is meant to act in synchronicity in the circle of life if you will. Whether you choose to engage in a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle or not we can still consider whether we are respecting the circle of life of mother nature. The industrial revolution and the technological revolution have gravely changed how we interact with the planet and this is something that unless looked at a very macro scale can feel very hard to make a difference. But we know we can only change an effect ourselves so how are you being aware of what you are taking from the Earth and what you are giving back?
I have engaged in a vegetarian, sometimes vegan, currently vegan, lifestyle for the past four years, and for me this came for a couple of reasons. The main two being that it’s so much better for the environment and the system by which we teach our people and our children food and nutrition is corrupt.
I’ll let you do your own research, but there have definitely been studies that a huge contribution to deforestation is food crops that are grown to feed the animals that we will eventually eat. So for me to engage in this cycle would be stealing from the earth from the natural way of things. And I try to exist in a realistic world and the world that I was given, which is we do have technology, we do have industrial solutions, but how can we use these mindfully?
Another way I try to not steal from the earth is to not leave anything behind, thus respecting the circle of life. I try not to use items that I can’t recycle or reuse. I have drastically reduced my plastic intake by using reusable water bottles and reusing any plastic that I do have to buy. (Yes, I wash ziploc baggies and reuse, get with the program! Hahaha!)
When I think of saving mother Earth and global warming, it can often be way too big of a burden to bear. Realistically I just focus on my footprint and what I can do. Hopefully that inspires one other person to do something that I’m doing, as others around me inspire me to do different things to protect her.
Ourselves – Self-love, Time, Energy
All of these different areas (and I’m sure there are others, these are just the first ones that popped up in my head) all can tie back to how we steal from ourselves. Anytime we don’t allow ourselves the grace to have rest, the time for self-care, the space to process feelings like grief, sadness, we are stealing from ourselves. These are beautiful pieces of this human experience that are our birthright to experience and to relish in.
We should not be guilted or shamed or rushed in or out of life’s experiences. So much of our technological revolution has shifted us in a way of ‘do more, do better, do faster’ and ‘your time must be exchanged for something of value.’ This can be straight up be considered theft of our unique individual spiritual experience and awakening, and we have a birthright to take it back.
What Can You Give Back to Yourself?
So maybe practice some self-love! Practice some boundaries. Practice saying no when you want to say yes, or yes when you want to say no. Try not to steal from yourself when you feel like doing something. If you’ve got a Saturday afternoon off and you feel like napping or lying around for 2 hours, but some little devil on your shoulder is telling you that you better go clean those floors or run to the grocery store, you just flick that little devil away and take that damn nap.
Stop stealing from yourself. And as we know from looking at ahimsa, the way we treat ourselves will mirror to the external. If we begin to take back some of our life experiences that have been stolen from us by ourselves or society, then we will in turn hand back life experiences to those around us.