*****This is the next in a series of posts about the 8 Limbs of Yoga and how they can apply to your life. The 8 Limbs of Yoga as described by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras are a kind of roadmap to help your yoga practice extend out far past the physical benefits into a way of living that can bring peace and harmony to all of your relationships and in any circumstance.
The first of the 8 limbs of yoga are the Yamas. The Yamas are a series of guidelines, or ethical principles to follow. They apply to how we treat ourselves and how we treat others.
As we explore these principles through the lens of yoga we will look at the more subtle examples of how we may not be following these guidelines for ourselves and others.*****
The next of the Yamas is Nonstealing, in Sanskrit - Asteya.
Nonstealing - Asteya
We steal from ourselves, we steal from others, we steal from our future, we steal from our own opportunity for growth.
Consider these sneaky acts of thievery:
Comparing ourselves to others
Wishing for what others have when we haven’t done the work to earn it
One-upping other peoples stories or experiences
Wasting our time mindlessly scrolling social media
Living in the past or future
What good can ever come from comparing ourselves and our lives to others? Why do we compare? What’s the purpose?
When we compare ourselves to others, one of two things happens.
We decide they are better than us and then wallow around in thoughts of “I’m not good enough”
We decide we’re better than them and then we strut around with an inflated sense of superiority
Think about this, is it true for you?
I wish it wasn’t for me, because it feels kind of gross, but also pretty accurate.
Measuring ourselves up to the life someone else has built and deciding it makes them better than us, or lifting up our own perceived success by diminishing the challenges others may have faced to get to where they are does not serve anyone.
In this case we steal from ourselves by not honoring where we are in the journey of our life. Appreciating the challenges and obstacles that we’ve overcome and the progress and successes we’ve had.
We steal from others by choosing not to applaud their effort in getting where they are, and allowing grace for those who’ve overcome big things that we may not even be aware of.
What if, instead of comparing, we chose to believe that everything and everyone is exactly where they’re supposed to be. That we are all on the specific path that we’re meant to be on and that no two paths will ever look the same. That we don’t need to look behind or beneath us to appreciate where we are on our own path and that looking up to others with anything more than encouragement doesn’t help us in any way.
Ok, this isn’t just me, right? How many times have you found yourself waiting (or maybe not even waiting) for someone to finish their story so that you can jump in with your similar story that was even more impressive, or tragic, or funny?
Seems minor, but in the world we live in, we are rarely in a “held space”. Meaning we rarely find ourselves really being seen and paid attention to. This is a requirement for us to thrive in our lives. Being with people who allow us to be ourselves and to shine exactly how we are.
While sharing similar experiences can create connection and bonds, let’s be mindful of our intention. Sometimes, it’s great and feels good for everyone to jump in with an “I know! There was this one time when….”
But most of the time, when someone is sharing something, good or bad, they really just want to be heard. Not fixed, or compared, or analyzed, just heard.
When we jump in with our own story, we take from them their chance to be heard and seen. We also take away our own opportunity to hold space for them. The art of holding space for those we care about, without offering advice, is really powerful for both parties involved.
Sure, it’s our own time to waste, but I’m not alone in being grouchy and impatient when I know I’ve wasted time that I really wish I’d spent on important things, right?
We are given one precious life and we don’t know how long that life will be. We were each created to do important, meaningful work in the world. Whatever that work looks like in your life, the mindless things that we tend to spend hours of each day on are probably not it.
How is this stealing? First, it's stealing from ourselves. We’re stealing the limited time we have to make a real impact on the world, to live out our purpose. Second, it’s stealing from all of humanity. Dramatic, I know, but seriously! You are here to make an impact. On many, on few, on one starfish…whatever.
Time spent wasted on things that are not important not only affects you, but also affects all of those you might have been reaching.
Living in the Past or Future
I love a good memory, almost as much as I love a good daydream. I spend a lot of time in my head.
I didn’t realize that until I started to observe my thoughts, but I find a lot of comfort in the future that I imagine. I also can spend a lot of time regretting things in the past. Sometimes big things, sometimes just something I said or did or didn’t say or do. I’m not much of a worrier, but maybe you are. Worry is a future focused activity, and one that doesn’t really do us any good.
There’s value in imagining an amazing future, and lessons to be learned from looking back at the past. One of my favorite yoga teachers says, “It’s ok to look back at your past, just don’t stare”. But spending too much of the present in either place only robs you of the miracle that is today.
Maybe your today is difficult. Maybe it’s hard to want to spend time there, easier to imagine something better. But this today you have is precious.
Trust me, whatever struggles you’re managing will be so much fun to look back at later and know you made it through. You will never again have your children be the ages they are now, you will never again be at this exact place in your life with limitless possibilities ahead, you will never again see today’s exact sunrise or sunset. You will never be younger than you are today!!
Today has so much going for it if you decide to see it. A gratitude practice can help you see the amazing things of today. Take a few minutes right now, and write down 10 things you’re grateful for. Big things and small things. The roof over your head, the gas in your car, the dog hogging the couch, the breath in your lungs. These things are all happening right now. Let yourself experience the beauty that is Now.
Wishing for what others have
Ooh… This is a good one. How many times have you looked at someone in better shape, with a more successful business, with more polite children and wished you had what she had? And then told yourself something like, “some people have it so easy… she’s so lucky… I’ll never have that” without ever considering how much time, energy and effort she might have put into achieving that result.
Thinking that other people’s success is just luck or easy for them is robbing them of the respect they deserve for working toward a goal and achieving it.
Envying the achievements of others and thinking that we deserve those same rewards without putting in any of the effort to achieve them is stealing from our future self. We are stealing the opportunity for us to learn and grow through the experiences and challenges of achieving great things.
Interesting take, right? If achieve something big without doing the work to earn it, we are robbing ourselves of all of the growth and knowledge and experience we would have gained along the way.
I love this idea. It makes every “failure” and shortfall something to look forward to, right?
When I’m tired from working at my dream job (building my Yoga and Wellness Coaching business) all day and walking dogs during my breaks and single parenting my two amazing kids who are brilliant and funny and exhausting and needy and independent all at the same time, and then still have to go to work at night delivering food to make sure I can pay all of my bills…I think about the inspiring, reflective blog post I’m going to write when my business is thriving and I’m super successful. I can’t wait to look back at these days and laugh at all of the challenges and know that I earned all of that success. It wouldn’t be any fun if it was easy anyway.
Keep these things in mind this week, notice when you’re stealing from yourself. Your time, your opportunities for growth, your present moment. Practice holding space for someone. Give them the space to be themselves and let that be enough.
Would you like to dive a little deeper into exploring this concept? I would love to work with you.
In my life, these principles and practices have changed how I see myself, who I spend my time with, and have helped me find my true calling and purpose. To live the life God created me to live. I want that sense of clarity and peace for you.
Let’s talk and see if Yoga and Wellness coaching is for you. And if it’s not, that's ok too. You get to make that choice. And I’ll support you making it! You can book a Free Consultation call with me Here. I can’t wait to hear from you.
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