ASTEYA- Pay Attention

Pay Attention…pay is an interesting verb to couple with the word attention.  It’s function reveals itself when you consider the consequences of not“paying” attention.  In life, it comes at a great cost.  I’m not naturally an early morning riser.  I always envied those who easily woke before the hum of civilization.  I have to set an alarm on my off days so that I can rise and savor the quiet hours of the morning.  This morning I sit with my tea and listen to the symphony of bird calls in the forest.  But so often in the hustle bustle of the day, I can often lose sight of the unfolding of each moment.  I rush from one thing to the other trying to maximize time when ironically I’m paying a cost for not paying attention.

The third Yama, Asteya, means non-stealing, is best defined as not taking what is not freely given.  There are obvious teachings we can take from this- taking property that isn’t yours, oppression and injustice.  But it’s the subtle application of Asteya in our personal lives that is not as obvious.  How do we steal from ourselves and consequently steal from those around us?   The theft of the mind challenges me on daily basis.  My mind gets ahead or behind my body- anticipating and reliving past events – robbing me of the fullness of the present moment.  If a genie came out of a bottle and granted me three wishes, it would be time, time, and time.  Juggling a few jobs, marriage, two children and a house with acreage in this modern age is a balancing act.  Where do I find the time to do what feeds my soul? Make time I hear… but it’s easier to complain than to make changes.  How do I make have time for myself and space for allowance of whatever it is that needs to be allowed.  When we ignore self-care, everyone around us suffers.  I know if I short myself of me-time, I am less patient, quicker to react and just all around not as fun to be with.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul doesn’t work in life balance.  You can’t take from one thing and try to replenish something else.

Take the same concept to the mat.  You’re in down dog, the instructor tells you to anchor into the hands and feet evenly.  You press your hands into the mat and unconsciously lift the weight of the legs slightly and consequently feel less anchored into the inversion.  You root your feet while maintaining the steadiness of the hands.  There now you think you’re good.  But when the instructor asks you to engage your legs, you realize they were just passively hanging out.  Each instruction is a way to keep us focused on the task at hand, using a shape as a means of getting into the body and this mental discipline of opening to the moment at hand.  We can further practice Asteya by honouring our bodies as they are, not coveting our neighbor’s abilities but acknowledging what serves our unique bodies. Connecting to ourselves mind and body and trusting in our inner wisdom will keep from acting from a place of fear of scarcity and lack.

I was listening to an interview of a professor when I heard these arresting words, “listen carefully for the divine in the everyday”.  Said so eloquently, so beautifully.  There is divine in the banal everyday, even in that routine you’ve done a million times, the pose you’ve held a thousand times.  What do you steal from yourself on and off the mat? Do you approach and address yourself with compassion and generosity or do you take and take leaving yourself depleted? How we practice on the mat is a good indicator of how we treat ourselves off the mat and how we move in the world.  Give back to yourself, reconnect, practice Asteya on the mat and see how it manifestsoff the mat.  Listen carefully to the divine in everyday.

~ By Darlene


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