In yoga, there are ten living principles that are meant to help guide one through life. The third principle is non stealing and/or non cheating. There’s an obvious way to interpret this principle, but sometimes we go through life stealing and cheating people and ourselves in some not so obvious ways.
The first thing that one needs to do to address this principle in their lives, is to work on another one of the ten yogic principles, truthfulness. I covered this principle in a previous post, but basically if we can’t be honest with ourselves and others about our actions and intents, it becomes hard to understand the more subtle ways we steal and cheat.
For example, there are things in our lives that can really benefit us from a physical, emotional, and spiritual point of view, but sometimes we end up losing track of those things for one reason or another. Lately, I’ve been having a hard time making it to yoga. I have a lot to do in my professional life, and even though I could have made the time to go to Sanctuary, I ended up mismanaging my time and cutting it out of my schedule. Without yoga, I end up cheating myself from time that helps me grow spiritually and physically. I end up feeling more anxious and tired. And ultimately, I end up being unable to hold as much space for my friends and family. I see this happen a lot of with the people around me as well.
It’s easy to chuck out the small things we enjoy doing when we feel like we don’t have the time for anything, but ultimately, you can be doing more damage than you thought you would.
Sometimes it isn’t so easy to figure out how you’re cheating yourself. Taking the time to do something means that you may end up cutting time in another area of your life. However, when we really take the time to think about things, it’s not as hard as it first seems. You have to be honest about what’s really important in your life. Let’s be honest, is that extra two hours on netflix really going to bring more enjoyment in your life? Or will you end up feeling kind of lukewarm after the 6th straight episode of your newest show of the week? Sometimes the choice isn’t that simple. Sometimes you have to choose between that extra shift at work that could go to your savings account, or taking the time off to self care. In the end, you have to remember that what matters in this life is you and your growth. For me at least, making time to go to sanctuary yoga to work on myself, ends up being an investment. It can be easy to lose sight of that at times, but it’s important to be mindful about what will ultimately matter.
Along that same vein, there’s also an easy way we cheat others. It’s easy to demand things from others, especially when one is in a position of power, but you have to remember that everything that you gain from your friends, your family, your employees comes at a cost. There’s a fair amount of time and energy you can demand from the people around you, and then there’s an unfair amount of demand that you can impose on others. When people have to give too much, it drains their own quality of life and their ability to be generous to themselves and those they love.
Finally, there’s reciprocity. A good friend, family member, (and in my opinion neighbor) won’t keep a tit for tat score of what they’ve given you, but a relationship goes both ways. Part of entering any kind of relationship with someone is an understanding that there will be a level of reciprocity. If you have a friend you always lean on in your worst of times, is it really fair to make yourself scarce when it’s their turn to cry into the nearest tub of ice cream? There will always be an imbalance in a relationship, but it’s only fair to attempt to make that deviation as small as possible. If you take take take, you must be willing to give give give.
If you’re reading this right now, it probably means that you have the space in your life to be generous. Don’t get me wrong, generosity never has to be a glamorous show, the smallest gestures of charity can make a big difference. I’m at a place right now where it’s difficult to give financially sometimes, but it’s amazing how much being generous with compliments can do for the way I see my friends carry themselves. This has taught me that being generous can also mean being creative.
We’re all apart of the same ecosystem. The world is so interconnected that it’s difficult to escape the consequences that effects other people. By being generous to others and avoiding stealing and cheating, we end up making a better world for ourselves.