A brief interruption

I interrupt my series on the yamas to shed some light on life as it unfolds.

Last week the terrorist group ISIS devastated the community in Paris, an attack leaving over 100 dead. The world’s heart broke as we watched footage from the ground, heard stories of survivors and remembered those who lost their life.

It was pure shock,

sadness

heartbreak

confusion

and then

anger

and bitterness

which quickly escalated into revenge

migrated

into US versus THEM.

And now there are two wars taking place. The world against ISIS and love against hate. But it’s not really hate. It’s just fear disguised as hate. For most of our evolution, fear served us in the realm of survival. It quickly detected “others” and alerted us that our very being was being threatened .. someone is trying to take our land, someone is trying to take our livestock. Fear had it’s place in our evolutionary timeline. The problem is when the lines get blurred between actual and perceived threats.

For many, the easiest and most available response to fear and disempowerment is violence. The problem with violence is that only begets more violence. It is never the answer and always the problem.

Since the attacks happened I can almost see it in the air, smell it in the room. People are on the edge of their seats, waiting for an opportunity to prove themselves, to defend that which they perceived to be theirs, and to do it with an immeasurable force of violence.

Last night we watched Kyle’s favorite band play in the city. They are a low-key, sad-song, old-soul rock and roll assembly of men in their late 40’s. Their music is amazingly honest and raw.

During the duration of the night, a fight erupted in front of us (participants included a group of military guys itching to showcase their might), then a domestic dispute splashed us from behind – like waves violently throwing themselves against the rocky shore, then more male testosterone parading around like noise patrol through the crowded bar. It was truly amazing how much violent energy filled such a beautiful place.

And there, in the middle of it all,

we find ourselves.

And there, in the middle of the domestic dispute I saw a glimpse of the divine. The dispute was awkwardly between Kyle’s employee and his wife ( who was inconsolable) and it took place directly behind us. Every part of me wanted to turn and stare and get involved and help this woman step down off the cliff O’Crazy she was climbing. And while the noise of her screams were being drowned out by the buzz of the live music, I see Kyle, my beautiful partner, ignoring the itch to watch the shit show and just talking, laughing, engaging the rest of us- almost to distract us from the drama behind. And as I stood there, absorbing it all but truly listening to nothing, my eyes fixed on Kyle and his unfailing humility. His compassion and love for other people is unparalleled. He has this incredible ability to downplay every situation, make every uncomfortable person feel comfortable in his presence, like it’s okay, it’s no big deal, you’re cool with me.

And that is one of the traits I love and appreciate most about him. The calm amidst the storm. The friendly face in sea of assholes. And that, is proudly and dearly, my best friend and partner.

So in the midst of the terror, fear, confusion and chaos. I take solace, wrapped in the arms of my love, knowing that goodness and mercy still flourish in the face of violence.

 

 

Asteya | Non-Stealing

unnamedThe third Yama, Asteya, refers to the practice of non-stealing.

On the surface, this is a physical restraint that many of us agree we don’t participate in. We pay for things at the store, we don’t shoplift or steal from our friends. But the Yama’s are about moral restraints – about the inner workings of our heart and intention. I want to examine all the ways non-stealing presents itself in our lives: taking what does not belong to you, greed, jealousy, time, ideas, cravings, cheating, and overconsumption.

“When we look honestly at the ways we have been stealing, we come to understand that in each instance, there is an attachment to a specific result that overrides our deeper values. Beneath the attachment is fear.

Fear that we will not get what we need

Fear that if we leave it up to the universe, we will not be taken care of”

So when we cut corners on procedures, are unproductive at work, hold on to borrowed clothes and books, don’t reimburse friends for dinner – what we are really doing is taking more than what is ours. It’s a nasty habit and it’s based in fear and lack. It says to God, “I don’t trust that you will provide for me”. When we examine Asteya in this way, we see the true quality of our faith and trust in the creator of the Universe.

Matthew 6:25 reminds us that everything is taken care of. ““Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

We have so much to learn from nature. The birds are cared for. They trust in the way things are. The plants are cared for – and look what happens when they get more than what they need – they drown. At the root, Asteya is about trust. It’s an opportunity to put action to our faith.

This practice is also about stuff. Overconsumption of material possessions is one the loudest ways to scream “I am not enough”. It is also a plague that has swept through America in the past decade (think Affluenza). We have 4 car garages and storage units just to contain all the stuff. The problem with stuff is that it distracts us, all the time and maintenance stuff requires to upkeep and clean- we could be being with ourselves and our loved ones.Join us in celebrating this year's

A deeply disturbing and unpopular aspect of Asteya to discuss is how we steal from animals to provide food, clothing and entertainment. Foundational to yoga, is the belief that all creatures are created equal. We were given this land and entrusted to care for it’s creatures. Have we done that? When we consume animal products, we are taking what has not been given from the animal kingdom. Factory farmed animals are caged and tortured, denied the ability to run and breathe fresh air. There is no way around it- this is stealing. Even those “free range” animals – they did not lay down their life for our consumption, we stole it – in a violent way. Animals want to live just as much as you or I want to live. They feel pain, happiness, grief, sadness, frustration, and joy. We see this in our dogs and cats – what makes us think cows and pigs are any different?

Another way we take what is not ours is with our time. Have you ever been in a class or meeting where one person dominates the conversation, makes everything about them and hoards the time of the facilitator? You know what I  mean.

The list can go on. Asteya challenges us to examine all the ways we take what is not ours, what is more than we need. Whether it is possessions or food, ideas or time – all are rooted in the belief that we are not enough, that God will not provide what we need.

We can practice Asteya by practicing acceptance and contentment with ourselves and our circumstances. The mantra is “I am enough“. “I have more than I need”.

When we begin to let go of what we don’t need, we make space for the Universe to provide us with what we do need.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”