Non-stealing is restraining from taking what doesn’t belong to us, what we don’t need, what is more than our share, and what depletes the future. It is restraining from doing others work for them, rescuing them, fixing them, and worrying about them. It is restraining from making ourselves smaller or bigger than we are, or from trying to be something we are not or hiding from what we are.
It is often hard to know where to draw the line in just where too much lies. Yoga addresses this dilemma beautifully: Gather all the resources you need to support your particular service in the world. No more; no less. In other words we are asked to walk a fine line between stealing from others and stealing from ourselves. If we take more than we need, in any area of our lives, we are stealing from others. If we deny ourselves the resources we need to reach our full potential, we are stealing from ourselves.
As with all the yamas, we need to observe what is happening within us and within the culture at large that causes us to steal, thus choosing disturbance over harmony. Knowing these trigger points makes us aware of those times we may become dangerous. For instance, I can easily steal with food. I know that both caffeine and sugar wreak havoc on my nervous system; I am left primed to be irritated and irritating; in fact, I go looking for trouble. I am stealing from my own well-being as well as those around me.
It is the holiday season once again, a great time to practice non stealing by giving more than we buy and by honoring our own wellness more than sugary delights.