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Living with Integrity: Exploring Asteya and Brahmacharya



In the quest for a purposeful and a satisfying life, the ancient teachings of yoga provide direction on ethical conduct, known as the Yamas. Among these principles, the third Yama, Asteya (non-stealing), and the fourth Yama, Brahmacharya (right use of energy), hold significant relevance in a world filled with distractions. These principles, when understood and practiced, can lead to a more harmonious and balanced existence.


Asteya

Asteya, or non-stealing, goes beyond not taking something that doesn't belong to us. It encompasses a broader concept of not taking anything that is not freely given. This includes not only material possessions but also intangible things like time, energy, and attention. In our consumer-driven society, the temptation to acquire more than we need is ever-present. However, practicing Asteya reminds us to be content with what we have and to respect the boundaries of others.

In our interconnected society, where comparison and competition often lead to unhappiness, embracing Asteya encourages us to rejoice in and support another's achievements, while also letting go of feelings of comparison and competition.


To be completely transparent, this area is a personal struggle of mine. In a world where Yoga saturates social media, transcending feelings of competition and comparison proves challenging. Promoting my services, whether as a Yoga instructor, student of Ayurveda, or Integrative Nurse Coach, I often feel overwhelmed and at times, inadequate. I wish I could say it's simple to overcome, but it remains one of my greatest challenges. As we close out winter and welcome in Spring, my intentional work for the upcoming Ayurvedic Spring cleanse is to move closer to releasing these feelings. A practice in Ahimsa (non-harming), Satya (truthfulness), and Asteya (non-stealing).

At its core, Asteya encourages us to cultivate gratitude and contentment not only for ourselves, but for those around us. By acknowledging and appreciating what we have, we diminish the impulse to grasp for more from and at the expense of others. Through mindfulness, we can align our thoughts and actions with the principles of Asteya.


Brahmacharya


Brahmacharya, is the right use of energy. It encourages us to channel our energy into activities that uplift. This principle invites us to be mindful of how we use our time, our words, and our actions, ensuring that they align with our values and goals. While traditionally associated with sexual restraint, Brahmacharya invites us to explore and understand energy management.

Brahmacharya encourages us to cultivate balance and harmony in all aspects of our lives. Whether it's through mindful consumption, conscious relationships, or disciplined self-care practices, our goal should be to maintain harmony and integrity in how we engage with the world. By aligning our actions with our values and aspirations, we tap into a reservoir of inner strength that will nourish and sustain us on our journey.


Take a moment of pause and reflect on a time when you had to differentiate between your truth and the needs of another. Maybe it was in a relationship, friendship, or partnership in work. Were you asked to complete a task that did not align with your truth, your values? How did you move through this? Were you able to express your feelings, emotions and thoughts?

If we cultivate Brahmacharya during moments when our intuition guides us to say "no" or "remain steadfast" in our truth, instead of yielding to others, wouldn't this cultivate a sense of empowerment?

In the context of Brahmacharya, energy is viewed as a precious resource that can either dissipate through indulgence or be channeled towards spiritual growth and self-realization. By practicing moderation and discernment, we conserve vital energy that can then be directed towards creative expression, intellectual pursuits, and deepening our connection with the self, our truth, and those around us.


Weaving Together Asteya and Bramacharya


In essence, both Asteya and Brahmacharya ask us to live with integrity and mindfulness. By practicing these principles, we cultivate a sense of gratitude, humility, and respect, leading to a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

Integrating Asteya and Brahmacharya into our daily lives can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. It requires us to examine our habits and behaviors, and to make conscious choices that align with these principles.


Here are some practical ways to incorporate Asteya and Brahmacharya into your life:

  • Simplify: Declutter your physical space and your schedule. Focus on what truly matters to you and let go of the rest.

  • Practice Gratitude: Cultivate a sense of gratitude for what you have, rather than constantly craving more. This can help reduce the temptation to steal or hoard.

  • Set Intentions: Before engaging in any activity, pause and reflect on your intentions. Are you using your energy in a way that aligns with your values?

  • Mindful Consumption: Be mindful of what you consume, whether it's food, media, or other resources. Consume only what you need and avoid wastefulness.

  • Respect Boundaries: Respect the boundaries of others, whether it's their time, their possessions, or their emotions. Treat others with the same respect you would like to receive.


Asteya and Brahmacharya are not just moral precepts but practical guidelines for living a more intentional and fulfilling life. By embodying these principles, we can cultivate a deeper sense of integrity, purpose, and harmony in our lives and in the world around us.


Nurture your curiosity and remain receptive to all possibilities, yet pause to discern and evaluate before reacting or taking action.

Pose the question to yourself: Am I embracing non-harming (Ahimsa) and truthfulness (Satya)?


Consider the exploration of the Yamas not as abandoning what came before, but as incorporating and weaving each Yama into every decision and action you take. Regard the Yamas as a checklist to intentionally move through; not only will this gift you a moment of pause, but also the invaluable gifts of awareness and curiosity.

Om, Shanti


Lisa Ostler

BSN, RN, NC-BC, RYT

Student of Ayurveda


 


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