Week 3 of living Asteya (non-stealing) tells me to "live as a visitor to this world, rather than an owner"; I am to use free and public-use things like the library, parks, free concerts, sunsets, etc.
Why? This will help to continue to erode my sense of entitlement and grow my appreciation for what I already have and what is freely available to me.
But I already do these things: I visit and take books out of the library more than anyone else I know (which goes back to my hating to waste anything, like money to buy a book when I can borrow one for free). I also take my son to play in the children's area of the library and attend classes/activities frequently. And I run or hang out in my local park a few times a week, as long as the weather complies. Basically, I've always taken advantage of free entertainment and appreciated what's publicly and naturally available to me, so for week 3 I'm focusing on continuing to work on the challenges from weeks 1 & 2.
Week 4 Sets out a concrete challenge that aims to help me avoid stealing from my own future by setting down ways in which I can identify and prepare for the future I want: "Think about your dreams and goals and make a list of things to do/study/try that would increase your knowledge and competency and bring you closer to your goal, thus building Adikara".
I love this word, adikara. It means, "the right to know or the right to have". Basically, by doing the work and preparation for something, we are not only worthy of the opportunity when it finally comes to us, but we're also ready to take it and do well with it, to succeed. Sometimes kids are told they can be and do anything they want, as long as they want it bad enough, or as long as they believe in themselves. This is, of course, bullshit. You have to do the work to get what you want (usually), and then to be able to make good on it. Even if a connection or favor gets us in the door to a job, for example, if we haven't built the experience or done the homework on it, or don't work our assess off to be worthy of it immediately, we deserve to lose it. This is adikara--building merit and competency to attain and keep that which we want in life. I think it's a concept that has largely fallen out of favor in raising the younger generations. Just look at the whole college admissions scandal going on right now.
In the past couple of months I've been making much more forward motion on getting back to work, and relishing the momentum. But doing the exercise in the challenge is a great opportunity to review and write down what needs my attention right now. Here are a couple of items from that list:
I applied for a new work gig, which required fixing up my resume and writing a cover letter on a Saturday. I was really intrigued by the place and what it offered so I made an appointment to talk to them in person and experience what they do for myself, which got me more excited about the possibility of working for them and now I really want the job for both personal and professional development. I'm feeling optimistic, but also feel solidly prepared and confident that I've done what I can to be ready for the opportunity.
I have to schedule (and study for) an important exam for a certification that I've let fall away in the last couple of years of not working so much. Now that I'm working again, I need to just get it done.
I need to keep up with this project and blog. I fell way behind this month and need to get back on track so that it's as fully developed as it can be within a week or two of where I am in the process. What I really should do is schedule in a non-negotiable block of time each week to get it done.
I'd like to start sketching out the workshop(s) that I envision this personal project of mine becoming. I need to set aside dedicated time to creating small yoga sequences and talking points to go with the months I've already done.
Conclusions on my month of living according to Asteya:
Honestly, the month of April was kind of a blur. I was really busy and honestly, doing this project is making time feel like it’s moving even faster. It's easy to get behind on my writing, but also just moving so quickly from week to week, month to month, and having something to punctuate the time with makes it FLY by. It’s unsettling, especially since all of this study and these challenges are supposed to be bringing me more deeply into the present moment, and I feel like I'm spending a lot of time reviewing the recent past and still feeling like I'm falling behind.
The biggest outcome from this month of study was the nudge I needed to be more proactive in protecting the earth and not adding unnecessary waste, especially plastic. I've enjoyed finding alternative materials and making small changes in my household to make it easier to do this. An unfortunate side effect is that now I feel so guilty when I do use a disposable plastic bag or wrapping, especially when I know it will only be used once.
Another takeaway is continuing to watch the words that come out of my mouth, making a greater effort to be purposefully uplifting, hoping that becomes my natural default eventually. I'm not a mean person by any stretch, but I put a high value on honesty and authenticity and I think that is an overriding quality of my communication with people: first, I'm honest and straightforward. Maybe it's better to be first uplifting, followed by honest and straightforward. Practice.