Monthly Archives: January 2007


When abstention from stealing is firmly established, precious jewels come. — Yoga Sutras

“When established in non-stealing, Asteya, one feels as if one is in possession of all the wealth in the world”. — Rohit Mehta

Not exalting the gifted prevents quarreling.
Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.
Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.

The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies,
by weakening ambition and strengthening bones.
If people lack knowledge and desire,
then intellectuals will not try to interfere.
If nothing is done, then all will be well.

— Tao Te Ching, Three

The third yama is asteya, or non-stealing. Asteya serves as a wake-up call, prompting us to remember all the ways, big and small, that we steal — the borrowed books still on our shelves, the corners we cut on taxes, the hours we spend at work not being productive. As we begin to consciously practice asteya, we also see just where and how we need to change. Suddenly we are no longer comfortable with the rationalizations and compromises we have been making.

At a deeper level, asteya is our first encounter with the power of non-attachment. When we look honestly at the ways in which 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. We want that last orange in the refrigerator more than we want to be a good partner. We had a tough week at work, so we will undertip the waiter at the diner. Beneath the attachment, we find fear: fear that we will not get what we need; fear that if we leave things up to the universe, we will not be taken care of. This sutra declares the opposite to be true: “When abstention from stealing is firmly established, precious jewels come.” In other words, the surest way to get what you want is to let go of wanting. What is required, then, is a radical, absolute, living trust in the workings of the universe. This trust is the spiritual opposite of the act of stealing, and is accompanied by right action, it removes the blocks to our natural abundance.

— Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat

Now, how does Asteya relate to our yoga practice? As we mentioned in earlier newsletters, the way we relate to our bodies in yoga practice is often a reflection on how we relate to life in general. In yoga class we often compare and want what others have. We want their flexibility, strength, body shape, youth, or poise. We want their forward bends, backbends or lotus poses.

And then we might try to imitate others poses. We imitate and steal the “finished pose” that our fellow student, teacher or the guy in the book does. And if our body is not ready for the finished pose, we might end up with strain, pain and injury.

Unfortunately there is nothing magic in the finished pose. It’s not the finished pose that brings health and enlightenment. Instead the power of the practice is in the process. The benefits of the yoga poses come when you listen to your own body’s ability, finding your balance, healthy edge and hidden potential. And then with the variety of poses give your body and being what they need in strength, flexibility, vitality, relaxation and peace. — Ingela Abbot

How often do we find ourselves envious of what others have, not realizing what it took for them to get there? And perhaps not realizing that it isn’t really what we need at all!

I’m very process oriented – it’s what I consult on, what I try to teach. Changing Places is at heart about the process I go through in learning about Tao, about art, about politics, about my golden retrievers, about life as a whole. That’s why you never really know what you’ll find here, and why I don’t worry about whether people like it or not, or comment or not, or how popular my blog is. It isn’t about that, it’s about me and my life, and the process and path that I live. Most people won’t find that too interesting – only those who are looking at their own process in life, trying to make the changes they need.

Learning to stop wanting things is hard work. Learning the difference between what I wanted — friends who are fun to be around, in my case – from what I needed — those who will stick by me no matter what — was devastating to me. I thought the people I called my friends, the ones who ended up walking away from me, were true friends. I loved them and cared about them as deeply as possible, sometimes too much, wanting things for them they didn’t want for themselves. I tried to give my love in inappropriate ways that went beyond their boundaries. And when I lost them, it drove me over the edge. But in the end, that was part of the process of getting me to the help I needed, to the diagnosis of my real problem, bipolar disorder, instead of the diagnosis of depression I had dealt with for years. And so now, beyond those dark days, I have the right medicine, lamictal, that keeps me completely balanced emotionally. Yes, I still have moments, but they are moments, not days or weeks or months. Those who have left my life no longer have me – but I still have them, in my heart, right where they were all along, since I never abandoned them.

People comment on how open I am about bipolar disorder, but, it’s a part of me, a part of my process. It helps me to understand the disorder of our world, how things can be so out of balance and out of control right now. I see how our leaders stretch so far to get what they want, they ignore what the rest of us need. They violate our boundaries as citizens and the boundaries of other nations, justifying it all with their own desires for how they think the world “should” be. But you cannot force your ways on other people – you can only love them as they are, recognize their true nature, and learn not to steal from them.

The sage never tries to store things up.
The more he does for others, the more he has.
The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance.

— Tao Te Ching, Eighty-one


Sorry for the light posting. I’m spending most of my day cleaning mud off of Darwin.

Yeah, I would post a pic, but – just imagine a white Darwin covered head to toe in black mud. You get the idea.

Sigh….. puppies. Some days you love them, some days you want to strangle them. Just like kids. And husbands.


I’ve been slowly rebuilding my blogroll over the last few days since I lost a lot of links in the WordPress upgrade. If I’m missing you, please let me know! Or if you want to be added. Thanks!

U.S. helicopter shot down in Iraq

One was upsetting. Two was “damn…” Three is “Oh shit….”

The trend is not good. This was the only safe way left to move around in Iraq, and now, it’s gone. | front : U.S. helicopter shot down in Iraq

A U.S. helicopter was shot down early Sunday afternoon near the provincial capital Najaf during a pitched battle with fighters described as religious fanatics.

A McClatchy Newspapers correspondent from Najaf observed the helicopter lose control and crash to the ground in flames after it appeared to have been struck by rocket fired from the ground. The correspondent had been observing the battle from a safe position about half a mile away from the fight in the village of al Zarga.

Al Zarga is about 5 miles from Najaf and about 80 miles south of Baghdad.

No information on U.S. casualties was available. Military public affairs officials in Baghdad said Sunday afternoon they were unaware of the helicopter downing.

The correspondent observed the helicopter shot down about 1:35 p.m. Iraqi time Sunday (1:35 a.m. ADT).

The battle is being fought against alleged religious fanatics. Iraqi intelligence had received several reports that this group of fighters planned to attack the religious shrine in Karbala Wednesday, the holy day of Ashura, and to kill all the clerics.

The Iraqi officials told the correspondent that the fighters, whom he described as Saddamists and Afghanis, infiltrated the area as Ashura pilgrims commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

The battle began with U.S. aerial bombardments Saturday night. Iraqi forces ground forces sealed off the area around 3 a.m. Sunday and begin an assault, assisted by U.S. helicopters and F-16 fighter jets.

Maj. Hussain Muhammed of the Iraqi Army confimed the helicopter was down. “We do not know any other details yet, but there are flames raising,” he said.


A few of the many candles on my mantle

Krista asked us to explore candelight for Create a Connection’s Photo Thursday. This is simply a photo of some of the many candles on my mantle, some still there from Christmas, others that always are at home on the mantle. I tend to light them in the evenings, put on some good music and enjoy the calm on those rare occasions when all the boys are out for the evening. I don’t get enough of those evenings these days. Usually the boys have all their friends here playing their role-playing games.

I think candlelight has always felt special to me since I was little. I always got to be the one to light the advent candles. Candlelight services at church were always wondrous to me. And some of my favorite candles have been special gifts from friends or from my kids, some sitting unburned just so I can remember them. Sometimes I light a candle when I’m looking for inspiration. Staring into a candle’s flame can be an interesting meditation. We clean up the candle holders and have candles burning at dinner on special occasions. And sometimes, I like to light a few candles and just soak in the tub by candlelight… ah.

We learned a new trick at one of our recent parties of using our hands to quickly push the candle flame away from the candle to make it go out – that was pretty cool. Some of our guests were very good at it, but we all had fun trying it. Somehow, they are always a part of our celebrations…