Energy. We all use it, produce it, give it, and take it. High school physics classes teach us that there is only so much energy in the world which is constantly being cycled, much like the element carbon. However, people take and give this energy in different ways. Anyone who has met me knows that I am an energy giver in the fullest extent of the word. I explode energy, especially as a teacher and performer… sometimes so much so that I collapse in a complete and utter heap of exhaustion afterwards. Conversely, there are people who are energy stealers: energy vampires, if you will. Their extreme negative energy sucks the life out of the room like the dementors in Harry Potter (yes, I went there.) We have all come across these people. The more energy and positivity you give them, the more of your energy they take. In addition, positive people can steal just as much of your energy. Anyone who has ever worked with or had kids knows this. Each year during the SLO Opera Camp which I run, I am drained so fully of my energy that I always get a cold, a sinus infection, or laryngitis. Now these kids are nothing if not positive, excited, and adorable; but, their very nature of neediness requires a substantial amount of energy expenditure by anyone they come in contact with. Asteya, non-stealing, is another of the yamas, or ethical restraints. While you would traditionally think of stealing as pick-pocketing or shoplifting, most of us would never think about the impact our energy level has on others… and how we can pull from others’ precious energy resources. If you are stealing the energy of others without ever giving back, you are legitimately sucking the life out of people, even if you don’t know it. Rather, it is best to find a delicate balance of giving and receiving: a symbiotic relationship which promotes the gentle dance of energy in the world. So, don’t steal my sunshine. I am a Californian after all and am quite partial to it.