One of the yamas, or restraints, of yoga is aparigraha which is typically translated to mean nongreediness or nonhoarding. This is a greed that is routed in jealousy as opposed to lack,
which is more closely linked to another of the yamas, asteya. When we covet what another has, or what another is, we lose our ability to get to know who we really are; who we really want to become and what we truly value. When we get to know ourselves completely we discover what it is we need, as opposed to desire. We can then let go of the things we do not need which makes space for what will sustain us and bring about more contentment.
Aparigraha does not necessarily mean that we let go of everything that is not an absolute necessity, but we do start to be more discerning about what we choose to have. What is it that brings peace and contentment to your life? Acquiring more ‘stuff’ is probably not the answer, but acquiring the right ‘stuff’ might be. Aparigraha does not mean that we cannot have luxuries – as long as we remember to practice detachment; when we become attached there is a great desire involved and that is the opposite of aparigraha. Becoming attached to what we have, or to the desire for what someone else has, brings about this mindset of greed and breeds discontent.
Aparigraha asks that we know what we need and let go of that which no longer serves us. We constantly evaluate what we keep in our lives, whether they are objects, people, or beliefs. We give away what we no longer need, knowing that someone else may need it. We look at where we practice overconsumption both on an individual level and at a societal level and question how we can make changes in those areas and still meet our own needs.
As with all of the yamas laid out by Pantanjali (ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha), aparigraha will lead to santosha (contentment) as we become more clear about who we are and how we can achieve peace of mind.