This article represents an update on my journey of incorporating mindfulness into my every day activities. Ever since I first heard about it in the context of lucid dreaming I tried to keep this practice up. Outside of my regular 30-60 minutes of daily meditation sessions, I am staying present with at least one sensory input. The intent it so keep the mind from wandering as this is known to decrease happiness.
Improves focus, but its usually not applied to the present moment...
When the mind wanders, it tends to loose itself in worries about either the past or the future. Both are illusions. They do not exist. Only the present moment and your current experience does. This is all obvious, but what does it good to remain in this present moment with awareness?
First I want to address the problem with constantly planning the future or worrying about the past for extended periods of time. There is nothing inherently wrong with those activities, but as every mental activity the are habit forming. And herein lies the problem. For most people it means living their whole lives in this mental state. You can always strive to achieve your goals and imagine living in a better future but when you are not at the same time cultivate the internal mind states that allow you to enjoy those better circumstances you will never arrive there. Recognize the depth of implications this has for you. You will forever be stuck in this state mind. Of not being happy with the present moment. Because you are practicing this during all of your waking hours if you do not become mindful of this habit and interrupt it.
I want to give you an example that makes the depth of mental habits more obvious. In the case of your mother tongue you can see how habits of your brain are quicker than you conscious efforts. As all sounds, also you mother language does not have inherent meaning. Just as any foreign language does not make sense to you, so doesn't the language you grew up with.
Now try to listen to your mother tongue in a way that you hear the raw sound but do not understand the meaning of the words. It is impossible. That is how strong habits are. Your brain attaches the meaning to the words without your conscious effort.
This shows you how difficult it will be for you to enjoy your life if you have not consciously practiced experiencing the present moment. Out of habit, your brain will constantly pull you out of what is actually happening. And then you will most likely be worrying about either the future or the past.
In essence, this practices brings you to the only place that actually exists. The present moment. And once you have replaced your mental tendency, to pull you out of the present moment, life becomes a beautifully flowing experience.
In my experience this practice turned me into a minimalist in many ways. I now enjoy the simple things more. I prefer meditating over partying. The simple state of existing feels rich and fulfilling. Monetary and materialistic goals dropped lower on my priority list, much lower.
Why? Because they are only necessary to cover up the insecurities one develops when constantly worrying about the future.
Money? Is usually acquired in the hopes of quieting the worries about an uncertain future.
Excessive Materialism? Is usually acquired in the hopes of a strong emotional experience, so that it momentarily quiets the monkey mind.