In the past month, two books on this subject have come to me randomly. One was a free “after hours yard sale” find, and another was put in the “giveaway” area of the garbage collection zone in our building’s basement (something I am grateful to our superintendant for! It’s our own internal “freecycle”). One book was A New Earth by Ekhart Tolle, and another was Peace is Every Step by Thich Naht Hanh.
Talk about synchronicity! Sure, it took me taking notice of these books to pick them up, bring them home and read them, but they both came to me for free from different sources within a week or so. The basic message of both books is the same: be mindful of the present moment. It is all we have. If we experience it with peace, enjoyment or enthusiasm, these energies will spread through our lives and to everyone we encounter.
So, why are you reading about mindfulness, a Buddhist practice, on a blog about frugality? I think mindfulness can help to cure the ills of society, one of which is overconsumption and dissatisfaction with what we have.
These books teach that the present moment, right now, is all we have. When we are carried away with our memories, good or bad, or when we engage in thinking or worrying about the future, we forget that we are alive right now, not in the past or the future. Right now is the only moment we have to be happy, to feel the fullness and richness of life, to experience joy.
A lot of spending comes from dissatisfaction with where we’re at. If we consciously decide that “now” is all we have, and thus to experience the richness of each moment, the fullness of life right now, it reduces some of our desires for new toys, new clothes, a new “look”, a new life.
Some ideas summarized from these two books:
– Use your breath to bring your attention to the present moment. Feel it go in and go out, and the pauses between. Focus on the breath and quiet your mind. Feel peaceful wherever you are.
– Your thoughts are not “you”. Your thoughts lead you away from the present moment and are quite likely to make you feel worried and anxious. Realize that you have a consciousness that is deeper than your thoughts, and you can separate yourself somewhat from the constant stream of thoughts that flood your mind. Your problems will seem less urgent when you create this kind of space.
– Smile. A smile relaxes your face, sends endorphins through your body, and melts your worries away. A smile sends positive, peaceful energy into the world. A smile connects you to the present moment because the only time we can feel happy is right now, today, this moment.
Being frugal isn’t just about denying yourself expensive pleasures. It is just as much about cultivating satisfaction with what you have, and joy in the present moment.