Have you ever noticed yourself flicking back and forth between TV channels trying to find the most entertaining show on at night? How many times do you change the radio station whilst driving to work? This is what some call the problem of “sense desire” and is one of the main hindrances to maintaining focus on the “here and now”.
Basically “sense desire” refers to the constant chasing of something better, something more entertaining, something with greater “pull”. The mind is constantly being pulled to other senses that are more enjoyable. For example, have you ever driven home from work with no recollection of the actual drive? In this example, the mind may have been pulled into a state of day dreaming, a form of escapism that might have been more enjoyable than the drive home. Have you ever eaten dinner, not really noticing what you have eaten because your mind is completely focused on the desert that comes after? Again, the mind is seduced into something better, more enjoyable and is no longer focused on the present moment.
The main way to combat this and regain control over where our mind focused is by:
a) Awareness. Building our awareness of the times that this happens. Notice when you’re mind is drawn to something other than what is in the present moment. Notice when you feel that pull.
b) Choice. Make the choice to engage in this new sensation or not.
While this seems rather simple, it is in fact not that easy to do. Years and years worth of “sensation seeking” cannot be undone so quickly, but with lots of practise it does become easier. At first, you may notice the awareness of “sense desire” only after the fact. You might notice changing that radio station channel to find a better or more catchy song only once you have actually done it. This is ok. Awareness after the fact comes first. Then you might notice awareness as you “sensation seek” (i.e., as you change the channel). Finally, you will be able to notice the “pull” before you act on it. You might feel the urge to search for something better. This is where the choice comes in. When we consciously choose to do something, we are acting in the present moment. We are mindful. At this point you can choose whether to follow the “pull” or not. Either way, you are making a mindful decision and remain in the present moment.