As the pace of living accelerates, the mind—your mind—has become more and more easily bored.
Not too long ago, it felt normal to wait a month to receive the next edition of your favorite magazine or comic book. Now, if it doesn’t download seconds after you click, the irritation starts to build.
Even a few seconds of waiting, can feel excruciating.
How much more so sitting still on a meditation cushion—breathing in, breathing out; repeating a mantra; sitting still—sheesh, this can really get boring.
What do you do with the bored mind?
The conditioned response is to seek out entertainment and distraction. To “relieve” the boredom with a new input, entertainment, information, anything, and relief comes for a few moments—until the boredom begins to creep in again. The mind that needs new stimulation will soon be looking for, uh, new stimulation.
Relieving boredom through distraction fills your life with distraction.
Your life becomes a series of ever-shorter distractions. You bounce along, like a skipping stone, on the surface of life.
And here’s the harsh reality: when you live on the surface of life, you’re going to be really bored.
Boredom is a result of surface living. Because the richness, the meaning, the fulfillment of life is in the depths. So, how do you free yourself from surface living and the inevitable boredom that ensues?
You learn to cultivate the meditative mind. The meditative mind will take you deep, but first it will bring you face-to-face with boredom, the irritation, and the skipping stone patterns of reactivity.
But, now, through the power of meditative awareness, you won’t react to the boredom; you won’t distract yourself from the irritation; you won’t skip away into the latest stimulation. You will receive these states with awareness and embrace them in a field of meditative observation.
What is meditative observation?
Meditative observation is being fully aware of moment-to-moment experience without identifying with that experience. If the experience that arises is boredom, you discover how to meditatively observe it. You learn how to be fully aware of the boredom, without becoming identified with the boredom.
Without identification, you can experience boredom—as it is.
Through the power of meditative awareness, you can allow boredom to be itself—fully and completely:
>> You don’t become bored.
>> You don’t react to the boredom.
>> You don’t push it away or run from it.
Rather you witness, observe and experience boredom completely.
When you fully experience boredom, it’s not boring. It’s not entertaining either. It is just what it is—an expression of life energy that arises, pulses through the nervous system and changes into another expression of life energy.
You don’t have to manipulate life. You don’t have to manipulate yourself or the boredom. In the light of meditative awareness, the boredom transforms by itself.
Because that’s what life does. It constantly changes, transforms, and arises in ever-new patterns. You don’t have to manipulate or control life (not that you really can, anyway).
This insight frees you from escaping boredom.
It frees you from seeking entertainment and transforms the “monotony” of meditation into an ever-new process of life revealing itself breath-by-breath. As your capacity to fully experience the pulsation of life energy deepens – the desire for distraction and entertainment dissolves into stillness.
The mind acclimates to stillness. The stilling of the mind doesn’t mean the end of thought. Rather, it means the end of identification with thought. Including, but definitely not limited to, the thought, “I’m bored.”
So, when the mind asks, “What’s next?”
Be still. Observe and experience the question fully, then go deeper. Open and receive the unpredictable answer that is the present moment.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Author’s Own, Ryan/Flickr