Many years ago I used to feel bored a lot; I was bored with life, bored with me, bored with what felt like a stagnant life I had opted in for, until I discovered mindfulness.
Boredom is not possible when we rest in the awareness of the NOW. The present moment has no place for boredom.
When I was bored in my past, I feel on some level it masked some low grade depression. There were other emotions present, sadness, loneliness and a sense of ‘unfairness’ taking place inside me. I had no idea that boredom was a construct of my mind, and that the answer to releasing boredom was to step into the ‘now’ moment.
Boredom Is Created When We Try to Distract From Feeling
I see it all the time on social networks and I have done it myself in the past, you spend all day surfing the net, looking for something to make you feel better, trying to fill the void that feels like boredom, but the only answer to letting boredom go is to go into the feeling.
What are you avoiding in your apparent state of boredom?
What feeling or activity are you in deep aversion to?
It is impossible to be bored, the true you is never bored, how could it possibly be bored? Look at this amazing world, even those parts of life we find challenging. When we rest and become clearly aware of what is taking place we experience life, real life.
Surfing the net, playing computer games, watching TV is okay in moderation, but not as a way to avoid life. If you are being productive with that time, being of service in some way, experiencing the joy of the present moment, time stops and this is when boredom vanishes.
Busyness Is Not An Answer to Boredom Either
Many people are workaholics, busy bees and while it’s great to be active sometimes, we think that if we are busy all the time we are not bored, but sometimes we avoid what is beneath boredom by keeping over-active. Naturally carrying out tasks, naturally flowing with what needs to be done and being inspired creatively is not avoidance.
Chopping Wood Carrying Water
There is a Zen saying,
“Before Enlightenment, chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.” Tweet This
So many of us try to escape the mundane of life by taking vacations, escaping into fantasy, over-working or avoiding activity yet even the simplest tasks can bring pleasure when we are fully awake to them.
Imagine washing your dishes with full presence, not washing to get them out of the way, not washing them so you can sit on the sofa and watch TV, but really being present with those dishes. Giving thanks as you clean them, thanking them for the gift they bring you, serving you beautiful food, the people involved in making the dishes, the work they put in, the earth that provided the clay for those dishes, in those dishes is the entire world, how could washing dishes every be boring or a hindrance to life?
Feeling the soap suds on your fingers, the texture of the plate or bowl. Feeling your body, your heart and your own hands as they experience the washing of those dishes, there is no boredom when we are mindfully aware.
Boredom and Future Attachments
The main reason we may feel boredom is that we are resisting ‘what is’, resisting what we feel, our lives and who we are. When bored we are wishing for a different ‘now’ and are focused on getting out of the now to a future that has not happened.
One day I was at a friend’s house. I had planned to visit her and she had invited me over, but she had things to do, a task that had to be finished the day I arrived, so for a couple of hours I had nothing to do there. She said to me “I’m sorry you must be very bored” I said no I was not. I was not bored because as she worked at her laptop I closed my eyes and felt my feelings, my body and enjoyed my inner space. I felt blissfully relaxed and in the moment, and when I had finished simply being in that way I decided it would be good to wash her dishes, so I washed all of her dishes and felt quite satisfied.
What Can I Do If I Am Feeling Bored?
- First recognise you are not present, acknowledge you are avoiding something.
- Ask yourself what are you avoiding by distracting yourself with meaningless activities that you are really in a day-dream about, where you zone out and go on auto-pilot in your day.
- Change your activity. If you are surfing the net, switch your computer off, if you are watching TV switch the set off. Sit quietly for a while and focus on the breath coming in and out of your nostrils. That is all you need to do for now and give yourself that space and attention in the now.
- Focusing on the breath is only boring if you are afraid of being with you. But if you begin a more mindful practice of meditation you begin to see that mindful awareness is the greatest form of self love – you are paying attention to you.
- Do something physical, go for a walk or clean or dance. Walk and sense the ground beneath your feet, how does your breath move in your body as you walk, can you slow your walking down and sense the way your body moves as it walks? Clean your home mindfully, give thanks for your home and all the objects that are within it, feel the cloth in your hand as you do so, as you do you bring love to your home also. Dance and see what wants to dance, is it your finger, your hand, your feet, does your body want to go slow, fast? Really tune into yourself and your surroundings.
The truly enlightened person lives in both worlds – the transcendent (above the world of opposites) and the actual world of opposites. He/she does not run away to live as a hermit in a cave, but fully immerses him/herself in this messy world.
The commonplace tasks of ordinary life are not boring chores. They are a path to awareness if carried out mindfully.
As the Tao (God, Spirit, Life Force, whatever you want to call it) is everything, it must include everything like fetching water, chopping wood.
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