The Value of Boredom

Sometimes when I meditate, especially if it’s for more than about 20 minutes, my mind starts thinking “oh my god, I am so BORED.”

“bored bored bored BORED bored BORED BoRED BOrED!”

“When is this over?” “This sucks – is it possible to die of being bored? Is something terrible about to happen to me, some horrible boredom induced brain injury?”

I can sit for a while – or walk, or whatever, while just thinking without getting bored. When I daydream, I don’t get bored. When I write, I don’t get bored. But, when I meditate I do. The way I meditate, however, is very similar to daydreaming. The only difference is, instead of attaching to a thought when I have it, I refocus on my breathing. So, internally it sort of goes like this.

*inhale*

*exhale*

*inhale*

“I wonder what we’re having for dinner today”

*exhale*

“I hope it’s not just reheated leftovers from last night, I didn’t really like that meal very much.”

*inhale*

“If it were up to me, we’d go grocery shopping instead of eating that again.”

***Some sort of wordless realization I have been following a train of thought***

***Draw attention back to my breathing***

*inhale*

*exhale*

“I’m hungry”

***Draw attention back to my breathing***

*inhale*

*exhale*

 

If I were not meditating, I would follow that entire train of thought to some conclusion. Perhaps, I would imagine myself cooking up some fantastic feast, or I would end up daydreaming about the tastiest things I had ever eaten. I don’t find that boring. But, focusing on my breathing?

To be clear, I don’t think the words “inhale” and “exhale.” Well – ok, sometimes I do (or, sometimes I think other words like *accept*, *release*) but sometimes, I’m just focused on the physical sensation of inhaling and exhaling. And it’s then, when my mind has been wordless for a while, that it’ll start going “bored.”

Actually, honestly, I’m sort of scared of that zone. The “bored” zone. I haven’t sat zazen longer than 20 minutes in a while, because I’m scared of it. I should probably go talk to one of the instructors at the zen center about that – I think I will in the New Year. It’s strange, you know – because boredom seems sort of benign, but actually, it’s kind of like a big voice screaming “STOP DOING THIS!”

Other times I get bored are when I’m laying around watching TV, or studying information I’m not interested in. There’s an edge of fear to it, but what is that edge? What am I afraid of when I’m watching TV, or studying, or meditating? Why is my mind telling me to stop? Is its fear justified?

I even feel bored writing this post. Maybe you’re bored reading it?

So…. boring……..

 

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