Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Boredom

I don't believe it is our nature to be bored.

This topic came up several weeks ago and I've actually had to think about it for a while to realize where it comes from.

People who were acculturated to a certain way of life often complain of boredom, the absence of external stimuli to keep their minds busy. They depend on technology, on other people's ideas and commercial items to keep them connected. There's an inherent fear attached to being too quiet with our own thoughts and feelings. If we do it too long, we might come to realize something is wrong and that we may need to change the way we're living.

In feeling boredom, I've noticed two things came up for me prominently: anxiety or impatience. Living a way of life in which I am required to view myself as separate from others and nature leads to anxiety and fear, the feeling that we are all really alone in this earthly voyage. When we forfeit interdependence for security and control, we feel alone. Being alone is scary. Wanting that to not be so creates impatience because it is so unsatisfying. Being separate and alone wounds us. To avoid confronting it, we depend on things outside of ourselves to keep us occupied. When there isn't anything instantly available, we complain about being "bored".

Looking at it another way. that you and I are not separate, we are all in this life together and share commonalities, that we are not "apart from" nature and other people, has freed my mind from boredom. I am free to let my mind wander without external input and can be still for quite a long time.

An experiment would be interesting. Try sitting still with your own thoughts for ten minutes. Just ten minutes. Turn off the phone, turn off the TV, don't read a book or look for anything outside of your own thoughts.

What does it feel like? Do you feel antsy? Why?



Defiantmuse said...

I remember my mentor used to always tell me, "there's no such thing as boredom". It took a while but it sunk in and I finally "got" it. That said, I still claim to be bored but know full well it's because I'm not comfortable sitting in my own skin for a long period of time with no external stimulus. There are the few times I welcome the silence and stopping of everything around me but not as often as I would like.

Catherine said...

When I was growing up, if I complained of being bored my dad would tell me that "Boredom is a sign of selfishness - there's plenty of work that needs to be done in this world and plenty of people who could use your friendship and help. So if you're bored, get moving."

This has really stuck with me, and I absolutely agree with him.

Jen said...

It doesn't make me feel antsy, as this is the kind of meditation I'm trying to work on right now. Happily, I haven't had that restless, bored feeling since my twenties. There are at least some advantages to aging. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I see boredom differently. I think it does exist but I don't see it as a bad thing. I think our minds need a rest, just as they need stimulation. When we have had too much stimulation, we feel overwhelmed and need rest. When we have had too much rest, we feel bored and need stimulation.

It is what we do with boredom that matters. Does that make sense?

Great post, Chani!

Sorrow said...

I learned there is no silence.
When i sit still in quiet , I hear the wind, I feel the breeze, i taste the sunshine, stillness has it's own wonder..

crazymumma said...

it sounds arrogant. But I am rarely bored and i love to be alone with my own thoughts. But they get to me in a bad way. So I prefer to be I do not 'dwell'.

Maria said...

I keep trying to meditate but I swear there is something not quite right with me! My mind is what is known as a Monkey Mind.. just jumping all over the palce like I am on crack and I swear I am not! LOL

However I will keep trying! All the best always,

LittlePea said...

I have zero problems being alone with my own thoughts. I do it quite often. It feels just fine. It's important to put one's mind in "neutral" once in a while.

Carla said...

I must admit I too can rarely if ever claim boredom. I don't mind being by myself, in fact sometimes I prefer it feeling like it helps me to recharge. In any case, I always have too many things to do to ever be bored. What I do need though, is focus.

Olivia said...

I am always anxious when alone with my thoughts, which is much of the time. I am thus anxious a lot. On the other hand, I like lots of time to process my thoughts. So...I'm learning how to be present, to focus, and to strengthen that part of my brain that deals with attention and focus. This part of the brain atrophies in the American culture.

I am never, ever, ever bored nor am I even close to being bored. I don't understand boredom. There is so much to do. Even just daydreaming...

I want to learn to be still and to meditate, as part of working with my brain strengthening. I am just in the beginning stages of it, though---admitting that I CAN do it, I just need to be willing to sit with the anxiety I feel. So I have a long way to go.

This is an important topic!

Thank you, Chani,

Peace and rest,


Angeline said...

You know, that's my habit, everyday. I love to step back for a while (yup, probably 10mins) and be with myself, just myself as and when my kids are not asking, "mommy can you play with me now?"

Angela said...

This practice saves my life on many an occasion. I found myself eager to get home yesterday so I could do just that - sit with my thoughts until the silence becomes louder. It is only then that I will find any clarity.

niobe said...

My natural tendancy is live inside my head, focusing on my own thoughts. I worry much more about cutting myself off from the world around me than I do about being bored.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sometimes it's when I'm alone with my own thoughts that I become most aware of my connection to others and to Nature even as I realize that I am the one who has been with me every moment of my life, and will be to the end.

I think I welcome my interactions with others because I am generally comfortable with myself. Since I am usually able to keep myself interested in life and even entertained, I am often surprised and delighted that others can do it for me, too.

Boredom is unnecessary.

Woman in a Window said...

Can we be both? I feel antsy, for sure, when I am required to stop, but when I choose to stop and just be - even in those slow moving moments there is so much for my mind. It's almost overwhelming. Life is just so darned good!