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Mindful : December 2015
What should I do when I get really bored? Or really anxious and scared? Our culture conditions us to be busy and distracted. We tend to look for what’s novel and exciting. Med- itation—especially in the beginning—doesn’t seem novel or exciting in the least. In fact, it’s an ideal laboratory for studying boredom, because at first blush, meditating is going to seem like the most boring thing anybody’s ever tricked you into doing. You may feel like you’ve been buried alive in your own body. But go with this. Examine how boredom feels in your body, espe- cially if it spills over into feelings of anxiety and fear. You may notice a line Do I have to sit on a cushion onthefloor,orcanIsitina chair (I want to do it at home and don’t want my spouse and kids looking at me like I’m doing some woo-woo weirdo thing)? What about standing or lying down? First off, let your family know you’re trying something new, why, and what it might look like. At first, you may experience a strong temp- tation to dodge all prying eyes. (This is natu- ral, because what you’re doing does look a lot weirder than it really is.) Sit in a way that is comfortable and supportive. A chair is absolutely fine! Here are the basics... Sit upright with a straight but not stiff spine. Relaxed and at ease yet engaged and alert. Walk- ing, standing, and lying down are also ways to practice, though lying down can be sleep-induc- ing. What matters most is the quality of aware- ness you bring to whatever practice you choose. It helps if you can set up a spot within your home that will be yours for the duration of your daily practice. If you have children, maybe you can get them to help you set it up. If all else fails, give them money and send them to the movies. of sweat breaking on your forehead; a feeling of coiled, pulsating energy in your calves; or shallow breath- ing. Take note of these sensations—recognize and respect them—but try not to feed them. Don’t struggle to find an explanation for it all. Simply let the feelings be there. This may be incredibly hard at first, like lying in bed and trying to will your- self to go to sleep. But in the same way that nobody ever lies awake forever, it’s equally true that boredom, anxiety, and fear will inevi- tably mellow and fade—not in spite of your attention to them, but because of it. → 6 7 Just like nobody ever lies awake forever, boredom, anxiety, and fear mellow and fade—not in spite of your attention, but because of it. December 2015 mindful 55