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Mindful : October 2016
but to our categorization of it as a bad thing, and our hurried attempts to be rid of it. Mindfulness invites us to see boredom not as something to reject, but rather to know, understand, and even embrace. In mindfulness practice, we change our ideas about boredom and our relationship to it. Actually, we stop being bored by boredom. And if we are no longer bored by boredom, isn’t it something different already? Boredom thus dissolves not with resistance, but by getting familiar with it. Embracing boredom With a mindful approach, there are three steps to getting familiar with feelings of being bored. The first is curiosity—after all, the opposite of boredom is interest. When we offer our interest to the experience of boredom, we may discover it’s anything but dull. Actually, researchers have identified no less than five types of boredom Mindfulness invites us to see boredom not as something to reject, but rather to know, understand, and even embrace. When Your Practice Feels Boring Is It All in Your Head? Like Dr. Johnson’s summa- tion of the cosmopolitan life of 18th century London, mindfulness offers us full and open access to every experience. So does that mean if we’re bored in med- itation, we’re also bored by our lives? And if so, what can be done about it? Meditation shows us our habitual patterns of mind; how we typically relate to the world. If we find the practice boring, our tendency may be to blame the experience—to think it’s our breath, body sensations, or thoughts that are boring. Yet, if we observe what’s happening carefully, we see that we’re actually relating to it in a bored way: We label meditation uninter- esting, and we identify with the desire to get away from it. However, it’s actually our mind that creates the boredom, rather than what we’re attend- ing to. After all, what could be more amazing and interesting than the mystery and magic of conscious experience, the very facts of breathing, sens- ing, thinking, and the wonder of being aware? With dissatisfaction as our basic mindset, we’ll likely seek an unsustainably high level of stimulation in order to avoid a boredom that’s actually being When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford. — Samuel Johnson, English writer created at source, by the mind. When life doesn’t deliver, we’ll likely be bored. A lot. The good news is that mindfulness practice itself provides a remedy, because it invites us to be interested in every aspect of life, even the so-called boring bits. If we can stay with it, we star t to reverse the old habits of retreating into fixed ideas, distraction, and reactivity, which steal our attention from the magic of the moment. As soon as we get interested in what our boredom feels like, by defini- tion it’s no longer boring. Of course, this paying attention with interest is not so easy to develop—the mind frequently wanders into what we think is happening rather than what’s actually happen- ing, and the body gets jumpy. This is why it’s important to repeat the practice, on a reg- ular basis, for shor t periods at a time. In doing so, we gently and gradually develop our capacity for ongoing curiosity. So, noticing boredom in meditation? Willing to experi- ence it, with a friendly interest? You’re on the right track. 56 mindful October 2016 well-being