Oakville Zen Meditation

#121: Escaping from boredom.7AUG16.

                                                            Escaping from boredom

 Few days ago, feeling somewhat bored I decided to escape from boredom and write something about this negative feeling. Here is the stuff, obviously pretty boring.

Definition: Boredom is a feeling of displeasure, impatience and emptiness arising out of a conflict between a constant need for significant physical and or mental activity and lack of incitement to it, or inability to be incited.

Boredom is a very frequent negative feeling, occurring at all ages, especially for teens and elderly and quite difficult to deal with as we will see below. Escaping from boredom by doing something else is the usual reflex but it is only a temporary solution since boredom will come back as shown by research studies.

Causes of boredom:

First cause: Boredom typically occurs when people have trouble focusing their attention on the current moment, environment or situation for whatever reasons.

Second cause: People who are frequently bored have an above normal level of psychological energy causing quicker arousal to feel bored. In other words, the higher psychological energy or arousal you have, the lower threshold is to become bored by something or somebody or by the perception of doing nothing right now.

On the contrary, the lower the arousal, the less likely is the risk of boredom. Also, people suffering from restless mind are bored more frequently and more intensely. In fact, their jittering, over-heated mind have tendency to feel chronically bored regardless the circumstances.

Third cause: Over stimulated minds. We are living in a society which over stimulates our mind continuously thru media, social networks, cell phones, etc. The exposure to information overload and to communication makes our brain addicted to them. If a break of this overloaded exposure occurs, our mind feels empty and is starving for something else to get busy with and boredom kicks in. For example many cannot tolerate a silence home. We have to keep our ears busy.

Fourth cause: Instant rewarding. We want stuff immediately. If not, we feel frustrated, impatient and often bored at the same time.

Does the current moment, situation, event, environment and people cause boredom?

Nothing and nobody are causing boredom. To say that running or being stuck in traffic is boring is ridiculous. They are just what they are: entities neither boring nor exciting. Our outside world does not cause boredom.

So, what is the real source of boredom?

Boredom is totally self-created since only your incoming bored - mind does create actual boredom. Boredom is triggered when the situation x, y, z is perceived being unchallenging, out of control, useless, meaningless, waste of time, hopeless or simply too much routine.

For example John may perceive and decide that meditation is boring whereas Jane sees it as enjoyable and challenging.

Where is this mind-generated feeling of boredom coming from? It comes from our ego.

When we perceive a situation being “bored” our ego is telling us: “I don’t like what I am doing”, “I want action, fun, excitement, challenge, I want to be useful, I want novelty, I want to be busy, I don’t want to do nothing, I don’t want to be stuck,” etc. Those are perceptions that our ego is trying to fight against.

Consequences of boredom:

Acute boredom such as waiting at the airport can be dealt easily by distracting the mind by reading a book, texting, etc.

Chronic boredom is far more serious and may induce depression, poor self-image, anxiety, and resentment. Suicides have being reported. Many will try to escape boredom and buy more stuff and new stuff. They may overwork. They may become addicted to alcohol, food, gambling, and entertainment and to social media and Internet). They may have an affair, travel non-stop and even develop anti social behaviors. These escapes are just a Band-Aid on a wooden leg.

Is there a solution against boredom?

 Like for the huge majority of our feelings, boredom comes from inside self and not from outside. Changing the outside will not work forever, dealing with the inside will. As usual and as said so many times here, learning to pay attention to our ego-driven feelings is the crucial step in controlling them. When you are bored, you are not that boredom, you produce it. Awareness then acceptance of the fact that you are causing it will do the trick. When you focus and accept without resistance the fact of being bored there is no boredom anymore just a new activity. Also, meditation will help you in practicing awareness.

Reference:Some of the info. comes from an interesting paper by John Eastwood, Alexandra Frischen, Mark Fenske, and Daniel Smilek in the September, 2012 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.  University of York.