Oakville Zen Meditation


                                                      Boredom is a great opportunity

Boredom is a feeling of displeasure, impatience and emptiness arising out of a conflict between a constant need for physical /mental activity, distraction, connection and lack of incitement to it, or inability to be incited. Boredom is a frequent because we cannot tolerate not being busy doing something whatever it is.

It is associated with poor self-image, restlessness, discomfort, emptiness and the feeling of being useless. It is blamed for things like sadness, depression, addiction, dangerous hobbies and even violence.

Why people are more and more complaining about boredom?

Despite being busier, complaining about boredom is increasing. This is paradoxical.

It is probably due to our growing addiction to be connected, over stimulated and overloaded with multi-media information provided by Wi-Fi and social networks. As long we are connected we are not bored. Medical research shows:

  • That being connected triggers a release of dopamine and serotonin, the main chemicals in the brain associated with pleasure and reward. IT addiction is now recognized & treated.
  • On the contrary, being disconnected creates feeling of emptiness, dissatisfaction, and anxiety, even stress, which in turn triggers new cravings for stimulation.
  • Excitement & boredom are entangled: one will follow the other automatically.

Outside triggers of boredom:

Here is a short list:

There is nothing to do, to produce, being w/o excitement, w/o distraction, w/o connection.

Doing routine, repetitive and non-challenging stuff.

Doing things or being with people we dislike.

Being bored is an ego reaction because our self-image cannot tolerate being stalled or idle. We have to do something, to be useful and to produce all the time. If not, we may we experience emptiness, usefulness, loneliness and wasting our time. “I deserve better says the ego”

Main source of boredom: a Zen perspective

Does the current moment, situation, event, environment and people cause boredom? NO

Boredom is totally self-created since only your mind creates 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.

Nothing and nobody are causing boredom. 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, sex, gambling, entertainment, to social network and Internet).

 Is there a solution against boredom?

Again: like all of your emotions, boredom comes from self and not from the outside world.

When we are bored, we are creating boredom , not the situation in which we are.

When we are excited, we are creating excitement, not the situation in which we are.

It is up to the mind to decide to be excited or bored, nothing else.

We are bored because we want to escape or resist from a given situation.

Changing the outside world will not work but dealing with the inside will. As usual and as said so many times here, learning to pay attention to our ego-driven negative feelings is the crucial step in controlling them.

Awareness then acceptance of the fact that you are causing boredom it will do the trick.

When you focus and accept without resistance the fact of being bored there is no boredom anymore just a transient experience.

By the way, meditation will greatly help you in practicing awareness of boredom.

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.