When was the last time you sat and just let yourself be bored for more than a minute or two?
I mean, really sat and just let boredom be there, kind of zen-like, while doing absolutely nothing about it?
If you’re like most people, probably not recently. Maybe not ever. We’re programmed not to do this.
We live in a world of constant distraction, instant gratification, and sensory overload. And we’ve become gluttons for it, enslaved by the cycle of trying to avoid boredom. We’re addicted to distraction.
The amount of them available to us is unlimited. We can turn on the television, sit down at the computer, check email, Facebook, call or text someone, find something to clean, have company, do more work, or even take a nap. Ever find yourself standing with the fridge open and you don’t know why? That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about.
These behaviors clutter our minds and our lives, and keep us from connecting with our deepest selves. We believe we do these things because we’re bored and we think if we were “busier” we wouldn’t do them at all, or we’d do them less. This may be partially true, but really this way of thinking just feeds the cycle. The truth is that there’s a bit more to boredom than meets the eye.
In eastern thought, boredom is a state of resistance. Resistance is tense, tight, and uncomfortable. As soon as we start to feel this discomfort, we seek to escape it, sometimes by being super-productive and other times by doing things that often leave us unfulfilled. We’ve picked up some bad habits along the way and have even created lifestyles designed to keep us from experiencing boredom.
But if boredom is resistance, what are we resisting? It’s usually always one or more of the following:
- a feeling we don’t want to feel
- a thought we don’t want to think, or
- an action we’d rather not take
All of these are part of our intuition, which is always trying to guide us in the direction of a more fulfilling life.
Not acknowledging our intuition cuts us off from our own life energy. Energy is meant to flow, and when we resist this flow it makes us uncomfortable. Our minds crave the next distraction to alleviate this feeling.
If we act on these cravings, we’re doomed to repeat the cycle. But tuning into and acting on our intuition makes us feel more alive, and connects us to our deepest truths, needs, and desires. Even if they are things we don’t want to acknowledge (and sometimes they are).
How do we end the cycle of boredom and distraction and get back in touch with our intuitive energy?
The only real way is to sit with boredom, and not take action. In total silence.
The voice of our deepest truth is usually always quiet. Peaceful. Meaningful and soft. It’s easy to miss. But it’s always there, whether we tune into it or not. If we stop drowning it out by trying to escape it, our lives become less chaotic, more peaceful, more meaningful and more fulfilled. It might shake things up at first, but when we follow our intuition, life gets simpler, lighter, and more joyous as we flow with it and let it flow within us.
If you’ve never done this, I can’t promise that it will be easy. If you sit in silence, all the habits, urges, and impulses you’ve created to avoid it will come up. But recognizing them is the first step. And slowly, over time, you’ll be able eliminate some of them and to live life more consciously, more connected, and more in tune with that deeper place within you.
So the next time you feel bored, before you seek the next distraction: Stop. Pull up a chair or sit on the sofa for 10 or 15 minutes, and
- turn everything off
- close your eyes
- quiet your mind
- tell your to-do list it can wait
- let go of your obsessive thoughts
- forget about all the things you “should” be doing
- don’t act on your compulsive behaviors
- resist the urge to get up
- pretend you’re glued there if you have to
- tell yourself it will be okay
And just breathe slowly, in and out. Ask for guidance, ask, “What do I really want?” And then listen, closely. The calmest voice, the most peaceful one that quietly emerges from the total and utter silence, that is the voice of your intuition. You’ll recognize it because it’s always gentle. Soft. And true.
God cannot be found in noise and restlessness.
God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…
We need silence to be able to touch the soul.
For help getting started cultivating a practice of silence, see: