Accepting the boredom of meditation

Some people find the idea of sitting quietly, meditating, too horrible to imagine; they know they are usually twitchy and easily become jaded. Until you engage with your restlessness and boredom though, ending the resistance within and accepting the experience, you face an inner struggle that prevents you benefiting much. Additionally, if you try to avoid your impatience, perhaps by engaging in a different meditation that allows you to think as part of the process, you don’t permit yourself to grow in awareness. You don’t reach that revitalizing place inside where everything simply is as it is without you wanting to change or transform it in any way. Even imagining what that experience might be like is hard, since, until it touches you, you have no reference point to provide appreciation.

Don’t misunderstand, meditation isn’t supposed to be boring, it’s not meant to be anything. You might label it as uninteresting though, as you don’t know another way of describing your resistance of the process. If you haven’t experienced letting go before, when there is nothing to be done but sit, your whole being cries out, telling you to do something. You may twitch or experience other physical movements that concern you, and you may have an intense desire to make something out of the experience of not doing anything.

At first, meditating may be unnerving because you’re used to keeping busy, you automatically fill time as though it were a bag to be packed tightly to the brim. You’ve been taught that not engaging in activity is a waste of time, an outrage! People who sit for a long period, when doing so isn’t called meditation, are often labeled as lazy and slovenly, and you don’t want those labels to stick to you. You may know that sitting quietly during meditation is socially acceptable, unlike being a couch potato, yet, you still have the urge to stay busy. You don’t know how to keep still and just be. Also, at least if you were lounging around, you could make small movements, like reaching for a crisp packet or flicking to another TV channel as you stared at the screen. When you meditate, there’s nothing to hold your attention or distract you from the present moment, and you aren’t used to the flood of experience that can occur when you are fully engaged in each second as it happens.

The flood of experience, nonetheless, isn’t an outpouring of distracting movements outside yourself, it’s an expansion of awareness. You may notice your internal, or external environment more readily. The ticking of a clock may seem loud, the sensation of air entering your nose may feel intense, and your thoughts may sound clearer in your head. What you are experiencing is what is already there and has been all along, but there is usually so much stimuli to filter out that you never have the chance to engage with a single experience in all its glory. At last, your consciousness is free to meet the present, but your liberation feels alien, and is so unusual that you don’t know how to continue.

Your boredom, then, might not be what you thought it was. Instead of a lack of interest and stimulation, what happens is intense experience. Rather than bits of lightly felt experiences, suddenly, there are deep, rich, intense experiences felt one at a time instead of overlapping. This discomfort is like the gap between sentences, the uncomfortable silence you want to fill because it’s overwhelming when you are with someone you haven’t spent much time with before.

The gap though, the space between words, is where the magic has room to happen. A wonderful piece of music loses its magnificence when all notes run into one another. If there are no pauses, it has no strength and significance. The same is true with a great speech, if the speaker doesn’t allow the audience a moment to reflect, and for his words to make an impression, what he is saying is lost. Filling in life’s pauses is a sign of anxiety, a fear that what will be experienced in those spaces could be too much to bear. When you meditate and think you are bored, what’s occurring is the agitation that accompanies meeting the unknown. You are not sure whether it’s fearsome or not, but it’s clear that doing nothing is a stranger and those gaps in which you do nothing are slightly painful.

Realizing that meditating could be uncomfortable might cause you to ponder why anyone would bother. After all, it’s nicer to be in your comfort zone, but, stay where you’ve always been and you’ll never expand your horizons. Meditating, and sticking with the process through those uncomfortable times, takes you beyond boredom into expanded awareness. After a while, you and the space where you do nothing are no longer strangers. Your fear slips away, and you gain the ease and comfort that comes from being with a dear friend, one you can sit with in silence and just enjoy their company.

Reference: The Myth of Freedom by Chogyam Trungpa

About bridget

bridget webber

Bridget Webber’s background rests in mental health, counselling, hypnotherapy, NLP and art. She brings knowledge from her experiences into her writing and specializes in emotional wellness and the creation of, rather than search for, joy. You can catch up with her insights and musings on Twitter.

Twitter: @InsightManager

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