Taken at face value there is little surprise that meditation might make you yawn with boredom. There’s very little going on in meditation to stimulate your mind. You’re literally just sitting focusing on breathing. It’s not exactly exciting, is it?
However, when you look more closely at the nature of meditation and boredom, things get… interesting.
What is boredom?
Boredom is one of the most common feelings in the world. Characterised by a feeling of dissatisfaction, it occurs when you have energy in your spirit but nowhere to direct that energy.
The idea of boredom actually dates back to Greek philosophers, although the word itself was not invented until the latter half of the Eighteenth century.
Tolstoy called boredom the “desire for desire”, which is revealing. It means that if you find meditation boring, you are desiring something more when you meditate. This ties into the Buddhist concepts of Dukkha and Sukha.
Dukkha means dissatisfaction. This is very closely related to boredom because when you feel bored you are really dissatisfied and desiring something more. The opposite is Sukha, which is satisfaction.
Essentially, the practice of meditation, of sitting still and focusing on your breath, does not satisfy you, and so you feel bored.
There’s also a possible chemical reason for this. Scientists have discovered that high-risk, boredom-prone people may lack in the chemical neurotransmitter dopamine, which is a feel-good chemical.
Because of this, they are likely to perform actions that lead to releases of dopamine, such as drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette. If this sounds like you, you might like to try some ways of increasing dopamine naturally.
Now here’s an interesting fact: if you truly think meditation is boring, it is actually an indication that you need to meditate more.
If You Find Meditation Boring…
If you’re feeling dissatisfied when you meditate, it means you require constant satisfaction. Those moments of sitting still and focusing on your breath simply do not satisfy you because you need more.
Needing more, however, can be a curse. Boredom drives many people to unhealthy habits, including addictions .
Because you are dissatisfied (and could possibly be lacking in dopamine) you search for satisfaction, often from unhealthy sources of dopamine such as alcohol and cigarettes. Your constant need for more, and your desire to avoid boredom, leads you to take actions you think will satisfy you.
If you only could be satisfied with less. Then you would no longer need to seek out sources of dopamine to satisfy yourself.
Although you might find meditation boring, studies show that people who practice meditation actually learn to tolerate boredom better.
Yes, by sitting still and focusing on your breath you will train your mind to feel satisfied with less, and this will make you feel less need to perform any unhealthy actions or unhealthy habits that you currently do.
A 2006 study titled “The phenomenon of boredom”, published in Qualitative Research in Psychology , showed that although most people try to stop boredom by performing tasks like doing the laundry and taking work breaks, meditation actually had a far better effect.
So, the next time you are feeling bored, instead of distracting yourself you might like to try meditating.
Meditation For Boredom
So now we know that boredom doesn’t mean you should stop meditating. But just exactly what do you do when you are meditating and start to feel bored?
Follow these steps:
- Think about the moment when you started to feel dissatisfied.
- Notice the feeling of dissatisfaction and boredom. Meditate on this. Observe what it actually feels like to be bored. Notice how it is a tangible energy that you can observe in the present moment.
- Remind yourself that boredom is just a feeling. It doesn’t mean something is wrong. It doesn’t mean you have to get up and do something. Boredom is just a feeling.
- Tell yourself that despite the fact that you are feeling bored, everything is okay, and you will continue to meditate regardless.
Over time, this simple practice will make you less susceptible to the feeling of boredom. This, in turn, will mean that you no longer need to seek out satisfaction, which will help you to curb many of the bad habits that you may have.
Boredom is just a feeling. The trick is to mindfully observe the feeling of boredom and to continue to meditate through it, rather than being ruled by it.
Over time you will notice that you no longer feel bored when you meditate, and that you are happy and satisfied to simply sit still and focus on your breath. And in turn this will make you less dependent on dopamine hits, which you might be getting from unhealthy sources.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison