Many people say they find meditation boring.
Sure, there’s not a lot going on with meditation. You’re just sitting down focusing on your breath or perhaps on a mantra. But if you think that the simple practice of meditation is boring, it actually says a lot about you.
To answer that, you have to consider what boredom really is.
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.
So, what is boredom?
Tolstoy called it 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 in to 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.
When you feel bored you are experiencing the Buddhist state of Dukkha, or dissatisfaction. 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 do find meditation boring, it is actually an indication that you need to meditate more.
Find meditation boring? All the more reason to do it!
Fascinatingly, if you find meditation boring that is all the more reason to do it.
Because if you find meditation boring 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.
This is where the real link between meditation and boredom comes in.
Because 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 might 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.
How to deal with boredom when meditating
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. It 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.
Just like every other feeling when we meditate, boredom is just a feeling. The trick is to mindfully observe it 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.
Do you find meditation boring? Does it stop you from meditating? What do you do about it? Leave a comment and remember to subscribe.