Appreciating boredom


In a world where the mind is often overstimulated, it is easy to encounter boredom in the practice of meditation. Through meditation we familiarize ourselves with our habitual patterns of mind and discover how we typically relate to the world. If we find the practice boring, chances are we have a tendency to blame the experience and identify with our desire to get away from it. However, the boredom is not with what we are attending to. It is fabricated by our mind and its evolutionary wiring to seek the pleasant stimuli to help us survive: food, shelter, social interaction.

The good news is that mindful meditation itself offers a remedy, because it invites us to be interested in all aspects of life, even those that are often labelled as “boring”. If we manage to stay with them, to reverse any patterns of reactivity that take our attention away from the present, and become interested in what our boredom feels like, it disappears by definition. Of course this does not happen from one day to the next: it is necessary to gradually develop this capacity for ongoing curiosity. In fact, in Eastern traditions practitioners sit in meditation staring at blank walls (imagine!).

So if you feel bored in your meditation, but you’re willing to invite your interest to it with an attitude of friendly curiosity, you’re on the right track!

When you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting.
— Jon Kabat-Zinn