Mindfulness for Boredom: Beginner’s Mind
We have all been quarantining, self-isolating, or sheltering. People have experimented with new ways to stay connected…therapy on telephones, meetings on Zoom, school from home. For those who are living with others, there are cherished times and challenging times. People are picking up old hobbies and finding ways to occupy themselves.
Some days though, you are just bored. You feel “at loose ends,” unsure of what you should do, unable to find anything to amuse you. Researchers say that being bored is good for stimulating creativity. But some of you may be thinking, “enough already.” Boredom is closely linked to frustration and frustration is not a comfortable place to sit.
So, today’s mindfulness practice is designed to help us to escape boredom. In the emotion world, boredom is often characterized as an inability to “upregulate” your body and emotions. It is failing to fully engage. What makes us fail to engage, when a multitude of activities are available? The first reason we don’t engage is willfulness. We have discussed willfulness before. In Zen, willfulness is the desire to be in control. We want to choose our activity and it may not be available, so we say, “There is nothing to do!”
The second reason we are bored is that we are tired of the same activities. We think we have done them and that they are not interesting. In other words, we decide ahead of time what the activity will be like. This is the opposite of mindfulness. In mindfulness, we can practice breathing every day and the experience is unique each time. A deep mindfulness practice requires Beginner’s Mind. Beginner’s Mind, also known as Shoshin, is seeing the world with fresh eyes, with a sense of curiosity, letting go of preconceived ideas, open to possibilities. Even if you have done an activity many times before, experience it like it is the first time. This makes you engage with your senses and with details you may not have noticed before. It also takes away boredom.
So, for today’s practice, when you are ready, take a deep breath and click on the following link. The task is to fully engage with the images and music using your senses. It is new for you, and the images and sounds change, so it is a nice way to practice Shoshin. If you find yourself bored, go back to your senses with attention. What do you see or hear?
When the music stops, turn off youtube and breathe deeply twice. Reflect on what it felt like to be fully engaged and open to what came next.
Now, for the rest of your day, pick a few things you find boring or routine to you and try to engage the same way with senses. Eat meals mindfully, walk mindfully, speak to others and observe them mindfully as if it is the first time you have encountered them. Practice Beginner’s Mind in all you do today.
Thank you for practicing with me…