While a lot of the time we complain about having too much to do, sometimes we may find ourselves at the other end of the spectrum—feeling bored. Even though we have more ways of distracting ourselves than ever before, this can still happen, and not just to adolescents, who are often thought to own this realm of consciousness.
What is boredom?
We tend to think of it as a quality of things out there. But in Buddhism, boredom is seen as an inability to invest energy in what is going on.
The classic form of Buddhist meditation involves focusing on the breath. On the one hand, we could say, what could possibly be more boring than that? But on the other, isn’t its amazing that we consider this life-sustaining activity, so important for our well-being, as something boring?
To succeed at breath meditation, we have to find the breath interesting and enjoyable. This is quite possible. If we give energy to our awareness of the breath, it can be both interesting and refreshing. We can be aware of how the breath creates a unity between body and mind. We can sense how each in breath brings nourishment to every cell of the body, and how each out breath releases tension and toxins. And if we can do this, concentration becomes easy, and the breath becomes something very interesting and important.
The same principle applies to attending an academic lecture, watching a TV show, gardening, or doing domestic tasks. But if we expect that we should just be able to sit back and, without investing any energy, be entertained and amused, even the most exciting TV show runs the risk of becoming boring.
To remedy any feeling of boredom, invest energy and attention.