Is Meditation Normally This Boring ? Five Tips to Fight the Tedium
by Farzana Rahman
This article talks about how to overcome boredom when it comes to meditation.
Meditation is Everywhere
It’s generally agreed that meditation is A Good Thing To Do. In fact, it seems that meditation is everywhere.
Pop into any fancy concept shop* and you’ll inevitably find books with titles such as ‘The Pocketbook of Mindfulness,’ or ‘How to Relax’ next to scented candles.
There are documentaries about meditation on Netflix, best-selling books about mindfulness in bookshops and countless podcasts on iTunes talking about the mind.
Yet, if we know that it’s good for us, why is it so hard to actually do ?
Maybe it’s the thing that no-one really talks about......
That even though meditation can expand our mind and makes us more Zen, it can also be a bit boring.
*Concept shops are the kind of shops that bewilder a lot of the men I know. They are the type of shops that sell expensive t-shirts, colouring books for adults and fruit bowls. They often have mysterious names and wrap your items in lots of paper.
I Got Bored Meditating
My first experience with meditation was that of overwhelming boredom.
After spending an inordinate amount of time arranging cushions and ambient lighting, I sat down in quiet space and tried to focus on my breathing. After a couple of minutes, I was overwhelmed by feelings of restlessness and boredom. I became distracted by all the things I had to do and started to make a mental to-do list.
When I finally checked my watch, I realized it had only been five minutes even though it felt like twenty. I promptly gave up.
Are We Allergic to Boredom ?
As a society, it seems we’re terrified of tediousness.
Our daily routines are streamlined so that any opportunities for boredom are nipped early in the bud. We tackle commutes like weary warriors, stocking up on downloaded TV shows, music and books lest we get stuck with nothing to do. We leave the house armed with devices we’ve charged overnight as well as an array of backup chargers and charging packs that would make Iron Man proud.
But perhaps it’s this avoidance of boredom that leaves us ill-equipped for stillness. Maybe constant stimulation isn’t the answer.
So how can we get over those feelings of restlessness and actually incorporate meditation into our day to day lives ? Here are some quick tips:
1. Acknowledge That Meditation Can be Boring
I only started to meditate regularly when I finally acknowledged that meditation could be kind of boring.
This was not what I had imagined.
I wanted to be the kind of person who could sit and meditate for hours. However, I had to admit that when it came down to it, I would much rather binge watch the latest series of ‘Stranger Things’ than meditate. Remembering this means that I actually set aside time to do it. Like eating vegetables instead of McDonalds.
2. Guided Meditations
Sitting in silence isn’t for everyone. If you’re finding it difficult to start a meditation practice, try guided meditations.
Apps such as Insight Timer have lots of guided meditations broken down into themes and duration. These talk you through various stages of relaxation and listening to instructions can be a useful way to focus.
3. Start Small
Set small achievable goals, 5-10 minutes will make a difference if done regularly. Even the Dalai Lama had to start somewhere.
4. Try Being Bored
Next time you’re waiting, be it at a supermarket or meeting a friend, take a few moments to do nothing. Take a look around, notice your surroundings and observe your breathing. When that feeling of restlessness comes up, try to breathe through it and not automatically reach for your phone. The path to inner peace is lined with boredom (I made this up but really believe it's true).
5. Mix It Up
Not all meditation has to be done sitting cross-legged on a cushion. Monks often do walking meditations where they completely focus on the activity they are doing. It’s similar in principle to yoga, tai-chi or Qigong. Bringing your focus to a piece of music or a physical object all have the same principle of breaking the chain of repetitive thoughts through relaxed focus.
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