How often do you find yourself in boring situations?
Maybe you’re sitting in a waiting room, attending a work meeting, standing in line in a crowded coffee shop, or stuck in a traffic jam.
Do you notice how your mind tends to think about something pleasant from your past or anticipate an exciting event in the future?
When you jump back and forth in time it gives you a sense of relief, you are no longer stuck in an unpleasant situation but inhabit a delightful illusion of the mind.
What you don’t realize is that those moments when you are daydreaming are the times when you train your mind to be absent from the present moment. In other words, you train your mind to be unconscious.
I can almost hear you say, “So what’s the big deal here? I tend to daydream now and then. It can’t be that bad, can it?”
I used to think like that myself.
As I look back, the most unbearable situations for me were taking a subway to and from work, the last hour of the workday, standing in line in the supermarket.
To make the torture of waiting less painful, I would start thinking about my future plans. I would mentally go over every little thing that I needed to do. This kind of rehearsal gave a little sense of relief because I knew what I needed to do.
If I had no particular projects or plans, I would start thinking about something pleasant that happened to me recently, about my friends or family.
Another thing I would do was take out my phone and start reading a book. I found this particularly useful because I had no time to read when I was at home, so I used this as an opportunity to catch up with my reading goals.
But these activities served only as a temporary patch, they could never ease the tension completely. And so I would live through this drudgery day in and day out.
But mindfulness changed all of that completely. In this article, I would like to show you how it can cure boredom for you.
What you tell yourself when you are bored
You must have heard and read that you always need to be in the present moment. It’s the most common advice you hear when reading about mindfulness and meditation.
But reading about it and actually doing it are entirely different things as far as your actual experience is concerned.
Be honest: can you be fully present when you are stuck in a boring situation where you have no choice but to remain in one place and wait?
I often see people asking whether it’s beneficial to be present when they are sitting in a waiting room. After all, the experience is not so remarkable to justify the practice of presence. There are no beautiful flowers, trees or animals that you can admire in a mindful presence.
So you tell yourself, “Why not think about something pleasant like the upcoming holiday trip with my family or a funny conversation I had with my friend?”
Can you relate? Did you ever feel that way? Reflect on this before reading further.
Why mind-wandering is one of the main causes of unhappiness
The excuse not to be present when faced with boring situations is quite common among those who just started their meditation practice. You might think that practicing presence is necessary only when you feel bad and depressed.
But just like you don’t brush your teeth only when you have a toothache, you don’t practice present moment awareness only when you have anxious thoughts.
Anxiety, worry, fear, and other forms of negativity that you experience in your daily life is a consequence of mind wondering. They actually did a study called A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind and found it to be true.
When you think “I’m in a boring place now, so I’ll start thinking about something more pleasant” you are resisting your present circumstances. You don’t want to be where you are and create a conflict between your outer and inner state.
The situation in the waiting room might seem insignificant to you at that moment, and you may justify mind wondering just for that occasion. But it’s these “small” situations that add up through time and literally train your mind to always be somewhere else. In other words, you condition yourself to be unconscious.
So when real challenges come you will not be ready. You will react poorly and will not be able to sustain presence, take a step back, and be an impartial witness to your negative thoughts and emotions.
How to cure boredom with mindfulness
If you think about it, boredom is the reflection of our mind’s tendency to always want more.
More experiences, more excitement, more activities.
When you are deprived of them for a period of time, you feel impatient and restless.
But what you don’t realize is that boredom can become a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness.
That is why I’ve put together a free worksheet with 3 simple strategies on how to cure boredom with mindfulness. You can download it by clicking the button below.