Monday, June 27, 2016

Boredom and Buddhism

To say I feel bored feels disrespectful. How could that be? I have a three month old daughter, I'm training for a demanding job in the temple, I'm a wilderness medic responding to incidents every 4 days or so, and I'm sewing my priest robes for ordination. And I have this sense of disinterest.

I have a few theories as to why I feel bored. One could be the natural come down from having the baby and becoming stable in our schedule. Another come down plays out in the adrenaline crash after responding to a medical emergency or the general up keep work I do at the temple when compared to fixing something crucial to operations. When I hear there's a fire in the area I'm pretty excited to be mobilized for stay and defend duty. I feel pretty guilty about that, too.

So I read Beyond Boredom and Depression by Ajahn Jagaro and I was reminded to be careful about looking outward by this passage:

So what is boredom? It is a subjective experience that occurs when the mind is not interested or stimulated, and doesn't like what the present contains. You want something else, you are bored. You say, "This is boring. This is not boring", but it would be more correct to say, "The mind is bored." The mind is bored because it doesn't want this situation, it wants something else, it wants to be somewhere else; it wants to have something else, to experience something else, someone else, somewhere else...


He goes on to say that concentration on something neutral, like the breath, is the antidote for boredom. I think that's a nice option, and actually, zazen doesn't feel boring for me, it's just that it's only an hour and forty minutes of my day. And actually, I'm more interested in being bored and placing my experience in the context of my life, within the context of other times I've been bored and what I'm doing differently now. Mostly I'm doing nothing but staying in relationship to the schedule and responding appropriately to my responsibilities and daily life, making sure to exercise and eat healthy, at least most of the time. 

As much as I'd like this boredom to pass, it would be harder to study if it wasn't present. And I'm pretty curious about it. Boredom can be such a driving force. I'm probably living the life I live right now because I was bored with some other life I lived. 

So i'll hang tight, sit still, and see what happens.