Thursday, January 21, 2010


Today I am bored with myself. Bored with my life. Bored with routine, with the walls of my apartment, with my non-job-ness, with inhabiting the world of a almost-four year old. Bored with a dog who won't stop peeing in the apartment, with cooking three meals a day and cleaning once a week and doing laundry/changing sheets/switching towels.

Once I acknowledged my feeling-state as boredom, I quickly realized no one was responsible for it save me. I also made the connection that boredom, for me, is very closely linked to sadness and ennui. And I use ennui here not to be snooty or throw around "10 cent" words... but because it really captures the more subtle connotations of the listless, mopey, sticky place I internally reside.

My gut instinct, in thinking about how boredom might tie in to Buddhist philosophy, was it belies a sort of dissonance of self. Boredom is the symptom, not the problem. It's simply a reverberation of some wiggling, uncomfortable, niggling area of unease - most likely an area of attachment or ego left entirely unattended and therefore running amok.

I also wonder if boredom results from actively evading a feeling state or "truth" I wish to remain hidden. After all, the use of the label boredom allows me to point fingers outside myself... naming some exterior other as the source of my problem.

Steven Pressfield (author of The War of Art) might label boredom "resistance" and suggest my state of ennui directly links to a decision to run away from or avoid my true calling - to work against action connected to my higher self and soul's purpose.

William Glasser (father of Choice Theory) would suggest I am choosing boredom - accepting and continually creating/embracing this feeling-state. He might say I am placing the power of my feelings within the domain of external sources, rather than taking responsibility for that which I control: my actions and expectations.

And the Buddhists? As with many spiritual pursuits, you will find many answers along your search for capital "T" truth. I think, as with many things in life, sometimes it helps to take it all in and do your best to synthesize a response that syncs up for you.

My impression at this point in my life: The first step is noticing and naming one's boredom. As I understand it, this relates back to a common Western habit - that of disassociating ourselves from our thoughts and feelings. By naming it, I can begin the process of letting go, which then (hopefully) leads to an eventual shift away from boredom/sadness into a more productive and less painful place.

And then... I have to allow myself to be in my boredom and sadness. Rather than running away from it, or using meta-cognition (thinking about my thinking) to avoid experiencing those feelings, or trying to subvert them through mindless activities (eating, surfing the web, wandering the house)... I have to be bored; I have to feel sad. I must allow myself time and space to think the bored/sad thoughts and feel the bored/sad emotions and go wherever I may go without holding on.

It's a very uncomfortable thing. I have tried it, and I didn't like it. But I noticed fully inhabiting my bored/sad state seemed to clear away some of my self-imposed smokescreens surrounding some other emotions... which ultimately link to choices I am making, attachments I have yet to acknowledge, and a lack of openness to my true self - my Buddha nature, as it were.

We are very hard on ourselves sometimes. We often avoid the reality of the darker side of ourselves in an effort to attain some imagined ideal of perfection. I believe we are a mixture of the human and the divine. We walk a physical and spiritual existence wherein we are beings of tangible and intangible forces. And in that dichotomous paradox, we struggle to balance between frailty and grace... sometimes forgetting both are true expressions of self.

May you accept and truly inhabit your thoughts and feelings today and gain greater insight. May you allow yourself to be who you are, where you are, without judgment or disappointment.

No comments:

Post a Comment