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[mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”16″ align=”left”]The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. – Dorothy Parker[/mk_blockquote]
My kids learned at a very young age that “bored” is a dirty word in our house. I had all kinds of snappy responses to perhaps the most often whined complaint in any language, “I’m bored.” “If you’re bored, I’m happy to let you do some of this yard work for me.” “If you’re bored, this is probably a good time to choose some of those toys that no longer interest you to give away.” “If you’re bored, why don’t you fold this basket of laundry. You can pretend it’s a game.”
While often topped with a bit of attitude, my message to my kids has been consistent: Life is precious. It’s a shame to waste a second of it being bored.
And, really, they do know this is true. But there are inevitably moments when boredom creeps up on us all. I’m sure you can think of many such moments. We’ve all had “in between” moments when we’re waiting for an appointment or for friends to arrive. Perhaps you only have 30 minutes, which really isn’t enough time to start the next chapter in your book, or to weed the flower bed along the driveway or to take a quick walk. We talk ourselves out of doing anything and, not surprisingly, as we wait, we get bored.
We’ve all had moments of anticipation when something super fun is on the horizon and we simply can’t focus on anything else until it gets here. Think about the day before a vacation. Or the long hours before the party you’ve been planning for ages. Or the days before your long-distance best friend arrives for a visit. We putter. We pack and repack. We make lists of things that need to happen. We fidget. But, because we’re so excited about what is about to happen, we have a hard time distracting ourselves or keeping ourselves happily occupied while we wait.
We’ve all had moments of exhaustion when we’re way too tired to figure out what would perk us up. We stagger in from a busy day at work, relieved to be home, only to discover an hour later that we’re drumming our fingers on the sofa cushions because sitting in a collapsed heap isn’t all that exciting. Perhaps we try to read, but we’re too tired to focus. We may consider watching a show or a movie, but the mere thought of finding the remote or even of choosing the show is daunting. So we sit … and get bored.
In moments like these, being bored is (almost) excusable. The worst kind of boredom, however, is the kind we bring on ourselves. I caught myself doing this last week. We were all home one night and everyone was occupied. My husband was working late. My oldest two were doing homework. My youngest was playing the piano. When the thought crossed my mind that I was bored, I was sitting in the living room playing what must have been my 20th round of Word Warp on my phone. I looked at the time and realized that I’d frittered away over an hour on the game.
I’d sat down happy enough. I had a quiet moment, which is always something celebrate. But instead of deciding to do something special, I automatically clicked on my phone. There were no emails waiting. There were no texts requiring my reply. No one was waiting for me to take my turn in Words With Friends or Scramble. Instead of turning off my phone and opening my book, though, I kept clicking. And an hour later, I was still sitting there doing just that. And I was irritable, antsy and bored.
As I sat on the sofa that night, I failed to choose to take advantage of my little window of free time. I failed to choose an activity that would engage me. In fact, I didn’t even think about what I wanted to do or what I would enjoy for that rare, quiet hour. Instead, I succumbed to my infernal habit (a habit I fear I share with many) of mindlessly fiddling around on my phone. My mindless lack of engagement in that hour resulted in tedium and boredom.
Though it may surprise you, it is also possible to fritter away time on a yoga mat. In other words, it is possible to get bored while practicing. The good news is that doing so is a great way to start to recognize the pitfalls that lead to boredom off the mat. Boredom while practicing almost always comes from a lack of interest. The less interest I take in the posture, the less I feel, learn and enjoy.
Downward facing dog has long been one of my favorite postures. It is fairly easy for me at this point. It doesn’t require a lot of strength for me to hold it. It doesn’t ask me to perform any complicated movements. In fact, I’m in this posture so often that it can feel a little habitual. But when I approach down dog like a habit, it turns out that I don’t love the posture. I don’t even really like it. I don’t get anything out of it at all. In short, it’s boring. When I don’t apply myself while in it, I might as well not be in it.
[mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”16″ align=”left”]Disinterest creates boredom.[/mk_blockquote]
It is the constant recurring discovery of all that happens in downward facing dog that makes it one of my favorite postures. When I’m not interested, when I’m not engaged or when I’m just frittering away the five breaths, this potentially fascinating posture becomes boring. It only feels rich and life-giving when I’m pressing actively and firmly down into the floor, when I’m consciously lengthening my spine, and when I’m mindfully rolling my shoulders open. There’s just no way to be bored when I’m experiencing all that.
Similarly, there’s no way to be bored off my mat when I’m actively interested and engaged in whatever it is that I’m doing. Being interested is a choice that you and I make each and every moment. When I choose well, even something I’ve done a thousand times like downward facing dog (or weeding, or folding laundry or playing Word Warp) can be interesting rather than boring. It’s up to us – let’s choose well!
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