“Enjoy your successes, but do not get too excited by them. Just keep meditating away.” Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man
Is meditation boring?
There are many different kinds of meditation, but common to each is observing how the mind works. Ultimately, it is very important that we cultivate a sense of noble boredom, the ability to be present without needing something to happen. This is one of the most important things in meditation practice.
For some people, meditation is the most natural thing in the world. They move directly into it. For most of us, it’s a struggle. For many people, the main difficulty of meditating is that it’s scary to open the closets of the mind. You just don’t know where you’re going and whether it’s worthwhile. Joining a group can help: it reinforces our desire to meditate. And if you belong to a meditation group, you may discover that everybody has the same remarkably banal and ordinary difficulties. But difficulties are the major part of the course for meditators. The obstacles themselves are points of transformation. Patience is key.
My own spiritual practice became more formalized in my mid-thirties when I found some Buddhist meditation teachers. It later became integrated into a Jewish meditation practice. I have a strong regular practice but there are times when it just disappears. Sometimes I have periods of doubt, or my practice is boring. It’s just sitting, and yet an incredibly rich part of my life. I feel it has changed my path in the world.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche adds: “The fear of boredom often keeps people from meditating. We’re afraid there will be nothing to entertain us, nothing to hold our interest. And in truth, we will be bored at times. If we observe the boredom, and taste it completely, we’ll begin to just settle in, and accept boredom as part of the landscape of peaceful abiding. That’s progress. What we’re really bored with (instead of meditation) is our repetitive, habitual thought patterns. We see the tricks we play on ourselves with thoughts, emotions and concepts. This boredom is not a problem. Instead, it can inspire us.”
Alan Watts adds: “The feeling of boredom can be very interesting if we simply watch the feeling, without attempting to change it or judge it in any way. That is the essential process of meditation.”
Rabbi Omer-man is a contemplative rabbi who has also practiced and meditated in the Buddhist tradition.