Meditation doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, if you’re bored when you’re meditating, it probably means you should tune up your practice.
Go Beyond the Basics
Basic meditation instructions often go something like this: “Choose an object of attention and attempt to rest your attention on that object. Eventually, you’ll notice that you’re completely distracted—probably lost in thought—and your attention is no longer on your chosen object. At this point, return your attention to your chosen object and—once again—attempt to rest it there.” (That’s from my article on concentration meditation.) These basic instructions make it sound like meditation is mainly about waiting. If you make meditation a waiting game, it’s not going to be very interesting—and you probably won’t develop concentration as quickly as you could.
There’s way more to meditation than waiting. The antidote to boredom in meditation is to go beyond waiting and take interest in what you’re doing. There are at least two ways to do that: you can take more interest in your chosen object (what you’re attempting to rest your attention on) and you can take more interest in what your mind is up to. I recommend you do both.
Take Interest in Your Chosen Object
This counteracts attentional dullness. You chose this object—now, don’t neglect it! Examine your chosen object as closely as you can, as if you’re experiencing it for the first time. Don’t miss a single moment of this experience! Pump up the energy with which you’re experiencing your object, so that you experience it as vividly as possible. This is your life going by—don’t miss it!
Take Interest in What Your Mind is Up To
This counteracts distraction. Don’t let distraction surprise you. It’s really very predictable. You’ll find that you get distracted on a regular basis. By noticing your pattern of distraction, you can learn to predict—down to the minute—when you’re going to get distracted. As that time approaches, pay close attention to what your mind is up to! (By your mind, I mean your attention, thoughts, emotions, impulses, and more.) What’s the experience of impending distraction? Find out! Does distraction happen suddenly or gradually? Get curious about it. See if you can catch it sneaking up on you, and see if you can head it off!
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In my experience, meditation is anything but boring; when you take interest in what you’re doing, meditation becomes dramatic and suspenseful. Can you fulfill your commitment to your chosen object, giving it your complete, undivided attention—or will you allow dullness and distraction to seduce you? Moment by moment, the question becomes, who’s going to win—you or your patterns of dullness and distraction? Pay attention and find out!
For Further Reading
- See “Traversing the Beginning Milestones” in my article on concentration meditation
- See my article on introspection and noting
- See my article What To Do When You’re Stuck