Do you get bored in meditation? Does it feel to you that sometimes the clock has actually slowed down? Is there a meditation gremlin who keeps turning back the clock when you aren’t looking?
I totally know the feeling. First, you set the clock to meditate for 15 minutes. Then you sit still and try to get quiet. When it feels like you’ve been sitting there for an hour, you look.
It’s only been 5 minutes.
When Meditation Feels Like A Chore
Suddenly, your meditation is feeling like a chore. Now you are trying to let go again, but you’re kind of hoping the time will pass a little more quickly. So you make tons of effort to be still and let go, and when it feels like 20 minutes has gone by, you look again. Only another 5 minutes went by.
It got so bad for me a few times that I felt like a prisoner sitting there, rapping my metal mug against the bars of the jail, pleading for someone to let me out. In fact, I’ve felt downright desperate. Of course, no one was holding a gun to my head. It was just me struggling against myself. Morgan vs Morgan. Hmmm, let’s see, who’s going to win this battle of the wills?
Welcome to the joys of spiritual practice. I’m sure the Buddha felt it a thousand times worse.
What’s A Bored Meditator To Do?
So what should you do when this happens?
There are a few things you can do. But in essence, you need to find a way to let go. You see, you might be having an idea that you are bored. Or, you may actually feel flat, bored, and a bit groggy. Those are both pretty normal things that happen while you practice meditation.
But it’s important not to give up at moments like this. A lot of people throw in the towel right there and quit meditating. But you’d be surprised what can happen if you stick it out and meditate through that boredom.
How To Accept Boredom Unconditionally
First, it’s important to remember that meditation is a form of total acceptance. You are letting everything be. And that actually includes the feeling of boredom. When you sit in meditation, you can have a huge variety of experiences.
Boredom is a tough one for a lot of us to accept, because we are so stimulated so much of the time. We struggle to tolerate boredom, much less accept it unconditionally.
The truth is, I’ve sat through experiences that I thought were going to kill me. And I’m only half kidding. But in the end when I sat there, didn’t move, and stuck to my meditation instructions, the feeling passed. It always does.
And that’s one thing you can rely on. If you sit there successfully through your experience of boredom, and if you don’t stop following the meditation instructions, you’ll be surprised what can happen.
Yes, you may stay bored the whole time. But it’s also possible, and likely, that your experience will change. The truth is, I’ve found that it’s always rewarding when you continue to practice in spite of uncomfortable feelings.
Sure, it’s easy to keep going when you experience peace, bliss, and a quiet mind. It’s much harder to meditate through tedium, fatigue, discomfort, and pain. But when you accept it all as part of your practice, you grow. It’s really true.
What’s On The Other Side Of Boredom?
Often, meditating through those experiences builds your confidence and helps you start to connect with a part of yourself that transcends any experience. As you do that, you start to find in yourself a quality of peace that’s always present. Even in the midst of struggle and discomfort. It seems paradoxical, but it’s true.
A strong meditation practice is deeper than any experience. It grounds you in a part of yourself that is always tranquil.
So from my perspective, the answer to the question of what you should do when you get bored in meditation is to have faith and keep going. If you follow your meditation instructions with determination, it’s a win win. You will learn how to persevere in the face of challenging inner conditions, and you will start to build confidence in a different part of yourself.
If you stick with it, that boredom will bother you less and less. You’ll see it as just another experience to learn from and you’re confidence in meditation will be stronger than your experience of boredom.
In fact, this is the case for every troubling thought or feeling in meditation. And there’s always one simple way to overcome it. Just keep meditating.