"The tendency in our society is when there’s dis-ease, to grab another experience in order to reduce it." - Ram Dass
Yesterday, at a dentist's office, as I sat in silence, an assistant approached me to tell me how I could use my phone. When I told her I am okie, she looked at me strangely and just walked away. She came a few minutes later asking me if I needed any magazines. I again told her I am okie. My ease with my solitude bothered her so much that she brought me 5 magazines (the good housekeeping, cosmopoliton etc etc).
I was amused as well as a little touched by her intent. Her intent was borne out of a fallacy of the "dis-ease" with the experience of me being alone. She was fully in line with the minds of today. The mind that works from one space to another, to avoid boredom, to avoid loneliness.
I still remember the time when I did my 10 day silent retreat for the first time, meditating righteously from 4 am to 9 pm in the night, interspersed with moments of doing - getting my food, cleaning my room, taking short walks and once even holding a flying mantis.
The first two days went fine before I realized I had days before I can talk or even do anything other than meditate, sit around, eat and observe my own boredom.
And at that time, boredom got me interested in the environment. It made me take reprieve in what existed around me. The trees, the plants, the sky, the moon but at the same time, it made me take reprience within me.
As a society, we are trained to never face boredom and instead the minute we are bored we move to the next thing to avoid it. We are never taught to make peace with the boredom. Never taught the "here and now" that you experience when you are getting bored. Its in moments like this when you have nowhere to go but to be with your ownself and your own thoughts that you can truly work with yourself.
Unfortunately, with the phone constantly as our companion, there is not enough opportunity for us to to get bored since our minds are constantly bombarded by possibilities to get away from our boredom. We don't have to try hard enough to look for novel experiences to reduce our boredom.
Boredom, of course, has a survival value. Its boredom that is motivation for exploration. Exploration of new ideas, new people, new places. Friendships, communities are build over boredom. Nothing better to do, getting bored - Lets talk to a friend.
There is a sort of wisdom in boredom but in today's culture, when we are over stimulated and getting input from all possible sources, boredom is essential. Boredom needs to be created. As a society, we need to create brain breaks to let ourselves explore boredom. Boredom is a pathway to newness, to curiosity and creativity and by letting ourselves not be bored we are killing the possibilities of novel experiences.
Boredom in every sense, is also an opportunity for us to turn inwards. Its important to bank on this boredom to reaffirm the fact that "we are complete as is, the way we are".