Meditation in the time of COVID-19
The effect of meditation on anxiety, immunity and boredom
This month marks the conclusion to our three part series "Meditation in the time of COVID-19". In our final installment we are talking about how meditation can help ease, if not alleviate, the effects of boredom. Especially with forced stay-at-home orders and mandated shutdowns of many entertainment venues. According to psychologist John Eastwood of York University in Toronto, boredom is “the unfulfilled desire for satisfying activity,” characterized by “an unengaged mind.” In other words, we want to connect to our world, but we cannot find anything in our current environment that seems worthy of our attention. So instead we try to escape our jitters by seeking relief elsewhere.
It doesn't help that smartphones and social media are designed to give us instant gratification as we come to rely on them for the pleasurable hit that comes from each virtual interaction. It should came as no surprise that most people have come to believe that that busyness is good, and by correlation, boredom is not. So if we’re bored something must be wrong, right? Wrong!
Mindfulness provides us with a solution. Not to the experience that we usually label as boredom, but to our categorization of it as a bad thing, and our hurried attempts to get rid of it. Mindfulness invites us to see boredom not as a bad thing that must be amended; but rather to know, understand, and even embraced. In mindfulness practice, we change our ideas about boredom and our relationship to it. Basically we stop being bored by boredom. Sounds a little out there, right? Stick with me. If we are no longer bored by boredom we take away the angst that it would otherwise provoke in us. Boredom thus dissolves not with resistance, but by getting familiar with it.
Once we are able to see boredom for what it is and not what we fear it to be we begin to view it with a nuanced observer's eye. We discover that what we thought was boring is actually a multifaceted kaleidoscope of sensory and mental events. This is obviously easier said than done but it can be practiced by repeatedly paying attention to what’s happening in the moment.
Through mindfulness, a stagnant, stale state is imbued with fresh energy. It has been suggested through research and various studies that a positive mindset has an impact on overall well-being. This is accomplished by intentionally giving our genuine attention to body sensations and routine activities. Or to put it in another way: It’s hard to be bored when you’re in touch with the magic of being alive.
In part 1 of this series I mentioned a phenomenon called the “relaxation response”; a set of physiological and biochemical changes that result in the brain leading to a decrease in blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen consumption. A similar effect can be achieved through the use of mindfulness as it relates to boredom call the "incubation advantage". The incubation advantage, simply put, is the allowance of an episode of boredom to occur. Effectively resting the brain, leading to a more creativity in future tasks.
Thank you for reading this article and if you haven't had an opportunity yet I encourage you to go back and read the first two of the series. I hope this article has been both informative and helpful for you. Please subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news about Bonsai Creek and stay up to day on new products, sales and events. Until next time, stay safe and well informed.