Did you know I was an only child? I was. And a f*cking bored one. I grew up in a ghetto where I wasn’t allowed to play outside because there were so many drive-by shootings. I had 8 pets, an angry mom, and a schizophrenic father so the house was chaotic, and I locked myself in a room with books. And when I finished my books, I was So. Crazy. Bored.
I think without books I would have lost it.
I looked outside – through the bars that protected my window – and vowed to myself, “When I grow up, I will never, ever be bored.”
Well, I pretty much took care of that. You’re welcome, little me. I told ya I had your back.
I don’t think I’ve been bored for the majority of my time as an adult. On the contrary, I spent 10 years as a climbing guide, 7 years of that living out of my Volvo station wagon, 14 years as a midwife catching babies in all kids of places all over the world, filled two passports and am working on the third, started my own business, and managed to create a mandala of a life with all my passions.
But you know what I rediscovered?
It’s fucking mind-blowing.
See, I hated being bored when I was a kid because I didn’t have any agency over my world – or at least that’s what it felt like. I wasn’t choosing to do nothing.
But in the last decade of my life (stop wondering how old I am. I’m rockin’ 46), I’ve intentionally sought out regular silent retreats where I don’t do anything – not even read – except for meditating, eating, basic self care, and walking. For 10 days.
My body releases when I show up at the retreat center and realize with every cell in my being that, as Ajahn Budhadasana said, for 10 days I have:
“Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to be.”
It’s pure bliss.
Sound like torture to you? I used to think it would be too.
But what is boredom anyway?
It’s a thought you have about having nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to be.
How can I find it blissful now, and little me (or even 20-something me) found it boring?
We had different thoughts about it.
So maybe I should re-phrase this.
I still don’t want to be bored. But I find it totally blissful to have Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to be.
I think it’s uh-mazing.
Because when you let go of needing to do shit, to go somewhere or to BE anything else than what you already are, you get to…be happy.
What’s wild is after I come out of retreat – even from one of my daylong mini-retreats I do out at our yurt – I’m filled with creativity. New ideas for new programs and awesome adventures to take and sweet things I can do for my friends or with my sexy mountain man. I remember to schedule massages and sign up for workshops I want to take. I write, I sing, I dance.
I think in being “bored,” I create space for newness to flow in. I create space for my desires to come forth.
The Universe abhors a vacuum. You create one with some stillness, and it will fill it.
And what it fills it with can be pretty amazing.
So what’s ironic is that doing nothing helps me live life more fully.
Sure – at first it may be uncomfortable. You may feel anxious and think, “WTF am I doing? Nothing! This is wrong. I’m wasting my life. I’m doing nothing.”
But eventually, you’ll come out the other side. The side where you know with every cell in your body,
“OMG. This. This moment right here. This is everything.”
So try not to resist stillness. Boredom. Whatever you want to call it.
Just be with it and let it pass. Then shoot me an email about what you found. Was it messy? Did you survive (I bet you did;)? What surprised you?
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