Does anyone own a dog or a cat? If you do, watch that dog or cat for a couple of hours. You will note that when an animal is not active, it does not appear to display any of the characteristics of restlessness or boredom. Animals are able to keep completely still, effortlessly, without feeling in any way uncomfortable about it.
Humans are the only species that are capable of experiencing boredom.
Why is this?
It is because humans are the only species that engage in thought. What is boredom? There seem to be two types. One is when you are in a situation in which you are quiet, still, with little or no activity. The other is when you are engaged in an activity but you would much rather be doing something else.
But there is a common element to both of these. In both cases the restlessness and boredom is caused by thoughts passing through the mind which try to take your attention elsewhere. Do something else! Don't just sit here doing nothing! Don't do this 'boring' thing! Do something more exciting! Do stuff! Do stuff! Something! Anything! No, not this stuff! Better stuff! More exciting! More stimulation! More more more! Bigger, faster, better! Do do do!
That's how it goes. Incessantly. Animals are very fortunate not to have any of that noise. It is like your brain is a radio that is tuned to the thought station and theirs is never tuned to it. So animals aren't in any way aware of the constant badgering that humans have to listen to.
"Gooooood morning listeners, and welcome once again to This Just Ain't Good Enough FM, broadcasting to you direct from Ego Studios! Whatever you are doing, it is not good enough, OK? Whatever you are doing, you should be doing something else. What are you doing nothing for? What are you doing that boring thing for? Are you stoooooopid or something? More, better, more, better. COME ON!!!"
Can anything be done? What do we usually do? What most people do is capitulate. What most people do is to try to satisfy those badgering voices. They follow the mind and try to give it what it wants. They try to satisfy the mind. Perhaps then it will be quiet.
It will never be quiet.
"Bigger! Faster! More! Better! Bigger! Faster! More! Better! Ha ha! We NEVER stop broadcasting."
It will never be quiet.
Is there another option? Yes there is, but most people do not realise that. Most people are under the illusion that thought is initiated by themselves. They are totally identified with thought. They think the voices are themselves speaking. But as we saw by doing the experiment in the article What Do You Think?, thought is not under our control at all, and almost none of it is initiated by us.
There is another option and that option is to learn to tune your radio receiver. This is what is sometimes called the practice of 'meditation'.
This often involves sitting quietly alone, but one can try this anywhere, in any situation, whenever boredom arises.
Thoughts come and they come and they come. Gradually you can learn to watch them come and go. They are still there but there is no need to pay any particular attention. You can imagine this as being a bit like the radio being on in the background, but you are not listening to what anyone on the radio is saying. With more practice, it seems that the thoughts stop coming so much. Eventually, it is as though you have managed to tune to another station.
You have tuned to the station that the trees and the animals listen to. You have tuned to the station of Silence.
Then boredom is not possible. Blissful peace and vibrant harmony descend.
First you have to realise that thought is not you, that it is like a radio broadcast. You do not have to tune in. This does not, as some make the mistake of assuming, mean that you have to be silent forever and never do anything. It means that, like your dog or your cat, you can move between doing and not doing with natural ease, with none of the discomfort of boredom that most humans encounter. You can then also move between thought and no-thought with natural ease.
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