Here’s a tip you might not expect: be bored. Boredom is powerful! Boredom is necessary!
Boredom is the soul of creativity. It is absolutely necessary to create.
I’m a composer, and when I sit down to write, I immediately can think of 15 other things I need to do. I have to get myself to a state of boredom before I can calm down enough to do good work. I understand it was the same for Persig when he wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He would drive to a little mobile home with nothing in it but a typewriter every morning to write before work. I once read an author (that I can’t remember) who said, “My apartment is never clean, except when I absolutely must be writing instead.”
How many great things have been created out of boredness? All of them, really.
Boredom is underrated. If you are stimulated, it’s hard to get anything worthwhile done. I’ve come to think that the loss of boredom in our society is a major problem! If you don’t have enough time in your life to be bored, you are seriously missing out. Please, please, carve out enough time away from work, away from the tv, even away from family and friends to be a little bored.
Confronting boredom, not being scared of boredom, even being friendly with boredom is invaluable in meditation. If you can’t sit still without stimulation for 30’, an hour you won’t make much progress in your meditation.
Boredom is really great in dhamma talks as well.
There’s a school of thought that says that Dhamma talks are not really about information delivery. In fact, they are just another opportunity for meditation. Have you ever been to a talk and seen people legs crossed, eyes clothes, apparently deep in meditation? Right in the middle of a talk?
Well, it’s ok! In fact, for some people it is really the point! You allow yourself to listen to the talk, giving you inspiration for the sit that you are doing right there. It may not be as deep as when you are in silence, but then again, whenever you are distracted, you just tune into the talk, and then into your breath, and off you go.
From that perspective, really boring talks are wonderful! You can meditate all the more without the distraction of a really interesting speaker always annoying you with witty anecdotes, great stories, and deep thoughts.
It’s a win/win!