By Samir Shukla
When was the last time you were bored? Let me rephrase that. When was the last time you shut off the phone, TV, computer, something electronic, and spent some time just sitting, maybe on a porch, or in a comfortable chair somewhere around the house, reveling in self-induced boredom?
Spend some time completely unconnected, what the hyper-connected digital generation may consider being bored? This is not about being bored; it's about reconnecting with our innate natural order.
We are so digitally connected that we don't allow ourselves the space to just, well, not think for a spell, the kind that is free of digital information. We don't allow ourselves to be bored because we don't like the thought of being bored. One may even think it a waste of time to induce nothingness, a bit of thoughtless boredom, even for a few moments. But I have come to believe we need that disconnection, those moments of do nothingness, and it will actually advance productivity and clarity in daily matters.
We have access to so much information, so much entertainment, that its power to inform as well as counter our boredom rapidly diminishes. We often wind up simply swiping quickly to get through the unending incoming messages and information, lest we fall behind. We become jaded to even the occasional gem of information sent our way.
I noticed this recently when watching a movie, something I love to do. With access to so many movies on different platforms, I sometimes become jaded even toward my favorite films. It is this availability and access to so many films that I take their artistic value of escape or inspiration for granted. This thought hit me quite succinctly one night when I was watching a movie recorded on our DVR. Even though it was a film I've wanted to see for many years, I found myself grabbing the remote control and flipping over to another recorded movie, and after a few minutes flipping to another.
It was a moment of entertainment saturation. An activity I love became a bore itself.
I turned the TV off, and just stared at the surroundings in the living room. The quiet of midnight, the sounds of the night, or the lack thereof, entertained me and cleared my head till I became sleepy. The darkness of the night further induced visual-free bliss.
We all need some time to just clearly think in our daily busyness, but it is just as important to set aside moments to not think at all. One may suggest that meditation is an escape from information overload. I'm suggesting something beyond meditation.
I'm suggesting complete nothingness. Even meditation is a practiced ritual, the breathing, the attempt to connect to something inside us, or whatever your meditation quest is. Meditation, of course, has tremendous value. I'm saying just laze yourself into mind-cleansing, if that is such a thing. I suggest something blanker, beyond meditation.
This would require a return to our simpler, less technological times, even if for, let's say, a half-hour every day. I call it the “thinkless thirty" and allow ourselves to be just bored or just roam aimlessly in our own minds. Your “thinkless thirty" could be broken into two segments to be practiced during different times of day, or could be simply a few minutes, say five minutes. Let's give it a name, ahh, “freebie five."
Clearly we are social creatures, and what I suggest maybe anathema to someone living alone, craving social connection, either via face-to-face or social media. What I'm suggesting is for most people to disconnect briefly when possible.
This idea further brewed inside my head during my family's trip to Big Bend National Park in West Texas last month. There are areas in that vast expanse where there is simply no cell signal. The disconnection was liberating, making the desert, what many would consider to be a drab environment, come alive in its own multi-sensory grandeur.
Of course a lack of connection can create anxiety for many, even if only for a few minutes. Am I missing something? How many posts on social media have I missed? What if someone texts me?
So, what do I mean by “thinkless thirty" or whatever is your chosen time of unthinking?
Let's make it simple.
Allow me to demonstrate.
Ok. Thanks for observing.
How was that?
This makes sense if you now fill in your own nonthoughts inside the little white space above.
See, it's simple. Now, by all means, you may return to your regular programming.
Happy unthinking boredom!