Covid-Fatigue: Shelter-in-Place Boredom

Why is boredom so boring?

  • Bored – feeling weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity.
    • Synonyms for boredom
      • Ennui – a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.
      • Apathy – lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.
      • Languor – the state or feeling, often pleasant, of tiredness or inertia.

Is boredom unfamiliar to anyone?

The current situation with covid-fatigue shelter-in-place and shut-downs due to covid-19 have many people bored beyond normal limits. When binge-watching TV and endless Zooming start supporting our sense of boredom and feel heavy with inertia, perhaps it’s time to bore through boredom.

It may seem counterintuitive to be interested in boredom as a symptom of covid-fatigue, but as the old saying goes – the fastest way out is through.

Since ego is dependent upon constant ego-activity to exist, it seems logical that constant stimulation must be part of the package. Some might find it surprising that boredom is a form of stimulation for ego-activity.

 If I am bored, but I don’t know that I am bored, how will I ever know that meaninglessness underlies my boredom? If I am bored, but I think it’s just because the food I’m eating is tasteless, there is no chance to understand the situation. So the first thing I need to do is to attend to what is happening. Maybe the first thing that strikes me is not that I am bored, but that the food is tasteless. Maybe I am bored, but I don’t feel I am bored. Instead, I feel it’s me rather than the food that is tasteless. Or perhaps I am not paying attention to the fact that the food is tasteless because I’m on the phone talking to somebody because I don’t want to taste the tastelessness. And the food is tasteless because I am actually bored. And I am actually bored because life feels meaningless to me. And because I prefer not being aware of any of that, I end up talking on the phone about a movie or some family business.

A. H. Almaas, The Unfolding Now

Nothing is Something

In a Diamond Approach inquiry session, ‘nothing’ is often heard in response to: “What are you experiencing right now.” To which a Diamond Approach teacher will respond with: “What kind of nothing?” You see, nothing is something.

Exploring boredom is like exploring nothing. What kind of boredom? What’s the phenomenology of what you are using the word boredom to name? What’s your experience of your experience?

Boredom is a certain kind of presence. The personality wrongly believes that boredom and other ‘negative’ or ‘non” experiences like ‘nothing’ lack significance, presence or spiritual treasure. That is not reality because presence is everything.

If we are interested in being real, we naturally become interested in being as clear as possible about what is happening, and we want to experience it as intimately and fully as possible—we want to be totally in touch with it. If I am feeling anxiety, for instance, or fear, or terror, I am aware of it. Well, what does that mean? I don’t mean looking at it from far away through a telescope: “Oh, there is fear over there.” No, it’s about feeling what the terror is like, what the anxiety is like, what the anger is like, what the love is like, what the pain in my knee is like.

A. H. Almaas, The Unfolding Now

Zooming through Covid-Fatigue

Many, if not most, people these days are suffering with screen fatigue from too much Zooming or binge watching TV. Rather than discuss pointers on how to minimize the effects of screen fatigue, let’s look at exploring our experiential state that arises as a result.

One of the hurdles we need to address with boredom, ennui, apathy and covid-fatigue is how the affect and energy of these experiences robs us of interest and motivation to explore our experience. We might feel more motivated to veg-out or go to sleep in hopes that our state will change overnight.

We have observed that the soul is more willing to participate in the inner journey, and will in fact cooperate with enthusiasm, when this journey addresses her immediate experience and everyday concerns. 

A. H. Almaas, The Inner Journey Home

When we have developed the practice of inquiry to some depth and proficiency, we are less derailed by mood and emotion. Our attention becomes more focused and sensitized to the qualia of experience. Qualia: the internal and subjective component of sense perceptions, arising from stimulation of the senses by phenomena.

Exploring the qualia peels away the dullness, the deadness, the lifelessness of the bored state – even though it may, initially, bring us into more sensitivity with it. Being with our immediate experience connects us with aliveness.

No matter what is happening, life is happening, aliveness is happening.

Staying Alive

If we live to satisfy our usual worldly self, we are living a superficial life, a dead life, a life without true aliveness of spirit. Aliveness of the spirit is something much deeper, more intrinsic, more fundamental, than physical life and its needs. Aliveness has nothing to do with the satisfaction of those needs.

A. H. Almaas, Diamond Heart Book Four

There’s nothing like aliveness to take the boredom out of covid-fatigue.

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