Be Good-at-Boredom

No, no, no. I’m not bored by summer vacation. I see how you might jump to conclusions when I follow “Summer Vacation!” with “Be Good-at-Boredom.”

That would be ridiculous.

“We’re going to practice the ancient art of mindful waiting,” the meditation instructor said.

Not only were we going to practice it right now in the meditation hall as we waited for the afternoon talk to begin, but I had also practiced it earlier that day on my own.

The earlier practice was somewhat more challenging for me, as it involved waiting for… food.

Someone recently was talking to me about how we rarely get bored these days. I wish I remembered who – it’s not that I found what you were saying boring, I swear.

You always have your phone with you, they were saying, so you’re never just sitting there waiting. Also, people don’t talk to each other while they wait, because they have their phone to entertain them.

Granted, this last part may be a victory for us introverts who don’t revel in making small talk with strangers in the ATM line.

But on the first day at the meditation retreat my husband was teaching, I arrived at the noon o’clock meal – after hoofing it up the hill in the uncomfortable heat – at about 12:10.

Fashionably late.

Except there was no food in the cafeteria yet.

Unfashionably early?

I checked the schedule. Lunch started at 12:30.


Returning to my room would mean walking both ways in the sun, so instead I grabbed some water and sat on a bench in the sweltering shade outside the cafeteria.

I had no phone. I couldn’t even easily track the time.

I just sat there.

And waited.

Was it boring?


Was it hot?

Don’t even get me started.

Did anyone talk to me?

No. It was a silent meditation retreat. There were two others waiting, but the rules prohibited their making chit-chat.

After a few minutes, I remembered a meditation retreat I went on a few years back. Seven drawn-out days of silence and phonelessness had seemed like three weeks.

Talk about a way to stretch out your summer vacation!

Boring plants? Watching them blow in the breeze was the highlight of my bench-sit.
Boring plants? Watching them blow in the breeze was the highlight of my bench-sit.

So if you want to gain a little extra time in your day, I suggest stranding yourself somewhere (introverts, I suggest a library or meditation center) you need to wait without your phone or even a way to tell the time.

Don’t worry; you’ll know when it’s lunchtime.

I sure did.