We are frequently not aware of the state of boredom and its various manifestations within us. We do recognise periods when we feel at a loss and want to do or experience something or distract our minds and we recognise these times as boredom. What we do not necessarily recognise however are the times when we seem busy and active, but actually are trying to compensate for the feeling of boredom. Modern society has habituated us to be always in motion, to be “doing” something, experiencing something, or simply keeping our minds occupied. With the advent of radio, television, and cell phones, we see people constantly seeking out some kind of stimulation. A state of simple quietude is rare and considered abnormal! When asked, people tend to respond with what they are “doing” and replying that they are just doing ‘nothing’ is looked upon as some kind of aberration. Many people go through the entire day with some form of stimulation occupying their minds and vital beings. If the cell phone, video game, television, internet social media are removed, they feel deprived and unable to simple ‘be’ in a state of peace and contentment.

Other signs of boredom are found in an urge to eat without real hunger, what many call ’emotional eating’, or states of lethargy and ennui, periods of excess sleepiness, and periods of mindless dissipation, including the use of alcohol or drugs to ‘self-medicate’ a state of emptiness.

The cure for boredom may come in several ways. First, the development of a state of existence within oneself where there is no urge or desire for any particular action, such that the individual can simply experience the reality of existence without the need for some kind of artificial stimulus. Second, the development of a concentrated poise that is focused on accomplishment of some object that removes the sense of emptiness, and does not require external distractions. The Mother provides a methodology that can be taken up under any and all circumstances and thus, creates a sense of focus and engagement that removes any feeling of boredom.

The Mother writes: “And to tell the truth, the most common malady humanity suffers from is boredom. Most of the stupidities men commit come from an attempt to escape boredom. Well, I say for certain that no outer means are any good, and that boredom pursues you and will pursue you no matter what you try to escape from it; but that this way, that is, beginning this work of organising your being and all its movements and all its elements around the central Consciousness and Presence, this is the surest and most complete cure, and the most comforting, for all possible boredom. It gives life a tremendous interest. And an extraordinary diversity. You no longer have the time to get bored. … Only, one must persevere.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 5, Organisation, Harmonisation, Unification, pp. 141-142

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 19 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.