I remember the day I first downloaded Facebook on my phone. I understand two things: (A) That sentence makes me feel older than I am; and (B) That’s a pretty strange thing to remember so vividly - but I do. I was 17 and training at a musical theatre school (another lifetime ago). As I sat alone, waiting for my singing lesson to begin, I opened up Facebook on my phone for the first time ever. I remember thinking ‘Wow I will never have to sit, wait, and endure boredom EVER again’. Essentially I was right. But what I didn’t realise was this was just the beginning. Things from here would become even more accessible, considerably more stimulating and exceedingly more entertaining. No more long bus or train journeys just staring out the window. No more staring into space as you queue up in the supermarket. No more daydreaming as you sit and wait at the dentist. The boredom was well and truly over!!
So what does this have to do with yoga? Well, when I was thinking about this concept the other day, I thought back to my first experience with yoga. It was about three years after the ‘Facebook on my phone’ revelation, and surprise surprise I found yoga BORING. We spent what felt like an eternity in Warrior II (we’re talking six or seven breaths - god forbid). YUCK! No thanks, what was the point?! What were we waiting for? I just wanted to move! I didn’t get it, and it would take me a very long time to finally understand.
I would avoid these types of classes or teachers, opting only for fast-paced vinyasa, where I was constantly moving, listening to groovy tunes, and incessantly stimulated. And it was great, and yes it served me at that time. However, what I understand now is all that ‘waiting' and ‘stillness’ and perhaps ‘boredom’ is where the learning happens - it's where we process and digest. It’s where the magic happens and inspiration is born. Now don’t get me wrong, I still love a fast-paced vinyasa with groovy tunes sometimes (heck, I even teach a relatively fast-paced vinyasa); BUT what I can appreciate now, which I couldn’t grasp in my first class, is by holding that Warrior II for a longer period of time, gives my body the chance to process the physicality of Warrior II. Perhaps even more importantly, it gives my mind time to process everything beyond the physicality. And yes, it can feel uncomfortable (in every sense of the word), but it's ok to be uncomfortable. In fact, it’s great! It means that we are a little out of our comfort zone.
Ok, so I figured it out in the yoga studio - some stillness can be great. So, now I needed to start bringing this into other aspects of my life. Allowing myself time to stare into space or out of windows, so that I am able to reflect, digest, process and create. So how can we embrace moments of boredom and stillness in our hustle and bustle lives? Here are some of my favourite ways:
Go for a walk, alone (and by alone, I also mean no phone).
Embrace silence. Take time to switch off the music and podcasts from time to time. Let silence be the soundtrack whilst you cook, clean, or eat.
Stare out of the window. Yup, next time you’re on the bus, take 10 minutes to stare out of the window and just ponder on life.
Meditate; find 5 minutes to get quiet, close your eyes and breathe. See what comes up.
‘Boredom is the birthplace of genius’ Tim Ferris
I've heard many a great entrepreneur and creator say in interviews that their greatest ideas come to them whilst they are in a shower, or driving on a motorway. Of course, it makes sense. When you take away the constant stimulation of our modern day lives, you give your mind time to breathe and allow ideas to form. So, if the greats are doing it, maybe we should give it a go? Embrace a little bit of stillness in your yoga and a little bit of boredom on your commute. Give it a try ;)