I have just returned from 10 magical days in the Spanish Mountains with Kia and a fabulous group of yogis. A lot of what I have learned will make its way into my classes so I hope you can join me from September. Part of the marvellous effect of a retreat is the interesting conversations I have with people. In one of such, my dear friend V, who is reading this, asked me: do you ever get bored in your practice? On my mat, I experience everything: joy, frustration, fear, compassion, disquiet … and of course, boredom. I am not bored easily, but I know that doing the same thing every day does get to some people.
Why do we get bored? Is it the repetition? Repetition is not in itself boring. We have plenty of it in our lives but we are not constantly bored. I think boredom is related to expectations and what we ask from our practice. Forward folds, repeated this way and that, can be boring, but they are also an invitation to experience sensation, to open the mind, the body and the breath to the present moment. The depth of nowness can never be boring because there is no expectation, there is simply being. I used to dislike sweeping the floor, however this changed when James Boag told me to meditate while doing it. Now, I do it in silence, mindfully, as a practice. I still cannot say it is my favourite thing to do, but it is not frustrating either.
No feeling is bad in itself so rather than trying to escape boredom, we can practice pratyahara (sense withdrawal), acknowledging the boredom but not reacting with aversion. So, the next time you are bored of the forward folds in primary series, my invitation is to experience the subtleties. Try to feel your pelvis, concentrating on what it is doing and how it is moving; or maybe follow pulsations in your body. Or, even better, follow the great teacher within: your breath.