My life has not changed much since self-quarantine. I still see a few clients outside on the farm and others over the phone. As an introvert, staying home and talking with a few close friends on the phone is enough social interaction for me. And as a single woman with horses and a farm to take care of, I've got plenty to do to stay busy. But busy has never really been my thing. I've not tended to use doingness as a way to quiet my mind, quell any emotional discomfort lurking beneath the surface, or feel OK.
However, in the last few weeks, I've noticed a subtle boredom at times. It sort of arises at the edge of my awareness and is immediately followed by a sense of somethin' ain't right. And then I notice myself scanning off in the vague vicinity or direction of how to fix it - how to ease the subtle discomfort of somethin' ain't right.
When I've caught it and let myself feel into it more deeply, I've noticed a belief or assumption just underneath that goes something like this: I'm not supposed to be bored; I must not be doing it right; boredom bad/stimulation good; maybe I'm bad; if I'm bored, something about my life is incorrect. I don't really believe any of this mind you, not logically. As I said, it's a feeling. And it's subtle.
And I've thought about Buddhist monks living in monasteries and how daily regular work, performing mundane tasks, is part of their practice. If you're on a spiritual quest and want to find enlightenment as a guest at a monastery, they put you to work: cooking meals, cleaning, and mopping floors. The practice is, the intention is, to do these tasks mindfully, with humility, and with deep Presence.
From that perspective, thinking of those monks and those seekers, it seems silly that I would think my life should be anything other than preparing meals, doing farm chores, or mopping the floor. Whatever made me think, on some level, that it wasn't enough, wasn't good enough, wasn't entertaining enough, didn't make me happy enough? And I think, What a spoiled lot we are! And alternately, How poor in spirit we are!
Our wealth allows us to have endless ways to keep ourselves surface-level stimulated and entertained. It allows us to run from anything that feels like emptiness or boredom. It prevents us from suffering - not in the way that refugees suffer, not in the ways that homeless or starving people suffer, but in the way that middle-class America suffers - with a mild, but somewhat chronic state of not-enoughness, a low-grade boredom, restlessness, something-better-is-just-beyond-my-grasp-and-I-need-to-get-it kind of suffering.
So I've approached my days more aware of this subtle brand of suffering. I sense the low-grade, antsy glance at what's next, something's-not-right, something's-not-good-enough kind of feeling. And as I am more present to it and able to be with it, I've watched it transform and settle into something deeper, something calmer. As a result, I go through my day with less expectation - less expectation that Life should bring me a certain level of stimulation, which I suppose we culturally equate, and so I equate, with happiness.
And instead of surface-level happiness, an amped up this-is-good, I'm-doin'-it-right kind of happiness, I find a depth of peace and Isness that's far more entertaining, far more satisfying, than anything my spoiled American-self can conjure.
Wishing you growth and peace during this potent time,