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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Meditation is not entertaining

Meditation is not entertaining. That's kind of the point -- our constant craving to be entertained distracts us from how things actually are. Meditation is about getting in touch with that, finding calm by seeing the ways we stir up chaos so we can be entertained.

But lack of entertainment in the practice is deterring some people from trying it, says David Romanelli. “It’s still just a very old practice, and most people can’t relate to it,” he tells Well&Good.

So Romanelli, who helped popularize yoga with his Yoga and Chocolate workshops, is out to make meditation more entertaining. He's partnered with Happier.com to create a seven-day Meditation Vacation "that will teach you to soothe your mind, embrace or enhance a meditation practice, and have a BLAST in the process," the class description says.

"Dave’s fun and thought-provoking stories will capture your attention before he guides you through a series of short, sweet audio meditations, all set to soothing musicscapes created by East Forest."

And if it reminds you of Stuart Smalley .... well, the similarities are there.

The Buddha flat-out said that sarcasm is not Wise Speech, so I'll speak plainly. Don't do it. If you're taking an entertainment break, be honest and play Angry Birds. Watch a music video. Don't confuse entertainment and meditation.

Meditation is about getting rid of the entertainment and distractions to see the truth of who you are and what the world is. It's about listening to and questioning your self talk, not new-agey piano music. Being bored is a valuable experience, most Buddhist teachers would tell you, because it teaches you to sit with discomfort and find the clear blue sky behind the cloud of distractions.

You could look for shapes in the clouds -- or you could relax into the endless clarity of the sky.

Trungpa Rinpoche used to praise boredom in sitting. He said that you have to sit to the point where you’re just bored. You’ve worn out all the entertainment value and you’re just bored. And you have to go through the restlessness of boredom. Because boredom is just another word for this fundamental restlessness--it’s hot, you want to get out of there. And he said you have to sit through with as much loving kindness towards yourself and compassion, relaxation, anything that enables you to kindly and gently and continually stay present. Learning to stay with the boredom. Until, at some point, it shifts to what he called cool boredom, which is that it doesn’t make you want to jump up anymore or fill up the space. -- Pema Chodron