On the daily grind, life can get bland—downright boring, when you think about it. Boredom is a sign that we’ve become habituated. When we get stuck on autopilot, we lose touch with actual experience—which can always be interesting if we bring our curiosity to it.
For a moment, stop thinking and drop into your senses instead. By helping us shift our state of mind from thinking to sensing, these practices invite us to rediscover interest, beyond our expectations.
Three Practices to Shift out of Autopilot
Linger on each step for at least three minutes. Once you’ve got the hang of dropping into each sense in turn, try opening to all of the senses together at moments of so-called boredom in life, such as when washing up, standing in a queue, or stuck in a long meeting. Can you offer a full, embodied interest to the people and places around you, as well as what’s going on in your mind and body?
1. See with new eyes
Take a familiar object from your home (such as a mug you’ve owned for years, an old photograph, a piece of clothing, or furniture) and examine it as if you’ve never seen it before.
Let your thoughts about the object drop into the background as you offer it your full attention. Is there something you’d forgotten or never noticed before, or is your experience or reaction altered by your interest?
2. Notice how objects feel
Now, take a different object and this time offer attention to its texture, touching it as if for the first time. Or you could choose to work with an inner feeling, directing awareness to a part of your body, noticing what sensations (if any) are present. In either case, notice how the experience feels right now, as you interact with it.
3. Try hearing, smelling, and tasting anew
Now, take your attention in turn to three everyday objects in your environment that you can hear, smell, or taste (for example, the ticking of a clock, a flower, a piece of fruit). Let go of expectations, and instead allow your senses to lead you into the direct experience of hearing, smelling, or tasting itself.