Photo By Eric Hart

School ends. Summer begins. It seems so black and white. However, there does exist the gray in between—a period of transition. Not every child or adult does well with the murky middle of transition. In fact, many people thrive on routine and the known. The unknown can cause much anxiety. Minds turn to the what ifs of the future or linger on the comfort of the past.

My own family’s summer consists of weeks of various camps mixed with some week-long time off. We always start off that first partial summer week with few obligations. This abrupt change from scheduled school to freedom often has some hiccups. Unused to unlimited free time, my kids will often walk around disgruntled. Ten months of predetermined, every-moment-planned time at school weakens my kid’s independent play skills. They may have strengthened their minds with math, writing and facts about science and history, but the part of their brains needed to function when specific directions don’t exist needs time to fire back up.

I try not to get anxious when I see this struggle occur. It is so easy to fill in this empty time with ideas or excursions when “I’m bored” is the mantra of the hour. Instead I sit quietly sharing their discomfort in the effort to get my children to explore their own creative interests and ideas. It is during these times that my children discover things about themselves that perhaps have even more value than a teacher’s high mark. This push through the inertia of boredom often opens new doors to self-motivated action and pursuits propelled from within that may guide them into areas of true strength and passion.

There have been articles written connecting boredom with weight gain in women or substance abuse in teens. Perhaps those who never had the time to explore and push through the boredom as children try to bury those uncomfortable feelings that accompany boredom when they get older. Perhaps in finding the yoga in boredom—staying with the feelings that surface—you to come to the other side stronger and with skills that will guide you in the future.

When the cries of boredom begin this summer, take some yoga breaths and stay present. Ride out the discomfort of the moment by doing nothing. Acknowledge the feelings that arise within when the kid’s undirected energy begins to create anxiety and choose to stay put. This inaction may surprise your kids, but perhaps it is the very action required to help them discover surprises about themselves this summer.

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