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Boredom is Good For the Mind

I have been writing a lot about boredom lately, and my first podcast episode was on how slow cinema provides space for contemplation. Well if you’d like to know some of the science behind this idea, check out this excellent TED talk by Manoush Zomorodi. In particular, check out the quote from Dr. Sandi Mann at 3:45 “Once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to really wander, you start thinking a little bit beyond the conscious, a little bit into the subconscious which allows sort of different connections to take place. It’s really awesome actually.” 

In the “default mode” our brains do some of their best work, connecting disparate ideas and (get this) put the moments of memories together to construct a personal narrative, which allows for us to set goals and plan our future actions. So boredom leads to creativity, leadership skills, a heightened desire to solve problems in the community, and saves precious glucose in the brain. This all lines up with the book I’m reading about boredom and the literature I’ve been studying regarding slow cinema. The really fascinating aspect of this (which is not in her talk) is that artists seem to instinctively know this, that in order to make deeper connections, it takes a measure of time, a state of consciousness that is beyond the simple observation/task/repeat cycle. We need to be comfortable without distractions. That’s why the techniques in slow cinema, the delayed cut, the long take, the minimalist (or completely absent) music assist us in the practice of contemplation.