Think about how most of us read text or books these days whether we do it on paper or a computer/mobile screen. The vast majority of us are often in a race to get to the end of the book or listening to the audiobook. In comparison, mindful reading is completely different. It is about paying attention to the little details and maintaining a slow pace that allows you to absorb the book.
The process is quiet and requires careful reflection of the mind and being attentive. You have to let go of any distractions and thoughts before you can become one with the moment. The result? You experience an utter awareness.
You also experience a profound appreciation for the text. There’s also room for better understanding that skimming, scanning, or speed-reading through the text never can have. This post by Zenfulspirit.com looks at how reading makes us more mindful and what all benefits it has to offer –
Why Reading is a Crucial Opportunity for Mindfulness
Let’s just admit it – present times are chaotic, to say the least. Since we’re all running around busy chasing our goals – once in a while it’s good to have that sense of grounding which brings you back to the present moment. Anything to help with your awareness.
Reading forces you to be completely in the now. It forces you to let go of worries, judgments, notions and become one with the activity.
If you pay attention to your pace and slowly savor each moment, you will find that there’s nothing quite like reading to become mindful, which is the first step towards meditation. You can make it a spiritual experience.
Exercises for Mindful Reading
This method entails that you take some time before reading to bring awareness to your breath. Let go of all the sensations and thoughts and stay focused on your breath. After that read the text. See if you’re now able to read with better focus and appreciation.
After you’re done reading, once again take a few minutes to focus on your breath. Contemplate what you’ve just read. What did you learn from the text? Answering these questions, overtime, makes mindfulness second nature to you.
Savour a Resonant Phrase
Take time to slowly read a page. Then sit in contemplation. Think about the phrase that captured your attention. Now go back to that page and repeat it once again. If possible, repeat it multiple times. Sit with it and let it stir you emotionally.
Does it evoke anything inside of you? Do any particular memories, ideas, or images come to mind? Does the text carry any meaning beyond the words? Is there something capturing your heart? What is the piece trying to suggest? Now go back and read the entire piece once again.
How has your relationship with the text changed? What things are different now?
One from Many
This one is more of a group activity. The practice involves at least two people, but you can invite more. Give everyone a copy of the same piece of paragraph, prose, or poem. Everyone should sit quietly and focus on their breath. Pick one person to read the text out loud.
In the middle, out of nowhere, whenever a person feels like reading the page, he/she should do it – until everyone gets a chance. Now ask yourself – did hearing the same text or word from different people affect the essence of it?
Health Benefits of Reading
It Boosts Brain Power
A decline in brain functions and memory is completely normal. However, you can combat this decline – or at least slow the pace of it – if you read regularly. According to neurology.org reading keeps the mind sharp. Brain exercises are proven to bring down the rate of mental health decline by 32%.
May Keep Alzheimer’s at Bay
According to this publication, people who regularly engage in brain activities such as chess, solving puzzles and reading are 2.5 times less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s during old age. Inactivity is a major cause of the early onset of Alzheimer’s.
This would probably explain why those who remain mentally active tend to enjoy better brain health.
Can Help You Sleep Better
Mayo Clinic says that when you get into the routine of picking at a book during bedtime – you’re essentially signaling your body that now is the time to relax and fall asleep. A book is a way healthier option than staring at the TV or mobile screen which can actually hurt your sleep due to the light they emit.
The Joy of Reading
When you read a book – you become wiser, more empathic and calmer. All of these are compelling arguments that speak strongly in favour of reading as a daily mindful habit.