Mindful Reading

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to mindful reading.  Since reading fiction is a transportive experience, can this even be done?  Books take us to faraway lands and different time periods.  It would seem that this is sort of the opposite of “mindfulness,” for which you need to be fully in the moment.  I feel that mindfulness techniques, however, really can be practiced during reading.  

Beginning the session with a brief meditation can enhance the experience.  Focus first on the breath.   Then calmly acknowledge and then let go of distracting thoughts and emotions.  The ideal posture should be a comfortable, seated position.  Laying down could cause sleepiness.  Slouching will just cause neck and back pain that will serve as a distraction.

To read mindfully, one has to be really “present” with the text.  First and foremost, slow down and savor every word.  Mindful reading is the opposite of speed reading or merely scanning text to get the basic jist.  Try to keep your mind focused and free from wandering.  Pay attention to the emotions you experience as you read.  Create detailed mental images of the characters and don’t only “see” the setting, but envision yourself immersed in it.  Periodically pause and reflect on the meaning of the text.

Clearly, I love to read.  Making an effort to do so “mindfully” just makes the experience all the more rewarding!

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