Mindfulness While Reading

What are the benefits of continuous mindfulness practice? Why would you ever want to read and be mindful at the same time? This post provides the answers.

You will also find clear instructions on how to be mindful while reading and tips on how to take your meditative reading experience to the next level.

Continuous mindfulness practice implies that you are mindful throughout the day, from the moment you wake up in the morning until you fall asleep at night. Most of your attention goes to the daily activity at hand, while part of your attention is given to your meditation object. This makes for speedy progress in your mindfulness practice, a calm and focused state of mind without taking up any of your time.

Here is a link to an article with in-depth information about continuous mindfulness practice.

What is more, if you want to let go of everything and sit down and only meditate for a while, the meditation will be deep from the very start. This applies to walking meditation as well.

Please note that mindfulness makes for patience and reduces emotional reactivity. Another way of phrasing it, is that mindfulness does away with unpleasant mental states.

Why does mindfulness go so well with reading?

Generally speaking, reading is a stress-free activity and you can lie down on your back which makes for physical comfort. It's fine to sit comfortably too. The above reduces distractions in the form of physical discomfort, and makes reading the ideal platform for beginners to become familiar with continuous mindfulness practice.

To read mindfully suggests that you do two things at the same time, you read and you are mindful. Normally, you would read and think. Take a minute to contemplate the difference...

It is also possible to be mindful while thinking. For example, you can stop reading for a moment and reflect on what you have just read. At the same time as you think, you continue to give relaxed attention to your meditation object.

There will be occasional thoughts while you read mindfully, that is perfectly normal. Don't cling to them though. Instead, wholeheartedly focus on reading and your meditation object.

To read mindfully has a number of benefits. The first one that comes to mind is that it generates inner peace. It puts you in touch with the core of your being, which in turn makes you grounded or centered.

After years of practice, every moment of mindfulness produces soothing stillness. Mindfulness truly calls forth pleasant mental states.

Another point is that reading mindfully makes for a focused mind. When you are concentrated it's natural to take in or assimilate what you read, making it a wonderful tool for anyone who is studying.

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How To Read Mindfully

The first thing to consider is where to read. Opt for a quiet place. The fewer distractions your are exposed to, the easier it is to stay focused.

Next, the more comfortable the body is, the easier it is to concentrate. Lie down or sit in your favorite armchair. Use pillows and blankets to make yourself as comfortable as possible.

The breath is a popular meditation object, which can be felt either in the abdomen and chest or at the nostrils. Another one is to give attention to the sensations in the abdomen and chest. Common sensations include hot and cold, pleasant and unpleasant emotions, tension, tingling, mental energy etc.

So, how much attention should you give to mindfulness while reading?

To start out with, read slowly and only give some attention to your meditation object. The slower you read, the easier it is to be mindful. As a rule of thumb, when the text is complex or difficult to understand, give more attention to the reading and vice versa. With practice, you will distribute your attention with ease.

In the beginning you shouldn't expect the practice to generate deep mental states, but I can assure you that being able to be mindful while reading alone, is most satisfying. The more you practice, the more natural it becomes and the deeper the mindfulness will take you.

Helpful Tips

Always give relaxed attention to your meditation object. Trying too hard only makes for physical and mental tension. Relax and flow like water.

Take frequent breaks and only read as long as your mind is fresh and alert. Over time, it becomes second nature to be mindful while reading, then you will be able to read longer since you don't have to make as much mental effort.

Place one hand on your chest or abdomen. This is an effective way to boost the sensation of your breath. The stronger the sensation, the easier it is to be aware of it.

Using ear plugs also intensifies the sensation of your breathing. Some individuals may find it unpleasant while others find it calming. Try and see what works for you.

Since it's virtually impossible to be mindful and to meditate while being angry, make it a high priority to avoid impatience, irritation and anger. Therefore, whenever you fail to be mindful or realize that you are caught up in thinking, patiently and playfully bring your attention back to your meditation object. I strongly encourage you to hone this skill.

The last tip is a wonderful way to deepen your mindfulness. Stop reading for 10-30 seconds, and give full, yet relaxed attention to your meditation object. This short meditation deepens the mindfulness. Repeat it as often as you like.

To be mindful while reading is as pleasant as it is calming.

Best of luck!

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