Nowadays, we are so busy in our lives to read books and meditate every day.
When you read, you casually notice yourself too engrossed with the words that you forget the world around you. If we look at this as a general rule, this is also one of the aftereffects of meditation.
But, is reading like meditation?
Reading in any form can lend itself to mindfulness and meditation. When you’re actively fighting the urge to think of all the swarming thoughts in your mind and bring back your focus on reading, that’s the first time you realize the similarities between meditation and reading.
That said, how can you rest assured that you don’t have to carry out a separate meditation session after reading for 1-2 hours a day?
After all, we barely get time to look after ourselves, let alone dedicate hours to both reading and meditation. Therefore, here are a few reasons why reading is the same as meditation.
So, let’s find out what they are.
1. You Absorb From the Environment Around You
While meditating, you let yourself surrender to the environment around you.
The birds chirping, water dripping, the smell of fresh air, and the rhythm of your breath are all around you, and now their sounds are amplified. In the same way, while reading, you’re not stating your mind; rather, you absorb the information from the book, deeply immerse yourself in its sensory details and become more self-aware of things around you.
And c’mon, we always know how annoying it is when someone is talking while you have your nose buried in the book.
Psychologists call this “flow,” and it is comparable to meditation. However, bear in mind this can only be achieved when you’re deep reading with a relaxed mind. Here, fiction books play a major role.
2. Reading Is a Way of Slowing Down
There is no meditation when you’re mindlessly shifting your eyes through the book for the sake of finishing it and reaching your 3-books-per-week goal.
When we sit down to read, we switch ourselves off from the rest of the world. Your mindful reading is futile if you have been searching for ways to read faster books. The point here is to make sense of each word and expose yourself to possibilities the reading can change you.
Just like in meditation, you can’t fast forward the process of meditation. It has to be slow, and you have to surrender yourself to time for some solid minutes. And if you think about it, the right deep reading also revolves around the same concept.
3. It Requires You to Bring Back Your Focus
Modern-day ebooks have revolutionized the way we read. It is convenient to read ebooks over paper books, it also comes with its own set of distractions.
You could be reading about your favorite part, and your friend hits up with a “hey”一boom! You’ve lost all your focus and are now making plans for tomorrow night’s party.
The challenging part of meditation is bringing back your focus to breathing while your mind is wandering off to the worries of the world一to lose track of time, and forget yourself. Likewise, in reading, you also have to bring back your focus to the fictional world and disconnect from today’s temporary happiness.
4. Reading is a Fun Way to Zone Out
Although I’ve touched on this topic several times in this post, a few aspects still needed more emphasis.
Zoning out for a while can be a healthier way to escape reality and form your own convictions that you can carry with you for the rest of your life. It helps you stand above peer pressure and find yourself.
Few minutes of reading before bed can also help you forget about the long day you had at work and have a baby-like sleep so you can wake up feeling refreshed for the new opportunities of the next day.
5. Reading Has the Same benefits as Meditation.
Just like how meditation can yield incredible results in your mental and physical health. Deep reading also helps you make connections between other senses in your mind to promote a healthy social perception, intelligence, and awareness of the people around you.
It can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, reduce the ever-needed stress, anxiety and put you in an overall calm state of mind.
However, deep reading isn’t how easy as you may think.
You can’t expect to get the same results if you read books that only promote negative and unnecessary strain in your mind. A good example of such types of books could be academic or business books.
To make the most out of mindfulness, read science-fiction and fiction books that make it easy for you to concentrate and surrender to the story.
6. Keeps You Away From the Blue Light
Blue light gives your body a sense of wakefulness, which ends up making you procrastinate your sleep.
Unwinding with a good book is better than binging on Netflix or scrolling through Instagram.
We have been there: you set the alarm for 8 am sharp thinking of going to bed early, but thanks to a new YouTube video posted by your favorite YouTuber, you sleep at 2 am一and there goes another productive day to downhill.
Therefore, dedicating a few minutes, or best, an hour to reading before bed has the potential to tire your mind. Just like how a good workout can tire your body into having a peaceful sleep.
Once you have finished a few chapters for the day, you’re more likely to reflect on your own problems and develop creative solutions to solve them.
One thing worth noting here is to be disciplined while reading. You can’t compromise with your sleep if you keep reading one chapter after the other. The best way to stay disciplined is to set page limits or chapter limits (preferably 1 or 2) so you can set time aside for yourself and have quality time at least once a day.
7. Can Help Overcome Grief
Many therapists worldwide suggest people struggling with grief, anxiety, and depression meditate daily as it helps them reflect on the swarming thoughts, acknowledge them, and overcome traumas.
When you’re meditating through books, you always have support from the powerful words whenever you need consolidation of the things that are too hard to talk about.
You can carry along with you and connect with the books’ characters to gain inspiration to be back to normal. This way, you sharpen your emotional skills and get your life under control.
Can I Say I’m Meditating When I’m Reading?
Reading has the same benefits indeed as meditation. You can actively practice focus and mindfulness.
Just like there is bad meditation where you can’t seem to put your thoughts away or find it too hard to sit in the same position for a long time, reading also has a wrong mindfulness way. Reading is the deep analysis of the words, and switching yourself off from the world really counts.
If neither of them is done right, you can’t expect to get the life-changing effects that medication and reading gives.
Now coming to your question: if you are someone who reads books for the sake of finishing them, then no, you’re not meditating while reading.
I don’t care if you read 56 books a year.
What really matters is what you gained from these books, which could even mean reading 10 books a year. Once you’ve managed to master deep reading, that’s when you can ditch formal meditation and fully indulge in reading for a few minutes up to an hour a day.
However, it is understandable to get distracted while reading. For example, a funny line that you read in the book that you have to tweet right now, or perhaps a scenario that reminded you of your past.
If these things prevent you from reading deeply, you can do formal meditation for 5 minutes before reading. This will help fuel up your focus game so you can start with a clear and further sharpen your focus skills through reading.
How To Do Deep Reading
I have mentioned the concept of deep reading countless times in the post, but do you even know what is exactly deep reading anyway, and how can you make the most of it?
Deep reading, in fact, doesn’t come with any strategies or specific ways to do it. It’s all about not rushing with time and actually enjoying the whole process rather than do a chore that you need to do to bring your life back to normal.
You can think of it in this way: as long as you can picture yourself in the book and truly feel what the characters are feeling, you’re doing a good job at reading it.
However, you must keep in your mind to practice deep reading. You need to focus on the rhythm of your breath and how your abdomen expands and contracts as you breathe. Imagine each sensory detail, feel the ups and downs and create a world of your own.