Reading as a Form of Meditation - How to Do It
Reading can be a Form of Meditation
When we read, we enter into a different world. We might be transported to a far-off land, or we might be plunged into the depths of our own minds. Either way, reading can be a form of meditation.
When we read, we are focused on the words on the page. We are not thinking about our to-do list or worrying about the future. We are simply in the moment, and that can be very relaxing.
Reading can also be a gentle way to explore our mental health. If we are anxious or stressed, the act of reading can bring perspective to our feelings and help us work through them. Reading can also help us to see the world differently, turning situations on its head and seeing through the eyes of others, even if those other eyes are fictitious.
Breathing is among the actions most frequently linked to mindfulness and meditation. You can pay attention to the act of breathing to turn it into a meditation by counting breaths, observing the quality of the breath, slowing the breath, and generally being attentive to the breath.
Reading is an activity as well. There is no reason why it cannot be used as a meditative tool as well. It could be argued that mindfulness is simply the art of doing whatever you are doing with presence in any given moment.
Getting the most out of your current task or action by being fully engaged in it on a multi-sensory level, rather than being passive, is at the heart of mindfulness meditation. When reading text, there is so much to notice; it's a great meditative activity.
Benefits of Reading Meditation
There are three main differences between reading meditation over any other type:
- A reading meditation engages the imagination - a valuable tool for creativity and problem-solving
- You are physically engaged - your eyes are open, your brain is occupied and your nervous system is calming down. You can read standing up, lying down or sitting
- Read with intent - use light concentration to observe your body as you read
Reading a Meditation with Intent
To get the most out of reading as a form of meditation, read fiction that is easy to follow and calming. Horror stories and trauma narratives have their place, but won't be of much meditational benefit.
Try a purposely written meditation or some hypnosis or meditation scripts. Concentrate on the movement of your eyes as they track the words and adjust the screen brightness or use a dark mode if reading on a screen.
Periodically check in with your breathing, heart rate and tension in your muscles, especially your shoulders, neck, jaw and abdomen - all classic tension holders. See if you can use your attention to let go a little in these areas as you read.
Where to Find Reading Meditations
You can find them here on this site, on Medium and on other sites.
If you prefer to close your eyes and listen to your reading meditation stories you can listen on YouTube.