Julie Pearson and Maureen Taylor, Co-Founders, Mindful Life Journeys
It’s a myth that traditional meditation is the only way to be mindful. Did you realise you can practice Mindfulness and get many of the same benefits through reading? People read daily as a pleasant and rewarding release and relaxation of their minds, they just don’t connect it with a form of focused meditation.
Jon Kabat Zinn defines Mindfulness as “Paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the moment, non judgementally.”
By choosing (on purpose) to read (the particular way) and focusing (paying attention) on words in a book we are almost there in meeting his definition. When we get lost in words, we can lose track of time, our day to day thoughts, feelings, emotions and reactions are forgotten for a moment, they settle, affect us less as we are transported to another, amazing world. We don’t judge the words we just read them and accept them for what they are – (in the moment, non judgementally).
For us being in the moment is about detaching from the past and not focusing on the future, just allowing our minds to settle in the now without letting our thoughts, feelings, emotions and reactions run wild, uncontrolled in our minds. Reading to be Mindful in this way empowers us with a choice to switch from “habitual thinking” to allow ourselves time just “to be”. That time “just being” brings some much needed mental and emotional balance, which is great for our mental health and much more.
When we practice mindfulness through reading or any other form, it’s possible to create space in our minds for ideas, knowledge, inner wisdom, creativity, happiness, joy, peace, relaxation, inspiration, confidence, whatever we need, to come in and help us achieve our potential, whatever that may be.
Reading can take our mind off a well trodden path of worry, stress, anxiety. It doesn’t have to be a self help book, it can be anything that takes us away, puts us in the moment.
Nowadays reading and writing is more accessible than ever, electronically, from pen to paper to books, media, comics, magazines, newspapers the list is endless. We are privileged to live in a society where there is so much to choose from and libraries where we can access them for free, limitless places and experiences for our mind.
By distracting the mind through reading, we can build new pathways, write new scripts, which serve us in life much better, just imagine the opportunities books can open up for our children.
We can take books for granted and we expect everyone to be able to read and write even though, sadly, this is still unavailable to some. We forget it’s not that long ago when many were not able to access schools or opportunities to learn.
Now we are able to use books to learn from and about other societies, using words to explain our differences and develop our societies. If used for the higher good, books can underpin another Mindful practice - compassion - through knowledge and understanding.
The joy of reading to others (children especially) is wonderful and can be life changing for them, developing the future scientists, actors, educators, medical staff, poets, storytellers again the list is limitless. We can use books to open up debates and discussions. The information within can provide the ability and confidence to challenge ideas and meet like minded people.
It starts with us and with our children. It would be a less colourful world if we didn’t have books or the ability to read. Thank You Teachers!
We were inspired to create a reading meditation in support of Achievement for All’s 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge. It was designed to open children up to the joy of reading and help them understand it can help shape their future, build resilience and open up opportunities regardless of ability.
In addition to this activity we have also created mindful meditation sessions as part of Achievement for All's Achieving Wellness module. The sessions are designed to help increase resilience, teach tools to help self regulate emotion, encourage mindsets more ready for learning and promote growth mindsets in a fun and engaging way.