It is astonishing how little people read today. These days we read only bits and snippets on the digital screen, mostly on the move, not enough to support deep digestion. When reading is limited to texted fragments, we don’t drop in.
When was the last time you curled up on the couch and read for several hours? Slow, deep reading has been proven to support states of parasympathetic rest and cognitive absorption. By reading we sustain steady attention. Reading is essentially dharana, concentration practice, and print reading enables people to “read” their bodies, tracking the language of the breath, nerves and sensations.
Long reading supports long meditation. It builds enduring attention. The alert, listening presence required in long reading is a kind of meditative listening. In both reading and meditation, we listen to the inner voice of the narrator integrating multiple voices, ideas and points of view. In meditation when the mind “goes silent”, we soak into present moment awareness and sense the vast open space behind our internal narration. Reading too can guide you to a clear, receptive, immersive state.
Of course in meditation and reading the challenge is not to fall asleep! Or to become distracted and space out. So everyday make reading part of your sadhana, your daily practice. In your favorite chair, with a cup of tea on hand, drop into a place of deep reading. It will deepen your flow of presence.