Mindful Reading

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Mindful Reading

Postby Kabouterke » Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:21 am

How can you be mindful while reading?

This is something that I've never quite understood, for a number of years now. I'm a social policy researcher, so I have to munch piles of academic texts every day for my work. Reading is also a thought/thinking-intensive activity, which also makes it a bit harder to be mindful of.

I've never found the right strategy or approach. Sometimes, I open myself up to all things that I experience while reading and take a panoramic/global approach, sometimes I hone in, ultra-close on the text and continually bring myself back, as in meditation, when I felt my attention drifting away. Sometimes, I pay attention to the text and watch the mental images, questions, thoughts or whatever that arise. But none seem to feel right.


Any ideas?
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Re: Mindful Reading

Postby Ben » Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:32 am

Sayagi U Ba Khin had a great maxim: "work while you work and play while you play" which is to mean that you devote time to periods of meditation during the day and then give your attention to that which requires it.
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Re: Mindful Reading

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:44 pm

Hi Kabouterke,
Kabouterke wrote:This is something that I've never quite understood, for a number of years now. I'm a social policy researcher, so I have to munch piles of academic texts every day for my work. Reading is also a thought/thinking-intensive activity, which also makes it a bit harder to be mindful of.

I've never found the right strategy or approach. Sometimes, I open myself up to all things that I experience while reading and take a panoramic/global approach, sometimes I hone in, ultra-close on the text and continually bring myself back, as in meditation, when I felt my attention drifting away. Sometimes, I pay attention to the text and watch the mental images, questions, thoughts or whatever that arise. But none seem to feel right.

This is something I think many of us struggle with. One advice I found useful was this:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 40#p169548
mikenz66 wrote:One interesting observation [during a retreat] came out when I asked [my teacher] about how to maintain mindfulness in "normal life". His reply I reword/summarise as:
    The point is not so much to be trying to take techniques from those suitable for retreat training in continuity of mindfulness, etc, but to use the wisdom gained from retreat training.

i.e. on retreat one can carefully observe to determine what is skilful (or not). That's ideally what one should be doing at all times. Techniques such as doing everything slowly and deliberately are not so practical in normal circumstances, but its the quality of observation, rather than some particular technique, that needs to be carried over.

:anjali:
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Re: Mindful Reading

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:28 pm

And here's some good advice from elsewhere on the Forum:

Goofaholix wrote:When engaged in complex activities give your full attention to them, this is mindfulness, when engaged in simple activities then you can practise your mindfulness exercises if you want.

With day to day activities I've found the most useful practise is to just notice the quality of attention throughout the day. Notice when the mind is fully present with what you are doing, notice when its drifting or scattered, and keep trying to bring it back.

viewtopic.php?f=44&t=14356#p210491


How to write mindfully: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=7050&start=0

:anjali:
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Re: Mindful Reading

Postby purple planet » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:34 pm

A good thing is to be mindful between readings : note when you lift the book and lower it and be as mindful as possible - note when moving on the chair for a better posture - note moving hands to switch page - notice rising to go to the bathroom

I think that when you will advance you will be able to read and be mindful (not talking from personal experience) of the reading itself - because your mindful so close to the reading time, the chances this mindfulness will continue to your reading without any effort increase

but if you will be mindful of all the actions happening instead of reading you will be surprised about the time they take - and while its would be better to be mindful while reading too , you can advance very quick if your able to notice all of this parts - which is very very hard to do even without reading a single word mindfully (but i think that it will happen automatically after some good days of practicing being mindful of all the small movements like siting - scratching ect)
Last edited by purple planet on Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mindful Reading

Postby Dmytro » Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:37 am

Kabouterke wrote:How can you be mindful while reading?


First of all, you can be mindful of the purpose of reading, and the questions you are looking for answers to.

When you are mindful of the purpose, you can select the appropriate mode of reading, and be mindful of maintaining it, watching what happens.

It helps to start with the periodic reflection, from time to time, on what happened in the observed period, and what you intend to do next.
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Re: Mindful Reading

Postby binocular » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:16 am

Kabouterke wrote:How can you be mindful while reading?

It depends on what you mean by "mindful." There are more meanings to that term.


This is something that I've never quite understood, for a number of years now. I'm a social policy researcher, so I have to munch piles of academic texts every day for my work. Reading is also a thought/thinking-intensive activity, which also makes it a bit harder to be mindful of.

I've never found the right strategy or approach. Sometimes, I open myself up to all things that I experience while reading and take a panoramic/global approach, sometimes I hone in, ultra-close on the text and continually bring myself back, as in meditation, when I felt my attention drifting away. Sometimes, I pay attention to the text and watch the mental images, questions, thoughts or whatever that arise. But none seem to feel right.

There are many online resources and handbooks that give instruction on how to read academic texts for academic purposes.
For example, Palgrave Macmillan has some good books for that: Critical Thinking Skills, The Study Skills Handbook, Reading and Making Notes.

Of course, it is also possible to read academic texts for personal purposes. This is quite a different matter.

As some people have found out the hard way, it can be very dangeorus to mix up one's purposes for reading at work with personal purposes.
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Re: Mindful Reading

Postby Kabouterke » Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:15 pm

Thanks for the comments, everyone. It really helps a lot.
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Re: Mindful Reading

Postby Kabouterke » Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:16 pm

Thanks for the comments, everyone. Food for thought.
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