In today’s world it is far easier to pick up your phone than it is to pick up a book. Would you agree? When you find yourself with idle time what is it that you first think? Let me check my Instagram? Let me check Facebook? My e-mail? I know that’s where my mind wanders to first. That and the 800,000 things that I have to do, didn’t do, want to do, plan, go to… the list is endless. In reading this you’ve probably already thought of something else.
The act of reading for me was one of those tasks that was often required for school or some program where if I read I was rewarded. It always had to be incentive based. Reading was never something I identified positively with until I started truly exploring my own mental health and wellness and began to really understand what being SELFKIND meant. I found myself faced with the self help section at countless bookstores as well as just bombarding my Amazon cart with books that were all based on the same subject… who am I, what the heck went wrong and how do I process it. It sounds really serious and somewhat overwhelming doesn’t it? It really didn’t make me want to read when I thought I was being told what to read and constantly thought something was wrong.
That’s why I will not dedicate any part of the book section explaining or suggesting to what you should read. I will let you know what I’m reading and how it might have impacted me but ultimately what you read is your choice. Instead I think we should, together, focus on reading as a practice and you should pick what speaks most to you. Much like a bath, when we decide to do it we have to go through the rituals. Grab our book, maybe put on some cozy clothes, make a cup of tea and find a place for this to happen and then really allow ourselves the time and space to read. The hardest part is making the choice to read for leisure instead of something we feel we have to do or that is on our to do list.
It is often when I find myself with downtime that I tend to focus on the things I have to do or need to fix. This is why reading is taking the top place in my SELFKIND practices to take care of myself and be kind to myself. Reading somehow finds a way to silence all the other voices. For the period of time I’m doing it I am not sad, there isn’t something wrong with me, I am not to fat, to thin, to anti social or social… I am just here in a space with my book reading and creating the world the author intended. It is an incredibly peaceful practice and whether it’s for five minutes or an entire day it allows me to rest my mind and put focus on something I find enjoyable.
I personally began my new relationship with reading by making a choice to leave my phone in a different room at night when I was preparing for bed. At one point I had to remove the tv, iPad, iPhone, and every other electronic from my bedroom to ensure I wouldn’t have any temptation. I found that once I was in my bed I didn’t want to get up again and the only thing I had nearby was a stack of books. I even gave myself choices. One night I might pick up a mystery, the next a romantic novel, another a non-fiction book. In the end I realized that if I was open enough to the process one of the books would completely absorb my attention and I wouldn’t be able to put it down. I also found a substantial increase in the quality of my sleep after staring at a book instead of my phone.
Reading does begin as something we force ourselves to do but I promise, eventually, it will become a peaceful experience where you go to get away from all those wild running thoughts of what else you could be doing with your time. I would love to know what the best practices you all use to make time and space to read? Do you have a place set up specifically for reading? Do you prefer to relax with fiction or non fiction works? Please comment below!