Have you ever tried to meditate? Every time I try to meditate, the instructions are usually the same:
- Take a minute to sit comfortably in a quiet spot
- Close your eyes
- Focus on the breath going in and out
- Empty your mind
- Do this for five minutes or an hour
I can get myself in the comfortable seated position in a quiet spot. I can close my eyes. I can focus on my breath, but when it comes to do it for five minutes to an hour and emptying your mind that’s where I hit the snafu.
Meditation doesn’t encourage you to push yourself. If your brain doesn’t want to empty or if you find yourself more interested in figuring out dinner plans than on your breathing, that’s okay. Meditation says that if your thoughts wander, all you have to do is mindfully return it to the breath. The breathing is key in meditation because focusing yourself on breathing in and out actually helps you empty your mind.
Which makes me wonder if reading is a similar form of meditation. I read somewhere that reading is almost like a forced meditation. You’re not actively sitting down to meditate, but you’re about to pick up a book and put all your energy to focus on the story. I don’t know about you, but when a book is good and you’re sucked into the story then it feels like everything else in the world falls away.
You forget about dinner. You forget about running errands or going to the gym. All you want to know is whether or not the hero makes it to the end or the couple gets together or the issues within this small family get resolved. All you care about in the moment you’re reading is how the book will end.
And when you think of it that way, it is a sort of meditation. Mind you, reading isn’t really emptying your mind but trading one thought for another. However, I found that reading does allow me to enter into the present and that’s one of the goals of meditation. I think my all-time favorite evenings would be a glass of wine, some candles, and a book I’m dying to read or happily devour in one sitting (that’s where the romances come in). When I sit down to read and all I can think about is how the story moves forward, how the characters develop, how I’m totally shipping two characters and their relationship goals. When you’re in a book, you’re IN it.
I will say that reading might not work all the time. There are moments in our life when the invading thoughts or stress are too overpowering to withstand a bookish evening. Make sure to always check in with yourself. If reading isn’t for you, then maybe meditation will work for you. If not, there’s always a little Netflix.