You’re trying to focus on the words in front of you, but your mind wants to wander, making it hard to absorb what’s on the page. Perhaps you’re reading something scary or thrilling that triggers an unwanted memory. Or maybe you just can’t decide what to read next, and it’s stressing you out! Does this sound familiar?
Reading is the best, but sometimes racing thoughts and a restless mind get in the way of a good read. Mindfulness is the practice of bringing awareness to what we are doing in the moment. It can help reduce stress, spark new ideas, and reinvigorate our busy minds. What better time to practice mindfulness than a new year?
Here are 10 tips for reading mindfully that every booklover can practice anywhere, anytime. You can apply them to your favorite YA books and anything else you read.
Tip #1: Read physical books.
If you can, read physical books. Taking a break from the constant glare of our screens is good for our eyes and can help our brains.
Tip #2: Schedule a time to read.
Find a block of time to read. Whether it’s before you go to sleep, on the bus, or an hour after dinner, schedule a time for reading so you won’t feel rushed or distracted.
Tip #3: Appreciate the words as you read.
Look up words you don’t know. Pay attention to the language, the way the author forms sentences and creates descriptions. We all tend to drift into our heads when we read a great book, but slowing down and really paying attention to nuances of a writer’s style is a great way to practice mindfulness.
Tip #4: Take notes while reading.
Scribble notes and doodles in the margins with your reactions, ideas, and observations. Some readers can’t stand to write in a book, but for others it’s very soothing and makes the experience more personal. If you don’t want to deface your books, start a book journal!
Tip #5: Experience all of your book.
As you read, notice the size of the text and font used, the way the pages feel between your fingers, and how the cover, binding, and illustrations make you feel and any thoughts they conjure. There are no wrong answers here, and you might be surprised by what you perceive.
Tip #6: Take a deep breath.
Practice deep breathing from the belly while reading. Breathe slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth, holding your breath for several seconds in between.
Tip #7: Take breaks as you go.
Relax your jaw, lower your shoulders, and release any tension in your muscles before you start reading again.
Tip #8: Savor your book.
If a particular passage or sentence makes you laugh or sticks with you, take a moment to pause and savor it. Similarly, if a passage upsets you or sparks a negative emotion, it’s okay to take a break.
Tip #9: Take a moment to think about reading.
Take a moment to appreciate how lucky you are to have this book in front of you and be able to read and enjoy it. Contemplate how amazing it is that humans can write books and share them with the world.
Tip #10: Listen to music while reading.
Create a reading playlist. Whether you like to listen to orchestral music, mellow music without lyrics, country, rock, pop, hip-hop, or even nature noises, a great reading playlist will soothe your mind and remind your brain that it’s time to relax and read.