Why am even talking about reading? Well, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I was a very late bloomer when it came to reading. In fact, I did not read a book until I was in my mid 20s. Who helped me? Batman! Yes, Vengeance! What better way to link reading than with pictures! You see my issue was that my mind could not focus. I would reread a page over and over and over. I loved the idea of reading and I enjoyed holding a book and knowing I could get lost in my imagination as I went through the pages but I just could not get through a full book. Most of the time not even through a chapter. I tried so many different topics, fiction, and nonfiction. I would find something that would somewhat intrigue me and only get in a few pages, maybe a chapter or two, then my mind would wander. It was very frustrating for me. Now as a Hypnotherapist, working with clients. I come to realize why reading is so important! It really helps you expand your mind. It is not just a form of entertainment but a tool to help you exercise your mind. Creating pictures in your mind, unlike, watching a movie on the big screen where the outfits, characters, the scenery is from the mind of the director, producer, and a large group of people. I have always heard readers say that the book is so much better than the movie. Now as a therapist I understand. Sitting with clients doing hypnosis, I have come to realize during the intake part of my sessions that I see how my clients view the world! Here is an example. I use something called the lemon test. Many hypnotists will use this test to see how susceptible clients are to hypnosis, but I have also begun to see how clients do perceive the world. Basically, I have you close your eyes and focus and envision a kitchen. It could be your kitchen, it could be a kitchen from your past. Then I have you begin to see this kitchen, begin to create it in your mind using emotions, smells, sounds, and of course taste. Feel the energy of this kitchen. As I describe a scenario it is up to the client in their mind’s eye, to listen to my description as they stand in their kitchen. What do you see? What do you feel? Do you smell things in the kitchen? Do you hear sounds in the kitchen? Once we are focused on the kitchen I have you walk over to the refrigerator door, pull on the handle. Feeling the resistance of the handle as you pull. Now looking into your refrigerator, feeling the coolness of the air coming out into the room around you. See the light from inside the refrigerator as it brightens your face and shows you what's inside. In this case it being a basket with lemons. I describe how yellow the lemons are and then describe the lemon ridges, the shape and size. Now grab one! Pull it out of the refrigerator and close the door. Listening as the door closes, feeling the handle as it rolls out of your hand. Now walk across the kitchen to a nearby counter. There is a cutting board and a knife. At this point, I have you grab a knife and carefully slice the lemon in half. As you do this do you smell the lemon? Can you easily see the lemon? Now bring it up to your nose and bite into it. Do you feel the juices spray into your mouth? Can you taste the juices in your mouth? Is it sour or bitter? As you can see there is a difference between feeling, tasting, smelling, and hearing everything involved in cutting a lemon. Now here's the thing, I have begun to realize with my clients that not everyone is the same. Some people cannot see the kitchen or the lemon in their mind. Some clients have issues smelling, hearing, or feeling certain sensations. You can imagine now how difficult this maybe for a hypnotist to work on a script that will be read to a client to help guide them in a session. This is where I have noticed it seems to be harder for a client that considers themselves a non-reader to see pictures in their minds.
Reading is a neurobiological process that works out your brain muscles. As you do so, you can help to slow down cognitive decline and even decrease the rate at which memory fades. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have even found that reading reduces the level of beta-amyloid, which is a protein in the brain that is connected to Alzheimer’s. Who knew that reading could have physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits?
Both reading and writing work to improve one’s communication skills. That’s why if you’re looking to become a better writer, many of the suggestions that you come across will include reading more. Reading can open your eyes, literally and figuratively, to new words. Try this next time you read: if you come across any words, you read that you don’t know, take a moment to look them up and write them down. Then, remember to use your new words in your speech so you don’t forget them! Books can be both an escape and an adventure. When you are reading, you can think about things in new ways, learn about cultures, events, and people you may have never otherwise heard of, and can adopt methods of thinking that help to reshape or enhance your identity. For example, you might read a mystery novel and learn that you have a knack and interest in solving cases and paying attention to clues. Reading has the potential to boost your creativity. Now if you don’t think that strengthening your brain is enough of a benefit, here is some very good news. Reading has also been proven to lower stress as it increases relaxation. When the brain is fully focused on a single task, like reading, the reader gets to benefit from meditative qualities that reduce stress levels.
So, what if I can’t focus while reading? We all get distracted, there are many reasons this may happen which can even include stress and a lack of sleep. The brain is continuously being sent signals from inside and outside the body. If you can't focus, you first must figure out why. Once you have an idea of what your main distractions may be, knowing may help in now focusing the mind a little easier.
Here are a few steps to help you read and comprehend what you are reading.
1) Read aloud!! Don’t be embarrassed. Maybe don’t read aloud in a library or in a public place but reading aloud will help you focus on what it is you are reading.
2) Read at a level you feel comfortable at. Do not feel ashamed if you have never read a book. No harm in picking up a kids book with less words on a page and maybe some pics. For me it was comic books. Start slow! Take your time.
3) This was a tough one for me but use your finger to follow along. It will help you keep your eyes focused on the words. I used this for a while then switched to an index card. I was able to read line after line.
4) Rereading a paragraph is helpful in practicing reading and it will help you comprehend what you read.
5) Another helpful thing to do is to take notes. Any big words that went by and you did not understand! No worries! Look it up!
6) Reading with a friend is a great practice. Talk about what you ready with a friend.
7) The most important factor in beginning to read is read what you like! This is not the time to read your Trigonometry book from high school. Start easy and pick a topic you love and understand.
I hope I made you think and if you have read this far, good for you!
Here are some quotes about reading.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.”
“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”
“Read a book and allow your mind to travel to places without ever leaving the comfort of your couch”
Jimmy Gonzalez CCH