Monday, October 23, 2017

Reading During My Morning Practice (fifth post in a series of five)

I often read during my morning practice. Doing so gives me
something to reflect on – a foil, so to speak, for what may be pouring forth from me during my writing. While I’ve come to trust my inner voice more and more, the fact remains that blind spots in my thinking persist. I don’t have all the information I need within me to address the challenges of the day with equanimity. The right reading can and often does provide the spark I need. It offers a subtle jostle to my thought processes and a push in the direction I want to go. Without it, I may remain enmeshed in fear, worry, and anxiety. I will recall something I read during my morning practice at some point. It’s as if a voice in my head summons the particular message when I need it.

I read books focusing on issues that come up during my morning practice. These include mindfulness, goal setting, time management, and personal effectiveness. In the past, I would plow through such books one after the other. My goal was to finish a book so I could move onto the next one on my shelf. Somehow I was hoping to gain at least a glimpse of “the answer” to the question of what was missing in my life. That quest turned out to be futile. But I did end up with an impressive shelf full of books.

My process now is very different. First, I’m careful about what I read. I select books included in list of references of other books I’ve already read and enjoyed. Friends and colleagues recommend others. These readings challenge me to be more than who I am, to go beyond my self-imposed limits, and to overcome my fears. In turn, they reinforce new thoughts and inspire me to develop different visions for what I want in my life.  

Second, I buy very few books these days. I secure I'll continue to refer to in my writing, speaking, teaching, and consulting. I’ve eliminated many books from my library this way, with little sense of loss or longing. Instead, I look to the library to request books that peak my interest.  

As a result I’ve been able to secure approximately 95% of the books I’m interested in reading. And if any of the books turn out to be less than I expected, I can return it with no regrets or out of pocket expense. If I like the book enough, I can buy it. Once I get a book I tend to read it through from cover to cover. Then I’ll go back through the book a second time, page by page, during my morning practice. I am now looking for passages that resonate with me. These can spark in me insight I’ll want to recapture during future morning practice sessions. I’ll take notes on that particular passage. If I ever choose to use the quote in an article or speech, I want to be able to cite it. I work on a section of the book each day, until I finish it. 

As a result of this process, I have a healthy and growing collection of material from books. I can draw on it daily for insight and inspiration during my morning practice. Meanwhile, I read whenever possible during the rest of the day. In turn, I identify and request more books. The process never ends.

To view all five posts in the series, click on the following links: Introducing My Morning Practice, Part 1;  Why I Do a Morning Practice, Part 2; Four Items I Need in My Morning Practice, Part 3; Writing: The Cornerstone of My Morning Practice, Part 4; and Reading During My Morning Practice, Part 5.  

No comments: