3 Reasons Why You Should Stop Reading
Our society is so saturated with media. So much so that we’ve gotten used to non-stop consumption. We turn to our phones for constant contact with the outside world, from the news to social media to our favorite blogs to the never-ending flow of emails. Our minds are constantly chewing on new information. We hardly break long enough to form a true thought.
We’re connected to the screen but not to ourselves. On any given day, we know more about the neighbors next door than we do about our true nature. I bet the average person can tell you more about the Kardashians than they know about their own true desires, strengths, or weaknesses. It’s alarming.
If you hold a “golden era” mentality (if only we could go back to X time, then things would be good) or are negatively oriented, then the state of society is probably devastating through your eyes. But fortunately, no matter your orientation, there’s a challenging yet transformative practice that can alleviate the symptoms of our fixation: reading deprivation.
What is This Thing Called “Reading Deprivation”
Julia Cameron first spoke about reading deprivation in her book, “The Artist’s Way.” She says that “words are like tiny tranquilizers” and also likens our desire and consumption of written material like consuming greasy food that clogs our system. But when you clear the pipes you’re able to fill the well. She acknowledges that…
“It is a paradox that by emptying our lives of distractions we are actually filling the well. Without distractions, we are once again thrust into the sensory world… With no novel to sink into (and no television to numb us out) an evening becomes a vast savannah in which furniture – and other assumptions – get rearranged.”
In short, reading deprivation is a week of no reading. No books, blogs, articles, social media, or email. You can take it to the extreme by not reading text messages, work reports, or school materials, or you can start with the simple stuff like mindless web surfing. It’s challenging no matter who you are and whether you consider yourself a “reader” or not. You’ll soon discover three major benefits to depriving yourself of the written word for one short week.
And that’s it: one short week. Reading deprivation isn’t intended to be a lifelong practice. If that were the case, then writers like myself would serve no purpose. And the knowledge would have to spread through audio or visual formats alone, which doesn’t benefit every learning type. Reading serves a purpose. Reading deprivation seeks to untangle your unhealthy attachment to content. It gives you a chance to come up for air.
3 Benefits of Reading Deprivation
When you’re immersed in media you soak up all the thoughts and opinions of other people, businesses, and governments. It’s hard to know where your thoughts end and another’s begins. And who knows if the other’s thoughts are truly their own anyways. When you stop reading you can take a deep breath in and welcome your own thoughts and opinions.
At first, your thoughts may sound similar to the last article you read. But as the week goes on you’ll begin to work through your own problems and think for yourself. You may find a unique perspective never before seen in the media. And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to write them down and share them for someone else to absorb and make their own.
As you develop your own thoughts, you’ll naturally be required to turn the lens inward to do so. Thought development necessitates self-reflection. Instead of bouncing ideas or opinions off the external world you now only have yourself. When you have a question, unless you ask somebody in person, you’ll be required to first ask yourself. And since your time isn’t consumed by mindless word surfing, you’ll find you have the time to investigate these questions. You can do so in your own mind or by journaling.
Reading deprivation gives you more time for self-reflection and hobbies. If time was ever an excuse, then it will no longer be so. You’ll be amazed at how much time you normally spend browsing Facebook, opening emails, or scrolling through the news. Now you have the opportunity to fill that time with true rest, completion of tasks around the home or office, or an exploration of hobbies. If you don’t have a hobby, then it’s a perfect opportunity to start one!
During my week of reading deprivation, I journaled more, practiced my Ukulele, colored, hiked, and talked with others. I gave myself precious time and attention that would have otherwise been absorbed by mindless web surfing. Note: I did not just sit in front of the TV. That would be counterintuitive to the purpose of this practice.
Reading deprivation sounds far scarier and intimidating than it actually is. It has its challenges but it’s rewards are worth the effort. Reading has its place in our lives. But in this day and age, we are too often out of balance and out of touch with ourselves. Go on a reading hiatus this week and experience the benefits yourself!
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