• August 13th, 2020

The underrated power of reading

Apparently, someone once said that if you want to hide something from a black man, hide it in a book. It is funny that at the time I heard it, I never took it literally. But as time went on, I thought deeply about it and decided to start reading. This was not the first time I embarked on a reading quest though, because I have been reading more than enough self-help books before then.

The difference this time was that I indulged into reading especially books with titles I did not “agree” with. The first book I read on this quest was the book titled ‘Living on Your Own Terms’ by Osho. Although the reading challenged my beliefs to the core, it somehow got me fascinated as my mind was taken on an extremely unusual pathway.

But that’s not the point of this writing, nor is it a review of that book by any means. The point here is to stress the great impact that reading can have on our perspective. Reading is like going through the mind of a writer and consequently subliminally reprogramming the reader’s subconscious mind. On top of that, there is also talk of there being scientific evidence that reading makes the brain grow new neurons and neuropathways, thereby increasing one’s intellectual capacity.

Generally, we do not have a culture of reading other than reading a newspaper, reading for studies, driver’s license or reading magazines and Whatsapp updates. Perhaps, for a lack of a better word, that kind of reading is for mere consumption of information – information that may eventually have no real use. In this instance, we are talking about intentionally creating a habit of reading not for information consumption but with the aim of fundamentally understanding and transforming one’s life experience.

For example, there are so many books written on parenting and many other subjects pertaining to matters of our everyday life. Of course, some books are written by experts and some are written by people who share their own personal experiences and realizations. The advantage of reading is not necessarily that we are reading to believe and apply the views of the writer, but to help us learn from their experience to broaden our perspective so that we can make conscious and informed decisions. Sometimes it may also help us understand ourselves and our experience as we may also have so much to relate from our own experiences.

Of course, it’s 2020, the year introspection and as much as the COVID-19 pandemic may have adverse effects on our livelihoods, it can also be an opportunity to do some things we have never done or had any time for – like reading. It may be the time that we must take that book on the shelf that we have been procrastinating to read mostly because the title is already in contrast with our core believes. And as alluded to earlier, sometimes the best books to read are those that were written by people we do not generally agree with or books which fundamentally challenge our beliefs – and these books are mostly not reviewed in the mainstream media.  

Finally, to put the cherry on the cake, there is no doubt that reading has a great impact on one’s mental health, provided that one dares to read broadly by including reading on practical matters relating to harmonizing the mind, body and spirit e.g. Meditation, breathing techniques for relaxation or even go as far as trying the Wim Hof method. These may also be helpful in helping us maintain a healthy balance especially in times of this lockdown.

• Oshimwenyo is published every Friday in the New Era newspaper with contributions from Karlos Naimwhaka.

Staff Reporter
2020-04-30 10:47:18 | 3 months ago

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