By Leo Babauta
In this webinar, I shared how joyful practice of reading in silence can be and I answered some awesome questions.
I’ve broken this webinar recording into two parts:
- Part I – My Talk: The Zen of Reading in Solitude (See notes)
- Part II – Questions & Answers: I answered questions abaout developing habits without goals, tracking daily habits, keeping a beginner’s mind, the importance of defining triggers, and more!
Part I: Leo’s Talk (with notes)
Here are the notes from my talk (video is below the notes):
The Zen of Reading in Solitude:
We often put off reading books for the comforts of small tasks and easy distractions, but there is a joy and a mindfulness practice from reading in silence, letting go of everything else and just focusing on this one activity.
- Our lives are filled with busyness, rushing from one task to another, from the time we wake up until we reluctantly fall asleep
- We have constant distractions that weâ€™ve trained our minds to run to, that keep pulling us in many directions
- This leads to us having stress, anxiety, difficulty with ourselves and others, not facing what is coming up for us because weâ€™re constantly busy and distracted. It leads to suffering.
- But what about staying in one place? Do we often train our minds to do that? What about focusing on one thing? What about letting go of everything else so that we can have peace with doing one thing?
- Zen practice is just sitting. Allowing ourselves to find a place and a time and to just sit, practicing with opening our awareness, being fully present.
- We can bring this approach to reading by creating a time and a space, and allowing ourselves to be fully there with the text.
- We can tell everyone else that for the next 30 minutes, Iâ€™ve committed myself to doing nothing but this.
- We can let everything else go that we have to do today, trusting that it will get done, that we have nowhere else to be, nothing else to do.
- We can even let our ego drop away, and let there be nothing else but the experience of this moment, just as it is.
- We can realize that we will die someday, and allowing our minds to constantly run from the moment isnâ€™t helpful, that it just leads to suffering. And that we want to try a more fully immersed way of being instead.
- Then just keep practicing being there with your reading. Letting the worries and tasks drop away so that youâ€™re there. When you get distracted, come back.
What would this be like? We might not like it at first, and then thereâ€™s a fully being there with our dislike. We can fully feel what itâ€™s like to dislike this solitude, fully be there with that sensation.
Then we can cultivate a curiosity to find out more â€” what am I missing when Iâ€™ve decided I already know I dislike this? What might be uncovered when I let this judgment drop away? What is it like to let go of preferences and ideals and expectations, and just see what the present moment is like without all of that?
Part II: Questions and Answers
Questions answered in this video:
- The question is how do we do all the habits we create? For each habit, you often recommend people set aside X amount of time for the habit – whatever works for them. Question is: What happens with all the other habits?
- Can you clarify a little more developing habits without goals?
- How do you track your daily habits?
- I am trying to keep a beginners mind throughout the day, to restart it as often as possible, but I tend to forget a lot. Do you have any advice on keeping the mindset/remembering the idea?
- You always talk about how important is to define the triggers for our habit, however in a chaotic life as you just explained, the triggers are different every day … then, how can you stick to your habit if the trigger is not fixed?