Developing a rigid reading habit

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I was never a reader. I used to be one of those people who buys tons of book, start, but never able to finish them. I couldn’t even finish a book in a year, now, I am on a somewhat rigid schedule of reading at least a book a week.

I didn’t want to commit to a rigid reading schedule, but now I feel like I am ready. We all have commitment issues, we don’t want to commit to a habit because when we fail to we feel bad about ourselves. I am definitely a realistic person, I didn’t want to immediately jump into it, so I ease myself into the habits of reading. English is not my native language, so I started with short reads, self helps books in particular, is rather easy to digest and understand, so I read tons of self help books. Alot of the topics in self help books are repetitive, but through them, I am able to understand the importance of being discipline, which really helps with my reading. Then, I also started following alot of readers, gathering tips on how to read more strategically (as I hardly know anyone who reads in my circle, social media has become a go-to source for my inspirations to read more definitely)

Day by day, my reading habit proliferates, even thou my speed is slow, I am able to dedicate between 1-2 hours daily to my reading, so my time make up for my speed. I love to read in the mornings vs evenings as I find that I am able to concentrate better. I prolong my morning walks just to squeeze in extra reading time, I bring my kindle with me everywhere I go.

I found these tips from Books Of Titan (by Erik Rostad) incredibly helpful :

  1. Pre-select a reading list
  2. Use a ramdomizer to help generate the order of your reading list instead of picking them by yourself (random dot org)
  3. Devise a daily reading schedule according to the pages (for my case, since I read from my kindle, I estimate the time required for each book base on the time prediction feature on kindle

Besides these reads for pleasure, I also have to do quite abit of reading for MNU study. I have prepared some study related books on the side as a “buffer”, but the rule I set for myself is I have to stick to the schedule and finish the book I’ve set for the week.

I am implementing what I’ve learnt from Books of Titan and came up with my reading list for NOV (generated by random dot org)

(I am currently reading Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman)

  1. The joy of half a cookie – Dr. Jean Kristeller
  2. Bad Science – Ben Goldacre
  3. A little history of philosophy – Nigel Warburton 
  4. Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style -Benjamin Dryer (thanks to Phil Rosen’s reading reviews/recommendation)

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As you can see I didn’t set the order based on my preference, and even thou some books are quite difficult for me, and some of them are not the usual kind of books I’d read, but I always believe they can provide values.

Most mornings and nights, the moment I most look forward to is to retrieve to my room and read. As the end of the year approaches, I will pre-select 52 books in advance for the whole of next year, do you have any books recommendation for me?

 

Mara : Feeding your demon

Illustrations by Carole Hénaff.

I’ve began to take more walks without my phone these days, just me and my thoughts, no distraction. And I thought alot about my struggles with my inner Mara on my morning walk this morning.

What is Mara?

Mara is the demon that tempted Prince Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha) by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara’s daughters. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara is associated with death, rebirth and desire. Nyanaponika Thera has described Mara as “the personification of the forces antagonistic to enlightenment.” 

“the personification of the forces antagonistic to enlightenment.” 

We all have them, Mara, morph into different forms, trying to distract us from what we want to accomplish. I have been working on fighting one particular Mara that is draining my mental energy, my efforts seem futile, there are times I thought I’ve made good progress, then I relapsed, then I feel so guilty and bad about myself. The more frequent my determination is threatened by the Mara, the weaker I become to resist the temptation.

I feel sick.

Then I came across this article, and I thought, perhaps I’ve got it all wrong.

Feeding our demons rather than fighting them contradicts the conventional approach of fighting against whatever assails us. But it turns out to be a remarkably effective path to inner integration.

Demons (maras in Sanskrit) are not bloodthirsty ghouls waiting for us in dark corners. Demons are within us. They are energies we experience every day, such as fear, illness, depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship difficulties, and addiction.

Anything that drains our energy and blocks us from being completely awake is a demon. The approach of giving form to these inner forces and feeding them, rather than struggling against them, was originally articulated by an eleventh-century female Tibetan Buddhist teacher named Machig Labdrön (1055–1145). The spiritual practice she developed was called Chöd, and it generated such amazing results that it became very popular, spreading widely throughout Tibet and beyond.

The article entails methods to use meditation to “feed our demons” instead of fighting them. Which I found highly enlightening. Since I practice meditation every morning, I will give this a go and see how it goes.

Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. Bruce Lee