Speed Reading Technique 14: Get in a good state for reading
Summary Having a relaxed, alert, questioning, purposeful mind is the ideal state for reading if you want to understand and remember information. Many of the other spd rdng techniques are also designed to get your mind and body in an optimal state for reading.
The optimal state for understanding and taking in information is to be alert, relaxed, positive, purposeful and questioning and many of the techniques in this book are about getting into a good state for reading:
- check that physical factors are in your favour (speed reading technique 33) – in particular, sip water
Make sure you are:
- physically alert – take regular breaks (speed reading technique 27) and do some exercises which get your energy flowing and allow you to relax
- mentally alert – have a clear purpose (speed reading technique 4), talk to yourself (speed reading technique 19), take notes (speed reading technique 17)
Every time you start to read, get into the habit of:
- taking a deep breath in – and consciously relaxing your body as you breathe out
- smiling (speed reading technique 7) – and maintaining your inner smile even when you relax your face
- focusing on your concentration point (speed reading technique 10) to open your peripheral vision
- pausing … and planning what you’re about to do.
Expert tip You’ll take in more information if you keep guessing or anticipating what you think is coming next.
Triune brain theory
According to Paul McClean’s triune brain theory, your brain cannot concentrate on higher thinking (eg reading) if you are physically uncomfortable (eg hungry, tired, needing the loo) or emotionally unbalanced (either sad or over-excited). Sort those things out before you start your work session.
80% of learning difficulties are caused by stress! Any stress will interfere to some extent with your reading ability. It therefore makes sense to make a habit of getting into a good state before you start reading. Always get into a good state before you read – and before you start driving, as you walk into the office, before you walk through your front door. Notice how the quality of your everyday life improves. And once this becomes a state you regularly get into, you’ll find that you can use it consciously whenever you are in a potentially stressful situation, such as an exam, a job interview, or dealing with screaming children! And smile more…
YES BUT …
What if I’ve done all that and I’m just not in a good state?
Then do something else. Go for a walk. Get something else done. Think about something nice. Do something to make you feel good. And then go back to your reading. And the more you follow the simple formula ‘breathe, smile, focus’, the easier you will find it to get into a good state at will.
By the way … Dehydration contributes to brain cells shrivelling up, enlarged ventricles of the heart, the brain working harder with poor results, and impaired cognition and attention as well as forgetfulness and speech problems.
Other health hacks to improve your mood or state quickly
• Photo therapy: looking at photos of happy times (holidays, events, family, friends, etc) will boost your endorphin effect (happy hormones) more effectively than chocolate (no!?), music, or TV, according to a study by the Open University. Just look at the photo below and your endorphines will be boosted via your mirror cells/neurons
• Speed thinking: rapid thought (good for speed reading too) – in 30 seconds, list all the good things about your work / relationship / home / etc – to release feelgood brain chemicals ie serotonin
• Hug yourself, haptic therapy: just rub your hands, neck, forehead to stimulate haptic pleasure receptors and reduce the cortisol (the stress hormone)
• Speed up / sprint finish: finishing a bike ride, walking, or a jog with a 30-second sprint doubles the endorphins released and boost levels of noradrenalines for 90 minutes afterwords