Staying in Bed to Read Books
The spiritual discipline I have practiced the longest might be staying in bed to read books.
Before I went to law school, long before I started seeing myself as contemplative, I loved to read in bed. My parents used to worry I was damaging my eyes because I kept reading as it got darker outside.
Some people have a favorite chair or a desk where they like to read. For me, there are few things which contribute to a good reading experience like reading in bed.
Staying in bed to read restores my soul. First there is the prospect of whittling down the pile of books I have acquired. I try to have a diverse collection of interesting books on hand.
Second, staying in bed to read books includes a satisfying combination of reading and rest. Finding the balance which includes napping and enjoying good books is essential.
For one thing, reading in bed is more than reading to gain information. It is not merely the analytical process of checking the news or studying. Books we read lying down need to have some gravity and weight without getting boring.
We are looking for books which are well written and engaging while still being insightful. I tend to get interested in some unique questions. We are not looking for the typical books to read.
One of the frustrations of staying in bed to read is finding books with the right pace. We want to avoid getting stuck in something which is going to take us too long. At the same time, we do not want books we will finish too quickly.
Reading in bed may be restful and enjoyable. Is it really a spiritual practice?
The Spiritual Life of Staying in Bed to Read
We often think of spiritual practices as disciplines to make us stronger. Like lifting weights or running for our bodies, spiritual practices challenge us to mature spiritually. Some of us think the most effective practices are the ones which give us the most discomfort.
If practices are making us more comfortable, why are we even doing them?
The point of spiritual practices is not to be painful.
Some spiritual practices help stretch us and discover new ways to encounter spiritual life. Other practices show us how to live into the insights we have already had.
All these practices help us apply the questions and insights we have gained from spiritual life. There are spiritual practices which challenge us and those which help us grow into what we are learning.
Several of the spiritual disciplines we practice help us take time to reflect and rest. We may engage in a form of silent prayer or stillness which opens us to spiritual life. Our practice helps us pause to allow us not to be distracted and hear sacred truths. Some of us take regular retreats of a day or longer to take a deep breath.
Staying in bed to read books can be like taking a short retreat.
It is important that we are not just spending time trying to catch up with our reading. Staying in bed to read books is a spiritual practice for us when we remember why we am doing it.
We are not racing or pushing ourselves, trying to read as many books as we can. It is not a competitive practice about reading more books than anyone else.
Our staying in bed to read is a spiritual practice of pausing to listen. We read as a way of giving ourselves permission to pay attention.
How Important is Staying in Bed to Read?
Staying in bed to read is not something we need to squeeze into our calendars. We practice staying in bed to read books to avoid being squeezed.
Our first step is scheduling our time well. Like any other practice, we want to know how much time we are willing to spend. We hope to find restoration, not push aside something else we would like to do.
It is also good for me to recognize I will spend some time resting. Part of the time I schedule for staying in bed to read is relaxing in bed.
Second, it is helpful to have several books to read. Many of us tend to attract books without working at it. Other people may need to be more intentional about collecting books to read. We do not want to run out of books before our time is finished.
How we read is another essential aspect of staying in bed to read. I look for books in which I am interested, but which also spark my thinking in other areas. We are not reading to master a particular subject. The books we choose can also help us reflect and contemplate other topics.
I appreciate it when the act of reading a book helps me sort out or understand something else.
Like with other practices, part of the value is appreciating why it is important to us. When I decide to adopt a specific practice it is important to me to be able to explain why I chose it.
It is one thing to explain why I adopt a certain prayer practice or behavioral discipline. We may have more challenges telling other people why we are staying in bed to read.
When We Begin Staying in Bed to Read
Staying in bed to read books is the kind of practice people say they would love to try. The challenge is often they feel a little guilty or ashamed to devote their time to it.
Like with other disciplines, we do not need to spend all day, every day practicing. We can begin slowly and build our strength.
It may be a challenge. With a little experience, staying in bed to read can become one of your spiritual practices.
Where could you see the spiritual value of staying in bed to read?
How much time could you see yourself staying in bed to read?
[Image by Betsssssy]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.