Life can be stressful, so there’s nothing like a good book or movie, some mindless activity to escape. But before you pick up something to read, watch or listen to, I want you to consider that what you are doing may not be so mindless.
I love to read. That is my mindless escape of choice. Sometimes I read as many as 2 to 3 books a week. My routine is to read a spiritual non-fiction book in the morning and a fiction or biography type of book before I go to sleep.
With being on the Internet most of the day, I am constantly learning or dealing with technical issues. As much as I love spiritual non-fiction books, there is only so much spiritual reading that I can absorb! So, this “mindless” reading before I go to sleep is entertainment for me. I love a good story. What I found, however, was that this reading wasn’t mindless at all.
My father-in-law is also an avid reader. Whenever a favorite author he follows writes a new book, he purchases it in hardcover. When he is finished, he always gives me his books. At the age of 96, he moved to a long-term care facility and had to get rid of a majority of books. I’m talking a small library full of books. The books made their way to our house. So, I have stacks of books to choose from.
Mindless Reading Turned into Nightmares
Two of my favorite book series were James Patterson’s women’s murder mystery series as well as the Alex Cross detective series. While these books had violence in them, the graphic detail and foul language were not as extreme as some other books or authors. I was drawn to James Patterson because he creates page turner books. As a writer, I also read his books for his writing style.
I truly thought that by getting caught up in the story I was participating in a mindless activity. For me it was a vacation from the stress of work demands, and just the demands of life. When I settled down each night I would pick up the most recent novel and read it for at least half an hour or more before I went to sleep.
We learn and absorb information by repetition. As a result of reading these books night after night (repetition), I started having nightmares.
I should have known better. Books or movies with excessive violence and foul language instantly disturb my spirit. When that happens, I can’t read or watch such material. But because I wasn’t instantly disturbed by reading these books, I thought it was mindless. It wasn’t. After the nightmares, it was time to say goodbye to James Patterson books.
Mindless Reading Turned into Spiritual Insights
I am a huge fan of Mitch Albom. He is the author of Tuesdays with Maury (non-fiction), The Five People you Meet in Heaven and several other works of fiction. He wrote a book called The Timekeeper. I chose that book to read before I went to sleep. His books are always uplifting and inspirational.
After reading the first night, I didn’t have a dream, I had an experience I had never had before.
I woke up in the middle of the night with the following scripture in my head:
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
The verse kept swirling around in my head over and over again as I fell back to sleep. The next morning I looked up the verse. It was from Micah 6:8. I was shocked because our choir had been singing this text in a song call “Offertory.” When I read the prior verses, they were the words from the entire song. I have a confession to make and that is that in choir it’s easy to be caught up with learning the notes and the rhythm and to miss the words. For some reason these “mindless” words became ingrained upon my heart.
A violent novel….. A choir song…… two, what could be considered mindless activities, but not mindless at all.
Nothing we put into our minds, what we read, what we listen to, what we watch is mindless. In the case of the novel, I truly felt I was just relaxing and letting my mind be free from having to think. I was being swept up in these stories. But I found that all of the negative energy was having a subconscious effect on me.
I have become very mindful of what I read anymore, especially what I choose to read before falling asleep.
The apostle Paul says, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. And the God of peace shall be with you.”
So, as you read or listen or watch something, pay attention to how you feel. The next day or sometime after, pay attention to how you feel. Know that nothing you read, watch or listen to is mindless.
When you stop being “mindless” and start being “mindful,” your life will take on a spiritual flow. That is a peaceful, expansive and wonderful place to be.
If you want an encouraging word to read each day, guaranteed not to give you nightmares, check out God Notes – Daily Doses of Divine Encouragement. Get a signed copy through the Joy and Flow Store, or through Amazon (not signed).