The Art Of Slow Reading

Books

Your eyes skim across the pages of the book from left to right racing towards the finish line in anticipation. You feel a wave of excitement discovering what happens next as you determinedly read quickly through the book. There’s a great sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a book, but ultimately reading is about quality, not quantity. If we are able to read a book and absorb the wisdom, lessons and knowledge while applying it in our own lives, then that’s one of the most rewarding things in life.

Remember when you were a child listening attentively to a storybook and the excitement of hearing what happens. There’s a great sense of presence, visualisation, engagement and empathy towards the characters. The story is read at a steady pace as we listen to the different tones and tempo of the story. There’s a simple joy in reading as we’re taken on a journey with the characters while being transported into an entirely new world.

We are often rushing through time which can make us lose sense of the present. Fast reading can come in handy as a skill and it’s incredibly prevalent in our daily lives. For example, when you’re reading a news article, watching subtitles on the television or when you’re looking through a document you will naturally look for keywords and information at a glance. However, when it comes to reading a book, the best kind is when we are able to engage with the story we’re reading and deeply listen and connect with it.

Art by Monica Barengo

The Art Of Slow Consumption

Culture

The psychology of sales, discounts and promotions tend to convince the need to buy in order to feel a sense of satisfaction through saving. This is a powerful marketing tactic as it encourages consumers to buy and therefore increases production demands. The use of special offers and a strong favourable brand image deliver a lifestyle and a promise of happiness that is attainable through purchasing the product. The cycle boosts the long-term profitability and sales for the company, but it also comes at the price of feeding on our insecurities and telling us that we need materials in our lives to fill up the spaces to attain a certain status, appearance or lifestyle. However, the increase in mass production encourages mass consumption. The increasing consumption cycle is damaging to our environment, well being and mind set.

In our rapidly changing world, we are more impatient due to instant gratification and being bombarded with more choice and opportunities. The gamification of smart phones have also caused a change in socialising, communicating and interactions. The fast paced society has caused an increase in stress, depression and anxiety. It reminds us to take a moment to practice mindful consumption in buying, reading, exercising, cooking, socialising, eating and so forth. We can take time to have a more leisurely approach to life rather than conform to the rush of a busy life. Over-consumption presents an ecological threat to individual, social and global well-being. The ideology that should be shared is that buying less things that are better quality can help us lead a more fulfilled, less wasteful life.

In The stuff of life, Immig writes “What if you piled up all the stuff you’ve ever owned and consumed in your lifetime? Would it make a tall tower reaching into the sky like a high-rise building, or is it more of a discreet mound?” The article is fascinating and creates visualisations of the waste that we have contributed to in a lifetime. It seems as if we can obtain everything we could possibly imagine if we have the financial means to, yet large numbers of people remain deeply unhappy. The chase for personal status and material wealth is built from consumer culture which encourages extrinsic goals that bring an illusion of temporary happiness. We are increasingly obsessed with superficial ideals such as material possessions, wealth, fame and status which is a result of the declining care, empathy and concern for others and for our environment.

The garments we hold tend to lack meaning due to the idea that they’re instantly replaceable or out of trend through the fast-pace cycle of the fashion industry. Adopting the models of slow consumption creates more respect and value for what we have, rather than affording cheap clothing that creates a throwaway culture and encourages the cycle of fashion produced under exploitive work conditions and are environmentally unsustainable. A focus on environmental ethics would help bring the focus on a collective level on the impact and change that can be made for global well-being. If we strive to be conscious consumers, we make the first step in deliberately trying to minimise permanent footprints on the environment. We consider the difference between needs and desires and to purchase and consume slowly and accordingly.

Art by Renée Gouin