Being Mindful – What Did I Just Read?

LEARNING TIP #2 – SEPT 14 2022

Has this ever happened to you? You have just finished reading a paragraph – or a page of an assigned reading — and a friend interrupts you, and when you return to your reading, you have no idea of what you were just reading. And you have to retreat back many paragraphs!

If so, you are not alone. We often go on auto pilot while reading, and just read the words without thinking. What to do? Here are three ideas:

  • If your reading assignment is a chapter with lots of sections and headings and subtitles, write down the heading, turning it into a question, and then test yourself to see if you can answer the question. For example, in a course in psychology, you might be reading a chapter on memory and one of the headings is “The Nature of Human Memory.” You might write down the question, “What is the nature of human memory?” And then proceed to read, and then to answer the question. You might choose to write down the answer (a powerful learning tool) or talk it out loud with your friend.
  • Pretend that one of your friends is going to come back in five minutes and ask, “Sarah, what did you just read? And what do you think about it? Let’s talk.
  • As you are reading, create images in your mind. This might be easier in a narrative. Immerse yourself into the situation and imagine seeing the people, the place where they are, and what they are wearing or saying to each other. In a scientific text, imagine what the idea might be like if you were creating an animation or creating a robot with artificial intelligence. Imagine the idea is alive and dynamically moving and interacting and linking up with other ideas.

Try one or two of these ideas and see what works for you.

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