How Reading and Meditation Extend Life

meditation reading

People talk a lot about prolonging their lives through medicine or technology, but most ignore ways we can get more from the time we have.

You can add time by noticing time.

And I don’t mean “get more” in the shallow, self-help kind of way. I mean ways to practically increase and enhance the experiences we enjoy while on this planet.

For me there are two main ways of doing this:

  1. Reading
  2. Meditation

Video Games will do this as well, once they’re good enough.

Reading expands the number of experiences one can have. This is especially true of fiction and biographies. They allow us to experience lives as if we lived them. And not just other lives like ours, but vastly different lives.

Especially biographies from different points in history.

Reading lots of good fiction, and many biographies, broadens our life experiences and our wisdom to include that of dozens—or even hundreds—of other existences.

reading experiencing

Experiencing More and Appreciating More

So reading offers a broadening of experience.

Meditation is the Yang to reading’s Yin, as it deepens experience.

Specifically Vipassana meditation because it focuses on noticing the current moment.

So while reading gives you more experiences—and of different types—meditation gives you the full value of the time you actually have.

Someone could spend 90 years on the planet without paying attention to anything, and effectively enjoy a tenth of that. While someone wiser could only live to 40 yet enjoy it three times as much.

It’s mindfulness that matters more than meditation here.

Ideally we would combine the two—experiencing more through reading, and appreciating every experience through a practice of mindfulness.

Notes

  1. Sam Harris said something brilliant about this in one of his Waking Up sessions, where he offered that it wasn’t time that was the currency of our lives, but attention.


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