The Secret to Reading Self Help Books | Learning vs Understanding

One of my clients once said to me, “John, being coached by you is like reading the Tao Te Ching”.

This is a book I have read multiple times and immersed myself in to gnostic depths. My client experienced me this way, not because I have any special talent or wisdom, but simply because I was being the book.

A significant step in my journey in self mastery was the transformation of my relationship to reading. Where once there was a sense that I needed to read everything and also being overwhelmed by this, there is now a lightness and freedom around books and the reading of them that makes much more of a difference.

On a speed reading course I once took, I learned the difference between learning and understanding, and that through the intentional orienting of your attention books can consciously be used for either (or both)!

Learning to work with literature in this way is the key to allowing it to serve you deeply.

Learning occurs when seeing something new; a distinction that increases your choices and possibilities. In orienting your attention towards learning, you look for what is new and different in the text; scanning or speed reading will trigger your unconscious attention to pick out what’s new and useful to see.

Understanding occurs through repetition and when seeing sameness. In orienting your attention towards understanding, you slow down and become present to the text in front of you. Allowing yourself to soak in content, be ‘distracted’ by thought and letting your imagination run wild will deepen your understanding even further.

Playing with Speed
Consuming literature in audio format can be a great way to deepen both learning and understanding. A typical visual reading speed is around 2X the average speaking speed, so increasing the speed at which you listen to audiobooks and podcasts can help you at least match your visual reading speed. Playing with even faster speeds, like 3X & even 4X can teach you to consume more information without losing detail. You can speed up to scan for new ideas and create more rapid learning, or slow it right down and soak in what’s familiar allowing the sameness to deepen your understanding.

Loving you, JP ❤️

PS – Click here to see my library in Goodreads