With the PhotoReading whole mind system, the emphasis is on time. The reader sets a time to complete an assigned amount of reading, for example, one hour for a 400 page book. With this type of reading we want to get the most out of a book within a relatively short time, and always too short a time to get out everything that might be obtained.
The whole mind system is a combination of five steps: preparing, previewing, PhotoReading, activating, and rapid reading. Whole mind reading is always flowing and pleasant, but it is not a casual or random browsing through a book. It is highly systematic, highly active, and extremely goal oriented.
Let us assume there is a book in front of you which you do not know whether you want to read. You suspect that it contains both information and insights that would be valuable to you if you dug them out. Let us also assume that, as is usually the case, you have only a limited time.
You do the first four steps of the PhotoReading whole mind system: preparing, previewing, PhotoReading, and activating with super reading and dipping. Your main aim is to discover as much about this book as you can— to literally absorb it into your mind. You will come to appreciate the meaning and significance of this book—what it can offer you in your life. You will feel the impact of this book emotionally, if you will let yourself. And, you will be guided from within in deciding whether the book requires taking the fifth step of the PhotoReading whole mind system, rapid reading.
Step One: Preparing
Reading effectively begins by preparing yourself with a clear purpose and an ideal state of mind for reading. Here you consciously state a desired outcome to establish your purpose. Purpose acts like a radar signal to the inner mind allowing it to produce the results you seek.
Then you enter a state of relaxed alertness. While in this state you are free from boredom and anxiety. You have a fixed point of awareness just above and behind your head which helps your mind focus all your attention to the task at hand.
Step Two: Previewing
The aim of the second step, previewing, is to examine the surface of the book, to learn everything that the surface alone can teach you. The question at this level is, "What is the book about?" or "What is the structure of the book?" or "What are its parts?" After previewing you will know the kind of book it is.
When you finish, you will know the author's main contention, as well as what kind of book s/he has written. You may discover that what you get from previewing is all you need for now, perhaps ever.
Here are the steps of previewing:
1) Read the dust jacket for the publisher's blurb:
It is not uncommon for authors to summarize the main points in their books. If the blurb is nothing but a salesjob for the book, you will discover that, which will tell you something about the book and its merit.
2) Look at the title page and the preface:
Read each quickly. Note the subtitles or other indications of the scope or aim of the book or of the author's special angle on the subject. You will have a good idea of the subject and perhaps what pigeonhole (that already contains other books) this one belongs in.
3) Study the table of contents:
Obtain a general sense ofthe book's structure. Use it as a road map. Many authors spend a considerable amount of time to create the table of contents. Examine it to determine the author's framework.
4) Check the index:
Make a quick estimate ofthe range of topics covered and of the kinds of books and authors referred to. When you see terms listed that seem crucial, look up at least some of the passages cited. The passages you read may contain the crux—the point on which the book hinges—or the departure key to the author's approach and attitude.
5) Find trigger words:
Flip through every 20 pages or so of a book and notice what words catch your attention. Write a list of 20 to 25 trigger words for the book.
Step Three: PhotoReading
The PhotoReading step is broken into several components. It begins with reaffirming your purpose and placing yourself in a more fully relaxed and alert state ofbody and mind called the accelerated learning state.
Then you adjust your vision for the PhotoFocus state. You soften your gaze so that your peripheral vision expands and the whole printed page comes into view. This creates a physical and mental window, allowing the preconscious mind to directly expose the incoming visual stimuli to the brain.
By maintaining a steady state, breathing evenly and turning the pages in a steady rhythm, the exposure of each page stimulates a direct neural response. The brain—unencumbered by the critical logical thought processes of the conscious mind—absorbs the entire text in minutes.
Step Four: Activating
The step of activation restimulate the brain according to your purpose. Begin by probing your mind with questions, initiating a sense of curiosity and openness. This causes your inner mind to find the best ways and means to your goal of comprehension.
In the PhotoReading Personal Learning Course we discuss ways of activating the material in a book by playing with the physical book and super reading sections to which you feel most attracted. The following steps offer an additional dimension that may be helpful:
1) Look at the chapters that seem to be pivotal to its argument:
If these chapters have summary statements in their opening or closing pages, dip in and read these statements.
2) Turn the pages, dipping in here and there, reading a paragraph or two, sometimes several pages in sequence, never more than that:
Thumb through the book looking for signs of the main idea, uncovering the core concept of the book. Read the last two or three pages, or, if these are an epilogue, the last few pages of the main part of the book. In these pages most authors sum up what they think is new and important.
It is essential when activating that you use more than the first two intelligences—logical and linguistic— described by Dr. Howard Gardner in his Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In order to activate effectively, you must use at least three of the seven intelligences. This ensures you access your whole mind, not just the "left brain" analytical functions you learned to rely on in school.
Step Five: Rapid Reading
By now, you have thoroughly explored the book with your whole mind. You have a good sense of how profitable it would be to spend more time and mental energy with it. The idea of reading the book once through lightly is the next step in the PhotoReading whole mind system.
As you read rapidly, you will vary the speed at which you go. Every book contains material that can and should be read quickly, and every good book also contains matter that is difficult and deserves to be read more slowly. On the average, your speed will be two to three times your base reading rate, although at times you will speed at 3,000 to 5,000 words per minute (5-15 seconds per page).
Too often there are things we have to read that are not really worth a lot of time. If you do not read them quickly, you waste time, but one speed cannot work for all reading. Vary the rate in accordance with the nature and complexity of the material. The ideal is to read at different speeds at will and to know when the different speeds are appropriate.
Most people expect too much from the first reading of a difficult book. Regardless of how difficult it may appear, there is no book intended for the general reader that should cause despair—if approached properly.
In tackling a difficult book for the first time, rapid read it through without ever stopping to look up or ponder the things you do not understand. Pay attention to what you can understand and do not be stopped by what you do not grasp immediately.
Go right on reading past the point where you have difficulties in understanding, and you will soon come to things you do understand. Concentrate on these. Keep going. Rapid read the book right past the paragraphs, footnotes, comments, and references that escape you. Ifyou stall at any of these stumbling blocks, you are lost. Fluidity, acuity and curiosity will keep you involved and effective.
Even if you understand less than seventy percent, that will help you when you go back to the places you passed.
Most of us were taught to focus on what we do not understand. We were told to go to the dictionary, look up a reference book or an encyclopedia, consult footnotes, and check commentaries and other secondary sources for help. But, if we do these things too soon, they will only cripple our reading instead of helping. Remember, The PhotoReading whole mind system is built for speed and efficiency. There is a time and place for more analytical strategies, as you will discover in the next section.
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