The Art Of Bookstore Meditation

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The Art of Bookstore Meditation  Image: Dakster Sullivan
The Art of Bookstore Meditation Image: Dakster Sullivan

I’ve tried a dozen ways to meditate and my favorite is what I like to call bookstore meditation. Bookstore meditation is kind of like retail therapy without actually spending any money. I haven’t figured out what is is about a bookstore that calms me, but it does.

Maybe it’s being surrounded by the written word and all the wonders that lay within the endless titles on the shelves. Maybe it’s the smell. Maybe it’s the Starbucks in the corner with free wifi. Your guess is as good as mine. Regardless, I’ve discovered that something happens to my mind when I enter a bookstore and it has a deeper meaning. I’ve decided to call this experience, bookstore meditation, and I try to practice it whenever I feel the need to.

Leave your mat and your lotus pose at home. This isn’t that kind of meditation. This is more of a mindfulness practice which can be done without being in a sitting position.

To start, you will need to find a bookstore (or a library works just as well). If you have multiple stores in your area (I’m jealous) then pick the one that you get the happiest thinking about. You don’t want excitement. Just happy. Calm and happy. My store of choice is the Barnes & Noble by my house.

Next, head inside and follow your senses. What do you smell? Can you taste anything in the air? What kind of music is playing? What about your eyes? What are they attracted to? Does any particular book cover catch your attention?

Bookstore Meditation Examples  Image: Dakster Sullivan
I wonder what drew me to these books. Image: Dakster Sullivan

Follow your senses around the store, picking up and investigating any book that calls to you. I keep my phone handy when I do this so I can take pictures of the books I’m drawn to. If I take a picture of the same book on multiple meditation occasions, I take it as a sign that I need to take it home.

That’s it. Simple right? 

My meditation sessions can last as few as 30-minutes and as long as a few hours depending on the circumstance. If my family is at home watching a movie that I don’t care for or can’t watch for anxiety reasons, I can easily spend the entire time at the bookstore. If I’m having a rough day and my husband offers to get me out of the house, I don’t usually make him go with me for more than 30-minutes.

If you are unfortunate enough to not have a bookstore or library close by, head to a bookstore’s website and give it a shot that way. Instead of walking the store with your feet, you use your hands on the keyboard. Look at the store ad, explore the main page, and see what jumps out. In my experience, bookstore websites are laid out in some way similar to the store with sales areas, best sellers, must reads, etc…you just have to look around and get acquainted with how they organized it.

No matter how long you do it or where, bookstore meditation is meant to be a calming experience, so take as long or as little as you need.

Another way to enjoy bookstore meditation is by following me on Tumblr at Bookstore Meditation. I post all the pictures of the books that catch my eye when I’m meditating. Who knows? You might find something that calls to you.

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