What is formative reading?

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Dr. Kathleen Hall
Preventive Medicine
A lesser-known approach to reading is called "formative reading," otherwise known as "reading for the soul." It is a time-honored path that can offer a balm to our overbusy lives, and it only takes slight shifts in what you read and how you read, not in how much time you spend reading.

Formative reading dwells on a text and its meaning. It is not a cognitive process, but an experiential one: it happens not in the mind, but the body, opening the reader to personal and communal transformation. When we read formatively, we go past the surface meaning of the words to experience the text as a whole, as a sacred work of art. This communion with another soul across time and space leads us to experience deeper and deeper levels of meaning and satisfaction.

The practice of formative reading has two simple elements: trust and surrender. Trust the author, and surrender to the text. Do not question or engage actively with the meaning. That can come later, if desired. Rather, surrender to the power of the words. Immerse yourself in their sound, feel, and texture. Absorb the words as if they were droplets of rain softly washing over you. Allow your depths to become touched and formed by the soul of the author.

Our souls are tired and need nourishment. Our fast-paced world leaves us frazzled, drained, and exhausted. Formative reading can renew and refresh our world-weary souls. It can bring healing, depth, passion, and fresh perspectives to our lives.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.