speed reading

Read the way you think, instead of the way you talk

Steven L. Snyder

People who don’t read, have no big advantage over people who can’t.

Abraham Lincoln

The key to accelerated reading is changing the habit from reading the way you talk to reading the way you think. The problem with traditional speed reading programs is that they all have a fatal flaw. They ask you to do two things at the same time.

In traditional speed reading programs they instruct you in such a way that part of your mind is supposed to be paying attention to how you are reading, and part of your mind is supposed to be paying attention to what you are reading. And, if you're doing those two things at the same time, you are in a state of divided attention.

When you are multi-tasking a filter (reticular activating formation) closes down between the conscious and subconscious minds and the information doesn't get as strongly imprinted in memory. This often leads to poor comprehension and retention of the information. The best way to introduce you to the subject of accelerated reading is by starting from the point of view of how we learn to read in the first place. Then I'll show you where you can go.

You learned something by five years old that was perhaps the most challenging learning task that you've ever faced. You learned something that was more difficult than Law School, more complicated than Medical School. You learned something by five that was most likely the single most difficult learning task you will ever face, and it was called The Alphabet. The Alphabet. Some think, “what are you talking about, that's as easy as ABC”. Others realize that it is incredibly complex learning task. Let me show you the process of how. The first thing in learning the alphabet is learning the noises of the letters. Most people learning English as their first language learned it the same way, by singing: the “Alphabet Song”. A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P, at first, I thought that “L M N O” was one letter.

We first learned the sounds of the letters through the song. But then it starts to get complicated. First they show us an A and then they say to us: that's pronounced “aye”. We think, okay, if you say so. But realize, they could have shown us one of these † and they could have said that's pronounced “aye”, and we'd have said, okay, if you say so. It's not like we knew what an “aye” looked like. It's not as if we would think, “well of course that A is an “aye”, it looks just like an A-frame house. We simply didn't know. A is just a funny looking squiggle. Then they draw twenty six of these funny looking squiggles. And they named them all: aye, bee, cee, dee, etc. What if right now I drew a bunch of funny looking squiggles that you'd never seen before (£ § ∑ ¥ π ? Ç ∫ µ ¶ æ) and I pronounce the first one “blar” and second one “ung” and third one “rvv”, and the fourth one zkk, how would you learn that?

In order to learn it you'd have to make up a song starting: bllar, ung, rvv, zkk, or something like that. In essence that is the first task in learning the alphabet. You have to memorize all these funny looking squiggles and all the names they are called. That however is not the hard part in learning the alphabet. After we memorize all the funny looking squiggles and their names, they show us one of these a Of course we run through our twenty six funny looking squiggles and we think, well it looks a little bit like a Q , but it's not a Q , and so we figure that it's not a letter! We know every one of the twenty six letters in the song, and that's not one of them.

Then they tell us, well, actually that a is an “aye”. And you think “What!? How can this a be an “aye”? You said this A is an “aye”. The two “ayes” don’t' look anything alike. This A is all straight lines, this a doesn't have any straight lines. And so they tell us this A is a big “aye” and this a is a little “aye”. Wait a minute! If this A is a big “aye” than this A is a little “aye”. Do you mean to tell me that there are twenty six other funny looking squiggles that have the same name but look different? So they reply, no because you see little c looks just like big C. Little b looks about half like big B. Little d is half backwards compared to big D and little e shows no resemblance whatsoever to big E. What's the rule here!!??
I'm sorry, we don't have a rule, we just have twenty six other funny looking squiggles that may or may not resemble the original, except of course that they are totally interchangeable.

Now we've got fifty two funny looking squiggles to memorize but we still haven't got to the hard part. Then they show us one of these A again, and they say “what's that?" and we say “aye”. And they say, “good, what noise does it make?” And we say “aye”, and they say well yeah, but it also happens to sound like “ahh”, “aeh”, or “auh”.

C, could be pronounced “cee”, or “cah”, or “chh”. Somehow when you put this one P together with this one H it's not pronounced “p h”, it's pronounced “f”. And when you put these together T H R O U G H it is not pronounced “Ta ha ra oh yu ga ha” Somehow, that's pronounced “thru”. Take off the TH from the front and then it is pronounced “ruff”. Take out the R from through and what is left, “though”, is pronounced “Tho”. By the time you end up memorizing all these letters, and all of the noises they make, with all of the strange combinations, permutations and variations, you've memorized tens of thousands of pieces of information, or independent variables.

Mastering the alphabet and learning to read involves learning more new information than anything you have ever faced. Not only did you learn it, you learned it so well, that you've never forgotten any of it, Not for one moment. Never once in your whole life did you wonder what was that letter after B. Never once in your whole life did you accidentally pronounce through as “Ta ha ra oh yu ga ha” You learned this information perfectly and permanently. It was one of the most difficult things you've ever learned, and you know it as well as your ABCs.

There were two reasons it seemed so easy. First, when you learned the alphabet you were in Alpha. You know how I know? Because five year olds live in Alpha. They are almost always in Alpha. Second, when you learned the alphabet, taught to you by your parents or perhaps a teacher, they taught it to you, thinking/feeling, “Of course you're going to learn the alphabet, everybody learns the alphabet.” It never occurred to them that you wouldn’t learn it , and therefore it never occurred to you.

After the alphabet comes the next step, where they take a few of those letters and they put them together, to make a word. CAT was one of my first spelling words. My Mom asked me what it spelled, and of course I knew, I knew my alphabet - I told her, “It spells C - A - T”. And she said, “yeah, but what does it spell.” I said, “I told you, it spells C - A - T.” And then she said that phrase that you heard thousands of times growing up. You remember the phrase? It goes like this, “Sound it out!”

So we pronounce the noises that each of the letters make, c a t, c a t,.. CAT! Oh yeah, that feline four legged creature that goes Meow, I know what that is.

But at five years old you could have looked at the letters C A T and had no idea what it was until you sounded it out. You had to make the noise, because the picture the letters made was meaningless. You hadn’t seen that before.

So, in order to read there's four things that you have to do:

First you see the word
Then you hear the word
Then you recognize the word
Then you connect the word to it's meaning.

SEE, HEAR, RECOGNIZE, CONNECT. That’s how you learned to read and that’s how you still read today. To this day, nothing has changed. You look at the word, you sound it out, you hear it in your head, you recognize that you know what that means, and then you move to the next word.

We began by reading individual letters, we moved to reading groups of letters or syllables, and then to reading groups of syllables or words. The next step is reading groups of words. Reading whole concepts or ideas. When you read the phrase “in the house”, First you read “in”, you see the word “in”, you say it to yourself, you recognize what means, the opposite of out, and then you move to the next word. You look at the word “the” and you ask yourself what does “the” mean, and of course you don't know.
I never knew anybody who knew what the word “the” meant. It's one of the most common words in the English language and we have no idea what it means. My best guess is that it means “proceed to next word”.

Then we see the word “house” and most people first see the image of the outside of a house, before they correlate the data and recognize, oh, “in the house”, and what that whole concept means. It takes three looks to recognize “in the house”.

Yet whenever you read one single long word, for example “Psychologist”, one look and you can instantly recognize what that is. It takes three times as long to read “in the house” as it does to read the single word “psychologist” though they are both the same size.

If you know a word, regardless of it’s size, you can instantly recognize it and then move on to the next word. The idea is training the mind/spirit/heart to read phrases such as “in the house” all at once, moving out of reading the way you talk, and into reading the way you think.

No matter how fast you talk you can't say more than one word at a time, but you can think many. So, no matter how fast you read, you'll still hear words in your mind, but you'll hear then as thoughts instead of as self talk. Thinking happens at a speed much greater than talking does. Thinking doesn't seem faster, but it certainly is. The only thing you notice as you develop these accelerated reading techniques is that you're turning pages quicker, and finishing books sooner. Exceptional readers are the ones who go beyond, and see several words, even several paragraphs in one fixation.

The ability to move beyond the old “one word at a time” technique is the key to mastering the art of accelerated reading. The movement pattern of the eyes, a very powerful habit unchanged in most since adolescence, is the single most basic sub-habit of reading. It is therefore very closely related to all the other sub-habits. By changing that one most basic reading sub-habit, we create a “blank slate” effect. The other sub-habits such as comfort, posture, breathing, concentration, retention, level of interest and attention span are no longer automatic as when they were connected to and triggered by the “one word at a time” eye movement technique.

By learning to read in a “new way” (more than one word at a time) we can discard any of the old sub-habits that no longer serve us and integrate anything we choose into the new reading habit. Just knowing that we can take a habit as intensely ingrained as reading one word at a time, and, through the use of Alpha programming, change it permanently can be a very powerful tool.

The first new step in accelerated reading is to break the habit of focusing on each word individually, by learning a new habit of focusing on several words at the same time. The first step is the “tri-focus” technique. This means to focus three times per line. To focus on a third of a line at a time.

First focus left, then the center, then to the right.

I could tell people to read with this tri-focus technique, and they could, but when you divide your attention between how you are reading (the new way of moving your eyes in the tri-focus), and understanding what you are reading (comprehending the information) it makes reading hard work, and takes all of the joy out of pleasure reading.

This is the fatal flaw in traditional speed reading programs. Reading in a state of divided attention (the Beta State) is ineffective. So instead of consciously trying to tri-focus, what we will do is program the mind/spirit/heart to tri-focus automatically. We will utilize the Alpha state to reprogram the movement of the eyes. Doing this allows the new eye movement (tri-focus) to happen automatically, leaving the mind free to pay total attention to comprehending the material.

The first step is to go into Alpha (eyes closed, deep breath, imagine a peaceful place), focus and relax. In this Alpha state we begin the process of recreating our reading by imagining the vehicle that we will use to create the change, and that vehicle is a “Magic Book.” The “Magic Book” is the key to changing the reading habit Begin by creating the cover of the book in your mind. Make this cover as magical as possible. It could be solid gold, jewel encrusted, ancient hand tooled leather, or something that E.T. brought on his last visit. It could smell like roses, make beautiful music when you touch it, and it could even float in the air. This is a “magical book” and the laws of three dimensional reality need not apply.

The secret to empowering this Magic Book in this exercise is very simple. Just how much can you L O V E this book. Now what I've done with my Magic Book, is I've taken one of my favorite fantasies that I LOVE and I've put it in my Magic Book.

Now first of all the cover of your Magic Book could be solid gold, it could be jewel encrusted, it could be ancient hand tooled leather, it could be like mine, something that E.T. brought back with him last time he visited Earth and it is like a liquid rainbow that glows and changes shape. It could be anything, anything at all. No law of the physical universe has anything to do with this book. It could look like solid gold and yet it could float, and smell like roses, and it could feel like raw silk. I can be anything, real or imaginary, that you choose. But remember, the key is just how much can you L O V E this book. This is what I did to love mine. Every time I imagine touching my Magic Book, every hungry baby in the world gets fed, and I L O V E that.

As we open up this “magic book,” we notice is that this book has no words in it. Each page has instead of words, a very special exercise that was specifically designed break the old one word at a time reading habit and to create in it’s place the more effective tri-focus.

TRI-FOCUS EXERCISE

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We imagine the page filled not with words but instead with the tri-focus exercise. No words as this Magic Book isn’t about “what” to read, it’s about “how” to read. To practice this tri-focus exercise, just focus your eyes three times per each line.

First focus left, then the center, then to the right.

The imaginary book must be read with the tri-focus exercise at every opportunity. After X number of repetitions, it becomes a habit. The number of repetitions necessary becomes much less when combined with very high emotional amplitude or passion. Time means very little, times (repetitions) means a lot. Once the habit (automatic behavior) is established, it is no longer necessary to practice with the imaginary book tri-focus exercise because the habit reinforces itself.

Create the tri-focus in Alpha and allow it to spill over automatically into regular reading. Intentionally tri-focus only in your “Magic Book”. Whenever you are reading anything for real, allow your eyes to do whatever they do all by themselves. It is very important to remember to intentionally tri-focus only in your “Magic Book.

Once the tri-focus begins to happen automatically, it is time to program the other preferred sub-habits associated with reading. Focused concentration, comfortable posture, holding the book at eye level, and rhythmic breathing are a few of the basics. Along with enhanced attention span, efficient page turning, and reading with eyes opened wide.

Programming a powerful positive belief that “I will understand and recall everything I need from everything I read” is also a must. Program all this by going into Alpha and imagining reading with these sub-habits already in place. Feel your intense connection and get a sense of how quickly the pages are turned. By investing a little bit of time now (lots of 20 second Alpha exercises) to read three to five times faster, you will save yourself months, even years over the course of the rest of your life.



Focus brings to bear the power of the conscious mind, and Passion brings to bear the power of the subconscious mind. When the two minds come together in harmony, something magical happens. They create a third mind; a higher consciousness. This is literally a second level of thinking. With Focused Passion, all the power is in the second level of thinking. You get to think about your individual thoughts and feelings, and choose to empower the positive ones, and choose to release the negative ones. In this way you come to enjoy all of your thoughts and all of your feelings. Do this and you will discover that there is a side effect. It is called happiness. Happiness is not about your particular circumstances. Happiness is not about your initial thoughts. Happiness comes from what you think, about what you think.

Here is a simple and powerful technique for creating the state of Focused Passion. Focus comes when you move away from stress, just a little of the way toward sleep. Passion comes when you enjoy what you are doing.

Focus Passion is moving from divided attention (multi-tasking) to paying attention to just one special thing. Do this and you slow down your mind. You move toward stress when you feel endangered. To move into Focused Passion you need to feel safe.

Close your eyes.

Most of the input that comes in through your five senses comes in through your eyes. Close your eyes and you slow down your mind. It’s the first thing you do when you want to fall asleep. Focused Passion can be reached with your eyes open, but closing your eyes cuts out many of the potential distractions.

Take a deep breath and imagine that you are in a very safe and peaceful place.

By making this safe place, a place that you love to be, you add passion to your state of focus. When you feel stressed you tighten your muscles and hold your breath. Release your muscle tension and let go of your breath and you will begin to feel safe. Choose this place with your intuition. Let it be the first safe place that comes in to your mind. Imagine that you can see this place, or that you can hear the surrounding sounds. Simply pretend and get the feeling that you are there. If your mind goes off to a different place, just notice this and then bring yourself back to your first place. Always return to this same place each time you wish to re-create this state of Focused Passion.

With Focused Passion you can solve the only two problems that you face. One problem is that you know what you want, but you don’t know how to get it, and the only other problem is that you don’t know what you want.

When you don’t know what you want, you go to your place of Focused Passion and you ask. Then you listen for the answer. This is called meditation, introspection, reflection, or prayer. If you believe in a higher power then you might believe that the answer comes through you. If you don’t believe in a higher power then you might believe that the answer comes from you. Either way the process is the same. You ask, and then you listen for the answer.

If you do know what you want, then you tell. You imagine what you do want, as if you already have it, over and over again, with GREAT PASSION! This is called mental programming, visualization, self-hypnosis, or auto-suggestion. It is an application of the amazingly powerful law of attraction.



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with far less stress, and much more passion?

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Michael Benner and Steven Snyder's
- focused passion -

Focus brings to bear the power of the conscious mind, and Passion brings to bear the power of the subconscious mind.
When the two minds come together in harmony, something magical happens.
They create a third mind, a higher consciousness.
This is literally a second level of thinking.