The eye's fovea is a small spot near the retina's center filled with a high
concentration of photoreceptors that allows the focal point of your vision to send
visual information to the conscious thinking part of your brain. The fovea receives
only a small part of the light entering the eye, and when reading, usually no more
than 7 letters are acknowledged at a time. The number of jumps your eye makes with
the focal point of your vision limits you to normal reading speeds.
The parafovea is an area that surrounds the fovea and can take in much more
information with your peripheral vision. The parafovea is connected to other areas of
your brain that govern instinct and reflex. The light that hits the parafovea is
subliminal information (beyond the conscious threshold). When tachistoscopic blips
are flashed at 1/100th of a second throughout a movie, they are subliminal and not
consciously noticeable until you are told that they are there. Then your conscious
awareness can easily see the quick flashes.
Training your subconscious awareness to acknowledge this peripheral visual input
for interpretation by your conscious awareness is the process of speed reading. Also
remember that your mind will have the tendency to want to complete things that
appear uncompleted (see "Exercise -- Completion"). So as the words flow past your
eyes, your mind will develop the ability to complete the text as thought forms.
Internal verbalization ceases at speeds over 1000 wpm. As a result, auditory
learners often have the most trouble quieting their mind. Evelyn Wood showed that
adapting your brain to higher speeds was a learned process like any other new talent.
She also demonstrated that comprehension and retention of speed read material was
considerably higher. To increase your reading skills, you must open your thinking
about it. Attitude is everything. You must “want to” read fast and affirm and believe
you “CAN” read fast, and “know” comprehension will be better. Adopting an
attitude of "wanting to" read and recall information at faster speeds is important.
The training procedure involves moving down the page and seeing all the print
with a sense that goes beyond normal reading methods. The hand is used as a pacer
to curb regressions, to enhance perceptual ability, to control the rate of speed and to
direct concentration. You do not make the eyes follow each motion of the hand
slavishly, but instead you "let go" and allow the eyes to move where they will. By
looking for total concepts you become aware of details with more thoroughness. It's
like shifting your conscious awareness to the right brain to do the job instead of to the
internally verbalizing left brain. You learn to allow all the words to come in rapidly and effortlessly without stopping and considering each word individually. You learn
to read thought by thought instead of word by word.
As you read down the page, you become more aware of the feeling, atmosphere
and mood of the story as well as the thinking of the author, and thereby you receive
more vivid and lasting impressions. Learn to form visualizations as you read
involving any of your senses that you feel comfortable with. Periodically ask
yourself, "What is going on?" and "What is being told here?" When you start to
speed read, images will begin to flow past your inner eye in a rapid, understandable
and natural way (see "Exercise -- Time Distortion"). When this happens, integrate
other sensory imagery of tastes, sounds, smells and kinesthetics for better retention.
As an exercise in speed reading, first look over the material in its entirety by
turning all the pages and skimming for the general gist of the material. Look at the
table of contents; note subdivisions; and review summary paragraphs. Determine
where the book intends to take you. This preliminary increases the assimilation
process. Also, make sure that you're in a relaxed, comfortable position with good
posture (review “Exercise -- Relaxation For Improved Awareness”). It’s important to
be in a proper state of readiness before actually beginning. In actual practice, if you
used a lazy "S" hand movement or made a series of overlapping circles down the
printed page at varying high speeds for one half hour per day with no thought of
comprehending and paying attention to only the white areas of the page, in six weeks
your brain would be comprehending the words, and you would be reading at
thousands of words per minute!
Just make sure your conscious awareness (review "Exercise -- Mindfulness:
Improving Your Conscious Awareness") is directed to following your hand
movement down the page and not directed to idle internal visualizations. Use a
definite sweeping rhythm, and consciously watch the words flow in front of your
eyes. Catch yourself every time your attention wanders and direct your conscious
attentiveness back to the pages. If you're having trouble with this, you might
reiterate aloud the phrase, "I am reading shockingly fast" to disengage your left brain
from the reading process while running your finger down the pages.
As you progress, you might also cock your head to the right and look at the
printed material slightly in the left field of vision while reading. This projects the
material directly to your right brain, which is the side with the high speed reading
skill. You can also experiment and position the book above eye level by cocking
your head downward and tilt the eyes upwards for the reading process. Just like in
“Exercise -- Meditation” and “Exercise -- Learning Self-Hypnosis,” the eyes tilted upwards physiologically opens a suggestive avenue in the brain/mind process and
encourages achieving the alpha state. When the reading shift is finally made to your
right brain, reading speeds of 50,000 wpm or more are quite possible. Some speed
readers even read backwards (from the bottom to the top of the page) with equal ease.
Remember in this exercise, it is the right brain or mirror and upside down brain doing
This exercise might seem to proceed in a totally opposite manner than you have
been previously taught in normal reading, but you must suspend your skepticism and
judgment, and simply believe it is possible for you to read thousands of words per