The Art of Stillness


Can travel thousands of miles to the most beautiful of locations but if not happy and satisfied with self, no distance will make you happy

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Key Takeaways
  1. Making a living and making a life can take you in different directions
  2. Going nowhere not about austerity so much as about coming closer to one's senses
  3. Sitting silently not about turning away but stepping back from time to time to see and love yourself and the world more clearly and deeply
  4. Those who are busiest are the ones who need to give themselves a break the most
  5. The point of gathering stillness is not to enrich the sanctuary or mountaintop but to bring that calm into the motion, the commotion of the world
  6. In an age of speed, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still
What I got out of it
  1. Impossible to distance yourself from your problems if your problems lie within. Appreciate stillness and the profound benefits it can have.
  • Sitting still is the real, deep entertainment. The real feast that is available at all times
  • Speaking to Leonard Cohen, Cohen says "What else would I be doing? Would I be starting a new marriage with a young woman and raising another family? Finding new drugs, buying more expensive wine? I don't know. This [sitting silently] seems to me the most luxurious and sumptuous response to the emptiness of my own existence.
  • Use going nowhere as a way of cutting through the noise
  • An experience only acquires meaning and grows deeper once you get back home, sit still, and begin to convert the sights seen into lasting insights
  • 'Nowhere' can be scary, there's nowhere to hide there
  • You don't hide the shadows inside you simply by walking away from them
  • "Half the confusion in the world comes from not knowing how little we need." - Admiral Richard E. Byrd
  • Set up a secular sabbath - time away from work, emails, internet, screens, etc.
  • Instead of trying to distance yourself from your issues by traveling, try to set up a second "house" in the week - a room or sacred spot where you are comfortable and can step away from every day life, even for just a few minutes
  • You might sometimes feel that you are being selfish by taking time for yourself but in fact it helps others as much as you. You will be able to become closer to others by being more understanding and sympathetic
  • If interested in this topic, TED talks by Mattheiu RicardLouie Schwartzberg and Carl Honore are great
  • Iyer's TED talk, essentially summarizes the book

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