Adventure in going nowhere
In Art of Stillness lies the science of well-being ever so wanting in our fast paced life. Stillness here refers to lack of both physical exertion and mental unrest. The ability to be still is latent in us but not mastered as we are conditioned to believe in the power of mobility and dynamism, which are all averse to the state of being still.
More profoundly stillness here means acceptance. Letting be and leaving with our natural thoughts that arises in minds versus inundating our senses with too much information and experience. Pico Iyer right said, being still enough to hear your body talk, to get in touch with who you are, and finding out what you really like.
Siddharth Pico Raghavan Iyer (born 11 February 1957), known as Pico Iyer, is a British-born essayist and novelist of Indian origin, best known for his travel writing. He is the author of numerous books on crossing cultures including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk and The Global Soul. An essayist for Time since 1986,
Iyer was born Siddharth Pico Raghavan Iyer in Oxford, England, the son of Indian parents. His father was Raghavan N. Iyer, an Oxford philosopher and political theorist. His mother is the religious scholar Nandini Nanak Mehta. His unusual name is a combination of the Buddha’s name, Siddhartha, that of the Florentine neo-Platonist Pico della Mirandola and his father’s name. He studied at Eton, Oxford University and Harvard.
He taught writing and literature at Harvard before joining Time in 1982 as a writer on world affairs. Since then he has traveled widely, from North Korea to Easter Island, and fromParaguay to Ethiopia, while writing He is also a frequent speaker at literary festivals and universities around the world, who delivered popular TED talks in 2013 and 2014 (ref ted.com ref) and has twice been a Fellow at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He appeared in a commercial for “Incredible India” in 2007.
He has been based in Japan since 1992, where he lives with his Japanese wife, Hiroko Takeuchi,the “Lady” of his second book, and her two children from an earlier marriage.
In discussions about his spirituality, Iyer has mentioned not having a formal meditation practice, but practicing regular solitude, visiting a remote Benedictine hermitage several times a year.
He writes often of his delight in living between the cracks and outside fixed categories. “I am simply a fairly typical product of a movable sensibility,” he wrote in 1993 in Harper’s, “living and working in a world that is itself increasingly small and increasingly mongrel. I am a multinational soul on a multinational globe on which more and more countries are as polyglot and restless as airports. Taking planes seems as natural to me as picking up the phone or going to school; I fold up my self and carry it around as if it were an overnight bag.”
The Utne Reader named him in 1995 as one of 100 Visionaries worldwide who could change your life,while the New Yorker observed that “As a guide to far-flung places, Pico Iyer can hardly be surpassed.”
Pico Iyer is one of our most eloquent explorers of what he calls the “inner world” — in himself and in the 21st century world at large. The journalist and novelist travels the globe from Ethiopia to North Korea and lives in Japan. But he also experiences a remote Benedictine hermitage as his second home, retreating there many times each year. In this intimate conversation, we explore the discoveries he’s making and his practice of “the art of stillness.”
A follow up to Pico Iyer’s essay “The Joy of Quiet,” The Art of Stillness considers the unexpected adventure of staying put and reveals a counterintuitive truth: The more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.
Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer, who has journeyed from Easter Island to Ethiopia, Cuba to Kathmandu, think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.
In The Art of Stillness—a TED Books release—Iyer investigate the lives of people who have made a life seeking stillness: from Matthieu Ricard, a Frenchman with a PhD in molecular biology who left a promising scientific career to become a Tibetan monk, to revered singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who traded the pleasures of the senses for several years of living the near-silent life of meditation as a Zen monk. Iyer also draws on his own experiences as a travel writer to explore why advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat. He reflects that this is perhaps the reason why many people—even those with no religious commitment—seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or seeking silent retreats. These aren’t New Age fads so much as ways to rediscover the wisdom of an earlier age. Growing trends like observing an “Internet Sabbath”—turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning—highlight how increasingly desperate many of us are to unplug and bring stillness into our lives.
The Art of Stillness paints a picture of why so many—from Marcel Proust to Mahatma Gandhi to Emily Dickinson—have found richness in stillness. Ultimately, Iyer shows that, in this age of constant movement and connectedness, perhaps staying in one place is a more exciting prospect, and a greater necessity than ever before.
In 2013, Pico Iyer gave a blockbuster TED Talk. This lyrical and inspiring book expands on a new idea, offering a way forward for all those feeling affected by the frenetic pace of our modern world
Mathew Richard, Leonard Cohen