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Nikifor Solovyov
Nikifor Solovyov

How to Find Joy and Meaning in Going Nowhere: The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer



The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer




In a world that is constantly moving and changing, where we are bombarded with information and stimuli, where we are always connected but often feel lonely, where we have more choices but less satisfaction, where we face more problems but less solutions, how can we find peace, happiness and meaning? How can we slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still?




pico iyer the art of stillness pdf download



These are some of the questions that Pico Iyer, a celebrated travel writer and TED speaker, explores in his book The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere. In this short but profound book, Iyer shares his insights and experiences on how stillness can act as a creative catalyst, a healing balm, a source of wisdom and a way of living that counters the frenetic design of our modern lives.


Iyer is no stranger to movement. He was born in England to Indian parents, grew up in California, studied at Oxford and Harvard, traveled to more than 80 countries, wrote for Time magazine and other publications, and currently lives in Japan. He is also no stranger to stillness. He has been practicing meditation for more than 25 years, has spent time in monasteries and retreat centers, has befriended monks and mystics, and has learned to appreciate the beauty and richness of going nowhere.


In this book, Iyer draws on the lives of well-known wanderer-monks like Leonard Cohen, Matthieu Ricard and Thomas Merton, as well as his own personal stories, to illustrate the benefits and challenges of stillness. He also offers practical advice and suggestions on how we can incorporate stillness into our busy and noisy lives, whether it is by taking a few minutes of silence every day, going on a weekend getaway, or observing a secular sabbath.


The book is divided into seven chapters, each exploring a different aspect of stillness. Here is a summary of each chapter and some of the key points that Iyer makes.


Going Nowhere




In this chapter, Iyer defines going nowhere as "sitting still as a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it". He argues that going nowhere is not a luxury or a waste of time, but a necessity and a source of joy. He says that going nowhere can help us:



  • Reconnect with ourselves and discover who we really are and what we really want.



  • Reconnect with others and deepen our relationships and empathy.



  • Reconnect with nature and appreciate its beauty and wonder.



  • Reconnect with the present moment and savor its gifts and opportunities.



  • Reconnect with the divine and access its guidance and grace.



Iyer gives examples of people who have chosen to go nowhere and have found happiness and fulfillment in doing so. He mentions Leonard Cohen, the famous singer-songwriter who spent several years in a Zen monastery in California, where he learned to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. He also mentions Matthieu Ricard, a French scientist who became a Buddhist monk in Nepal, where he dedicated his life to meditation and humanitarian work. He also mentions Emily Dickinson, the reclusive poet who rarely left her home in Massachusetts, where she wrote hundreds of poems that expressed her inner world.


Iyer acknowledges that going nowhere is not easy or comfortable. He says that it requires courage, discipline and patience. He says that it can be boring, scary or painful at times. He says that it can also be misunderstood or criticized by others who value productivity, achievement or entertainment more than stillness. However, he says that going nowhere is worth it because it can lead us to a deeper and richer life.


Passage to Nowhere




In this chapter, Iyer describes his own journey of going nowhere and what inspired him to do so. He says that he was always fascinated by travel and adventure since he was a child. He says that he loved to explore new places, cultures and ideas. He says that he became a travel writer because he wanted to share his experiences and insights with others.


However, he says that he also felt a need for stillness and solitude. He says that he realized that travel can be exhausting, distracting and superficial at times. He says that he realized that he needed to balance his outward journey with an inward one. He says that he needed to find a place where he could be quiet, calm and centered.


He says that he found such a place in Japan, where he moved in 1992. He says that he was attracted by the culture of Japan, which values simplicity, harmony and contemplation. He says that he rented a small apartment near Kyoto, where he could write, read and meditate. He says that he also visited some of the ancient temples and gardens of Japan, where he felt a sense of peace and beauty.


He says that he also continued to travel around the world for his work and pleasure. He says that he visited places like Easter Island, Ethiopia, Cuba and Kathmandu. He says that he enjoyed these trips but also appreciated coming back to his home in Japan. He says that he learned to see travel as a way of enriching his stillness rather than escaping from it.


The Charting of Stillness




In this chapter, Iyer explores the concept of stillness and what are its different dimensions. He says that stillness is not just the absence of movement or noise. He says that stillness is a state of mind and heart that can be experienced in various ways. He says that stillness can be:



  • Physical: The ability to relax our body and release our tension.



  • Mental: The ability to calm our mind and focus our attention.



  • Emotional: The ability to manage our feelings and emotions.



Alone in the Dark




In this chapter, Iyer relates his experience of being alone in the dark to the art of stillness. He says that he once spent a week in a remote cabin in the mountains of California, where he had no electricity, no phone, no internet, no TV, no radio, no books, no music, no people. He says that he only had a candle, a pen and a notebook. He says that he wanted to see what would happen if he stripped away all the distractions and stimuli from his life and faced himself in the dark.


He says that he was surprised by what he discovered. He says that he felt a range of emotions, from fear and anxiety to joy and gratitude. He says that he had vivid dreams and memories. He says that he had insights and revelations. He says that he had moments of boredom and frustration. He says that he had moments of silence and bliss.


He says that being alone in the dark taught him several lessons about stillness. He says that he learned to:



  • Accept his feelings and thoughts without judging or resisting them.



  • Observe his mind and body without identifying or attaching to them.



  • Listen to his intuition and wisdom without doubting or ignoring them.



  • Trust his process and journey without expecting or controlling them.



  • Surrender to his reality and situation without fearing or escaping them.



He says that being alone in the dark also helped him connect with something greater than himself. He says that he felt a sense of awe and wonder at the beauty and mystery of nature. He says that he felt a sense of gratitude and humility for the gift and privilege of life. He says that he felt a sense of love and compassion for himself and others. He says that he felt a sense of connection and belonging to the universe.


Stillness Where It's Needed Most




In this chapter, Iyer applies the art of stillness to some of the most pressing issues and challenges of our time. He says that stillness is not only a personal practice but also a social and global one. He says that stillness can help us deal with some of the problems that plague our modern society, such as:



  • Information overload: The excess of data and information that overwhelms our attention and cognition.



  • Digital distraction: The addiction to devices and platforms that distracts us from our priorities and values.



  • Social isolation: The lack of meaningful relationships and community that isolates us from ourselves and others.



  • Environmental crisis: The degradation of nature and resources that threatens our survival and well-being.



  • Global conflict: The violence and injustice that creates suffering and division among people and nations.



He says that stillness can help us address these problems by:



  • Filtering out the noise and clutter from our lives and focusing on what matters most.



  • Using technology wisely and mindfully rather than letting it use us or abuse us.



  • Building authentic connections and friendships with people who share our vision and values.



  • Caring for the earth and its creatures as our home and family rather than exploiting them or ignoring them.



  • Promoting peace and harmony among ourselves and others rather than fueling hatred or violence.



He says that stillness can also inspire us to create positive change in ourselves and in the world. He says that stillness can help us:



  • Discover our purpose and passion in life and pursue them with courage and conviction.



  • Cultivate our creativity and innovation in solving problems and making things better.



  • Develop our leadership and influence in inspiring others to follow our example and join our cause.



  • Contribute our gifts and talents to the world and make a difference in whatever way we can.



  • Celebrate our achievements and successes in life and share them with others who support us.



A Secular Sabbath




In this chapter, Iyer proposes a secular sabbath as a way of practicing the art of stillness on a regular basis. He says that a secular sabbath is a day or a period of time when we deliberately disconnect from technology, work, entertainment, consumption, or any other activity that distracts us from being still. He says that a secular sabbath is a time when we reconnect with ourselves, others, nature, and the divine.


He says that a secular sabbath has many benefits for us, such as:



  • Restoring our energy and vitality after a busy and stressful week.



  • Recharging our mind and spirit with fresh and positive thoughts and feelings.



  • Reflecting on our life and goals and evaluating our progress and direction.



  • Revising our plans and strategies and making adjustments and improvements.



  • Renewing our commitment and motivation to our vision and values.



He says that a secular sabbath also has benefits for our families, our communities, and our planet, such as:



  • Spending quality time with our loved ones and strengthening our bonds and intimacy.



  • Engaging in meaningful conversations and activities with our friends and neighbors.



  • Participating in social and cultural events and causes that enrich our lives and society.



  • Enjoying the beauty and bounty of nature and expressing our gratitude and respect.



  • Reducing our ecological footprint and impact on the environment.



He says that a secular sabbath can be designed according to our preferences and needs. He says that there is no fixed or right way to observe a secular sabbath. He says that we can choose the duration, frequency, location, content, and format of our secular sabbath. He says that we can make it as simple or as elaborate as we want. He says that the only rule is to make it a priority and a habit.


He offers some tips and suggestions for making our secular sabbath meaningful and enjoyable, such as:



  • Planning ahead and marking it on our calendar.



  • Telling others about it and inviting them to join us or respect our choice.



  • Turning off or limiting our use of technology and devices.



  • Avoiding or delegating any work or chores that can wait.



  • Choosing activities that nourish our body, mind, heart, and soul.



  • Being flexible and open to whatever happens or doesn't happen.



Coming Back Home




In this chapter, Iyer concludes his book and summarizes his main takeaways from his adventures in going nowhere. He says that he has learned that stillness is not an escape from life but a way of living more fully and authentically. He says that he has learned that stillness is not a destination but a journey. He says that he has learned that stillness is not a luxury but a necessity.


He invites us to join him in his quest for stillness and promises us that we will not regret it. He says that stillness will bring us many rewards, such as:



  • A deeper understanding of ourselves and others.



  • A greater appreciation of life and its wonders.



  • A stronger connection with something greater than ourselves.



  • A happier and healthier lifestyle.



  • A more meaningful and fulfilling existence.



He reminds us that stillness is not something that we have to seek or find outside ourselves. He reminds us that stillness is something that we already have within ourselves. He reminds us that stillness is something that we can access anytime, anywhere, anyhow. He reminds us that stillness is something that we can share with anyone, everyone, everywhere. He reminds us that stillness is something that we can practice every day, every moment, every breath.


He ends his book with a simple but powerful message: "The point of gathering stillness is not to enrich the sanctuary or the mountaintop but to bring that calm into the motion, the commotion of the world".


Conclusion




and noisy lives. It is a book that shows us the benefits and rewards of stillness for ourselves, our families, our communities and our planet. It is a book that invites us to join the author in his adventures in going nowhere and discover the richness and beauty of stillness.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about the book and the topic of stillness:



  • Who is Pico Iyer and why should I read his book?



Pico Iyer is a renowned travel writer and TED speaker who has traveled to more than 80 countries and written several books and essays on culture, spirituality and identity. He is also a longtime practitioner of meditation and a student of Zen Buddhism. He has a unique perspective and insight on the art of stillness and how it can enhance our lives in a world of constant movement and change. His book is a short but profound reflection on his personal and professional experiences of stillness and how it can benefit us in various ways.


  • What is the difference between stillness and silence?



Stillness and silence are related but not synonymous concepts. Silence is the absence of sound or noise, while stillness is the absence of movement or activity. Silence can be a part of stillness, but not all stillness is silent. For example, we can be still while listening to music or nature sounds, or we can be silent while moving or doing something. Stillness is more about the quality of our attention and awareness than the quantity of our input and output.


  • How can I practice stillness in my daily life?



There are many ways to practice stillness in our daily life, depending on our preferences and needs. Some examples are:


  • Taking a few minutes of silence every morning or evening to meditate, pray or breathe deeply.



  • Setting aside some time every week or month to go on a walk, hike or bike ride in nature.



  • Turning off or limiting our use of technology and devices for a day or a period of time.



  • Reading a book, listening to music or doing a hobby that relaxes us and stimulates us.



  • Joining a yoga, tai chi or mindfulness class or group that teaches us how to move with awareness and grace.



  • What are some of the challenges or obstacles to stillness?



Some of the challenges or obstacles to stillness are:


  • Lack of time: We may feel that we are too busy or have too many responsibilities to spare some time for stillness.



  • Lack of space: We may feel that we don't have a quiet or comfortable place to be still.



  • Lack of support: We may feel that we don't have anyone who understands or encourages our need for stillness.



  • Lack of motivation: We may feel that we don't have any reason or benefit to be still.



  • Lack of skill: We may feel that we don't know how to be still or what to do when we are still.



To overcome these challenges or obstacles, we can:


  • Make time: We can prioritize stillness as an important and essential part of our life and schedule it accordingly.



  • Find space: We can create or find a space that is conducive to stillness, whether it is in our home, office, car, park, library, etc.



  • Seek support: We can share our interest and intention for stillness with others who share it or respect it, such as friends, family, colleagues, mentors, coaches, etc.



  • Find motivation: We can remind ourselves of the benefits and rewards of stillness for ourselves and others, such as improved health, happiness, creativity, productivity, relationships, etc.



, etc.


  • What are some of the resources or references for learning more about stillness?



Some of the resources or references for learning more about stillness are:


  • The book The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer, which is the main source of this article.



  • The TED talk The art of stillness by Pico Iyer, which is a summary of his book and his personal story.



  • The website Pico Iyer Journeys, which is the official website of Pico Iyer and contains his biography, books, essays, interviews, events and more.



  • The book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle, which is a classic and best-selling book on the importance and practice of living in the present moment.



  • The book Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which is a practical and accessible guide to mindfulness meditation and its benefits for our health and well-being.



  • The book In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honoré, which is a comprehensive and compelling exploration of the slow movement and its applications to various aspects of our life and society.



I hope you enjoyed reading this article and learned something new and useful from it. I hope you are inspired to try the art of stillness and see how it can transform your life. I hope you are ready to join me in my adventures in going nowhere and discover the richness and beauty of stillness. 71b2f0854b


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