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

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 counter-intuitive truth: The more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.

Why would a man who seems able to go everywhere and do anything—like the international heartthrob and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Leonard Cohen—choose to spend years sitting still and going nowhere? What can Nowhere offer that no Anywhere can match? And 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 and getting to know the seasons and landscapes of Nowhere might be the ultimate adventure?

In The Art of Stillness, Iyer draws on the lives of well-known wanderer-monks like Cohen—as well as from his own experiences as a travel writer who chooses to spend most of his time in rural Japan—to explore why advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat. Iyer 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 tai chi. These aren’t New Age fads so much as ways to rediscover the wisdom of an earlier age. There is even a growing trend toward observing an “Internet sabbath” every week, turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning and reviving those ancient customs known as family meals and conversation.

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. The Art of Stillness paints a picture of why so many have found richness in stillness and what—from Marcel Proust to Blaise Pascal to Phillipe Starck—they’ve gained there.

Pico Iyer is a British-born essayist and novelist long based in both California and Japan. He is the author of numerous books about crossing cultures, among them Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, and The Global Soul. An essayist for Time since 1986, he also publishes regularly in Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and many other publications across the globe.


Conversations on Compassion: Pico Iyer

Conversations on Compassion with Dr. James Doty and Pico Iyer, hosted by CCARE at Stanford University on May 13, 2013.

Pico Iyer: Where is home?

More and more people worldwide are living in countries not considered their own. Writer Pico Iyer — who himself has three or four “origins” — meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still.

The Sacred Art of Listening ~ Tara Brach

Published on Nov 18, 2014

The Sacred Art of Listening

Just as presence is the heart of meditation, so deep listening is at the center of all conscious, loving relationships. This talk explores how our wants and fears block listening, ways we can deepen our capacity for listening, and the healing that unfolds when we truly feel heard by another.

Awareness Says ‘Yes’ to All Experience

Published on Nov 18, 2014
A discussion about the statement that Awareness says ‘Yes’ to everything.

Quotes From Rumi: 1.Knock, and He’ll open the door 2. You Will Not Know Me 3. Didn’t I tell you

A poem by the 13th- century Persian Sufi mystic, Rumi.
Music: Sarah Brightman
“La Califfa” by Sarah Brightman (iTunes)
Sarah Brightman

Rumi: You Will Not Know Me

A poem by the 13th- century Persian Sufi mystic, Rumi.
Music: Armand Amar Featuring Salar Aghili.

Rumi – Didn’t I tell you (music: Valdiv)

I can walk and run and pause and again run for hours with this music …. and get lost in my dreams, in your beauty, in the magnificence of your beauty …… I can close my eyes and imagine all of these too.

The Rumi poem Didn’t I Tell You, is translated by Shahram Shiva.

%d bloggers like this: