Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere (TED Books) Hardcover – November 4, 2014
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"This book isn't a meditation guide or a New-Age tract but rather a celebration of the age-old practice of sitting with no goal in mind and no destination in sight.... Rather than reading it quickly and filing it, readers will likely slow down to meet its pace and might continue carrying it around as a reminder." (Kirkus (starred))
“[A] cool drink of water, in book form” (People)
“[A] wonderful read in its entirety.” (Brain Pickings)
"A bustling paean to the stationary life . . . Iyer’s argument is an engaging amalgam of memoir, reportage, and literary essay . . . Iyer uses a fluid blend of argument and anecdote to make a persuasive and eloquent case that contemplating internal landscapes can be just as rich an experience as traveling through external ones. The fact that he has traveled to some of the world’s most obscure corners only strengthens his credibility as a defender of stillness.” (Boston Globe)
“A heartfelt manifesto to the benefits of ditching the cellphone and snipping up the frequent flier card, The Art of Stillness is anything but a self-help book or how-to guide for achieving inner peace.” (Associated Press)
“In lesser hands this tiny volume might be a throwaway of glib, “new age” comfort-speak, but like Henry David Thoreau’s equally brief classic on another seemingly mundane exercise — walking — Iyer’s thoughtful nature leads him to peel back layer upon layer, nodding toward the infinite…. Plunging effortlessly beneath platitudes, this wafer-thin volume reminds us of what might just be the greatest paradox of travel — after all our road running, after all our flights of fancy to the farthest corners of the globe, after all our touring, our seeking and questing, perhaps, just perhaps, fellow travelers, there really is no place like home.” (New York Times Book Review)
“[A] beautiful little book. . . fills an important niche. . . Iyer wants to make the conscious practice of stillness palatable to everyone.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)
About the Author
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.
Top customer reviews
While my husband has tried to teach me how to appreciate silence and slow down for years, it has been hard to rewire my busy over-achieving self to see value and not laziness or time wasted. Not to discredit my husband's efforts, but there is a real magic to Iyer's style of writing that got to me deeply. He is such a gifted writer that his book slows down your reading pace. I feel much more prepared to savor things like the zen poetry of Rengetsu: Life and Poetry of Lotus Moon or the art of calligraphy. While Iyer declines to consider himself a master of stillness, he brings in the stories of those that have inspired him most, like a French scientist who becomes a monk and Leonard Cohen who quieted his musical career to pursue silent meditation as a Zen monk for several years.
If you are interested in slowing down... meditation... and told you just need to sit still and do nothing, this is a perfect book for you. It elevates the practice without exploiting or preaching it. By the end you will realize that this is a topic that this world Needs to hear!
The title of the book, The Art of Stillness, is a call to use stillness in a world he accurately describes as “madly accelerating.” If you have any doubts about this description, try recall when last you had nights off, or did no work at all on the weekend. (Reading business literature does qualify as work.)
To get the most benefit from this book you should read it slowly and thoughtfully. It is a slim book on an important topic, best appreciated while unwinding on vacation.
“More and more of us feel like emergency-room physicians, permanently on call,” says Iyer. We have mastered so many parts of our lives in the last half century, except how to enjoy living. Geography is fast coming under our control; we send messages around the world in seconds, parcels in hours and can talk to people anywhere easily and inexpensively. However, the clock seems to be “exerting more and more tyranny over us.”
Iyer advocates regular periods of stillness, daily if possible. Times when we take a journey to “Nothing.” It is a short period when we retreat from our busy-nes, “so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.”
In the second century, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius pointed out that it is not our experiences that form us, but the way we understand them and respond to them. Being still puts distance between our present and our experience, so we can view experiences with “clarity and sanity” and reap the benefits that comes from that. The opportunity to distance ourselves helps experiences acquire the appropriate importance. All it involves is sitting still. Nothing more.
Iyer reports that in his work world, “Every time I take a trip, the experience acquires meaning and grows deeper only after I get back home and, sitting still, begin to convert the sights I’ve seen into lasting insights.”
When he attended retreat centres, he met bankers, teachers, real estate agents, people leading normal business lives who came the centres, just to be still for a few days.
Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wire magazine is certainly one of the most articulate representatives for the technologies of our time. His wrote his latest book on the uses of technology to expand human potential while living without a smartphone, a laptop or a TV in his home. He explains that he keeps “the cornucopia of technology at arm’s length so that I can more easily remember who I am.”
Many in Silicon Valley observe what Iyer calls an “Internet Sabbath” turning off their devices from Friday evening to Monday morning. It is telling that people who do so much to speed up the world see the benefit of slowing down regularly.
At General Mills, a company with revenues of almost $14b offered a seven-week programme to senior executive on “stillness.” 80% reported a positive improvement in their ability to make decisions, and 89% that they were becoming better listeners. It is estimated that programmes like this save American businesses $300b a year!
The most telling report Iyer relays is a Stanford peer-reviewed study of the effect of stillness of military veterans. The author’s husband, a Marine Corp Scout Sniper, undertook a 40-day personal trial to see if he has similar results. He reported that his hours of concentrated attention left unusually happy, and worrying him that he was softening.
His adviser assured him that he was still hyper-alert only more selective about the “potential threats or targets to respond to.” He reported his surprise that “something so soft could also make me so much harder as a Marine.”
On a flight from Frankfurt to Los Angeles Iyer was seated next to a woman who after a few pleasantries, sat in silence, doing nothing, for the next twelve hours. At the end of the journey, she explained that her job was exhausting, and she is beginning a five weeks of vacation in Hawaii. She was using the flight to get rid of the stress ready for her days of rest. Nothing for twelve hours. No reading, no watching movies, nothing.
We are living in an age of constant movement that makes being still so much more urgent.
The Art of Stillness is an important holiday read. Iyer offers the following summary advice: “Don’t just do something. Sit there.”
Readability Light +--- Serious
Insights High +---- Low
Practical High ----+ Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is the author of Strategy that Works. .
I thought that perhaps some of the discussion of how to adjust to and take advantage of such solitude would be applicable to me, a more ordinary person who does not travel a lot but who still feels frequently caught up in frantic activity and movement (although not travel). However, I had to laugh aloud when I read about eating breakfast outdoors and listening to bird song in some far-away remote spot: without paying to go somewhere to a retreat or hotel, I can't be outdoors in the morning without being overpowered by gas fumes from rush hours traffic and the sounds of other people's music.
Rather than addressing people who are already fortunate and in the position to make choices, it would be nice if Pico Iyer, an author I usually admire and enjoy reading, had offered some suggestions from those of us who live in major cities (i.e. the majority of the population) and don't have money to pursue "stillness" in the particularly expensive form he recommends here (i.e. the majority of the population). The only suggestions I found that could be applied to someone like me were taking day-long breaks from electronics, or adopting something along the lines of the way of Iyer lives in Japan without a car or bikes. Well, that last would be terrific, if you live in a place with good public transportation, or if groceries, doctors, libraries, and schools are within walking distance -- and safe to walk in all weathers and times of day; if you are not physically disabled; if you do not have small children who must either be watched by someone else or dragged along. Again, not many of us are so fortunate.
The book is lovely and lyrical, but I think "stillness" means one thing to people who have spent their entire lives traveling and have the money and time to pursue alternatives, and quite another to people who have a tougher time finding islands of peace and quiet in an unprivileged daily life.