Perhaps the greatest adventure of all is going nowhere. In his Ted Talk, The Art of Stillness, Pico Iyer discusses how stillness can bring more clarity and insight into our accelerated living.
I took a New Years restorative yoga workshop a few weeks ago (the one where I set my intentions of letting go perfection and inviting in acceptance) and during the last 10 minutes of practice while we were in a supported twist, the teacher played a TED talk. Yes, it was a first for me as it was for the teacher and the rest of the class. Listening to a speech during a yoga class might sound a little untraditional but the content was spot on for where we were going with this class (nowhere).
There were so many points during this TED talk when I felt like Pico Iyer, Global Author and Travel Writer, was talking directly to me. I went home that night and immediately pulled out the computer to listen (and this time watch) the talk again.
In this lyrical meditation, Iyer points out the demands of our world, the fast pace at which we live our lives, and the need to keep going, and going, and going. He even talks about his firsthand experience – traveling since he was a young boy, he was always moving around the world, taking in new experiences, adventures, and cultures. But he says the greatest adventure of all was when he learned to go nowhere – to just stand still. It was in the art of standing still that he was able to reflect upon and absorb his travel experiences and bring new eyes to his travels.
I’ve talked about this before – in my post about patience – that I find it challenging to slow down. Sure, I make time for yoga and meditation to open up some space, but beyond that, I’m moving at hyper speed, always connected, always doing something. It was eye-opening for me to hear him talk about travel. Ever since my trip to Thailand, I’ve had such a strong urge to keep exploring, and I just assumed that was because I appreciated the personal growth that came along with discovering a new culture. But, after I heard his talk, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, my desire to travel also has something to do with not wanting to sit still.
Iyer encourages you to sit for a few minutes a day, a few days a year, a few years out of a lifetime – to “sit still long enough to find out what moves you most, to recall where your truest happiness lies, and that sometimes making a living and making a life leads in two opposite directions.”
Iyer recognizes the guilt that many people experience when wanting to take quiet time for themselves – they feel guilty about not checking their emails or responding to their boss, they feel guilty about leaving their children or their significant other behind, but he points out an important truth for all of us with guilt to realize: when we create stillness for ourselves, the people around us are positively impacted as well. It’s only by going to that quiet place that we’ll have anything fresh to share with our colleagues, our friends, our bosses, our families; otherwise we’re only pushing off our exhaustion on them.
How do you practice the art of stillness? How can you bring more stillness into your life? Can you create a “24-hour internet sabbath” for yourself where you’re fully disconnected from technology for 24 hours? Notice how you feel after inviting in stillness. Is there a shift that takes place?
And I’ll leave you with Iyer’s closing to his talk:
“In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”