When Nothing is Everything You Need
(Image Source: Brain Pickings)
I recently read a book by Pico Iyer called The Art Of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere. It is a tiny book comprising of only around 60 pages. But the book is so powerful
that I could not help recommending it to EVERYONE. What a gem! Pico Iyer is a celebrated travel writer who had written for the biggest publishing houses in the world. He
had traveled the world like a true nomad and had the most enriching life anyone could aspire for. And yet, he speaks of the importance of doing nothing.
One of the most important observation I’ve gathered from reading about famous people is that even the most rewarding career or a pile of wealth cannot bring you that
which you’re searching for. Because it lies only within each one of us. Pico Iyer talks about the restlessness he felt and how he took a one year break to live in a small town in Japan.
He’d visited Leonard Cohen when he was in his self imposed exile and again observed how silence had enriched the life of the legend.
The lasting image I took from this book was one where he talks about our life being like an artist’s canvas. There’s so much of color and chaos that as long as we are a part of the painting, we can’t fully appreciate the beauty of it all. And that’s precisely the reason why we need to step back and just look at the gorgeous chaos that is our life. The rich colors and textures will be better appreciated only when we step behind to see the whole painting instead of just being a part of it. And herein, comes the importance of doing nothing.
You can call it meditation or whatever you like. Just sit still for a while. You’ll see it is as difficult to implement as simple it sounds! We’re always in a hurry to get things done. To tick off yet another chore in our long list of to-do’s. While rushing past life at a breakneck speed, we forget to even look around and soak in the life we are so busy making better! That is the paradox of our times.
And thus the Importance of Being Still. What I really liked was that he never says we need to achieve something specific while sitting still. In fact, the moment we do it with a goal in mind, that’s the time it doesn’t give us anything! Just sit still for the sake of it. Observe the constant script that the mind keeps trying to write. Smile at it, and then move on. Be an observer.
Try seeing the mind as a separate entity. A while back, I read something beautiful. In order to please the mind with all its thoughts, we completely forget to indulge our bodies and our souls. Have you noticed that very often even in the midst of a beautiful experience we are thinking of something else. Maybe that right photo angle to capture the moment or the beautiful caption for the moment. Just stop for a while. Let the body and soul take over.
My favorite spiritual teacher, Matthieu Ricard says to think of our thoughts like the clouds passing by while we are the mountains just observing them. Try sitting quietly without an aim to achieve anything out of it. Whenever you feel being carried away by thoughts, just the realization is enough to bring back your attention to the steady mountain. And then you’ll see the magic. Do it for ten minutes only. The results will be so good that you’d want to increase the time eventually. I have seen it for myself. And if possible, do read this small book. It’s a powerhouse of insights that will surely enrich your life.
Originally published at www.viakat.com on January 30, 2016.