Pockets of Reflection in a Busy World

Finding moments of stillness in a world that is not

Posted Nov 21, 2014

Pico Iyer, Author of THE ART OF STILLNESS.

Pico Iyer, Author of THE ART OF STILLNESS.

Of course, the first step is finding the time to be still, to reflect.  Like a lot of people, I don’t have chunks of time that are open (or so I think), so I’ve decided to look for small pockets of reflection time.  It’s a start.

When I think through my day more deliberately, I’ve found find tiny pockets where I can capture some stillness time, even if just a few moments.  So far, I’ve found five and am searching for more.

Right before I must get up.  Just before I have to get out of bed, I take 1-2 minutes and stay absolutely still.  I may think about the day, a problem I was working on just before sleeping, or a writing piece I need to do. Or, I may just be still.  My mind feels clearer and the challenges that woke me at 3am are usually minimal by wake up time.  

In the shower.  Another 4-5  minutes (I’m fast and we try to save water) where I’m in a safe, warm place doing something I don’t have to think about. When I have a bit more time, say eight minutes, I work through something that’s nagging at me and boom, often I’ve got a problem solved. 

Getting the paper in the am.  I don’t always go out to get the newspaper but when I do, I love stopping (maybe 1 minute) to look at the stars or the sunrise or even the full moon sometimes.  Again, just being still. 

Breakfast, radio off.  Most days, we have coffee, read the paper and listen to the radio at breakfast.  But now and then, the radio is off and I’ve finished the paper, so I just take 1-2 minutes look out the window (we’re lucky enough to have a great view).  My mind goes blank.  Heavenly

In the car, radio off.  I’m fortunate not to have a long commute (it’s about 7-8 minutes in heavy traffic) but I’ve quit listening to the radio at all.  That’s 15 minutes of quiet time, although I’m concentrating on driving, but still, I’m relatively still. 

Turn off that radio!

What happens when the radio goes silent?

This routine, which I am pretty good at, gives me about 20 minutes of relative stillness.

I could do better, though.

Other pockets of time I’ve given away or never grabbed.

  • I used to have a big dog and we’d walk and I’d think (30 minutes).  (get a new dog?)
  • I could use our “Spark Room” at work – it has a chair, lamp, and white board, a place to snooze, work out a problem or be still.  ( use it, even for five minutes a day?)
  • I could take some lunch time (even 15 minutes or so?). 
  • I could walk to my university library instead of having books delivered (and gain 10 minutes).
  • I could take a photo, which forces me to stop and think...

So I’m losing an hour of legitimate pockets of reflection time that I now plan to retake.

Where are your pockets?