7 lessons from The art of stillness

At the end of 2014 I started to meditate for 10 minutes everyday. Believe me, it is the best way You can improve Your daily life spending only 10 minutes a day. I would like to explain You why but one the best way to understand it is reading a short ebook: The art of stillness. You will love it. Here You will find 7 quotes I pasted from my notes.

With machines coming to seem part of our nervous systems, while increasing their speed every season, we’ve lost our Sundays, our weekends, our nights off—our holy days, as some would have it; our bosses, junk mailers, our parents can find us wherever we are, at any time of day or night. More and more of us feel like emergency-room physicians, permanently on call, required to heal ourselves but unable to find the prescription for all the clutter on our desk.

To hurry around trying to find happiness outside ourselves makes about as much sense as the comical figure in the Islamic parable who, having lost a key in his living room, goes out into the street to look for it because there’s more light there.

We glimpse a stranger in the street, and the exchange lasts barely a moment. But then we go home and think on it and think on it and try to understand what the glance meant and inspect it from this angle and from that one, spinning futures and fantasies around it. The experience that lasted an instant plays out for a lifetime inside us. It becomes, in fact, the story of our lives.

everything is moving. It’s beautiful.” Clouds and blue sky, of course, are how Buddhists explain the nature of our mind: there may be clouds passing across it, but that doesn’t mean a blue sky isn’t always there behind the obscurations.

still, reminding them that, if nothing else, it’s been found by scientists that meditation can lower blood pressure, help boost our immune system, and even change the architecture of our brains. This has no more to do with religion or any other kind of doctrine than a trip to the (mental) health club might.

Setting an auto-response on my e-mail, turning off the TV when I’m on the treadmill, trying to find a quiet place in the midst of a crowded day (or city)—all quickly open up an unsuspected space.

You can go on vacation to Paris or Hawaii or New Orleans three months from now, and you’ll have a tremendous time, I’m sure. But if you want to come back feeling new—alive and full of fresh hope and in love with the world—I think the place to visit may be Nowhere.

To experience life in kairos, not just chronos

Nonessentialists tend to be so preoccupied with past successes and failures, as well as future challenges and opportunities, that they miss the present moment. They become distracted. Unfocused. They aren’t really there. The way of the Essentialist is to tune into the present. To experience life in kairos, not just chronos. To focus on the things that are truly important—not yesterday or tomorrow, but right now.

Very good book.

Greg Mckeown – Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

In a fraction of a second

We assess race, gender, and age in a fraction of a second. We aren’t as good at guessing sexual orientation, but, to the extent we see it, we see it right away: when students are shown a photo of a man and asked if he is gay, they are about as accurate within one hundred milliseconds as they are after longer periods.16 For these reactions, we don’t need anything close to two seconds. But for other questions, two seconds isn’t nearly long enough. If we are asked to tell whether someone is friendly or dangerous, we do better with more time. To accurately assess whether someone is sociable, we need at least a minute, preferably five.17 The same is true if we are judging complex aspects of personality, such as neuroticism or open-mindedness.18 For these decisions, our impressions during the first two seconds fail us. We need more time.

Frank Partnoy – Wait: The Art and Science of Delay

Your memory is wrong

Cognitive psychologists have provided mountains of evidence over the last twenty years that memory is unreliable. And to make matters worse, we show staggering overconfidence in many recollections that are false. It’s not just that we remember things wrongly (which would be bad enough), but we don’t even know we’re remembering them wrongly, doggedly insisting that the inaccuracies are in fact true.

Daniel J. Levitin – The Organized mind

If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save

Her grandma tells him a very deep anecdote from the end of World War II, trying to escape a nazi camp:

A farmer, a Russian, God bless him, he saw my condition, and he went into his house and came out with a piece of meat for me.” “He saved your life.” “I didn’t eat it.” “You didn’t eat it?” “It was pork. I wouldn’t eat pork.” “Why?” “What do you mean why?” “What, because it wasn’t kosher?” “Of course.” “But not even to save your life?” “If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”

Jonathan Safran Foer – Eating animals

Few of us are remotely normal sexually

In truth, however, few of us are remotely normal sexually. We are almost all haunted by guilt and neuroses, by phobias and disruptive desires, by indifference and disgust. None of us approaches sex as we are meant to, with the cheerful, sporting, non-obsessive, constant, well-adjusted outlook that we torture ourselves by believing that other people are endowed with. We are universally deviant – but only in relation to some highly distorted ideals of normality.

This book puts sex in the right perspective. Recommended reading.

Alain de Botton – How to think more about sex