Some days I get overwhelmed by of a world of constant noise and distraction that grows louder by the day. The need for peace and quiet is greater than it’s ever been and without a concerted effort to claim it, our minds are drowning in a flood.

In his book Stillness is the Key, Ryan Holiday summarizes in his introduction, “Buddhism. Stoicism. Epicureanism. Christianity. Hinduism. It’s all but impossible to find a philosophical school or religion that does not venerate this inner peace – this stillness – as the highest good and the key to elite performance and a happy life.

“And when basically all the wisdom of the ancient world agrees on something, only a fool would decline to listen.”

When did you last seek out stillness? When did you last find refuge from the constant barrage around you. I can’t even tell you how many times I have attempted to start a meditation practice. I’ve failed every time. Why is it so hard to sit still?

Last week I spoke with a friend of mine who has struggled with chronic pain and mental health issues for quite some time. He seemed lighter and happier and described making significant progress. The source of his breakthrough? Consistent meditation practice.

Steve Jobs was well-known to meditate daily. From his biography, Walter Isaacson quotes him, “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse. But over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”

Can you imagine anyone who had more demands on his time, or was more innovative? Yet he had time for meditation, and with great benefit. According to this article, Jobs’ brain was only 27 at the time of his death. Isn’t that astonishing? I’m 45 and my brain feels much older than that most days…

A quick internet search will turn up numerous successful people who meditate regularly. Somehow, most of us are just too busy to slow down and think we don’t have the time for this essential practice.

According to Jonathan Haidt in the Happiness Hypothesis (as I discussed in this previous blog post), meditation is one of only three ways to permanently change your view of the world for the positive.

How could stillness change your life?

My favorite meditation teacher began her practice after the birth of our fifth child, Jack. It was an incredibly difficult pregnancy for my wife, Hill, and it left her suffering with significant anxiety. She had never experienced anything like this before, but daily stillness helped her overcome this serious challenge. Often she tells me that I should just start focusing on two measured breaths per day, rather than feel like I need meditate for ten minutes to make it worthwhile. She’s currently at eleven minutes in her practice and it has made all the difference in helping her to overcome a dark period in her life.

Hill often says to me, “All major breakthroughs happen in stillness.”

Ryan Holiday expands on that:

“Stillness is what aims the archer’s arrow. It inspires new ideas. It sharpens perspective and illuminates connections. It slows the ball down so that we might hit it. It generates a vision, helps us to resist the passions of the mob, makes space for gratitude and wonder. Stillness allows us to persevere. To succeed. It is the key that unlocks the insights of genius, and allows us regular folks to understand them.”

One thing I love about Stillness is the Key is how Ryan Holiday teaches stillness as a way of life. It starts with our ability to quiet the mind and block what distracts us from our most important goals. It embodies how we interact with others, how we confront life’s challenges, and even how we love ourselves. Stillness truly is the key. But it won’t take hold until you and I figure out why we need it in our lives.

So, here I go again. I’ve started a stillness practice. This week it’s just slowing down to focus on a couple breaths. Next week I’ll move up to a minute. I’d love to have you join me on a journey to introduce a regular meditation practice in your life. Try taking just two measured breaths this week 🙂

Knowing where to begin seems overwhelming. Email me ( if you are looking for additional resources. For starters, I really liked this article that talks about the basics of meditation.

Happy Reading!

  • Chris Evans
    2 years ago
    Here's a good representation of stillness that I've always loved
    • Nate
      2 years ago
      That’s a great clip! Definitely blocking out the noise around us. Thanks Chris!