Inner Minimalism

Finding time for silence and stillness

Words by Andō

As you go about your day, look for moments of opportunity.

To find the stillness in movement, the silence in sound.

Maybe you are washing the dishes, sweeping the path, brewing tea, cooking supper, meeting friends for coffee. Whatever it is, within it is an opportunity to take a moment for stillness.

These spaces you’re looking for aren’t necessarily outer spaces, such as a quiet bench in the park, a log by a stream to sit on. No, they might better be interior spaces, inner opportunities for silence and stillness.

Just a single moment spent in stillness is a moment spent in the timeless, so how long it is doesn’t matter. After all, who can measure the timeless?

Each moment can be an opportunity to simply be in the presence of what is, whether it is the sound of the wind in the pines, or passing traffic.

There is something miraculous about a moment of presence. It can’t be described, it must be experienced. So seek out opportunities, in everything that you do.

Actively seek out these moments to get silent and still. Keep your aerials up for them. When they arise, make the most of each one.

This is a kind of inner minimalism, sweeping the dust from the corners of your interior life. Listen amidst the noise of your mind and your life, your thoughts, worries, and distractions. Look for a hair’s breadth of silence for a split second, and rest there, amidst the mayhem of life. Each moment spent like this accumulates a deeper sense of inner peace.

Recognise the spirit of the moment in a sense of rightness, a feeling of lightness of heart, a sense of harmony.
Make time in your day, too, to sweep aside the outer noise. Put down your phone. Turn off your notifications. Leave your desk. Switch off the radio and the TV. Set aside your troubles. Make space for your moment of silence here for a while.

Take your lunch into the garden, or the park. Pick a single flower, and place it on your desk. Let it be your meditation. The possibilities are limitless.

Breathe a little. Consciously breathe for a while. Pay attention to the rise and fall of your chest, to the sensation of the cool air entering your nostrils on the in breath, warm on the out breath. Allow your breath to lengthen a little, pause gently between in and out breath, resting at the heart of your being—inhale > rest > exhale. Gently, consciously, and see how it calms your inner stirrings. You can do this anywhere. No one need know, because we all breathe, all the time. Let this healing breath bring you a little peace amidst the business of your day.

You might even make time for silence in your day in a more concrete way. First thing in the morning and last thing at night are good places to start. But it could also be five minutes in your lunch break, or even your coffee break, if you’re able to find or make a moment alone. Find what works for you. That’s what matters.

You might have family around, so you might choose to make time for silence before they wake, or after they go to sleep. Time for you, to simply be.

You might even feel tempted to make a space in your home or workplace to support you in your silence. This could be as simple as a candle or a flower on your desk, or a few resonant words jotted on a blank card. It could be you make a space in a corner of a room, with a cushion, a blanket, a candle, a photo, a flower, something to rest your attention on when you sit, as you settle into place. It’s your space, you can create it. You might place a stone or a shell on it, a word, or a poem. This is a place that signals you are entering your inner space the moment you sit down there. It supports you in your moments of silence.

When you pause to enter stillness, relax, set down the baggage of thoughts you’re carrying about yesterday, tomorrow, and today. Breathe a little space into your life. They’ll all be there for you when you’ve finished your quiet time.

Remember, a few minutes of peace spent with your attention turned inwards can reap hours of more restful working or living.

Use your breath to sweep the dust from your mind. Use silence to calm your troubled waters.

There are so many simple things you can do that can benefit you so much more than you might imagine.

Take care of moments for inner minimalism, and you’ll be taking care of yourself.


A Zen woman of few words, Andō says that silence is the only language she is truly fluent in.

Contemplative, poet, and writer Andō is also a lay-ordained Zen Buddhist, meditation teacher, and spiritual companion. Leading a life based on principles of the Way, she is inspired by the clear simplicity of Zen, tea, and poetry as contemplative practice. Just as poets such as Bashō, Saigyo, Issa, Rengetsu, and others before her, Andō lives in this same ancient way, subsisting on income from patrons, donations, and students.

Andō lives and works from a tiny hermitage on the Wolds Way in England.


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