"Sarah Sands has written about stillness with an eloquence that fizzes with vitality and wit. This wonderful book charts a journey to some of the most beautiful and tranquil places on earth, and introduces us to people whose inner peace is a balm for our troubled times. I loved every page of it." - Nicholas Hytner
Suffering from information overload, unable to sleep, Sarah Sands, former editor of the BBC's Today programme, has tried many different strategies to de-stress... only to reject them because, as she says, all too often they threaten to become an exercise in self-absorption.
Inspired by the ruins of an ancient Cistercian abbey at the bottom of her Norfolk garden, she begins to research the lives of the monks who once resided there, and realises how much we may have to learn from monasticism.
Renouncing the world, monks and nuns have acquired a hidden knowledge of how to live: they labour, they learn and they acquire 'the interior silence'. This book is a quest for that hidden knowledge - a pilgrimage to ten monasteries round the world.
From a Coptic desert community in Egypt to a retreat in the Japanese mountains, we follow Sands as she identifies the common characteristics of monastic life and the wisdoms to be learned from them; and as she discovers, behind the cloistered walls, a clarity of mind and an unexpected capacity for solitude which enable her, after years of insomnia, to experience that elusive, dreamless sleep.