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The Daily Practice That May Be As Vital To Your Health As Exercise

06/04/2015 08:50 am ET | Updated Jun 04, 2015

Renowned author and travel writer Pico Iyer seemingly had it all by age 29. A Park Avenue apartment in New York, an exciting job writing for Time magazine and the ability to travel the globe. Though his life may have looked like a dream, Iyer says in reality, he was so busy that he never stopped to consider if he was truly happy. Now, the bestselling author says the most important thing we can do for ourselves is to tap into stillness.

By being still -- even for just a few minutes a day -– Iyer believes we can find a deeper connection to the world around us. In fact, he says that finding moments of quiet in our day is as vital to our health and well-being as exercise.

In the above clip from his "Super Soul Sunday" interview, Iyer talks about joining a gym at his doctor's suggestion. Every day, for 30 minutes, he was committed to working on his health. But one day, a simple question posed by a friend gave him pause. "Another friend of mine said, 'Well, why don't you just take 30 minutes quietly? You know, go to the inner health club. Go to the mental health club.'"

At first, Iyer reacted the way most people would to the idea of being quiet and still for 30 minutes a day: "I don't have time for that." But ultimately, Iyer says he realized what he was truly missing. "I've got time to take care of my body -- why am I not taking care of my spirit or my being, which is much more important for my welfare than just building up my muscles or getting my heart going?"

The busier you are, Iyer believes, the more useful it may be to take the time to be still. If you can't afford a full 30 minutes, start small. Even five minutes of stillness can make a difference, he says.

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