The Interior Silence

10 Lessons from Monastic Life

by Sarah Sands

“Inspirational” – The Daily Mail

“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.

“A charming and quirky homage to 'A Time to Keep Silence' by Patrick Leigh Fermor... The pulling of [Sands'] natural twinkling merriment against her genuine desire to explore spirituality and silence is what makes this book so lovable.”
Ysenda Maxtone Graham, The Spectator
“An engaging and satisfying book challenging us to consider the priorities each of us have chosen, and inviting us to consider how best we can find the interior silence by which we can know ourselves and the world around us better.”
Reverend Marcus Walker, The Times
“A fascinating journey, from the cauldron of the newsroom to the peace of monasteries.”
Alice Thomson

About Sarah Sands

Sarah Sands lives in Norfolk by the ruins of a medieval Cistercian abbey and in London by the remains of BBC Television Centre. In between editing two newspapers, Reader's Digest, and BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she has written three novels. She writes and broadcasts, chairs a political think tank, advises companies on strategy and communications and sits on the boards of Index on Censorship and London First. She is an honorary fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and Goldsmith's College, University of London.