Generate New Ideas with Jayne Riew’s Writer’s Tool: ‘The Meditation Box’


Jayne Riew is a lovely friend of mine, and also a brilliant artist. She makes conceptual books and boxes — intimate spaces that explore intense emotional states difficult to express in words alone.

Here is a piece that she made for me — and for all the readers of QUIET! It’s called “Be Still.”

Meditation Box | Artist: Jayne Riew

Meditation Box | Artist: Jayne Riew

Here’s Jayne’s description of this work:

Jayne Riew

Jayne Riew

“BE STILL is dedicated to the idea of the rich interior life. It was designed for a client who has written extensively about introversion. The box opens to a stylus and a tablet made of shifting sand, inviting meditation through play. The box is for the user who prefers writing to speech, is comfortable with the constant evolution of ideas and savors the slowed-down time of contemplation.” ~ Source:


She also says that the piece is based on these concepts:

Meditation Box | Artist: Jayne Riew

Meditation Box | Artist: Jayne Riew

◆ The preference of writing to talking - hence the stylus, and the lid that opens in such a way that it invites only a single user.
◆ The idea that, to introverts, certainty can be suspect.
◆ If a philosophy set in stone is represented by concrete, then sand might represent ideas still in formation or the possibility of variable outcomes based on circumstances.
◆ The beauty of the quote, “A hundred people versus a hundred grains of sand.” (David Winter, in QUIET.)
◆ Ditto: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” (T.S. Eliot)
◆ Natural materials evoke growth, helping you take your time and gain perspective (wood with the grain exposed, the beach).
◆ The slowed-down time of contemplation, the granular quality of meditation when conditions are right.
◆ Play opens the heart. Writing opens the mind.
◆ Finally, the dimensions of the box are based on those of a laptop because the client (SC — that would be me!) observed that she found herself, night after night, opening her laptop instead going to bed.

Meditation Box | Artist: Jayne Riew

Meditation Box | Artist: Jayne Riew


QUIET Readers: Would you be interested in owning a box like this? Jayne is the least commercially oriented person you will ever meet, but if enough people express interest, maybe we can persuade her to make more Meditation Boxes.



  1. Mitchell Neugebauer on 25.07.2013 at 10:08 (Reply)

    Susan! This is beautiful. I would certainly love to have one. Please pass along to Ms. Riew that she doesn’t need to be commercially oriented to share her brilliance.

  2. Vicki Catterall on 25.07.2013 at 12:00 (Reply)

    Thank you for sharing this, Susan. I love the concept. I too find myself with either my laptop open at night in in bed, or my Kindle (reading work-related material), or just generally unable to quiet my mind. I’m definitely interested in a Meditation Box.

    I have also read Quiet, and attended the Art of Leadership this past spring in Vancouver. Your book started a revolution within me. I now approach the simplest things, like my weekly work calendar, with a different lens. This lens is focused on how I work best and what I need to include or not include to perform at the top of my game. I know a fair number of introverts, and have recommended Quiet to all of them. Thank you.

  3. Erica on 25.07.2013 at 12:01 (Reply)

    Yes, I’d be interested in owning one of these meditation boxes!

  4. Catherine Hinchliffe on 25.07.2013 at 12:46 (Reply)

    Oh, yes, I would love to have one of these! Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Victoria on 25.07.2013 at 13:25 (Reply)

    Indeed. I can see myself sometimes drawing something softly and then others … trying to create a highway on sand…. mind and body connected…body expressing mind….

  6. Laura Samuel on 25.07.2013 at 13:47 (Reply)

    These boxes are amazing! I would love one to be made for myself and friends :)! Such a brilliant idea!

  7. Laura on 25.07.2013 at 14:08 (Reply)

    Want! I would buy one of these. I would even buy a kit and make it myself. I have some sand from a special vacation that I would love to use in a keepsake like this.

  8. Mindy on 25.07.2013 at 16:23 (Reply)

    I absolutely love this!!!

  9. Rich Day on 25.07.2013 at 16:50 (Reply)

    Jayne (if you happen to read this), what a wonderful gift idea your creation is. And I like the thought you expressed as well as the thoughts Susan expressed. My wife also is very creative and always seems to be making something for someone, many times they are completely unique and wonderful, just like yours. People who make creative unique wonderful things like this give such a gift to others. If you do come to the point of producing some of these, please let us know. I also think these thoughts expressed would go well with the box itself. My best wishes to you!

  10. Bryan on 26.07.2013 at 10:27 (Reply)

    I’m building an outdoor shower at my house and using red cedar, which invites contemplation (wood with the grain exposed) as you say plus the sensuous scent of cedar. Your post about Jayne’s meditation box put into words what I’ve been feeling about this outdoor shower. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Jane B. on 26.07.2013 at 14:21 (Reply)

    As an extrovert, I have to wonder (out loud, of course) if the Meditation Box could serve as a tool to help me go more internal — to be more reflective instead of reactive; to sit more quietly with myself and with my thoughts; to assist me in becoming more grounded and centered. I definitely want one! Thank you, Susan, for sharing Jayne’s beautiful — and powerful — work with all of us.

  12. Lori on 26.07.2013 at 16:58 (Reply)

    Love, love, love this article and especially the idea of a Meditation Box! I would so much enjoy having one, or the instructions on how to create it for myself. :) I found myself within the pages of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts.” I had no idea what was “wrong” with me until I learned that I’m not dysfunctional-I’m just a lovely introvert. :) Thank you!

  13. laurie on 26.07.2013 at 17:19 (Reply)

    This is such an introverted art medium. As a newly understood introvert (recently self-labeled)the box has a magical aura about it. Quietly understood and craved by introverts. Extroverts may question the reason. I, too, have read Quiet and it answered many questions for me. However, I am feeling and thinking that the topic of introversion requires further exploration to further include those that are not only introverted but also grapple with shyness. While two different names (shy and introvert) they are imbedded into one another and I would be rather interested in reading more about this aspect of introversion coupled with shyness. It may be simple to you but when one (me) is very introverted and very shy life poses many challenges. While I thought I was part extroverte…who am I kidding? I am nothing of the extrovert character. Neither am I left-brained! I am not sure I have a left-brain….clearly 100% right-brained as well. So, my inner world is incredibly rich, lively, exciting, inquisitive, curious, and constantly juggling the many places I travel within. I think the meditation box is a ticket to paradise to an introvert!!! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Bill Benoist on 26.07.2013 at 18:44 (Reply)


    I found myself relaxing just looking at the box and reading about it. Yes, I would definitely like to have one :-)

  15. Nancy Salyers on 27.07.2013 at 02:33 (Reply)

    Here I am on my laptop late at night. I would very much love to have one of these boxes! Thanks!

  16. Heather Rittenhouse on 27.07.2013 at 06:43 (Reply)

    I would love to have one of these “be still” boxes and can definitely think of a few people who I would love to give this to as a gift. They are really lovely.

  17. Barbara S on 27.07.2013 at 14:49 (Reply)

    Would love to have one, thanks!

  18. Candy Robison on 28.07.2013 at 11:25 (Reply)

    I love this. I would buy one as well.

  19. Tim Rogers on 29.07.2013 at 14:29 (Reply)

    Yes, please! I am very interested in purchasing one - or more - of these boxes.

  20. Nadja on 31.07.2013 at 02:58 (Reply)

    Lovely box. I would also be very interested in getting one or possibly more. I could even fill it with sand from the local beaches.


  21. Susan Cain on 31.07.2013 at 09:44 (Reply)

    Jayne, what do you think? So many people would love one of your boxes. :) (People have requested them on FB and Twitter, too.) Is it possible to make them available?

    1. Jayne on 01.08.2013 at 09:42 (Reply)

      Susan, you are so generous to promote my work here. I’m profoundly touched by the comments of your blog readers as well as those who have contacted me directly after seeing it here. You have all motivated me to find a small-scale fabricator to help me develop a limited series of the box. If successful I will notify you and your readers.

      So here’s hoping that I’ll get back to you twice: once to let you know that the project is in development, and again to let you know that the boxes are available for purchase. Cheers to you all!

      PS if any of you have suggestions for how the box can be improved, I would love to hear those ideas, either here or via my website contact form.

  22. Sam R. Fairchild on 02.08.2013 at 11:18 (Reply)

    Susan: First of all Thank You for opening our eyes! And connecting us!
    Laura: I am not sure how to use the Meditation Box! But I will figure it out! Mind connected to body, that must be it. I will also build my own box. I like it to be the size of the laptop screen. I will spray paint the cardboard box in which my laptop arrived. Not so sure of how the Stylus works. Isn’t it just a fancy stick? or does it emit ink? Normally I use a blank Word screen to doodle with my keyboard, so I can get a lot onscreen in a hurry. But Meditation demands the slowness of thought and delicate sands…

    I would be open to building Meditation Boxes for others not so handy… built at cost. This would be a service of kindness, not profit… I love the idea of using Vacation Sand! Ahhh Virginia Beach!

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  24. sonny on 29.08.2013 at 22:34 (Reply)

    I want 2 stylists.

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