It is a field guide on how to negotiate modern life with more of a monk-like mindset, and it was published in 2016. It is based on Eastern spiritual traditions, current science, and the experiences of our forefathers and foremothers, and it is jam-packed with practical suggestions for incorporating old knowledge into our contemporary lives. A broad variety of personal issues are addressed, including stress, bad eating habits, a lack of time, energy and a feeling of purpose, among other things.
Who is it that reads the book The Urban Monk?
- Hackers of one's way of life
- Those who are stressed out and have poor energy levels
- Those who are interested in Eastern spiritual traditions of any kind
Who is Pedram Shojai, and what is his background?
Doctor of Oriental medicine Pedram Shojai is a former Taoist monk who has studied qigong and has been practicing kung fu and tai chi for many years. He is also a former Taoist monk. He is the presenter of the podcast The Urban Monk, the creator of Well.org, and the producer of the documentary films Vitality, Origins, and Prosperity. He is also a published author. His other works include The Art of Stopping Time and Inner Alchemy, both of which are available on Amazon.
What exactly is in it for me? Learn how to live the life of a monk — without having to give up your regular career.
Recently, many of us have developed an interest in the old spiritual traditions of the East, which has piqued our curiosity. To be honest, however, we all have jobs to do, bills to pay, and families to take care of that we must prioritize. A once-a-week yoga class is difficult for us, let alone a month-long meditation retreat; it is simply not feasible.We have absolutely no intention of traveling to the Himalayas and establishing a monastery. Nevertheless, without that degree of commitment, how can we hope to achieve the inner serenity that those monks who live in the mountains have achieved? Being an urban monk means integrating ancient knowledge with the modern-day urban – or suburban – lives that the vast majority of us now inhabit, according to this definition. And there is no one better to learn from than Pedram Shojai about how to accomplish this successfully.
Shojal is a former Taoist monk who now lives in the United States. As a result of his own life experiences and understanding of traditional traditions, he has made it his life's mission to assist others in living more meaningful lives. Shojai has helped many individuals via his Urban Monk podcast, his teaching, and publications such as The Art of Stopping Time, among other mediums. Allow these notes to be of assistance. Among the topics covered in these notes are why cutting wood and fetching water are more than simply household duties; why meditation should be seen more like an operating system than as an icon; and why you should study kung fu.
Our forefathers and foremothers may teach us how to live more in harmony with our needs.
Although technological, medical, and living standards have improved significantly in recent years, we contemporary humans aren't precisely the happiest or healthiest of the species. We lack time, energy, sleep, and physical activity.We're depressed, anxious, and alienated from nature, and we're stuffed full of junk food. We also lack a sense of direction in our lives, which contributes significantly to our misery.What exactly is going on? And what, if anything, can we do about it? The simple explanation is that our contemporary habits of living are out of sync with our requirements. We will have to change our way of life in order to address this issue effectively. We don't have to start at the beginning, which is a blessing. There is a great deal of old knowledge that we may benefit from. The vast majority of it has been handed down to us via Eastern spiritual traditions, but part of it comes from an even earlier source: our forefathers and foremothers.
The most important lesson here is that our predecessors may teach us how to live in a way that is more in tune with our wants. You do not need to adhere to any specific religious or philosophical philosophy in order to become an Urban Monk. You have the freedom to study from any source of knowledge that you choose. Our forefathers and foremothers are excellent starting points, since their lives were in natural accord with human requirements. If we lived more as they did, we would be able to address many of our contemporary issues. Take, for example, sleep, which is one of our most basic needs. When the sun went down, our forefathers and ancestors had nothing except the gentle glow of fire, the moon, and the stars to help them see into the night. However, the ensuing darkness turned out to be a gift in disguise. Their bodies were prepared for sleep as a result of a sequence of physiological responses induced by the stimuli.
We contemporary people, on the other hand, continue to bask ourselves in the artificial brilliance of light bulbs and electronic displays far into the wee hours. This deceives our brains into believing that it is still daylight, resulting in the production of hormones intended to keep us awake, making it difficult to fall asleep and wake up in the morning. So, what can we do to prepare for sleep in a more traditional manner than our forefathers? Simple: turn off all of your electronic gadgets after 7:00 p.m. Better yet, turn off the lights in your house as well and let the soft glow of candles fill the space. It's the ideal way to wind down at the end of the day. It also serves to demonstrate a more general point: to be an urban monk, you do not need to be a member of a monastery. You may make significant changes in your life without having to go to the mountains with the aid of some simple but powerful techniques.
We need to spend more time being physically active, interacting with other people, and making use of the wonderful environment.
Preparing for bed is just the beginning of what we may learn from our forefathers and foremothers. If we take a close look at how they lived, our Palaeolithic forefathers and foremothers may provide us with a complete master class on how to avoid many of the issues we have today. Loneliness? They were members of close-knit extended families and tribal groups. Is there a lack of physical activity? They spent their days hunting prey, collecting fruit, traveling through woods, scaling cliffs, leaping over gorges, and fleeing from predators. They also spent their nights hunting prey and gathering fruit. Is there a disconnect with nature? They were constantly surrounded by it, and in order to live, they needed to be intimately familiar with their surroundings. The list continues on, but you get the gist of what I'm saying. Before we shift our attention to Eastern spiritual activities, let us consider what else we may do to live more as our forefathers and foremothers did.
The most important message is as follows: We need to spend more time being physically active, interacting with other people, and making use of the wonderful environment. Don't be fooled by the terms "urban" or "monk." They are not synonymous. A person who identifies as an Urban Monk does not have to be a city slicker who spends his or her days in isolation, contemplating the meaning of life. In order to achieve a feeling of inner peace, you must first address your needs, which for many of us include increasing our physical activity, socializing, and spending more time in nature.
Our forefathers and foremothers fulfilled these requirements on their own, just by living their hunter-gatherer lives. Those of us who live in the contemporary world, on the other hand, must make a deliberate effort. If left to our own devices, we may easily spend all of our time in artificial surroundings, sitting on chairs or couches, and gazing at TVs, laptops, or cellphones instead of engaging with one another. The good news is that there is no lack of activities we can do to get out there and move while also getting together more often with people. Volunteering with a local conservation organization, enrolling in a survival-skills training course, or participating in outdoor activities like camping, fishing, birding, hiking, bicycling, rock climbing, kayaking, and so on, are all excellent ways to reconnect with nature.
Many of these outdoor activities may also serve as pleasant kinds of exercise, as well as excellent opportunities to meet new people or to strengthen existing connections, if done properly. Simply joining an outdoor activity group, inviting your friends or family to accompany you on your next trip, or striking up discussions with random people you see along the way will suffice.
Being an Urban Monk is a great deal of effort, both physically and mentally.
It's possible that you're thinking, "Wait a minute." It's definitely excellent health advice to go outdoors and move more, but what does that have to do with becoming a monk? The two events seem to be entirely unconnected. " However, it's possible that you're feeling this way because you have certain typical misunderstandings about what it's like to be a monk. They didn't simply sit in their monasteries all day, contemplating. The monks of ancient times were active members of society. It was outdoors that they spent the most of their time doing physically hard tasks such as collecting water and cutting wood. The Zen Buddhists had an ancient adage about this, which went something like this: "Before Zen, fetch water, chop wood." After Zen, go get some water and cut some wood. " In other words, becoming a monk entails much more than just being a "spiritual" person. A similar statement may be made about becoming an Urban Monk.
The most important lesson is that becoming an urban monk takes a lot of effort, both physically and mentally. Many ancient Eastern monks, in addition to their responsibilities, were engaged in martial arts training, such as tai chi and kung fu. "Kung fu" is a Chinese term that translates as "hard work." The description fits the bill well. Learning a martial art may be a tough, painful, and time-consuming process that requires discipline, dedication, and perseverance in order to achieve mastery of the art. No matter how much you try to avoid them, you'll never be successful. You must embrace them as chances to push yourself beyond your physical and mental limitations. That is how you advance in your martial arts training.
It is also the means through which you develop as a human being. The arduous process of learning kung fu is a metaphor for the arduous process of learning to conquer life itself. It is for this reason that monks have devoted their lives to it. Kung fu gave them a method of developing the mentality that they wanted to apply to every area of their lives, and they were grateful for that. To become an Urban Monk, you may follow in their footsteps by studying kung fu, tai chi, or any other martial art of your own. But the goal here isn't just to learn some self-defense techniques. It is to learn how to approach everything in life as if it were a kind of kung fu, in the most literal meaning of the word.
You might be rock climbing, avoiding technological gadgets at night, or just gritting your teeth as you push yourself to finish a tough job (such as cutting wood or fetching water) in order to feel accomplished. It's all about kung fu. It all boils down to embracing the difficulties in front of you, seeing them as chances for personal development, and dedicating yourself to the difficult task of conquering them....
Eating slowly and gently may help you lose weight and improve your diet.
At this stage in your quest to become an Urban Monk, you have changed yourself from a contemporary couch potato to a human being who engages in meaningful activities. You'll spend more time outdoors and doing more exercise. You've decided to learn kung fu or tai chi. Making firewood and getting water are two of your daily chores. Though maybe not literally, you are developing a harder, more monk-like mentality that welcomes difficulties and household responsibilities. To keep up with all of this activity, you'll probably need to eat a diet that is more nutritious than that of the average contemporary person. Despite the fact that there are many difficulties with the food we consume, the majority of them come down to two issues: a lack of nutritional quality and an excess of calories. To put it another way, we consume an excessive amount of food that is deficient in nutrients. What actions can we take to address these issues?
The most important message is as follows: Eating slowly and gently may help you lose weight and improve your diet. Many of us have an unpleasant propensity to eat our meals in a hurried manner. Too often, we chew too fast, and too seldom do we chew sufficiently. Then we swallow fast and go on to the next mouthful, continuing the process until our meal is gone before our bodies and brains have even had a chance to recognize it as having been consumed. The reason for this is because, if we don't take the time to enjoy our meal, chew it well, and allow it to settle in our stomachs, we will be unable to properly appreciate it, digest it, and recognize when we are totally satisfied with it. As a consequence, we wind up consuming much too much food and failing to get all of the nutrients from it.
Slow slowly in order to avoid this. Chew your food at least 10 times with each mouthful – maybe even 20 or 30 times. Take pleasure in the flavors and textures. Consume slowly, pausing to catch your breath, then repeating the process until you are half-full. After that, take a five- to ten-minute break to let your stomach catch up with you. At that moment, you may be fully satisfied and be able to call your dinner a success. Overeating has been avoided! That will assist with the issue of supply and demand. If you're concerned about the nutritional value of your meals, take another leaf from the book of Eastern spiritual traditions and believe in the power of soft, liquid-based foods. Since antiquity, many monks have consumed large quantities of soup, stew, and congee (a type of porridge made out of rice). These nutritious meals are filled with nutrients that are readily digested and completely extracted since they are made up of nutritious veggies that are slow-cooked at low heat.
It's not only about getting more energy; it's also about allowing that energy to flow more easily through your body and mind.
As a result of following the recommendations we've discussed thus far, you'll be better able to fulfill your requirements in terms of sleep, physical activity, diet, social interaction, and time spent in nature. That is excellent news in and of itself, but there is an additional benefit that comes with it: you will have more energy, which is something that many of us contemporary people lack. Better sleep, increased physical activity, and a healthier diet can all help you feel more energized, so it should come as no surprise. Spending time in nature, on the other hand, is an energy-booster that is frequently neglected these days: exercise. The presence of trees, flowers, and other living things may be very energizing, even if you are just sitting motionless or taking a leisurely stroll in the fresh air. Improving our social relationships may also be invigorating, but in order to understand why this is the case, we must first examine the nature of energy.
The most important message is as follows: It's not only about getting more energy; it's also about allowing that energy to flow more easily through your body and mind. Energy does not appear out of nowhere. You'll need to figure out how to generate it from inside or acquire it from outside, and then you'll need to figure out how to continuously refill it as you move through it. Sleeping, exercising, eating, and spending time in nature are all examples of how to do this. To ensure that you have adequate energy at your disposal, you must ensure that you meet all four of these requirements. Having a lack of energy may be caused by a lack of sleep, exercise, proper diet, or time spent in the great outdoors.
However, even if you have an abundance of energy to spare, it will be of little use to you if it becomes trapped inside you. Energy must be allowed to flow freely in order for it to perform its work - and the more freely it can flow, the more energized you will feel. When your body remains sedentary for an extended period of time, it may get physically drained, which is another reason why regular exercise is so essential. The ability to think clearly may be impaired if you're stressed out, feel trapped in your life, or are suffering from emotional traumas that haven't been healed yet. These injuries are often the consequence of other people inflicting harm on us in a variety of ways, and it is at this point that our social relationships enter the energy equation. The next few paragraphs will discuss some techniques for unblocking your energy, reducing tension, and healing from the traumas of the past.
You may enhance your energy flow by engaging in qigong exercises, meditating, and reducing your time spent sitting.
Any form of exercise, as long as it does not cause you to become exhausted, can help you generate more energy and get your blood flowing better: walking, running, swimming, dancing, lifting weights, doing push-ups – anything that involves movement will help you generate more energy and get your blood flowing better. All of the outdoor activities we discussed before, as well as kung fu, tai chi, and other martial arts, should be included in this category as well. Do not forget about tasks like cutting wood and collecting water; this may be a wonderful way to get your body moving and your blood pumping! Even with all of this in mind, if you want to enhance your energy flow even more, there are three additional things you can do to take it to the next level: qigong, meditation, and getting off your bum. The most important lesson here is that you can enhance your energy flow by practicing qigong, meditating, and spending less time sitting than you normally would.
Qigong is a Chinese term that literally translates as "energy work." As the name implies, it is an ancient type of exercise that is all about channeling your energy ("qi") and putting it to use ("gong") to accomplish tasks. The workout consists of a combination of movement, meditation, posture-holding, and deep breathing techniques. According to the kind of qigong practice you are doing, think of it as a method of either shaking off or gently moving blocked energy out of your body. To see how it works, just search for some instructional videos on the internet and follow along. It should be practiced for five to ten minutes in the morning, evening, during work breaks, or anytime you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. According to the author's own experience, this hack may result in a significant improvement in people's energy flow.
However, even if you regularly engage in qigong or some other kind of exercise, it will only take you so far if you spend most of your time sitting around. If you have a desk job, try investing in a standing workstation, which forces your body to work harder to maintain its balance. In addition, while you're there, you may work on your kung fu stances to give your legs a good workout! Just be careful not to get too preoccupied with your physical appearance. Remember that stress and unresolved emotional anguish may cause your energy to get blocked at a mental level as well as at a physical one. Exercises that include breathing meditation may provide some relief from stress. When it comes to dealing with emotional discomfort, there are two meditation techniques that may assist. In the next section, we'll go through each of these activities in more detail.
Meditation has been shown to be therapeutic.
Let's start with a stress-relieving meditation to get things started. Make yourself comfortable in a sitting posture, set a timer for five to ten minutes, and concentrate only on your breathing pattern. Gentle inhalations and exhalations should be done via your nose, down into your lower belly. After that, lay your left hand on your left knee and your right hand on your nose to complete the motion. Inhale and exhale alternately from either side of your nose, using your thumb and index finger to cover one nostril at a time, then the other. Gently exhale through your left nose and enter through your right nostril. Then slowly exhale from your right nose and into your left nostril. Continue to say it again and over. Do you get a feeling that your tension is melting away? That's fantastic – but it's just one of the mind-blowing abilities of meditation. It may also aid in the healing of emotional wounds and in opening up to others.
The most important message is as follows: Meditation has been shown to be therapeutic. Begin with a few minutes of breathing meditation before moving on to the next practice. Continue by focusing on your heart and placing your hands together in a prayer posture in front of it to complete the process. Take a deep breath into your heart and notice how it begins to warm up. Concentrate on transforming this emotion into a sense of unconditional love for every living creature on the face of the planet. Every inhale should be filled with this love, and every exhalation should be filled with it being sent in all directions.
Extend your love to everyone — friends, loved ones, adversaries, strangers, and those whom you need to forgive – by taking many more deep breaths. Continue to spread your love until it covers the whole planet. Allow it to include the solar system, the galaxy, and the whole cosmos. Spend a few minutes sitting with this sensation in your heart to bring the meditation to a close. It should be kept with you for the remainder of the day. Allow it to soften your demeanor and assist you in feeling more connected to the individuals you come into contact with.
This is referred to as a heart-centered meditation, and it serves as a warm-up exercise for the last meditation we'll be looking at, which is about healing from traumatic events in your past. First, go through all of the processes we just went through again and again. Then, after you've experienced that overwhelming, unconditional love in your heart, turn your attention to the source of your emotional damage and direct the sensation of love toward it. Keep an eye on it while it heals at the present time. Then picture traveling back in time and mending the situation there as well. Put yourself back in the situation in which you were wounded; freeze it, and allow your feelings of love to include everyone involved. Then unfreeze the scenario and let it play out the way you want it to.Pour your heartfelt affection into this image, and allow it to imprint itself on your subconscious. You're now ready to go on to the next step.
Think about meditation as a mental operating system, rather than as a symbol or symbolism.
Given that meditation has become something of a buzzword in recent years, the notion that it may have therapeutic advantages may seem like outdated information. But wait for a minute - even if you are previously acquainted with the advantages of meditation, there is something new you may take away from this article. As ideas and practices gain popularity, they are often oversimplified and misinterpreted by the general public. Unfortunately, this has been the situation with respect to the ancient skill of mediation. Due to this, many people are now approaching it from an incorrect perspective, even those of us who already practice it. Fortunately, a contemporary metaphor may assist us in getting back on the correct track. The most important message is as follows: Think about meditation as a mental operating system, rather than as a symbol or symbolism.
Meditation is often thought of as something we do in reaction to stress by many people. It's similar to the "help" symbol that appears on a computer's desktop. When your system becomes overwhelmed, you should click on it. Then you just sit back and let everything take care of itself. When it's done, you just click away and return to your regular routine. As we've seen, meditation can be a really effective tool for calming yourself down when you're already stressed out or anxious. But it's much more than that, in my opinion. For one thing, it is a preventative measure against being too stressed in the first place. The most effective way to harness the full potential of meditation is to consider it a "mental operating system" rather than a symbol. I think it should be included in your whole mental framework - something that is constantly humming in the background – to influence how you think and think about things.
But, if meditation is a kind of operating system, how does one go about "installing" one? So, here's a simple yet efficient technique: Throughout the day, take a few moments to reflect on what you are doing and why you are doing it. Examine your physical and mental state to determine what kinds of thoughts and emotions you are experiencing. Instead than fighting or pushing away unpleasant thoughts, acknowledge them and acknowledge their presence. Simply paying attention to them, breathing into them, and allowing them to dissolve naturally is sufficient. After that, you may go about your business. If you continue to use this method on a regular basis, it will ultimately become second nature to you. At that moment, you will have successfully integrated meditation into your mental operating system, allowing you to function more effectively. You will be on the road to inner peace after reading the following letter, as we shall see.
The source of tranquility is inside.
Consider the following scenario: you are at the grocery store, standing in line at the checkout desk. Something is amiss with the cash register, and it is causing a snag in the whole process. You've been waiting for five minutes and are still waiting. What are your thoughts on this? If you're like the majority of individuals, you probably experience stress. But, instead of grinding your teeth, what if you checked in with yourself and used those five minutes of downtime to do a brief meditation practice?In the event that you've previously made meditation a part of your mental operating system, you'll be prepared to accomplish exactly that – nipping your tension in the bud, taking pleasure in a few minutes of peace, and furthering the development of a monk-like mindset as a result. There are vast differences in how those two individuals react to and experience a scenario. The lesson of the tale, on the other hand, goes well beyond the checkout counter itself.
The most important lesson here is that tranquility is found inside. Of course, standing in line is just the beginning of the experience. There are numerous things in modern life that can cause us stress.Many of us would rank our work as the most important thing in our lives. It's not simply the plethora of requirements they put on us. It is a fact that they are necessary for our survival.Therefore, a workplace issue may seem to be a matter of life and death in certain cases. You've lost a customer. After a short period of time, you're concerned about losing your work, your income, and your capacity to pay your living costs. Due to the imminent threat to your life, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, causing stress hormones to be released into your circulation.
Meanwhile, your mind continues to repeat the events of the day, becoming obsessed with everything that went wrong. It is as a consequence of this that you not only lose your customer once in reality, but you also lose him again and over in your thoughts, triggering all of the concerns you have about your work once more. But take note of what's going on here. It's not so much the prospect of losing your customer as it is the thought of losing your client. It is the series of ideas that you experience as a result of that occurrence. And all of those ideas are centered on either the recalled past (losing your customer) or the anticipated future (finding a new client) (losing your job). It is for this reason that meditation is so beneficial. It assists you in regaining your attention and returning to the present moment. And this prevents your thoughts from spiraling out of control in your head.
At the end of the day, all of that emotionally tumultuous whirling must originate inside you – just as the inner calm you want must originate within you as well.
Meditation can help you slow down the passage of time and your position in the cosmos.
We've come to the conclusion of our trip through these notes, but your adventure of becoming an Urban Monk is only getting started. At this time, your energy is flowing, your tension has been decreased, your meditation operating system is up and running, and your kung fu mentality has been firmly entrenched in your consciousness. You're now prepared to deal with two more issues that plague many of us in the contemporary era: a shortage of time and a lack of a feeling of direction or purpose. In this last section, we'll take a look at two final mediation exercises that may assist you in dealing with these issues. The most important message is as follows: Meditation can help you slow down the passage of time and your position in the cosmos.
We typically attribute our lack of free time to being too busy. Now, it is true that we are overburdened, and this is a problem in and of itself. We spend a lot of time, though, and not only on trivial things like watching television, but also by neglecting to pay attention to the events that are taking place around us. Consequently, time passes us by as if it had never been there in the first place.
We must slow down the passage of time in order to appreciate it more fully. The fact that meditation is primarily concerned with paying attention to the present moment makes it the ideal instrument for the job. You may try this exercise if you truly want to witness its time-slowing abilities in action: sit by a river, concentrate your attention on the sound of the water, and let it wash away your worries. Take note of how it is both constantly changing and always consistent — exactly like time. Because of this, it is said that "time is like a river." Allow for at least 20 or 30 minutes to allow the information to sink in. Nothing emphasizes how valuable your time is more than knowing that death is an unavoidable fact of life. In the end, that's what this last meditation is about. In the Shaivite Hindu faith, it serves as a strong reminder that our lives are short contributions to a circle of life that is immeasurably greater than ourselves.
Ready? Prepare yourself for the following: Pretend you're dead for a moment. Now imagine your body decaying away in vivid detail, complete with worms and other parasites. Keep an eye on it as it decomposes into the soil. You may now sit back and watch as flowers sprout from the dirt you've returned to, as well as the butterflies that flutter around them in the air surrounding them. Life continues on without you, and you only get to be a part of it for a brief period of time until it all ends. Make an effort to make the best of the situation.
One of the most important messages in these notes is that, by combining a few contemporary hacks and suggestions with a number of methods and exercises inherited from our forefathers and old Eastern spiritual traditions, you may handle many of the personal issues that plague people these days. It has been shown that turning off technological light sources and engaging in outside activities, whether alone or with others, may help you sleep better, exercise more, socialize more, and spend more time in nature. Cultivating your energy via kung fu, qigong, and meditation may help you feel more energised, reduce stress, slow down time, and create a sense of purpose. In addition, eating meals more slowly and including soups, stews, and congees in your meal rotation may help you lose weight and improve your diet. A piece of practical advice: Don't try to swallow more than you can chew. Keep in mind that as you begin your path to becoming an Urban Monk, you should not attempt to handle everything at once. Choose one hack and make it into a "100-day gong," rather than many hacks. That means attempting to complete it for a total of 100 days before moving on to the next challenge. The rationale for this is because it takes about 100 days to establish a new behavior as a habit – and that is precisely what you must do with these techniques to succeed. In order to reap the long-term benefits of these practices, you can not just try them once or twice; rather, you must incorporate them into your daily routine.
Written by BrookPad Team based on The Urban Monk by Pedram Shojai