Ever wanted to ask a Monk how they manage to stay so zen? Or what they eat to stay healthy? Or perhaps what the key is to living life with purpose?
Our friend, Taoist Monk, and a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Pedram Shojai just launched a new book The Urban Monk. So to celebrate we sat down and asked him some of our most pressing questions to help you start your journey to becoming an Urban Monk too.
In your words, what is an Urban Monk?
A person who lives in the world, has commitments and responsibilities, and yet stops to breathe, take care of themselves, and be a better global citizen.
You talk a lot about Qi in your new book. What is Qi, and in a nutshell, why should we pay attention to it?
It is the energy of life. Everything is powered by energy and most people complain about not having it. I really focus on helping people gain more energy from their food and their lifestyles so they can have more fuel to power their dreams. I teach specific practices that help boost qi in your life.
In Chapter 7, you speak about society's problematic sugar addiction. Can you tell us your two favorite tips for fighting off sugar cravings?
Take 7 days and go cold turkey- you’ll get cranky for a day or two and then realize how bad you had it. You’ll need less caffeine and be in a better mood. Another way is to get more protein and fat into your meals- the less you crave sugar, the less you eat and vice-versa.
You also mention the importance of a healthy gut, especially for boosting our immunity - how is our gut connected to our immune defense?
70% of our immunity is around our guts. It is HUGE. Learning how to eat and how to give the body’s defenses a break is a key strategy to getting better and having more energy.
How important is having a healthy diet for a healthy mind?
The brain needs more than just calories. It needs nutrients and minerals. Real food can provide this and bad food actually has the opposite effect- it creates inflammation and gets the brain to get cranky and less effective.
You talk about rice as a being a diet staple, why do you regard rice so highly?
For people who can tolerate it, rice is less challenging to the immunity and provides easy to access energy for the body. That being said, make sure you get it from a clean source as many rice crops have arsenic and other garbage in them lately.
There’s a chapter in your book essentially dedicated to the power of nature to improving our health. What are your favorite ways to reconnect with nature, and if you only had 20 minutes in a day to get outside - where would you go?
I step outside in the little patch of lawn by my office in our corporate park here and I drink some sunshine while breathing deeply and listening to the wind. A little tai chi and stretching to support it and I am feeling great and ready to jump back in.
In our never ending attempt to catch up with our busy lifestyles, many of us tend to rely on caffeine, sugar and less sleep to get by. How important is sleep to our health?
Huge. It is our way to hit reset and detox the body/brain and also scavenge for cancer cells and heal. Not getting it puts us in a “one-down” position and then we need more and more coffee and sugar to stumble through our days.
Instead of caffeine and sugar, what are some things we can replace them with, that will nourish, rather than deplete us?
Movement! A standing desk and regular breaks to keep moving through your day will boost your energy and make you crave less crap. Then eating avocados and healthy fats will satiate hunger and keep you going. I like trail mix and veggies around the office. Swap tea for coffee if you need it but get sun, movement, and stretch more often- you’ll feel better.
What do you believe is the first step to finding your life’s purpose?
Get your energy back so you have the raw currency of power to think clearly and make better decisions. Then you can follow the breadcrumbs towards your destiny.
If you had one piece of Urban Monk advice to give to the person reading this, what would it be?
Life is to be lived fully? What are you waiting for? Step into your body, own it, love it, and power back on. Everything else will flow from there.
Click here to find out more about Pedram's new book The Urban Monk.
We highly recommend it if you're looking to find a newfound peace and a deeper understanding of how to stay healthy in today's crazy-paced society.