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April 16, 2022

Think Like a Monk

Passion + Expertise + Usefulness = Dharma

There's every possible chance that you might have encountered one of Jay Shetty's life-coaching videos and happened to read his viral quotes while scrolling your social media feed. Maybe even listened to him hosting tête-à-tête conversations with some of the most influential personalities on his top-ranking health and wellness podcast - On Purpose.

Jay Shetty, a former monk-turned-modern motivational guru, internet sensation, Award-winning storyteller, podcaster, and entrepreneur, refreshed the self-help industry with his buzzworthy content 'making wisdom go viral,' debuts as an author with Think Like A Monk, adding another feather to his cap.

Considering his stupendous digital presence delivering thousands of inspiring clips to share, moral stories to reflect upon, and quotes to ponder over, you might assume there's absolutely no reason to buy this book. 

But, how differently it will enrich me than that of his internet content? What unique wisdom juice will I be sipping on served by the book? What's more in store? Such thoughts also penetrated my mind, and to forage for answers, I dived into this bestselling non-fiction, which fed my curiosity.

Hailing from a middle-class Indian family, Shetty was keen to seek his purpose and meaning in school. But then attended a life-altering talk by Gauranga Das, which sweepingly made him fall in love with the Indian monk (as he earnestly expresses!). Profoundly moved by this awe-inspiring moment, he commenced his journey to embrace the 'monk mindset' and joined an ashram. 

While learning, one realization struck him that the ancient philosophy written three thousand years ago still finds a resonance in today's materialistic matters, which signaled him towards his true calling. The book portrays his takeaway learnings internalized during the three transformational years of ashram life. He exemplifies Bhagavad Gita's (sacred text and life manual) timeless teachings for readers to navigate life's baffling situations.

Interestingly, the author distinguishes what is referred to as the 'monkey mindset' and 'monk mindset.' Terms like self-love and happiness seem to be on everyone's digital bios, though the truth is we are unbelievably insecure from the inside. Our minds are clouded with anxiety, overthinking, procrastination, distraction, and several other damaging concepts showcasing a monkey mind. 

Whereas the monk's mind wipes off the confusion and frustration, leading us on the path to clarity, contentment, and service. This advocated transition from monkey mind to monk mind is what the book's theme is composed of, with the author guiding throughout on how to actualize the same.

The book is compartmentalized into three parts: Let go, Grow, and Give. Each of these individually breaks down how to strip off your negative traits, set the right intentions, find your purpose and master self-control, and conduct your relationships and serve people. 

As a bonus, three types of meditation, namely - breathwork, visualization, and sound, are introduced, claiming to impart psychophysical benefits which will help you concentrate better.

Suppose you're someone struggling with procrastination and are prone to having distractions. In that case, a compilation of time-management techniques characterized in the book will ensure that you create a better organized, more focused routine. Furthermore, a fascinating view of 'location designing' and 'sound designing' your life is explained convincingly.

Numerous 'try these' activities are interposed between topics to check the progress. In addition, readers are asked to self-evaluate their habits by making lists, posing questions, visualization, and group tasks, further aided with improvisation methods. 

I like that they've put fun illustrative diagrams acting as demonstrative guides to various concepts, which help to absorb the content better. This way, it becomes convenient to learn where one falls in a category and gets a quick summary of a specific topic.

A healing prescription of Vedic chants and affirmations has been provided to release positive vibrations and align your intentions. In contrast to age-old teachings, Shetty adorns the piece with intriguing anecdotes and quotations coming from well-known figures like Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Kailash Satyarthi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Kobe Bryant, Brian Acton, Helen Keller, Reed Hastings, Robert Downey Jr, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jimmy Kimmel, Picasso and many more.

The book is written in straightforward and easy-to-understand language. The author is honest about his naive and ignorant moments and his evolution as a person and persistently shares the lessons he has picked up along the way. 

As a friend, he empathizes with our hardships, shows us reality-checks on how our toxic habits damage our systems, encourages us to be better people, and at the same time trains our minds to live purposefully in a sagacious manner.

Of course, nobody gets excited about admitting themselves into an ashram and putting on a monk robe to perform full-blown meditations all day. But nevertheless, we all want easy spiritual solutions to our modern problems. And this book will tell you precisely what you want to hear. 

As the title suggests, you don't have to literally lead a monk's life to think like a monk. Inculcating the core of his value system, adopting his mindset, and bringing in the much-needed discipline and purpose in our lives is more than enough. Instead, you might want a life decision based on - how will a monk think about this? At the end of your reading, you'll be capable of answering this question yourself.

I really liked that there is a digestible amalgamation of ancient and modernity. At one moment, I found philosophical tales of Zen masters, Hindu saints, and Buddhist monks, and at another, overnight success-failure stories of super achievers like multimillionaires, sportspersons, CEOs, artists, etc. And yet, it manages to stay relatable. 

While achieving a monk mindset sounds like a magnific task, setting miniature goals like waking up an hour early, abstaining from comparing, or simply being kinder and patting yourself on the back for pulling them off divides the load and is equally favored by the author. Such contrasting inputs make it a riveting read.

It made me look in the eye of my deep-seated negative traits, which I have been running away from and compelled me to fix them. It pushed me to take my life’s steering wheel into my own hands and drive it in the right direction. I realized the importance of meditation and mindfulness and that healthy practices are prerequisites to a fulfilling life. 

Finally, it made me confident enough to think like a monk if challenged by life's dilemmas. People unfamiliar with Indian culture may think twice before buying this book, though, as I discovered, the ancient lessons weren't that incomprehensible to soak in.

From oldies to millennials to Gen Z, this meditative, self-help life manual will connect with everyone who wants to gain a perspective in life.

Happy reading! 

Grab your copy from - Amazon IN Amazon US

Written by Akanksha Dhanorkar

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