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Back to Stories

Friends of Six Senses with Pedram Shojai: Bringing Time, Energy, and Money into Flow

New York Times bestselling author, Pedram Shojai, OMD, talked with Wellness Pioneer Anna Bjurstam about his time-tested system to take control of how you trade your energy for time and how to increase your body's "energy budget" to live your fullest life.

(Lightly edited for clarity)

Anna: Hi Pedram, what exactly is an urban monk?

Pedram: An urban monk is someone who lives out in the world and is not hiding in monasteries. I was a monk for years but it was time for me to come down off the mountain so I could understand the normal stresses that people face. I wanted to bring the practices I was learning into a “normal life” that has kids, dogs, traffic, stress and test it in this battleground. Some of it worked well and some didn’t. This is the basis of the Urban Monk.

When I came down from the mountain, I was teaching people qigong and how to maximize their energy. Some people’s lives took off and some headed into more chaos. I started to look at what was the difference between these two. I like the metaphor of the life garden. If you have some important plants in your life garden – career, family, passions – how much water are you giving those things? And water to me is time, energy, and attention. Unless you water the plants you choose, you’ll have weeds everywhere.

Anna: We often focus on watering our career and finances too much and we forget to water our loved ones and our health. Do you see that?

Pedram: Absolutely. So many of us water career and money and we look up and our families are estranged. It’s very common. It’s one thing to talk about work-life balance, it’s another to actually live that way. How do you have a sustainable lifestyle that allows you to be the father, mother, husband, wife, and lover you want to be and also take care of your sleep, diet, in a way that allows you to live a rich, robust life right now?

Anna: We know these things but we’re not doing it, why is that?

Pedram: Why is a great question. But what is the fundamental reason I need energy? Do I need the energy to trudge through my day and simply exist? If that’s the case, you may not be as motivated to take care of your energy. If I line up what I really want to do in this world, though, it’s a miracle. If you can plug yourself into something great and worthy of your life, then when you get up, you will make better choices about how you take care of yourself because you have something you want to invest your energy in. The word “no” is very important. The part of your brain – your prefrontal lobe – is the part that separates us from other animals. Are you going to charge that part of your brain or live in the back of your brain and be reactive? If you don’t mentally floss and empower the part of your brain that says no to the bad decision and yes to the good decision, you can create a lot of chaos.

Six Senses meditation men un

Anna: For a lot of people, it’s difficult to get clarity to know what to focus on. How do you get that clarity?

Pedram: A lot of people say that they’re going to use willpower and figure out their purpose but this is hard to do when you lack vitality. The first step to me is to get your vitality back so you have the energy to figure things out and make good decisions. I look at the “departments of life” like food, exercise, and mindset. Where can you optimize in each area to have more energy? For me, I don’t like to ask students to invest energy when they don’t have it. Most people are tired so it’s difficult to sustain intentions. You have to start with simple practices and start to cultivate and grow your energy so you can make good decisions tomorrow and the next day and the next day and keep it going.

In the information age, our attention has become the currency of our economy. If you’re not working on bringing your attention back to your own body, your attention is being mined by every device around you and will be used to fuel other people’s dreams.

Anna: Why did you leave the monastery?

Pedram: I was in Rishikesh, India and as I spoke with the sadhus (spiritual teachers) who I was with, and they said I have to go back to the world and be a householder. I didn’t want that. It’s so nice to live in the Himalayas and breathe fresh air and pray for world peace versus coming back to Los Angeles, CA and sit in traffic. But it became the way I could share teachings that I’ve personally validated in my own life.

Anna: You’ve also said that the Law of Attraction doesn’t work. Why do you say that?

Pedram: It’s the way the western world sells sugar to children with this promise that all you have to do is wish for something and it will happen. The part that has been missing from this equation is effort, energy, and action. A lot of people use the Law of Attraction to talk about their dreams but it’s the people who take action that create their dreams. I’m a kung fu guy, not a new age guy. The literal translation of kung fu is hard work. The promise is all you have to do is visualize it and it will come and nobody’s saying you have to do the work because nobody wants to hear that. If you match your words with action, though, you’ll take the Law of Attraction and actually create a life that is rich because your words aren’t empty.

Anna: Tell us about your new book, Focus.

Pedram: We live in an era where there’s a crisis of consciousness. The light is starting to flicker. Our attention is being mined by digital platforms. If you don’t take your focus back and give energy to what’s important to you and stay focused on those things until they manifest, it won’t happen. In my tradition, it’s called “retroflection”, where you turn the light back onto yourself. If you can’t hone your focus and bring it back inward, you can’t sustain any goals for more than a couple of months. From working with people for decades, focus clearly became the missing ingredient underneath everything from eating right or exercising. The most important question to me is - where is your attention and how do you bring it back so you can use it to create what’s important to you.

To watch the entire interview: click here:

BIO

Dr. Pedram Shojai, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Master Herbalist and acupuncturist, is the New York Times bestselling author of The Urban Monk and The Art of Stopping Time and founder of Well.org. He is an acclaimed Qigong Master and Taoist Abbot with a practical approach to modern living, using Eastern thinking and practices to help himself and others overcome the westernized challenges of everyday life, and to wake up and live their lives fully. 

www.theurbanmonk.com


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