It is not easy trying to live consciously in the modern world. No matter how clean we eat, how many superfoods we take in, and how often we cleanse, it seems like there is more chemicals, pesticides, and air pollution coming our way. The dirty world is always at our heels and threatening our health and well-being. It threatens the future of our children and our natural environment.
That is a terrible way to live, feeling like we are on the run from a society that is hell-bent on destroying itself. It can make us feel helpless and small, unable to make a dent in the machine that’s driving the chaos.
No more. It is time to turn the tables and change the narrative.
As a Taoist Priest, I spent most of my life studying Kung Fu. I learned many different styles. However, the one I resonated with the most is the Shaolin Kung Fu tradition. These monks were taught certain energy yoga principles that ignited their minds, filled them with vitality, and gave them the strength and the clarity to become the defenders of good in ancient China. In fact, much of the modern “Jedi Knight” narrative was written on the historical basis of these real-life warrior monks.
I believe we are at a crossroads in our history. Either we lay down and let Big Food, Big Government, Big Chem, Big Pharma, and Big War companies run the show and drive the planet to war, famine, poverty, and eventual extinction of all we hold dear. Or, we step in, step up, and take a stand for all that is good in this world.
Now is that time. Enter the Urban Monk.
I’ve been teaching Qi Gong and meditation to students for 15 years now and have come to a realization that has really shifted the way that I teach. People living in the cities and suburbs have bills, houses, kids, cars, and tuition to deal with. I cannot ask them to shave their heads and leave for some mountain temple to train. They are what we call householders while the monks are called ascetics. If you have the luxury of renouncing the world and all its distractions, unquestionably you can meditate and do yoga for hours a day, but what about the rest of us? How can we drink from the fountain and energize ourselves to be a part of the solution down here? After all, the mountain retreats are being surrounded by the growing sprawl of the cities. If we are going to fix this, it has to come from within.
To me, it is really a crisis of energy and focus.
Life is all about energy. Energy fuels the cells of your body to function, detoxify, think, breathe, move, and grow. Most people are saddled with low energy due to fake foods, toxic overload, lack of movement, stress, and poor sleep. Learning to boost your energy through lifestyle and practice is the winning formula. An Urban Monk becomes efficient at extracting energy from his food. She learns to sleep deeply and rest when tired during the day. He draws energy from the natural environment and cuts the cords to toxic parasitic people who are draining him. And she learns to do something extraordinary — She learns to cultivate energy and light from the inside out.
Most of us are strapped for juice. We lack the basic energy to get through our workday and be fully present for our families in the evening. Making better food choices is the start but what about practices that fill your tank throughout the day? How can we add energy daily, so we are not wiped out each night hoping to stumble into the weekend? Superfoods are amazing. So is meditation. Yoga and Qi Gong are key.
Getting out into nature is a must.
You see, if we learn to drink from the eternal source of energy that springs from nature, we are connected and restored daily. Then we are less likely to make bad decisions and be led by Big (anything) into a world vision that isn’t compatible with ours.
When we power up, we ignite, and then we gain agency in our lives. We matter. We step into our community and become a stronger voice. We only buy from companies that are doing the right thing and support a green and clean future. We help elect officials that represent our values, and we take charge of our kids’ lives and pay attention to the education they are getting.
The Shaolin monks stepped up. They went from praying for world peace to upholding it. That is the difference the world needs right now. Our focus keeps getting nudged by the media onto senseless distractions instead of a clean, green, healthy, and peaceful vision for our collective future. Staying focused on this and acting in step with this vision takes some discipline.
The result? A beautiful green world with clean oceans and teaming with diverse life (again).
The world needs YOU to step up and be an Urban Monk for a better future.
Start swapping out the things you do each day that are taking away your energy for practices that enhance it. Take a cold hard look at where your vitality is going and start making adjustments that’ll keep some energy in your tank. With the leftover energy comes renewed enthusiasm, time to work out, time to finally get to projects around the house, and when you’ve finally stepped up in your own life, the energy to expand further and be a bastion of stability in your community. Too many of us have collapsed inwards, sulking home to lick our wounds day after day. It is time to turn this around and come to. The world needs you back. Your children, all the children need you back. You need you back.
It is time.
Dr. Pedram Shojai is the founder of Well.Org and the author of the new book, The Urban Monk. He is a filmmaker (Vitality and Origins), and Kung Fu world traveler committed to making the world a better place. He is working with David Wolfe on some Green Building initiatives and is making his next movie on Clean Money — how we can align our money with the values we want to see in our world.