The Urban Monk Book Summary - The Urban Monk Book explained in key points
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The Urban Monk summary

Pedram Shojai

Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace

4.6 (104 ratings)
30 mins
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    The Urban Monk
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    Our ancestors can teach us how to live in better alignment with our needs.


    Despite advances in technology, medicine, and living standards, we modern humans aren’t exactly the happiest or healthiest bunch. We’re lacking in time, energy, sleep, and exercise. We’re lonely, stressed, disconnected from nature, and pumped full of junk food. And on top of all of that, we’re missing a sense of purpose in our lives. 

    What’s going on? And what can we do about it? Well, the short answer is that our modern ways of life are out of alignment with our needs. To fix this problem, we’re going to have to recalibrate our lifestyles. 

    Fortunately, we don’t have to start from scratch. There’s a lot of ancient wisdom we can learn from. Much of it’s been passed down to us by the Eastern spiritual traditions, but some of it comes from an even older source: our ancestors. 

    The key message here is: Our ancestors can teach us how to live in better alignment with our needs. 

    To be an Urban Monk, you don’t have to subscribe to any particular belief system. You’re free to learn from any source of wisdom. Our ancestors are a great place to start, because their lifestyles were in natural harmony with human needs. If we lived more like them, we’d solve many of our modern problems. 

    Consider sleep – one of our most fundamental needs. When the sun went down, our ancestors didn’t have any light to fill up the darkness, except for the soft glow of fire, moon, and stars. But the resulting dimness was a blessing in disguise. It triggered a series of biochemical reactions that prepared their bodies for sleep. 

    In contrast, we modern humans bathe ourselves in the artificial brightness of light bulbs and electronic screens late into the night. This tricks our brains into thinking it’s still daytime, which results in the release of hormones designed to keep us awake, making it difficult to sleep. 

    So, how can we get ready for bedtime more like our ancestors? Easy: turn off your devices after 7:00 p.m. Better yet, lay off the light bulbs, too, and illuminate your home with soothing candlelight instead. 

    It’s the perfect way to wind down at night. And it illustrates a more general point: You don’t have to join a monastery to be an Urban Monk. With the help of some simple but effective hacks, you can change your life without heading to the mountains. 

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    What is The Urban Monk about?

    The Urban Monk (2016) is a field guide for how to navigate modern life with a more monk-like mentality. Drawing on Eastern spiritual traditions, contemporary science, and the lives of our ancestors, it’s packed full of practical tips on how we can integrate ancient wisdom into our modern lifestyles. It addresses a wide range of personal problems, including stress, unhealthy diets, and a lack of time, energy, and sense of purpose.

    Who should read The Urban Monk?

    • Lifestyle hackers 
    • Those who suffer from stress and low energy
    • People interested in Eastern spiritual traditions

    About the Author

    Pedram Shojai, a former Taoist monk, is a doctor of Oriental medicine, a qigong master, and a decades-long practitioner of kung fu and tai chi. He is the host of The Urban Monk podcast, the founder of, and the producer of the documentary films Vitality, Origins, and Prosperity. His other books include The Art of Stopping Time and Inner Alchemy.

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