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Can ‘Think Like A Monk’ Help You Live An Empowered Life?

Written by: Megha Mathur, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

An in-depth analysis of Jay Shetty’s book and if it truly can help you overcome your fears and make you reach your full potential.


When religions were created, their primary purpose was to help the human race achieve a higher functioning mode (it’s another story that those teachings have taken on warped meanings depending upon how they were and are continually interpreted). Jay Shetty’s book relies heavily on those foundations which come from combining Hinduism and Buddhism.


Belonging to a Hindu family myself, I was exposed to the core teachings of Hinduism through what I like to call “generational-teachings.” These included the learning of Dharma(What you are meant to do in life and how to do it righteously); Artha (your means of life); Karma (the consequences of your actions have consequences); Moksha (freedom from the cycle of life and death) and finally Kama (which includes all of your desires and I mean all of them) In between all of that, you have to have a fine balance of your intellect, ego and emotions.

Jay Shetty dives deep into these core concepts by taking his time to explain how our learned experiences take over of what we perceive as the “meaning of life,” but for this article’s purpose, I have taken the liberty to simplify two core concepts with an illustration:


Artha: defined as the physiological well-being (food, shelter, and safety) of an individual. It starts in childhood where a child tries to understand the meaning of “safety.” First, with parents through love and security then, with their peers through the feeling of integration and acceptance, followed by safety through financial means into adulthood.


If you look at the picture above, EGO is right above safety… why is that? It is because SAFETY AND SECURITY take on warped meanings in life. Here are a few examples:


a) When you think about it, security to any of us means having a roof over our head and food on the table. But then we start to become competitive: a bigger house, a better car, expensive clothes and the list can go on.


b) We want to become the most popular person at any given time, be it with friends or family…always wanting to up one over the other. This brings self-esteem and the desire to be loved into play, which moves us into the realm of KAMA.


Kama: These are all of your desires (physical and material). With your self-esteem and ego in the driving seat, you are moved into a world that is governed by jealousy, envy, hatred, and fear. You see, the wants outweigh the needs in our life and this is how it happens:


a) When you are constantly looking to be better by satisfying the ego’s need such as expensive cars, better homes, expensive clothes, etc., you are creating jealousy and envy towards those you perceive you are in competition with.

b) When those emotions take over, your goals and meanings in life change.


c) This, in turn, creates fear in us. You would hear yourself asking questions like, “What if I don’t do better?”, “What if I lose those friends?”, “What will they think of me?” or “I can’t do this now; I have already said I can’t do it.”


Drama of life: You are the protagonist in your play, and like any story, you will have antagonists. I like to describe the antagonists as anything and everything that has taken control over you. Yes, you read that right… anything that controls you has the power of controlling your emotions.


So, how does this book help you live an empowered life? I could write on this for many pages, but here is a simplified version:


A) Find the true you: Being a therapist myself, I explained a key phenomenon to my clients using the example of an "onion." There is a core of you that gets covered with layer after layer of what your ego has fed you. Jay Shetty uses a similar example in his book by talking about a mirror that accumulates dust. You need those layers to be removed to FIND YOUR TRUE SELF AGAIN. Finding your true values and beliefs is going to ground you again – what is TRULY important and what can be discarded.


How do you do that? Quieten your mind and listen to your inner voice. It will always direct you inwards and help you reflect. Start reflecting on what you need in life vs. what you want in life. Who do you want to surround yourself with? What changes have occurred in you that have taken you away from who you truly are?


B) Become the Charioteer of your mind and senses:


Jay Shetty uses this illustration to understand the concept of intellect (the buddhi) and how we can start using it to our benefit. Jay Shetty states, “The senses are responsible for our desires and attachments, and they pull us in the direction of impulsivity, passion, and pleasure, destabilizing the mind” In other words, everything in your life has a memory attached to it, and those memories govern your thoughts.

To give back control in the hands of the charioteer (you), he suggests the following:


1. Give new scripts to the charioteer: If you frequently hear yourself say “I am scared,” then change the script to “It is okay to feel scared, but what can I do to move myself forward” This will give you choices in life- choices you thought you never had and break the shackles of a negative repetitive pattern.


2. Keep a journal of thoughts: Journaling is something that many psychologists and therapists recommend. It allows your mind to slow down and pin-point the exact one that you need to focus on. Remember the onion ring I mentioned above? Writing empties the mind to a point where nothing is left to ponder on. That allows you to reign in your negative repetitive pattern and start finding a solution to every thought you have written down.


3. Live with an Attitude of Gratitude: Let go of the ego and the competition. When you sit down and reflect, ask yourself the question, “what is truly important in my life?” and thank the higher power for having it. When you start to realize that you have more than what you need, you truly start LIVING AN EMPOWERED LIFE.


CONCLUSION:


Jay Shetty’s book is one of the best self-help books I have read. It is relatable to real-life experiences and gives you ways to start making those necessary changes. As being a therapist myself, I can tell you that some of the techniques he suggests are what many therapists use in their profession to help their clients. His combination of using the spiritual realm with the psychological realm has made this book a best-seller. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is on a path of self-reflection.


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Megha Mathur, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Megha Mathur is a Psychologist and Life Coach focused on helping people with their personal development. She dedicated the past few years as being a full-time mother and is now focusing back on her career. Her background in Psychology allows her to be a more focused and goal-oriented coach because she helps people understand the reasons of why they feel stuck. She has her own YouTube Channel "Let's talk Mental Health, to Live your Best Life" where she addresses mental health as being a sphere around a person. She is also leading a series for YOUTH DEVELOPMENT through an initiative called Bright Hearts and Open Minds which is focused on building leadership in the current and future generations of young minds. Her Mission: To create the BEST SIDE OF YOU.

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