The ‘Monk’ in the title intrigued me to buy the book. I was interested to learn about monks, and it spiked after I read: if you want to dominate basketball, you might turn to Michael Jordan. If you want to know how to train your mind to find calm, peace, and purpose – monks are the experts. That said, let’s dive into the review.
Think Like a Monk has 11 chapters divided into 3 parts:
The first will help you to overcome negativity and overthinking. Likewise, it will help you use fear as an advantage and find your values. Furthermore, it talks about intentional living.
The second will help you find your purpose, address voices inside our head, and bring your ego back down. Further, it talks about routine living.
The third talks about gratitude and service. At the same time, he talks about relationships and answers three questions – why we try to be with others, who we want to welcome into our lives, and how we can sustain meaningful relationships.
It used references from Bhagwat Gita, The Bible, books, interviews, and ted talks. Besides, quotes and analogies were used too. I loved the child-adult mind analogy and chariot – horses’ analogy to talk about the competing voices inside our heads.
In the child-adult mind analogy, he said that the monkey mind is a child’s mind whereas the monk mind is the adult’s. We need to become aware of the different voices inside our heads and differentiate to make better decisions.
In the chariot and the horse’s analogy, he said that the chariot is the body, the horses are the 5 senses, the reins are the mind and the character is the intellect. A trained mind is where the charioteer is awake, aware, and attentive, not allowing horses to lead the way. (if horses were in control, they would go off the direction of temporary pleasure and instant gratification). It is explained with a diagram and so are other interesting lessons.
It had a few lessons I learned via other self-help books, but it wasn’t boring. Reading it again through the monk’s perspective broadened mine and gave more clarity. Besides, the new lessons add on to it. They were interesting and well explained.
For instance, I knew about the concept of fear and it’s two meanings. The insight unique to this book was: our brains are good at keeping us from entering uncomfortable places. Repeating the question ‘what am I scared of’, we corner our brain.
The lessons were intense and impactful. I could feel them as I read. To illustrate, in the chapter that deals with intentional living, he said, “bad things happen, boring chores must get done. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but it is always possible to find meaning.”
While some advice and strategies were easy to apply, others were challenging. One example is gratitude and meditation. I found it easy to maintain a gratitude journal and spend 5 minutes writing down things I was grateful for (I have spent 20 minutes) but a 15 minutes meditation was difficult.
I learned some impressive insights, realizations, and lessons
A few of them are:
There is nothing wrong with a society that offers models of what a fulfilling life looks like. But we shouldn’t take these goals without reflection.
2. Negativity is a trait, not someone’s identity. A person’s true nature can be obscured by clouds, but like the sun, it is always there. And clouds can overcome any of us.
3. When you say ‘this didn’t work out but there’s more out there’ the energy shifts towards a future full of possibility.
4. Charity isn’t giving of yourself. You are taking something that was already on earth and giving it back on earth.
The reading experience was amazing, inspiring, and thought-provoking. It felt like Jay gave me personal coaching on how to train your mind for peace and purpose and ‘Try This’ (advice and strategies) as homework. It opened my mind, cleaned some dust, and broadened my perception. I recommend you read it because there is no doubt this book has the potential to help you.