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What Thinking Like A Monk Does To Your Brain, with Jay Shetty

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

This week on The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast,Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen have a very special guest. Jay Shetty is an author, motivational speaker, and host of the largest health and wellness podcast of all time, “On Purpose”. That’s quite a resume for someone who used to be a monk! In this first episode with Jay, he reveals his unusual journey that led to him learning the most important lesson of his life.

For more info on Jay Shetty’s new book “Think Like a Monk”, visit https://www.amazon.com/Think-Like-Monk-Train-Purpose/dp/1982134488

Read Full Transcript

Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel. Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Welcome everyone. I’m so excited to introduce our guest today, Jay Shetty. If you haven’t already heard of Jay Shetty, he’s got the largest performing podcast in health and wellness, and I’m just really happy to be introducing this today. We’re talking about Jay’s new book, Think Like a Monk, which I think could not come at a better time.

Let me give a brief introduction of Jay, if you don’t already know who he is. Jay Shetty’s a storyteller, podcaster, and former monk. His vision is to make wisdom go viral. He’s on a mission to share the timeless wisdom of the world in an accessible, relevant and practical way. And he’s created over 400 viral videos with over 5 billion views, and host the number one health and wellness podcast in the world called On Purpose.

Jay Shetty grew up in a family where you could be one of three things, a doctor, a lawyer or a monk; and I’m really excited to hear about your trip to India and how that started.

Daniel Amen, MD:

A doctor, a lawyer or a failure.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah, sorry. My correction, a doctor, a lawyer or a failure. You chose monk, which in their eyes at the time seemed like the third option, correct?

Jay Shetty:

Yes, absolutely. Well, first of all, I’m just so grateful to see you both. Thank you so much for this opportunity. We’ve been such great fans. My community absolutely loves your work; and yeah, I’m so deeply happy to be with you today. And yeah, you’re right, that was the three options that I felt I grew up with, to the point that I actually didn’t know there were any other careers in the world. I didn’t realize that you could be a TV presenter or a news anchor or a journalist, or I don’t know anything else. I literally thought, and I would probably add I knew that accountants existed and engineers, but beyond that, I wasn’t really aware that there were any different paths.

And I only go to exposed to that different path when I met a monk. And that’s one of the biggest reasons that I wrote this book is really to ask people the question, who’s going to be the monk in your life? It might not be a monk, but what is that idea in your life that’s going to change the trajectory and the path that you take? You may not meet a monk. It may not be an external of a monk, but what is that idea in your life that’s going to spark a whole new set of values, beliefs and transformations that can lead you to it?

Daniel Amen, MD:

[crosstalk [00:03:06] much time, and Jay, I’ve been looking forward to this podcast so much. I’ve loved the ones you and I have done, but now we get to interview you. And this is really a historically crazy time. The incidents of anxiety, of depression, of grief, loss, addiction is just skyrocketing; and I think in large part because people don’t have those mentors and they don’t have a discipline on how to take care of their minds. And so can you just talk a little bit about how you got into this? And I really want to spend most of this group of podcasts talking about what are the practical things you learned that can help so many people that are suffering now?

Jay Shetty:

Yes, absolutely, absolutely. For me, I got exposed to it and learning about this… I was born and raised in London and when I was growing up in London I was aspiring to achieve everything that any 18 year old would do: a good job, a good partner, a good life, good friends, and just hoping and chasing the same sorts of forms of success that everyone would.

But for me, all of that dramatically changed when I was invited to hear a monk speak. Now I loved hearing thought leaders and celebrities and entrepreneurs and athletes. I used to love going to hear them speak and learning about these rags-to-riches stories. But then when I was invited to hear a monk speak, I thought what am I going to learn from a monk? What can you learn from monks? They just sit there all day. I don’t want to learn how to sit still. What am I going to learn from monk? It was almost like this ironic… I had this negativity or some sort of dismissiveness towards what I could learn from a monk.

And so I went to this event, and my words to my friends were literally this, “that I would only go to this event if we go to a bar afterwards.” I was 18 years old, growing up in London. And just to give you context of, I didn’t come from a spiritual or religious background, I wasn’t coming from a place of wanting to do something good in the world. I was just wanting to do what every other kid at 18 wanted to do.

And I went to this event and it’s almost like the irony of the universe and how it works that I come expecting nothing and I walk away with everything that goes on to become my life. And the reason was, is in hindsight now when I look back, when I was 18 years old I’d met people who were rich, I’d met people who are beautiful and attractive, I’d met people who strong and powerful and athletic, and all of these things, and knowledgeable and intellectual; but, I don’t think I’d ever met anyone who was truly happy.

And I think if people even did an audit in their own lives of how many people do they have in their life that they would believe are truly content and happy, I think most of us would struggle to think of that many people. And so at 18, when I was exposed to someone who was speaking about how the greatest thing we can do with our gifts and talents is to use them in the service of others. When I was introduced to that concept at 18, it just kind of like grabbed hold of my consciousness and made me want to understand what that truly meant.

That’s how I got introduced to learning about this, and what I went on to learn and understand is that it wasn’t just that monk, there were other monks… And I mean you’re the brain expert so you can tell me which monks brains’ you’ve scanned. But when you look at the brain scans of monks brains, they appear to be the calmest, happiest, most compassionate brains on the planet. And today, one of the biggest challenges we’re seeing in the world is a lack of compassion and understanding, which I really believe is at the heart of the solution of what we’re looking for.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I love that. And so you talked about the irony of the universe, and so your new book Think Like a Monk, which comes out in September. I know how long it takes to write a book, and so I know you weren’t thinking about what’s going to be happening right now when you planned this book. That’s what’s really interesting to me because I have a similar situation happening. My book is going to be released. It’s called The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, and it’s just weird timing. And I don’t believe in coincidence, right, so it’s interesting how it happened.

But what I love about your book is it’s coming out at a time when it’s just people are really, really searching and seeking, they’re scared and they need peace. I’m a person who finds myself pretty solution-oriented and I’m still triggered. What do you say to people who get triggered? Even if they think of themselves as having tools, what do you say to people? How are you helping people to find peace and calm during the time that’s pretty frightening?

Daniel Amen, MD:

So you’re going to use this as a therapy session?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Because I know our listeners, I see their emails, I see their messages.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Jay helped me so much.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yes. There our people are feeling the same thing. I mean, it’s touching a nerve. Your timing could not be more perfect.

Jay Shetty:

Yeah. No, thank you for sharing that. That means a lot. And you’re spot on that, first of all, I think it’s important to state that the situation that we’re all currently faced with is a very extreme situation in the sense of what’s happening in the world today we can’t say, “Oh, this happens all the time,” and we are all experiencing that.

It’s almost like the test is much harder than our training. And so a lot of the tools that we’ve had up until now and the training that we’ve had up until now were okay for the kind of tests we were dealing with. And all of a sudden the test is just skyrocketed, and then we’re fumbling around with these tools and the training that we had, and what to speak of people who didn’t even have the opportunity to have the tools or the training.

Really my heart’s in a very empathetic point where I’m just feeling the pain that people are feeling, and wanting to be of service. But first recognizing that no one should judge themselves or no one should be feeling that pressure on themselves for not knowing what tools to use, because this was a test that no one was trained for. And so that’s the first step.

The second is one of the things that we make is when we think we have the tool, we train less, and this difference between knowing an action. When you think you know, you kind of know what’s going on, you prepare less; and therefore, your action has less power and less strength. And so one of the things that I think is really important for us right now is that when we look at our triggers, whether they’re the news, whether they’re social media, whether it’s that chat group that you’re on with your family and people keep sending updates, whatever it is that is giving you that sense of stress and pressure, we do need immersive parts of our day in silence and stillness away from those triggers. And you-

Daniel Amen, MD:

When you do that, you do better. When you do that, you do so much better.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

You heard him say, you have to not judge yourself. I think he means spouses too. But, I accidentally turned the news… I can’t watch the news. I start screaming at the TV and it happens so quickly. I know better, but I turned it on by accident and I got busy and didn’t change the station because I know. And within five minutes, I’m in his office yelling.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The world is falling apart.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah, and it freaks me out.

Daniel Amen, MD:

It’s a historic time. Although-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I love what you said.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… throughout history… You lived in London, right? In the 16th century, the plague visited London virtually every year. And even earlier than that, you never knew if you were going to wake up and some Viking raider from Scandinavia was going to slit your throat. We’ve experienced this, and you say something in the relentless courage that I love is, “You can’t just show up on fight day-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

You have to train every.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… That you have train every day,” and that’s what I’m hearing you say. And when you, people listening, I’m pointing to Tana, when you meditate and when you take time for quiet and stillness, you’re a radically different person.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Totally.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Stay with us.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

If you’re enjoying The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating as that helps others find the podcast.

Dr Daniel Amen:

If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com or a 10% discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.