Finding Your Focus and Flow State
…and Some Coffee Too
“Where you invest your life’s energy will determine what your life will look like.” — Pedram Shojai
Welcome to our first official issue of Monday Morning Books Over Coffee. Our feature this week is on Pedram Shojai, an author who I deeply resonate with and just reached out to on Instagram @official_urbanmonk. A long-time meditator, former Taoist monk, and now Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Qi Gong master, Pedram resides with his wife and family in the majestic locale of Park City, UT. As he says in his own words:
“I climb big mountains and ski down them. I have two kids and a delightful wife and am happy to be a family man. I’m the founder of Well.Org and Urban Monk Productions, the producer of movies on health and prosperity. New York Times Best Selling book, The Urban Monk, kicks ass and I had a blast writing it. It’s in over 30 languages and keeps spreading.”
What drew me to Pedram is his book “Focus: Bringing Time, Energy, and Money into Flow.”
Popularized by the late psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow is a state of mind in which a person becomes fully immersed in an activity — a state of focus where one is completely absorbed and engrossed in their work.
Pedram has become my perfect consiglieri for a more focused life of flow. His book “Focus” has delivered some powerful tools in my quest to achieve greater focus and intention in raising my life game.
The book's message which is tied to what Pedram calls a series of “Gongs” has been useful in helping me get dialed in with a level of focus often seen in world-class athletes.
So what is a Gong? He explains:
“It’s a 100-day commitment to myself. I do daily practices, and I have 30-, 60-, and 100-day goals that I work toward.”
Ensuing from ancient traditions with a system developed over his 15-plus years of coaching, it provides an on-ramp to:
Managing time expectations
Becoming more productive
Finding a balance between doing versus being
Tapping into your vitality's highest potential
Ensuring your life aligns with your priorities
Chock-full of accessible advice and useful exercises, the book offers a roadmap for creating a highly personalized plan for tending to what Pedram affectionately calls your “Life Garden.” His guidance is offered in a soft, compassionate way that encourages you to stick with it.
When I discovered this book my life had fallen into a bit of complacency and torpidness. I needed a kick in the pants to knock me out of my lethargy so that I could hit the accelerator and go. As Pedram asserts:
“Action is energy and focus driven by intent. It will be the catalyst for change that will transform our lives.”
With my desire to create greater focus in my day-to-day life, his book has now given me a guide for stretching myself to new heights, all in the pursuit of bigger legacy aims. I found myself particularly captured by Pedram’s thoughts on integrity with self and its importance. As he asserts in the book:
“If we set a priority and say something is important to us, that’s a deep and heavy personal proclamation. When we tell ourselves that we’re going to do something, write something, avoid something, or what have you, that’s an agreement we’re making with ourselves. If we break that deal, we’ve not kept the agreement and not fulfilled that obligation. That’s a break in our honor. It’s a collapse of our word.”
In an eye-raising point, he adds that once you get comfortable with lying to yourself, you’re much more likely to lie to others. This, he says, sets off a chain reaction and gives us the world we live in.
“Breaking the central deal with your spirit not only compromises your word, it also proves to your inner self that you have failed and can’t be trusted. You can’t keep a promise.”
He says that in order to master time, get the life you want, and have balance and harmony, you need to restore honor with yourself. And if you want to conquer time and become laser-focused, you have to have energy.
“Energy is the gas your vehicle of a body needs to run. You can’t plan a road trip with an empty tank, a busted transmission, and bald tires.”
Arguably the biggest takeaway for me from the book was how profoundly important sleep is in the grand scheme of our lives.
“As you look at mapping out your Life Garden, don’t cheat sleep. In fact, most people find that factoring more of it into their lives tends to help all the other categories.”
His words led me to the painful conclusion that my customary 5-hours of sleep and 4:00 am wake-up time was leaving me drained over the course of the day. As a result, I’ve made some changes to my sleep routine, yielding me some energy level gains:
Sleeping an additional 1-hour every night
Going to bed consistently by 10:00 pm
Turning off my digital devices at 7:00 pm every evening to minimize the sleep disruptive impact of blue-ray light
Sleeping in a cooler room (Pedram recommends keeping the room between 68–72 degrees Fahrenheit)
He also talks about how diet is a critical part of your health, noting:
“As you start fixing your diet and stop taking in foods that inflame your gut and set off your immune system, you will unlock more energy from your food and start to feel more energized, which will help you feel like moving again.”
In my conversation with Greg Frontiero, founder of Noowave Flow State Coffee, an organic blend with L-Theanine & Raw Cacao that can help to enhance focus, lower anxiety, improve brain function, and boost creativity, he mentioned some of the performance hacks that have been invaluable to him in terms of sleep, focus, and maintaining a steady state of flow over the course of his day. Greg says that an adequate sleep regimen for him is a must along with probiotics to stay on top of his gut health.
Greg is also a big advocate of time chunking which involves closing off outside distractions in order to focus on one specific item or activity. To this point, Pedram notes in his book, two to three hours is about as much as most people can handle in one sitting.
So imagine being in a place where you are deeply focused and in a rhythmic state of existence. One where you are in a present state of awareness, allowing your productive aims of the day both at work and in your personal lifestyle, to flow effortlessly. In the end, Pedram offers this sage view:
“Life is to be lived and enjoyed. It needs fulfillment and adventure, or else we don’t feel alive.”
In my opinion, Noowave Flow State Coffee is the best on the entire planet. Trust me on this.