The Urban Monk Podcast (general)

When watching the news, do we consciously take into the possibility of a bias in reporting? We might know about media bias, but how are we to take in information if there's a possibility that all the sources have some bias? Today on The Urban Monk, Pedram Shojai welcomes Larry Atkins, a journalist and lawyer who wrote a book, Skewed, tackling media bias. How do we separate agendas from facts? What is the purpose of agenda-driven news? What do the networks get out of reporting beyond the facts? Are there any neutral news sources available?

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Direct download: UrbanMonk049LarryAtkins.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Addiction is an issue that affects many people, but what is the cause of it? Why do some people seem to be more prone to addictive behaviors than others? Do some people really have an "addictive personality"? Well, this week's guest, Maia Szalavitz, joins Pedram Shojai on the Urban Monk to challenge the idea that some people just have an addictive personality to be suppressed or that the brain is broken in some way leading to addiction. If we are to look at the brain as not being broken per se, how should we treat addiction? Maia dives into the topic and opens up about her own history with an addiction to cocaine and heroin. What treatment got her to finally kick her addictions? Is it still a present issue in her life? Does addiction and addictive behavior seem to be more present in certain people than others?

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Direct download: UrbanMonk048MaiaSzalavitz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Religion is an important part of many people's lives. It can provide moral grounding, a sense of identity, and even a sense of purpose. But in recent years there's been a growing number of people that count themselves among those without a preferred religion. Whether atheist or agnostic, large numbers of people are leaving their churches, synagogues, temples, or mosques. But as religion can play a large part in someone's life, what does it mean to have the absence of religion playing an equally large part? To help dive into what it means to form an identity absent of religion, Pedram Shojai welcomes Katherine Ozment on The Urban Monk. Katherine is the author of "Grace Without God" which explores her own journey of raising her three kids in a mixed-faith household and what that meant. How does someone without religion find purpose and meaning?

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Direct download: UrbanMonk047KatherineOzment.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

People have reported in near-death experiences having an out-of-body experience, but is there any science behind these experiences? This week on The Urban Monk Pedram Shojai welcomes someone who actually has personal knowledge regarding Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs). Luis Minero is the President of the International Academy of Consciousness. He's also the author of "Demystifying the Out-of-Body Experience." What are OBEs? What happens and how do they work? Is it possible for anyone to have an OBE? Are they dangerous? Is it possible for your consciousness to leave the body and not be able to return? How is an OBE different from a dream? And is the process teachable to others?

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Direct download: UrbanMonk046LuisMinero.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

When it comes to children, it's important to begin the development of strong motor and sensory skills from a very young age. For adults, maintaining some physical activity is very important, but for children it can be vital in developing proper physical coordination. Today's guest is a pediatric occupational therapist who has been noticing a rise of children coming to her office with issues ranging from poor balance to anxiety, hyperactivity, and emotional fragility. Seeing this on a daily basis, Angela J. Hanscom is a believer in the importance of getting children outside. She discusses the major problems she's been seeing in young children. What is causing these problems? What is active free play? How does that help solve the issues? Why are children nowadays seemingly unlike to participate in physical activity? What motor skills can be underdeveloped if children don't engage in movement from an early age?

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Direct download: UrbanMonk045AngelaHanscom.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

When playing sports, we all want to tap into every bit of energy we can get. How do we achieve peak performance? Today's guest teaches athletes to optimize performance by fixing their mental game. Jonathan Fader is the team sport psychologist for the New York Mets and a resource doctor for the MLB rookie program. Jonathan explains how performance psychology evolved in sports. What is the process of working with athletes to psychology prepare them for a game? Can this process be used by people who aren't elite athletes? Can the right psychological preparation help doctors, lawyers, chefs, and cashiers? What can we do when stress seems to take over and how can we stop a negative dialogue that might occur in our heads from time to time?

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Direct download: UrbanMonk044JonathanFader.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Sometimes some of us may feel completely lost in life with no idea what to do. When we get really lost without a sense of purpose it can really bring us down in many ways, emotionally and physically. How can we go about trying to find a purpose? To help navigate this, Pedram welcomes Vic Strecher, an award-winning professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and author of the book "Life on Purpose." How does he define purpose? What is the difference between finding "purpose" and "meaning"? Do we choose a purpose or does it find us? Vic also speaks about a personal tragedy and how such events can shift what purpose can be. Can having a purpose help make someone more resilient to adversity?

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Direct download: UrbanMonk043VicStrecher.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

We all want to be happy. Seems like a simple goal, but what does that actually mean? Happiness isn't something at all tangible so what does it mean to pursue happiness? Is it even possible to be happy all the time? To help figure this out, Pedram welcomes Kristi Ling, a life and business coach, to discuss how to create more happiness, love, and success in our individual lives. Is happiness something we create for ourselves or do we find it from outside sources? Is being happy a skill we can hone and perfect? What role does our individual biology play in how happy we are?

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Direct download: UrbanMonk042KristiLing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Pedram has been meditating for years and teaching meditation for just as long. It keeps him centered, focused, and helps him manage his stress! To go deeper on the topic, Pedram welcomes Dr. Norman Rosenthal who is an expert on Transcendental Meditation. He's a firm believer in the power of meditation, but he also comes as a research psychiatrist who has woven decades of clinical research with compelling personal stories into a new book titled "Super Mind." How does transcendental meditation (TM) differ from other types of meditation? What does it even mean? What are some benefits from TM? With how busy all of us are, how much time does a person need to be meditation a day to actually get the benefits?

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Direct download: UrbanMonk041NormanRosenthal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:56pm EDT

How aware are you of the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides? When it comes to food, you may be very aware. But what about the use of pesticides on the grass and plants at a nearby park? On this episode of The Urban Monk, Pedram Shojai welcomes three guests from Non-Toxic Irvine, a group that was concerned with the use of chemicals in Irvine, California. The guests are Ayn Craciun, Kim Konte, and Professor Bruce Blumberg. They share their story of how they became organized after they saw the declining health of people in their community. Irvine is frequently at the top of the list for safest large city in the United States, but that's regarding crime rates. It's a completely different story when it comes to personal health and safety against chemicals and pesticides. What was Non-Toxic Irvine able to accomplish? Are others being exposed to pesticides unknowingly in other cities? How can you check? And what can you do if you find out chemicals and pesticides are being used in the public areas near you?

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Direct download: UrbanMonk040NonToxicIrvine.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT