Monk Day

I’ve been trying to be a part time monk. I’m not very good at it but here is what I am learning.


I have trouble sitting still. I find myself checking my phone often.

But things are different on Wednesdays.

For the past couple of months I’ve been doing a new challenging experiment that I call Monk Day.

Here is the basic framework of how the Monk Day challenge works:

  • Tuesday evening I completely turn off all my computers and devices. Thats right- I hold down the power button and completely turn off my iPhone, my iPad, and my laptop. I put all these devices, and my car and motorcycle keys out of sight in the corner of my room.
  • On Wednesday morning I get up at the way-too-early hour of 5:40 AM. I get dressed and try to specifically choose clothes that do not have any name brands on them. Instead I choose a simple brown T-shirt. I then ride my bike over to a local monastery where there are a number of monks who do morning prayers and have mass.
  • After the prayers in the morning I enjoy spending a leisurely breakfast eating with the monks. It’s fun.
  • During the rest of my day, I try to have a simple and peaceful day. I don’t allow myself to work. I don’t use my car, or my motorcycle. I walk or bike around town to get to where I need to go.
“Its pretty amazing how having one day a week without any technology can bring such additional peace and clarity to your life”

There are a few things that I have been learning after doing Monk Day for the past couple months:

  • It’s challenging: I feel the little urgings to check my phone. I have trouble just sitting around during the day. I want to just get in my car and quickly drive to where I need to go.
  • It’s hard not working: As a startup guy I find myself working all the time it seems. Giving myself permission and not allowing myself to work on Wednesdays has been harder than I expected.
  • I feel better on Thursdays: It is amazing to see how much clearer my head is and how much more enthusiasm I have for my work after having one day of being completely unplugged
  • It can be a little boring: Sometimes I just get a little bored. I realize I probably wouldn’t be able to be a very good real monk. Also I think that monasteries have lots more chores and things that need to be done to keep the monks busy. Go harvest the potatoes Brother Dave!
  • I better appreciate my stuff: I have so much nice stuff. A car and my computers and my iPad and iPhone. After not using these devices even just for one day it increases my appreciation for these blessings. We live in the future.
  • Women are beautiful: I’m not sure I could ever be a full-time monk. During Monk Day it’s especially easy to get distracted by beautiful women. It really feels like all the girls got extra dressed up up on Wednesdays for some reason.
  • Monks are pretty cool: I feel that can appreciate monastic life a little better. It’s interesting after so many weeks of having spent one day a week with the monks, I am starting to begin to understand their personalities a little bit. I can start to sense their likes and dislikes and it’s interesting to be able to really see how within a community you have to be loving and understanding to all different types of personalities. I’m sure if you lived in a monastery with other brothers for 12 years you would definitely know eachother well. All the ups and downs.
  • I’m now trying a Monk Hour: I am trying to take a few things from Monk Day and apply them to my daily routine. I now take a Monk Hour where I turn off all my screens for 60 minutes every day after work from 5pm until 6pm. Its working pretty well and helps me try to set a boundary between work and home.

I’m learning that I’m actually not really that good of a novice monk. I would probably get fired-if that was their thing. A few wednesdays I have slept in. And recently as I begin using Airbnb more frequently I feel like I need to check my phone so that I don’t mess up my response time ratings on my profile page.

But what I am really learning is that it is important for us to unplug-really unplug-from time to time.

(They aren’t on FB, they are just reading their prayers)

Challenge

So go ahead, give it a try if you would like. Experiment with detaching from your devices and stuff. Maybe try a Monk Day for yourself. Saturdays might work better for you. Or maybe just try a Monk Hour after work.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with the hashtag #MonkDay to share with me how it went, would love to hear about your experiments.

And may you have a peaceful day.

UPDATE: Check out Yosef Silvers take on this where he practices Shabbat and doesn’t even use money. Props Yosef.

photo credits: pic of Br. Jim from franciscansusa.org and monks reading prayers from franciscanfriars.com