When the phrase “inner peace” comes to my mind, one of the first things I can imagine is a scene in Kung Fu Panda, where Master Shifu is sitting on the floor with his eyes closed and legs crossed while calmly chanting “inner peace” to himself. Or, I’d visualize an image of the Buddha (also known as Siddhartha Gautama) as a popular depiction of this universal concept.
Oftentimes, inner peace has been associated withZen Buddhism - the practice of self-healing through meditation and stillness. Inner peace can be understood as a mind, body and soul that is free from any worries, desires, and/or anxieties mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is a psychological state of being in touch with the present moment (the here and now), through “acceptance, forgiveness, love and compassion.” This can simply mean letting people, places and situations exist as they are without the need for control.
As humans, it can be challenging for us to just “let things be,” when we all have goals, ambitions and desires that we want to achieve. However, sometimes we need to re-evaluate our circumstances to see if we’re capable of taking on more responsibilities than we already have in our own hands. Or else, it could all lead to total burn-out!
Now, that isn’t to say we shouldn’t continue to push through challenges or step into untapped opportunities for further growth and improvement. But, there needs to be an equal balance between our everyday lives (ex: work, family, society) and our spirituality (ex: mind, body, and soul) so we can live freely and overcome worry, self-doubt or stress.
Well, how can we do this? Let’s start by taking a look at how wuxia depicts inner peace, and how we can adapt it in our everyday lives.
Stillness in Motion: The Wuxia Way
While there are many wuxia stories (ex: Chu Liuxiang, The Wanderer Chronicles, to name a few) that emphasizes chivalrous martial arts heroes and warriors, behind these physical aspects of the wuxia hero lie a certain degree of stillness and serenity. While these heroes are equipped with strong fighting abilities and superpowers that can be used to defeat enemies and those perceived to cause harm to the community, inner peace in wuxia is like tranquility in motion.
This is typically demonstrated with martial arts and meditation being used as a form of self-expression, and a method of balancing one’s mind, body, and soul. It also becomes a driving force for deep spiritual development and empowerment for characters in the wuxia world.
Martial arts styles and practices are commonly practiced by characters in the wuxia world as a spiritual way of finding inner peace among the chaos they may experience outside of their control. Such martial arts styles are unique in a sense that they can encourage practitioners to focus more on the internal practice of breathing techniques to generate a solid flow of “qi” throughout all parts of the body, while also calming the senses so they feel more relaxed and controlled.
These practices demonstrated in wuxia are cultivated in a sanctuary-like setting that is considered “sacred or holy” for worship like a temple, or expressed in open and closed environments (i.e., an open-forest or private training room) where individuals can find their peace and quiet alone.
For me, during the summer I like to take a yoga mat outside my backyard and sit somewhere under the shades and practice meditative breathing techniques. It not only makes me feel more relaxed, but it certainly helps ground my energy with nature and the smell of fresh air!
Finding Inner Peace in our Everyday Lives
Wuxia stories and their attention to themes like inner peace shows us how we can settle down our busy and hectic lives. Although we may not all be martial artists with specialized skills, we can learn to channel the inner peace that can be found within martial arts philosophy and practice through movement of the body, meditation or engaging in self-care / feel-good activities. In today’s world, what inner peace means and where it takes place is going to differ for every person.
Although it may sound like a broad and abstract concept, I think each and every one of us has our own ways of defining inner peace and cultivating it differently according to our needs and abilities. Because of our rich personalities and our need for deep emotional connections with other living beings, we can’t always shut ourselves out from the world and neglect social interactions!
Inner peace is an experience that can definitely go beyond a person just being by themselves in a quiet room, to a person being surrounded by supportive friends and family members who bring out the best in them.
In other words: where do you find yourself most at ease? Who would you also want to share those moments with?
Some may find inner peace by surrounding themselves in environments where they need physical activity or the company of people (i.e., the gym, catching up with friends at a restaurant). Others may prefer more closed and private spaces for deeper reflection and introspection like the library or at home.
As long as the activity can help detach us from our usual routines and give ourselves time to recharge (alone or with others), we can create a more balanced lifestyle that helps us reflect and appreciate every moment in life each day.
What does inner peace mean to you? We'd love to hear more in the comments below this article!