Google the phrase “warrior archetype,” and you will find magnificent stories of gods and goddesses from many cultures and traditions that highlight personal qualities inspiring us to thrive in the face of challenges. Warriors don’t simply fight; they show courage, strength, and perseverance as they take a stand for what they know to be true.
The journey to discover inner peace is a ruthless one that requires the qualities of the warrior. This post defines inner peace and explains why warrior qualities are needed, and the next one will expand on the specific virtues that help us walk the path to peace. The starting point is the longing to be free, to end the inner war with our own experience that brings us stress, confusion, and dissatisfaction. When we are finished with the futility of old habits and want to know the truth more than anything, we are ready for the journey; we have become warriors for happiness and for peace.
The Inner War
The inner war is perpetuated by resistance – that is, not wanting to feel the way we feel, not wanting people to do what they are doing, not wanting events to occur as they are occurring. Resistance wants to rewrite our personal histories and ensure that our plans materialize. When we resist, we are locked in to what we want and are not open to what life is actually offering us. Our mottos are “no” and “not this.” We then react internally with physical tension, frustration and despair, and a mind spinning with opinions and justifications. We go on to resist these reactions by minimizing them, avoiding them, or wishing they would change. Does this sound familiar?
There is only one kind of peace, which is inner peace. Why? There is no “outer peace” because we are not in charge of the circumstances of our lives. We cannot design the world to our liking or even control our own thoughts and feelings. Peace is not to be found in any temporary arising; that is, anything that comes and goes, which includes events, people, objects, thoughts, emotions, etc. If we stake our happiness on things that are temporary, what happens when they appear or disappear? There goes our happiness. This truth begs the essential question: Do you want passing happiness or enduring peace?
The Way to Inner Peace
Peace is revealed to us when we stop resisting what we experience. It is an invitation to live in the “Yes!” Here’s how:
- Turn your attention inward to the emotions and physical sensations that you are experiencing. This means you are not focusing on the events in your world or on the mental stories running in your mind. You are being conscious of your own inner experience. Even if your inner experience is resistance itself, be curious about meeting it directly.
- Welcome these experiences with friendliness, curiosity, and allowing – just as they are. They might be painful feelings or subtle tensions in the body. Notice every single thing about them so that you see them completely.
- Recognize any beliefs you have about how things should or shouldn’t be. Realize that feeding these beliefs sustains resistance to what is. See what feeling is driving them, and receive the feeling as is in your loving awareness.
- Repeat #1, #2, and #3 any time a reaction arises in you. Learn what it feels like to be alienated from yourself, and use this feeling as a signal to wake up and be attentive to what you are experiencing.
This is it: inner peace! As acceptance becomes a way of life for you, no matter what events happen or what you feel, you are at peace with your experience. You are receiving it in openness, allowing it in rather than pushing it away.
Sounds easy? Well, not always. Some of our habits and reactions are so highly conditioned that they seem to have power over us. We tend to hold on to what we are familiar with, even if it doesn’t serve us. What is needed is the way of the warrior – a longing so strong and so all-encompassing, that resistance burns like a holy fire. The next post describes the warrior qualities – maybe just what you need to get out of a rut, open up opportunities (and your heart), and view the world through fresh eyes.