X is for Xīn rú zhǐ shuǐ
Xīn rú zhǐ shuǐ (心如止水) pronounced shin-roo-jrr-shway is a Chinese phrase meaning a mind like still water; tranquillity; to be at peace with oneself.
What does to be at peace with yourself mean ?
“Imagine you are a lake
the surface of the lake changes according to weather ; wind, rain etc
but the depth of the lake
remains always undisturbed
The depth of the lake is your inner state
not dependent on external things”
In the busy world we live in, we all want to find peace and calm among the chaos. As we travel along the journey of life, this search for inner peace challenges us to learn more about ourselves as we continually change and evolve
“Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time.”
Lyndon B. Johnson
In order to be at peace with ourselves, we have to know ourselves honestly. When we seek to live with honesty in all aspects of our lives we are proactive and face up to different challenges along the way concerning how we speak, act or live our lives and don’t seek to avoid the truth because of discomfort or fear or the effort of having to change.
We don’t become honest just because we aspire to it or as a benefit of aging we have to seek it intentionally, nurture and guard honesty at every turn; it is the ‘work’ required to live an authentic life.
Being at peace with yourself is about total acceptance of yourself and all that is within you. It is about liking yourself as a person ‘warts and all’ and being aware of and accepting both your strengths and weaknesses.
People at peace with themselves can still have bad days and can be affected negatively by something and feel afraid, worried or overwhelmed at times but they know that they are experiencing a temporary feeling and have learned to create healthy habits based on personal values and use techniques to defuse conditioned responses (knee-jerk reactions) knowing that we are not our emotions or the things that happen to us.
Those at peace with themselves accept the need to experience the whole gamut of feelings from both ends of the spectrum ; ‘positive’ emotions to flourish and ‘negative’ to keep us grounded in reality and fully experience life but learn to retain peace of mind and a sense of inner peace and calm.
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Eleanor Roosevelt
We don’t become unflappable because we avoid feelings or scenarios, instead we deliberately nurture ourselves and reframe our resistance to increase our resilience to things that might otherwise have a ‘negative’ effect on our lives.
Being at peace is about accepting life as it unfolds without clinging, fear, judgement or resistance. It’s about not allowing yourself to become ruffled but instead being able to draw from a well of inner calm in the midst of chaos.
"Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” Wayne Dyer
How can we become at peace with ourselves ?
Living in the present with gratitude is key to inner peace
“If you are depressed you are living in the past if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu
Our emotions have a direct impact on our lives so understanding emotions can help us navigate life more consistently and effectively.
“Emotions are like the weather – they’re always present and constantly changing. They continually ebb and flow, from mild to intense, pleasant to unpleasant, predictable to utterly unexpected”. Russ Harris
Our decisions are often based on our emotional states so it is important to be able to step back and evaluate them before continuing forward with intention.
“The days that make us happy make us wise” John Masefield.
We can also actively choose activities or hobbies to increase our positive emotional experiences. (Heliotropic effect i.e. humans seek the positive like plants seek sunlight).
“You should feel beautiful and you should feel safe. What you surround yourself with should bring you peace of mind and peace of spirit.” Stacy London
“Peace brings with it so many positive emotions that it is worth aiming for in all circumstances.” Estella Eliot
When we invest in ‘positive’ emotions in a repeated way, it changes the structure of our brain and our responses which in turn changes who we are.
“When awareness is brought to an emotion, power is brought to your life.”
Tara Meyer Robson
We are at peace with ourselves when our inner world matches up with our outer world i.e. our actions match our words. We avoid dissonance when we have thought through and understood our values for ourselves and seek to live our lives in accordance with those values and practice gratitude.
“Values are important because they can guide you and motivate you through situations where your feelings might lead you off course. Acting in accordance with your own deepest values is inherently satisfying and fulfilling – even though it often forces you to face your fears.”
What can we do to retain a central reserve of peace and calm amidst the chaos ?
“The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.” Peace Pilgrim
Under the post “U is for unshakable, unflappable , unruffled” I’ve created a list of 26 A-Z suggestions to help retain and create our inner calm (link again at the end)
"Breaking the cycle takes time. Be Patient and Gentle with yourself. Set long term goals. And be persistent! Remember to Stretch, Laugh and be Unshakable!" Sathya Sai Baba
How our peace of mind can affect others
“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” John F. Kennedy
Being honest with ourselves and knowing ourselves is the first step towards integrity. When we are honest with ourselves it makes it possible to be honest with others. The more we deceive ourselves the more this will manifest in our communication with other people.
“Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace.” Dalai Lama
When we are truly at peace with ourselves and have a calm mind then it is easier to be non-reactive towards others, allowing us to communicate better and create better connections. Instead of meeting stress with stress we can listen to understand and pour ‘oil on troubled waters’ and draw others into our inner calm.
“If in our daily life we can smile,
if we can be peaceful and happy,
not only we, but everyone will profit from it.
This is the most basic kind of peace work.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Some questions to think about/or discuss below:
What can disturb your inner peace ?
What techniques do you use to replenish your reserves of calm ?
If you want to reflect more on this subject, here are some links to get you started:
(Contains an alphabetised list of 26 suggestions)