Author and pastor Erwin McManus’s new book, The Way of the Warrior: An Ancient Path to Inner Peace, tries to show readers how to best find inner peace.

The 60-year-old founder and Lead Pastor of Los Angeles-based church Mosaic sat down with uInterview exclusively to discuss his approach to faith and tranquility, and how the idea for his latest book came about.

“I was driving through Hollywood and I literally heard this inner voice say to me, ‘the warrior is not ready for battle until it becomes peace.’ And I leaned over to my wife and said, ‘I know what my next book is [going to be] about,’ and I think a huge part of it was [the fact that] I live in a city with thousands of gifted artists who are so talented and they would be considered the cream of the crop,” McManus explained. “Overwhelmingly, they’re paralyzed by fear, anxiety and stress. I’m meeting 22-year-olds with panic attacks, 25-year-olds who are on medication because they’re so stressed out by life.”

He continued, “I realize that a huge cultural dilemma right now is that we have so much opportunity and freedom but what’s happening inside of us is that we feel overwhelmed by life and paralyzed by opportunity. We’re even at a point where we’re almost suffocating internally.”

McManus, who said he “doesn’t believe” in religious ideas, also stressed he believes world peace cannot be achieved until inner peace is found first.

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“I believe in truth and truth resonates with everyone whether you’re a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Muslim or Christian or an atheist or agnostic,” McManus said. “If something is true to the human spirit, it resonates.”

McManus also revealed he drew from his experiences with stress and anxiety as a child to write his new book. He said he was 12 years old when he visited a psychiatrist for the first time, and that he was “in and out of a hospital” at this moment in his life.

“A huge part of the book is actually the realization of my own personal journey that we need to address issue like depression and anxiety and fear and worry and all of these internal turmoils as real,” McManus added. “We need to stop downplaying them or pretending they don’t exist or acting like you should just get over it at the same time I don’t want us to live with despair thinking you have to stay there you have to live like that and so I feel like a part of my contribution I can make to the world is I’ve known despair and now I live a life full of hope.”

McManus — who has been married for 35 years and has two children, a 30-year-old son and a 27-year-old daughter — said he was also influenced by the arts and pop culture. Specifically, he was inspired by two of his favorite films: Seven Samurai and Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon. 

After describing how he has struggled for years to control his emotions, McManus offered one piece of advice for anyone who wishes to find inner peace.

“One of the strategies that I give in the book is, ‘look you don’t actually have to spend money on this. You don’t have to pay me or anyone else,” he said. “All you have to do is get up in the morning and find something to be grateful for you’ll begin to lubricate the part of your brain that’s creative imaginative and will create a better future.”

You can buy Way Of The Warrior below:

Full transcript of interview below:

Q:Why did you want to write a book about inner peace?

A: I was driving through Hollywood — I live in Los Angeles and I was driving down Vine — and I literally heard this inner voice just say to me, “The Warrior’s not ready for peace.” I mean, the Warriors not ready for battle until you have to come to no peace, and I leaned over to my wife and I said “I know what my next book is about” and I think a huge part of it was I live in a city that has thousands and thousands of gifted artists. They’re so talented and they would be considered the cream of the crop and overwhelmingly, they’re paralyzed by fear, anxiety, stress. I’m meeting 22-year-olds with panic attacks and I’m meeting 25-year-olds who are on medication because they’re so stressed out by life. I realized that a huge cultural dilemma right now is that we have so much opportunity, we have so much freedom and we have so many things working in our favor but what’s happening inside of us is that we feel overwhelmed by life. We feel paralyzed by opportunity. We’re even at a point we are almost suffocating internally and I want to deal with the issues of inner peace. I think part of the problem in the world is that we keep trying to attain world peace, but you cannot have world peace until you attain inner peace.

Q: Are you interpreting religious ideas for a mass audience?

A: I really don’t believe in religious ideas to be perfectly frank I believe in truth and truth resonates with everyone whether you’re a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Muslim or Christian or an atheist or agnostic. If something is true to the human spirit, it resonates and I think often time we actually paralyze ourselves from finding the things we need most because we’re afraid to afraid to violate the beliefs we hold most dear.

Q: How did you struggle personally with these issues?

A: I always would joke that I was an overachiever in neuroses. I was 12 years old when I visited a psychiatrist for the first time I was in and out of a hospital and during that period of my life I had all kinds of internal struggles I had nightmares I had night terrors I went years without me having a full night’s sleep I began to disappear into an imaginary world I really felt disconnected from the world around me and I feel like i had the emotional psychological tools to face reality so I began creating my own internal reality. It’s a huge part of the book is actually the realization of my own personal journey that we need to address issue like depression and anxiety and fear and worry and all of these internal turmoils as real. We need to stop downplaying them or pretending they don’t exist or acting like you should just get over it at the same time I don’t want us to live with despair thinking you have to stay there you have to live like that and so I feel like a part of my contribution I can make to the world is I’ve known despair and now I live a life full of hope I know what it’s like to not be able to sleep at night and not want to get up in the morning and now I know what it’s like to see beauty and wonder all around me and to feel fully alive to know that life is worth living I’ve had too many friends who’ve ended their lives and too many people who had this internal narrative of ending their lives and they look go good on the outside but inside everything is falling apart and I think the advantage I have i I don’t have to just try to empathize to understand I know exactly what that feels like.

Q. Why did you focus on the idea of the warrior in the book?

A: Well for one I’ve always been enamored by the romanticism of samurai culture and know my favorite movie of all time is the Seven Samurai and I love Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and so I’m gonna be really honest I am affected by art and beauty and story and I am not immune to that kind of romanticism but I felt there’s a huge difference between the kind of warrior that we write stories about and the violence that we have all around us in the world so I wanted to reclaim language because alot of times a person can look like they’re powerful but actually what’s going on is they’re powerless when a person responds with anger or rage or violence that’s actually an act of powerlessness it’s not an act of power and one of the things my kids have always told me that when I was young I had an out-of-control temper I was the guy that would punch walls I struggled with rage and anger and I’ve been married 35 years and my wife has never seen me lose my temper. My son’s 30 my daughter’s 27 and they always telling you how have you achieved this level of zen in your life and I said no the reason is because my internal world is stronger than whatever external world I face and it’s not that I don;t experience the same emotions that you experience is that those emotions do not have mastery over my life and so I use the warrior language because I want to tell a person when you’re fighting these internal battles that’s the most heroic battle of your life it’s gonna take incredible courage to have inner peace. Peace does not come accidentally, you have to fight for your peace and that’s why I used the warrior language.

Q: How do you get in control of your mind?

A: One of the things I had to grapple with when I became a person of faith because I grew up religious and I’ve never seen a bible and really never knew anything about Jesus or anything like that well was some of the concepts people assumed were so self-explanatory. So in the bible actually says to take every thought captive and I’m like how do you do that it’s impossible you’re not even aware of all the thoughts you’re thinking in fact you’re not even aware your conscious thoughts much less your unconscious thoughts. I mean how many thoughts are you having that you’re not even thoughtful of. And then you’re suppose to take these thoughts captives and I realized that it’s not about micromanaging your thoughts. When I was youngerI read this writer who said it was not the raindrops that drove him to madness but the space between the raindrops and when i rad that at the age of 20 I realized that’s me. I’m being driven to madness by the spaces in between the raindrops and now I realized that my internal frameworks actually become a filter for my thoughts If I live a life of gratitude it’s amazing how it filters out all the thoughts would make me ungrateful when I chose gratitude that filter in all the thoughts that allow me to se beauty and wonder although the images and the impress to see how I’ve been loved and accepted and where I have opportunity and possibility. I mean gratitude is just one of those filters and it’s interesting now neuroscience is and this is how it was described at this neurological center they said that gratitude is the lubricant of the brain when a person is grateful it absolutely lubricates the brain when a person is ungrateful it rigidify the brain and so when you’re ungrateful it actually paralyzes your brain from seeing opportunity from seeing possibility from seeing a future and a hope. And so one of the strategies that I give in the book is look you don’t actually have to spend money on this you don;t have to pay me or anyone else. All you have to do is get up in the morning and find something to be grateful for you’ll begin to lubricate the part of your brain that’s creative imaginative and will create a better future.

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