Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter


‘Peaceful Warrior’: Facing Your Demons, With Help From Socrates

posted by donna freitas

Peaceful Warrior“–the movie version of the novel, “Way of the Peaceful Warrior,” written by former Olympic gymnast turned bestselling author Dan Millman–hits theaters up and down the West Coast this weekend. (Over the course of June, it will make its way East as well. To watch some clips from the movie, click here.)

As a former serious gymnast myself, I was impressed with the fact that “Peaceful Warrior” faces head on the fears–both real and psychological–that gymnasts struggle with, especially as they move higher up the competition scale. Olympics TV broadcasts often glorify gymnastics, sensationalizing the extreme disappointments and the exciting and unexpected successes (especially of the women), but fail to truly explore the mind games competitive gymnasts face on a regular basis. It is not uncommon for gymnasts to conjure up all sorts of demons regarding especially difficult moves, as is the case in the movie, where viewers are privy to the nightmares Dan (the main character) has about his routines on the rings.

I remember vividly the fears I associated with particular flips on the beam; with the enormous concentration needed for vaults; and with hitting the spring board just right, to get enough height. I remember playing these moves over and over in my mind, imagining myself crashing in all sorts of horrible ways–in a manner similar to the visions Dan has of himself falling from the rings and mangling his body.

In my case, as the mind games got overly intense and the fears grew too enormous to withstand, I eventually quit. Yet the plot of “Peaceful Warrior” turns instead on Dan’s chance encounter with a man at a local gas station whom he learns to call Socrates (played by Nick Nolte). Socrates teaches him how to quell the demons with Eastern philosophy and a range of Zen meditation techniques (which sometimes come off rather “Karate Kid”-like).

Through Dan’s relationship with this mysterious man who doles out wisdom left and right–such as, “You are not who you think you are”–to a confused and, at first, resistant Dan, Dan learns to master his fears, become the moves of his routines, and overcome a potential identity crisis involving the loss of his Olympic dream and his future as a gymnast. The movie is ultimately of the inspirational genre, yet rather than have it turn on the simple theme of “the comeback,” it explores the notion of becoming spiritually centered as foundational to the possibility of a comeback.

Be warned: Viewers may cringe at the inevitable and rather corny allusions to “The Karate Kid,” as well as the familiar, cliched philosopher-sage advice continually emerging from the mouth of Socrates. (It gets a bit over the top). But the way the film develops the relationship between becoming spiritually centered and finding success in life–particularly in sports (and most specifically, gymnastics)–is intriguing nonetheless. The story is sure to have athletes, both former and current, reflecting on their own self-conjured mind games and demons, and whether Eastern philosophy and meditative practices might be helpful in conquering these common psychological struggles in the world of competitive sports.



  • http://EckerdCollege DR FRANCINE DENNIS-MCCAULEY

    Your review was very appreciated, as I have read the book; since we are in the East, the movie version has not yet appeared here; can it be purchased on DVD? As a former gymnast (Olympic level, 1956 (Melbourne, Australia) I still, (nearly 70 years of age) can Go Back and Feel the Pain and Glory of special moments in gymnastics. My husband Lanham still listens to ‘my stories’ when our family get-togethers occur… Looking forward to seeing the movie and thank you so much for the review. Sincerely, Francine>

Previous Posts

Focus on the Family Makes Another Winner
While many films focus on outlandish extremes or make believe, it is refreshing to know that films like “Irreplaceable” are made, by Focus on the Family, to help change the world and bring light to real issues that we face on a daily basis – both directly and indirectly. May 6, 2014 “Irre

posted 12:42:52pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

The JESUS Film Celebrates 35th Anniversary
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkv7R5twZE0[/youtube] The original JESUS film has transformed millions of lives in many of the most remote areas of the globe. Since its theatrical release in 1979, the original JESUS film, re-mastered and re-titled The JESUS Film in honor of its 35th annive

posted 2:47:07pm Apr. 07, 2014 | read full post »

Mickey Rooney Passes at 93
Mickey Rooney, born as Joseph Yule Jr, passed away April 6, 2014 at the age of 93. Rooney was a well-known actor and entertainer. He has one of the longest careers of any actor, spanning over 92 years. Rooney began as a child actor and was making films for ten decades - from 1920 - 2010. Until his

posted 12:07:38pm Apr. 07, 2014 | read full post »

Another Legend Announces Retirement
[youtube]http://youtu.be/H9eYkpgeeI8[/youtube] After 32 years and 6,000 episodes, David Letterman has decided he will retire at the end of his contract with CBS in 2015. “(Les) and I ... we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance a

posted 9:14:52am Apr. 04, 2014 | read full post »

Kate O'Mara Dies at 74
Actress Kate O'Mara died Sunday, March 30, 2014 in a nursing home in Sussex due to a short illness. O'Mara is best known for her role as Cassandra 'Caress' Morrell on the 80's show Dynasty. The actress appeared on Dynasty for two seasons before parting ways. O'Mara made appearances in several

posted 12:16:13pm Mar. 31, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.