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Stuck in your own funk shui?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SCAD chapter.

Through countless pages of self-help books, online seminars, and episodes of celebrity therapy; I have no idea how to find my f—king zen. I decorate my house with odds to balance and create flow. I smudge negative energies with sage and white candles for purity. I even blew $100 on a crystal sex toy to promote healing, vitality, and serenity—still no zen.


In the midst of my art history class and near mental break (despite popular belief, art school is hard), I was introduced to the theory of wu-wei. I’ve heard of this theory before, but I shrugged it off. For some reason, the second introduction to this eastern philosophy stuck. Those who are just now being introduced, welcome to the world of wu-wei.  

Wu-wei literally means “do nothing”, nada, not a damn thing. Easier said than done right? Being introduced to wu-wei in the middle of my hectic life is like telling your best friend to move on from a two-year relationship in an area experiencing a tinder drought. Its not logical. If anything, its more confusing and frustrating than the negative or stressful experience you’re avoiding or over analyzing.


It seems counterintuitive. Doing nothing when I have EVERYTHING to do, how is that possible? Wu-wei is meant to stop someone from trying to control forces they cannot control (i.e. weather, traffic, partners, etc.) When you allow things to flow naturally they fall into place. They may not do it the way you image or in the time you think is needed, but it happens.


Recently, I experienced an apartment fire where I lost everything but my wallet, pajamas I wore to bed, my lizard, and backpack. While standing on the street as I watched flames consume the building I called home, I did nothing. What could I do? Of course I called 911 and the fire department was there, but I was forced to do nothing. In that moment I laughed, maybe to keep myself from crying, or maybe because I finally understood wu-wei.


As someone with high functioning anxiety to “do nothing” is a death sentence. To allow things to go with the “flow” (and what the hell is the “flow” anyway) is terrifying. The need to control is stronger than anything. Sometimes letting go is the best way to deal with things.


When things are falling apart they’re really falling together. We often panic and make rash decisions because its in our nature to grasp onto something when it seems like complete and utter chaos. In the same art history class that introduced me to wu-wei, I participated in a group essay entitled “comforting chaos”. You cannot have peace with out chaos, nor comfort without discomfort.


In other words, the only way to experience the good in life is allowing the bad to happen. Not to encourage unfortunate events, but when they happen let them happen. The lesson is not in the actual act, but how you react. If you’ve failed to learn anything today, know that the best reaction is no reaction at all. 

Title Image courtesy of artist Paige Bradley

Stephanie is pursuing her B.F.A. in writing at SCAD. She has a passion for controversial menswear and loves buying clothes before trying them on.