Willpower. The power of the mind. The invisible force guiding our lives. Are you harnessing yours?
Fulfilling our potential and creating the life we want takes a bit of work.
Work on understanding ourselves. Work on how we relate to others. Work that might not be easy. It takes dedication and practice.
But we have the power to create the life we want. For the power is all in our minds….
“It’s all in your head”… something often said to dismiss lots of useful things — like intuition and our imagination. Our mind is also responsible for psychosomatic illnesses, the fascinating phenomenon that is the placebo effect. And yes, yes it is.
There lies the opportunity.
Watch this a mesmerising experiment by Derren Brown that beautifully demonstrates the power of the mind.
This isn’t magic. No one is pretending it is. It’s the power of subliminal suggestion, almost-invisible cues, body language, the power of will and of belief..
Our mind’s power in action…
What we believe, what we imagine, what we feel and what we will to be, really does affect our outcomes. All things that are “just in your head”.
Which is why identifying what you want and what’s holding you back is all-important. For the power to live however we want is inside us already, waiting to be found and released.
Say a word to two different people and why do each instantly come up with different associations? “Mountain”, for example, to one person means majesty and adventure, to another means cold and insurmountable. It’s our unconscious that creates the difference.
As shown in Derren Brown’s experiments, subliminal unconscious signals and beliefs have real influence.
These unconscious signals can be formed in the here and now, but they were also engrained in our emotional brains before we could talk — hence these influences become a deeper part of our subconscious. They are so deep and hidden they become automatic to us.
Subjective fears, dreams, memories, our interpretations of reality… all are examples of our subconscious emerging.
Unconscious brain activity happens when the brain is at rest — brain scans show that when we daydream or switch off from the external environment, quiet parts of the brain come to life.
This happens during REM sleep, meditation, creativity and when we’re not thinking but listening to our intuition.
Unconscious brain activity also happens when our brain is very much alert, as part of our automatic survival system.
We can watch how this survival system responds to threats (both perceived and real) to our physical safety, and also to our emotional safety. When we are aware of and in charge of our emotional selves, there can be little real threat to our emotional safety — we are in fact safe. But often it doesn’t work like this.
Instead, our powerful subconscious mind hijacks our reason, and triggers an ancient survival strategy that was seared into our emotional brain — and we respond accordingly. Often not to our benefit.
This experiment shows how the brain can’t tell the real from the imaginary.
When the brain detects a threat it thinks is real but isn’t, we auto-react in the same old ways, in keeping with what is our imagination of how the world is and the threats it contains.
In this way our subconscious limits us.
Such is the power of the mind that we are starting to learn how it can heal — heal itself, but also how it can even heal the body. The scientific evidence for the link between the mind and the body is compelling.
Dr David Hamilton, a former chemist at Astra Zeneca, brilliantly explains the research into the power of the mind to help heal the body.
Fabrizio Benedetti, a neuroscientist at the University of Turin School of Medicine and who runs the most advanced placebo research lab in the world, demonstrated this power in an experiment with Parkinson’s patients.
He showed that dopamine was produced in the brain of Parkinson’s patients and their tremors were reduced — merely by placebo injections.
Placebos have been shown to work as well as painkillers. Viagra is called Viagra (not Floppy) for a reason… (to conjure images of Niagara, in case you’re wondering). And the vagus nerve, which connects our brain to our body, has been shown to be connected to cancer — high vagus nerve activity is linked to lower cancer progression. And how do we increase our vagus nerve activity? Exercise, yoga, meditation and practising compassion… That is, through the power of the mind.
Emotion has a direct effect on the body. We know this from seeing our hands shake when we’re scared, from when we can’t sleep from worry, or from when our stomach is upset before we fly or do a public speech
Stress increases free radicals and weakens our immune system; kindness decreases free radicals and so strengthens the immune system. Evidence shows how the love hormone oxytocin softens and enlarges our heart’s arteries.
Evidence also shows that in relationships where there is more kindness, love and affection, there is also less hardening of the arteries. Soft on the outside, soft on the inside (and vice versa)… It works both ways.
The emotions are powerful beasts. Beasts that can ravage or nurture our bodies. It’s up to us to harness that power — by recognising and feeling the negative emotions, then letting them go and cultivating the positive ones.
Most of the time we harness our conscious brain. We apply our conscious thoughts, those we are aware of, every day. We use logic and reason. They are more easily identified and controlled.
It’s our real emotions and the stuff of our subconscious that is harder to identify — and so harder to either heed or ignore.
But imagine what we can do if we harness all our faculties of our mind – both conscious and subconscious. Our limits start to fall away.
Luckily, where there’s a will there’s a way — by psychotherapy, creativity, meditation, exercise, writing, workshops, dreams — or a combination of all of these — we can let the unconscious beliefs at work in our life gradually emerge. And start releasing the power of our entire mind.
So, what do you really believe about your self and your mind? And what do you will to be?
Are you ready to find out?
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