Mind Over Matter
People are beginning to understand to be healthy or heal themselves, they must do something that is good for them everyday. It’s not enough anymore to only act on taking better care of oneself when you’re already sick.
Being stressed out and physically compromised can not be the baseline if we want to eliminate down time and enjoy robust and healthy life styles consistently.
The expression “We are what we eat” has been used extensively to describe how what we put in our body is what becomes us. It is a good analogy to describe that what we eat has a direct consequence on our health and can’t help but to be affected by it.
A much less used but also true philosophy is: “What we think becomes us”. Just as true in it’s abstract – ideas, thoughts and feelings are what make each persons reality. In essence, the world and it’s contents are the same but only change within each person’s and or group’s perceptions, thinking and conditioning.
Those thoughts, just like the foods you eat, can either reinforce your position or put you at a disadvantage in dealing with the outside world. Many a times you’ve heard someone say “mind over matter” when dealing with something that is particularly difficult. From enduring physical pain, to dealing with mounting pressure from a challenging person or situation – often, just the words “mind over matter” can fortify you to continue and complete the task at hand.
Where did the expression “mind over matter” come from?
What does it mean?
Maybe it means – if we mentally block something out then it won’t affect us.
Or maybe it means – what the mind perceives is what is manifest.
Or, more simply, that we can overcome most things with positive mental application.
Certainly this saying, which was coined in the earlier part of the last century, didn’t mean then what it means now but certainly it has an element of self-empowerment that implies that whatever you think is possible.
Most goals that are set forth require physical action to initiate and complete but they all have one thing in common, they start in the mind.
So does mind overcome matter?
In the early 1900s there was some parapsychologists who’s studies claimed that physical objects could be moved and sickness could be cured with mental focus.
Certainly we won’t be discussing telekinesis here today or curing ourselves with pure mental power but perhaps these studies were on to something…
Since human physical action starts with a mental process this would indicate the state of our body is directly affected by our mental state.
Now I’m not sure where you live, but most people live in urban environments now and city living has a way of spreading us thin. It takes a heightened state of awareness when you live in proximity to 3 million people. In Chicago, just like many other cities, establishing a career and making a living (two different things), cultural activities and social engagements, supporting family and sifting through the populous to hopefully connect with significant people can amount to whole lot of physical and mental activity.
Our bodies have to move us through this environment and since all of these activities are personal in nature they will certainly have a direct effect on us personally. With so much focus on the external it is not always easy to recognize the tension we hold in our body in anticipation of those activities, as well as the residual tension that remains after.
The mental and physical exertion that is spent during the task is very often still occurring even after the task is completed!
That’s right, the mental activity after the activity is over is like an echoing in your subconscious not so unlike the lingering echo of a roar from a sporting event in an empty gymnasium after the game is over.
The physical activity has been completed, the game was played and finished – win, lose or draw – how many times will you think about the outcome? How will those conscious thoughts effect your body? How about the subconscious ones? If your mind is playing the same scenes over and over again, is it possible your body is also holding the same tension as it would during the activity?
When we feel mentally and physically exhausted we call it “being stressed out” Our body gets fatigued from the result of that same tension. It’s our body’s way of catching up to our mind in that we can become physically tired in the presence of an excess of mental noise.
Mental noise is a result of having many activities going on at once that can overload our stress threshold and create unwanted tension and anxiety. We have an inner monologue that tends to repeat like a recording or a broken record. Thoughts or ideas that are unresolved have a habit of resurfacing and repeating themselves.
It’s like a never ending conversation that sometimes lasts all day and even prevents us from falling asleep. From the moment we wake up the voice inside our head is constantly analyzing details about the decisions we make, our circumstances, material possessions (or lack of) and social situations – the list of items of possible mental monologues, both positive and negative in nature, are astounding!
Inner monologues can have either a positive and reinforcing quality or a negative and destructive quality. It’s the negative and destructive ones that tend to lack any resolution and cause the most stress.
Sometimes the unresolved thoughts repeat in a sort of never ending loop that can create unwanted anxiety and that lack of peace of mind can prevent you from resting both mentally and physically. The presence of mental noise can disrupt your peace of mind and the unwanted physical tension it produces robs you of energy reserves that could be better used somewhere else.
So how can we quiet the mental noise and release some of the physical tension it produces?
Below is the first part of a of some easy exercises that can be performed virtually anywhere to alleviate some of the mental noise and physical tension.
The methods are a compilation of exercises developed from my martial arts experience, many Dale Carnegie, Landmark and related empowerment seminars, Thai massage training and ongoing education in holistic physical medicine.
Ok – when I started writing this post I didn’t plan on creating some corny method with a catchy acronym! However, I did realize that it gives me a good format to deliver the informational in a way that’s easy to remember and understand. Also I feel that bringing awareness to a problem is helpful but often raises more questions and confusion. Offering a plan gives people answers and an initiative immediately.
So here goes… The C.O.I.N. Method gives you a clear method of defining what’s important to you and accomplishing those goals by being consistent and organized.
Before you rest at night, come to a quiet place where you can sit and write for 5-15 minutes. In this short time you will perform the first part of the Rare Coin Method which is to Clearly Organizing your Intentions Now (C.O.I.N.).
In your journal or organizer you want to list all your to dos by priority for the next day, week, month and year out. You may find that the first time may take a little longer if you aren’t used to organizing your to do lists with four time lines because you find out that your list is pretty big! That’s ok because if you do this for 5-15 minutes per day you will get pretty organized with your intentions and your goals will be more present and accounted for as you proceed.
During this 5-15 minutes you should be listing the things that are the normal priority to dos like paying your Visa bill, submitting the production reports, emailing your school buddy you haven’t heard from in a while, picking up the dry cleaning or going to a family function next spring. As you proceed daily – your lists will be more organized by priority, work/personal, short term/long term things you’ve always intended to do but never have time to do because you’re always to busy. Check out an example after only a couple of days of “Clearly Organizing Intentions Now (C.O.I.N.) just 5-15 per day:
Now is a time to really think of yourself… Go crazy! – If you’ve always wanted to go skydiving, go back to school or just take a bottany class, see an upcoming concert or broadway show, travel to Ireland or try a new local restaurant – now is the time to start planning them.
There should be room on your to do list for rewarding yourself for getting the to dos done especially the ones with the highest priority or ones that you’ve been putting off for so long.
There should also be room for intangible items such as getting along better with family members & difficult coworkers, understanding the nuances of ordering red wine, dealing with anxiety when talking in public and any other thing that may be a source of anxiety.
There are web tutorials, youtube videos and these things called “books” on just about any subject we could have trouble understanding. Overcoming anxiety is within your grasp – if something makes you nervous chances are you have very little understanding of how it works. If you look for some insight and practice some diligence to reach some understanding this builds confidence which helps you be more comfortable with things that used to cause anxiety. Put them on your list!
You will have become organized because your to do list will have clear and organized intentions that will help you obtain things that you want. The items that you are interested in doing but never did because you didn’t have time or means to do them – will be more accessible
By no means am I saying that writing to do lists everyday is going to get you more money to do the things you want. It’s the intention and what you prioritize as important that will motivate you to include them on your list – and find ways to get them done!
Making your goals realistic and attainable are the first steps in completing anything important the next step is do it efficiently. You will start to see the long term annual goals start moving to the month to do list and then the week to do list and then to the list of to dos for the day and before you know it – the goal you set for yourself is accomplished!
Another thing to consider. When your intentions are clear and organized then the chores and events on your list are now more settled in your mind. You have given the activity over to a compartment we will call “organized intentions”
The beauty of organized intentions is that once they have been expressed, organized and listed – they are now compartmentalized. There is a priority on a time line to complete each one. You have effectively given your worries over to a clear plan that will be executed according to the priority you have given each task and in essence cleared your mind from them for now.
It’s the end of your day and you have created a place where you can put your burdens down. The compartment of organized intentions is there so you can rest easier knowing that your tasks will be manageable when you pick them up again tomorrow.
Can you imagine how much mental noise you have just eliminated? Would you feel more settled knowing that everything that must be done is now organized with intention and set aside temporarily?
I would say that cutting the mental noise down by compartmentalizing your intentions into an organized plan can allow you some peace of mind in the present moment. Resting after a long day is now more likely in this state. Reducing mental noise gives you the opportunity to listen to your body and give it needed rest from physical tension created by the mental activity.
My intention was never to sit and write an instructional on how to write lists, manage your time or set goals for yourself. This actually is the first part of my series on understanding the weight that mental noise bears on your peace of mind and how it effects your physical state by creating tension. Having a place to organize your intentions that frees yourself of some mental activity can give your body a chance to rest, which allows you to recover and heal more quickly, eliminate pain, sleep better and hopefully improve your quality of life. This is one thing that can be done to improve mental health with just one practical application of mind over matter.
Please click the “Opt In” link below to get the second and third parts of the Mind Body & Spirit Series and hear the rest of the Found Rare Coin Method.
Do you need this?
There are some who might contend that their quality of life is good – good health, good mental noise (positive and reinforcing), good career, good family life and relationships… but is it really as good as it can get? Can it get better? There are always tools to make life better – and there’s always more that one way to proceed. There is no “best method” but only methods that you decide are most effective for you.
I’m sharing The Coin Method with you because you have shown interest in my past blog posts or have an interest in understanding practical therapeutic practices. It is my hope that one or more of these tools can be useful for you or someone you know now and for the future.
You may already be using an effective organizational technique to keep you sane and motivated. If that’s the case then get a high five! The important item to take away from this article is that once your tasks are filed and organized there is less to fret over – you have mentally put them down until it’s time to pick them back up again. You are now present in the moment to do other things like be with your love ones, enjoy a leisure activity with out thinking about anything and get some needed rest.
With an abundance of perpetuating factors such as mobile media, a constant bombardment of marketing, social pressures and physical health issues to name a few – the level of noise can be deafening.
You may have a good way of managing your peace of mind but maybe you know someone who doesn’t deal with stress so well. It’s ok – we all feel a little out of sorts at times. For those times when the stress creeps up, it’s good to have a method to stay organized and defend yourself from it.
Coin Method can help. Quieting some mental noise makes it easier to reach a sense of peace of mind which gives your physical body a rest. Other things that can create mental noise are discussed in the segments that follow.
If you feel that any of these concepts are practical and could be useful for someone you know – please forward this to them. They will be grateful for your concern.
“A bird is always grateful for a stable place to land in a storm”
It’s just a question of lighting the runway for them.
The Found Method explores building the spirit of connection to people and processes by improving function and allowing healthy integration.
O.ther Peoples Noise
U.nderstanding Relative Consequence
N.avigate With Compassion
The Rare Method discusses releasing physical tension by focusing on body awareness.
A.ccess Isometric Contraction
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There is no need to convince you that Coin Method or the others that follow are effective because I’m not selling them. The goal is to increase awareness of self care with practical holistic methods. The leading source of chronic illness is due to stress and what we will primarily discuss are practical methods of dealing with stress through integration.
My thought is that if you are interested or you know someone who it could benefit – then this discussion will remain interesting to you. If not – then be at peace and thank you for reviewing – your comments are appreciated and welcomed below.
The second and third parts of the series will follow if you opt in or comment on the links included. The following articles are designed to empower the user by sharing practical methods to get some long term mental clarity and physical health benefits in the spirit of raising overall function.
Having peace of mind makes us calm, self-sufficient, strong, and able to to help others by example.
I am happy to hear that you may have already used some or all the methods contained in this series because you know that they can make your life better. Practicing good habits creates consistently positive results. Putting it all together is the most challenging part of many people’s lives. Being aware of how the mind integrates with the physical to increase overall function is the key.
The methods described are not a far stretch by any means – they utilize common sense and practical planning to have positive impacts on the user and the people in the users immediate circle of influence. By integrating good mental habits – we make a step in the right direction to create a self-healing space for ourselves.
In the spirit of building yourself up – it’s important to understand how the mind and the body are connected and have direct effect on each other.
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