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Mind Over Matter Is Not a Healing Concept

Mind over matter is a phrase that is used to describe the phenomena of being able to control our physical bodies or physical conditions by using our mind. Some refer to mind over matter as using your will to overcome physical limitations. Many athletes, sports and outdoor enthusiasts, and even reality TV participants demonstrate this idea of pushing the boundaries of ordinary human experiences. There are even health regimens that advocate enduring unusually extreme physical conditions such as outdoor winter workouts to gain control over one's body systems. In many cases, people actually intentionally cause themselves suffering by pushing themselves to their physical limits. The key premise of mind over matter is control, but control has little to do with healing.

Mind over matter is not a healing concept. It is a mistake to compare the experience of those suffering with a health condition to those who believe that there is virtue in suffering, or those who go out of there way to experience it in order to achieve some sort of goal. When we attempt to use our mind to overcome an obstacle, or we are doing it for fun, excitement, or simply to challenge ourselves, we know that any suffering that may arise is only short-term and has an end in sight. For those with health conditions, particularly chronic or long-lasting conditions, there is not always a known end in sight to suffering. This is why it is important to not compare the experiences of those trying to surpass normal human experiences through mind over matter with those who are trying to heal and recover from a health condition. They are not the same thing. We don't need to push our minds or bodies to the edge of endurance, nor do we need to fight or battle what ails us because it isn't helpful to heal.

Healing is not about enduring suffering. It is about easing suffering. It is about becoming whole. It is embracing the idea that the mind and the body are not separate entities. You can't ignore what your body is telling you. Mind over matter implies that you can and should always push a little harder, even at the expense of your body. Healing is about becoming aware of your body, learning how to listen to your body, and responding to your body's messages in a way that is caring and empathetic. It is about learning to tolerate the sensations and emotions that arise. Oftentimes, it is about knowing when to rest and relax; and, therefore refraining from overdoing.

An aspect of healing involves learning how to change your mind to affect change in your body. This is not about trying to control your experiences. The limits that your brain has put on your body as a result of having a health condition can be altered through learning how to change your mind; however, changing your mind is not the same thing as mind over matter. Changing your mind involves becoming aware of your thoughts and thought patterns; repeating positive affirmations and positive statements; releasing false beliefs; and, understanding and experiencing how your thoughts actually impact your body.

Those who use extreme activities to feel good often do so because they get a natural high off the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine and other feel-good chemicals are increased in a variety of other safe and gentle ways. How can you feel good or help yourself to feel better when you are healing? Hugs, exercise, and music all have been shown to stimulate the brain to release dopamine. Touch (i.e. therapeutic massage) is a proven, simple, and gentle way to help the immune system halt or slow the progression of disease; diminish symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression; reduce stress; and, induce sleep.

Ultimately, healing is about being good to yourself. It is about learning to care for yourself in the most compassionate of ways. It is about keeping things simple by reducing stress and tension. It is about easing your suffering and not adding to it. This means not comparing yourself to anyone. Healing is uniquely your own experience. It is important to find ways to feel good without putting more pressure on yourself. Begin by letting go of the idea that you have to control your body or that you have to battle what ails you. Go easy. Go gently. Healing is a process.

Copyright © 2017. Sylvia Carlson. All Rights Reserved.

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