Mind over Matter

When I did a lot of Buddhist meditation in the past there was the saying “mind over matter.” As an example of “mind over matter” we would meditate for one or more hours – being guided through the meditation not to move any part of our body to the extent that my legs would go completely numb, and at the end of the meditation it would take 30 minutes or more before my legs could walk.

During the meditation it was evident that I was not the only one that found it hard to stay in the same position and not move, and the person leading the meditation would make the point about it being about mind over matter – in other words, if you focus on, for instance, a visualised point in your mind or you ‘followed’ your breath, you would at some point not notice the ‘matter’ – being that your legs had gone through pins and needles, to pain, to numbness.

As crazy as this may seem now, I did this for around 10 years – attended these meditation classes twice a week, and at one point I travelled to Nepal to a monastery to spend two weeks doing this a few times a day. During this 10 years I never experienced a comfortable meditation where I could feel I had conquered ‘mind over matter,’ despite having chats with some of the monks who said keep going, it will come… as in the end my body spoke louder than my mind in showing me that something wasn’t working for me.

I had originally started Buddhist meditation as I felt very stressed, anxious in life, moody, unable to sleep well and tense, and I had sought some kind of nirvana away from those endless stressful and worrying times. And looking back I realise that rather than deal with the stressors in my life, and look at the way I was living, I wanted the meditation to fix something or to bring relief in some way.

These experiences came back to me recently while in a workshop about health and wellbeing at work, and a colleague asked me “what do you feel about the ‘mental toughness/pushing through’ type of resilience that is often advocated in workplaces where the intensity is high?”

Now if he had asked me that 16 years ago, when I was doing the Buddhist meditation, I may have said – “yes there is something in that,” and shared how I did a meditation that advocated a ‘mind over matter’ approach to life. But on looking back at those times, that ‘mind over matter’ approach didn’t work for me.

And, furthermore, throughout those 10 years when I practised the Buddhist meditation, unbeknownst to me at the time, my physical body was getting sicker, as the practice of ‘mind over matter’ somehow gave me permission to ignore my pain, stresses, worries, anxieties and push through with visualisations and hope.

And during that whole time, I never considered, nor was I encouraged to consider, that my life was actually in my hands, and I was the one who could change my daily living choices, rather than seek relief from them. 10 years of ‘mind over matter’ meditation did my health more damage than I had realised at the time.

So my response to my colleague was that we can think that a ‘band aid’ such as a ‘mind over matter’ meditation, or a mental toughness form of resilience may seem as though it has potential, and indeed it may distract us from the root of our ills even further while we try and grasp the concept – but in the end, there is no substitute for listening to our own body and for taking an honest stock of the way we are living our lives, looking at the root of the stressors and strains, and starting bit by bit to make new choices.

On looking back now, one of the greatest things that supported my evolution from the ‘mind over matter’ type approach to life was the Gentle Breath Meditation™ – which is “simply a tool for reconnection through the focus on developing the quality of your breath.” (1)

What also turned my life around was attending presentations by Serge Benhayon who inspired me to realise that the way my life had been based on the choices I had made up to that point, and that the quality of my life and the quality and wellbeing of my body, was in my hands. Fourteen years on from first meeting Serge Benhayon, and from first experiencing the Gentle Breath Meditation™, I can honestly say there is no truth in mind over matter – or mental toughness.

The greatest place one can choose to be is deep within our own body, which I am finding is super supportive for learning how to make daily living choices that no longer have the stresses or strains they once had.

By Jane Keep, London, UK

References:

  1. Unimed Living. (2018). Free Gentle Breath Meditations® download library | Unimed Living. [online] Available at: http://www.unimedliving.com/meditation/free/free-gentle-breath-meditations-an-introduction.html [Accessed 13 Apr. 2018].

Further Reading:
Meditation demystified
The Power of the Gentle Breath Meditation
Who Knew Meditation Could Be So Simple

793 thoughts on “Mind over Matter

  1. The mind over matter meditation I have experienced certainly offered some relief from the constant chatter in my head and also greater awareness of what my body was feeling, but with absolute disregard for the messages from the body. Mind over matter is more of what has become normal in life, the prioritising of the mind over the body.

  2. “…… the person leading the meditation would make the point about it being about mind over matter …… you would at some point not notice the ‘matter’ – being that your legs had gone through pins and needles, to pain, to numbness.” A great way to describe the ostrich with its head in the sand!

  3. “The greatest place one can choose to be is deep within our own body”. I am learning this as well Jane. I am on a 6-week online Esoteric Yoga class which helps me be in my own body and I know that might seem strange for some, but I do find it hard to be in my body (even though I live in it 24/7!). The presenter said at one point, let your body hold you, drop into it and it was a real A-HA moment…..I often feel like I am holding my body and need to support it, and it changed on that day as I realised on a deeper level how my body can support me – beyond the standard knowing of legs, lungs etc…..and it can really hold me as well.

  4. There are meditations that help us acquire what we want and they deliver, but this is working at a level that does not take our deeper health issues into consideration – in these medications – whoops, meditations – do we realise what we are connecting to? and do we expect we can have what we want through chanting or supplication and not have to pay for it, that the energy exchange of chanting might not be enough? And if it is, what kind of energy are we chanting in, in the first place?

  5. Jane I agree with you that once I found this deeper place within my body I experienced a stillness that was like nothing I had experienced before. This is now my guide or marker as I interact with life, if I go into to anxiousness then where or when did I leave my stillness. I stop, feel and reconnect back, I have found that the stillness within me is so profound that I don’t want to do anything that would harm the feeling. This then gives me the space to bring awareness to everything I do or say. This is a completely different way to live life and one that I prefer over anything else I have experienced in this life.

  6. Once I experienced the wonderful Gentle Breath Meditation it exposed all the other meditations, and there were many, as being totally devoid of any honouring of the body. The encouraging to get your mind to ignore that “your legs had gone through pins and needles, to pain, to numbness” defies all logic, as how can putting the body through this severe discomfort be of any benefit at all to any part of the body; a body which matters deeply, always.

  7. It seems that with some meditations, if you are uncomfortable with the positions then you are regarded as simply not having achieved a certain stage or state of enlightenment yet, which some could take as a failure or a rejection of all the hard work and discipline they have dedicated to that craft. When, it could perhaps be said that in fact if you feel uncomfortable in your body in those positions, then your body is being the honest voice, which is actually very beautiful as this can cut through all of the illusional ideals about what it is to be ‘enlightened’.

  8. We are masters of convincing ourselves that we are fine and now have a natural way of being that is so much less responsible for our own health and wellbeing. Mental toughness is part of what we have championed to get to this place so I agree, I am not a fan any more.

  9. Resilience makes me shudder…the idea of trying to push yourself to suffer physically and mentally and have the exterior presentation that you do not care or that you are tough enough, misleads us into ‘thinking’ that we are not harmed. We are sensitive beings and not observing that something really feels like to our body is so harmful and has long term disastrous effects.

  10. There is so much going on in the fitness world that is so completely mind over matter and going through the pain barrier and all that goes with that as well, but if we are able to connect, truly connect with our bodies and address whatever emotional issues we have as well, would we still need to put our bodies through so much punishment?

  11. I specifically remember using the Gentle Breath Meditation and focusing on being in my body to help me fall asleep, something I had once upon a time found difficult. It absolutely worked as it focussed my mind with my breath and with my body – no room for other worries or random thoughts and stories when you are with yourself in this way.

  12. I just had a little experiment, to go into my head and try to make my mind rule my body, I realised and appreciated how weird this felt, and I say weird because prior to learning and practicing Esoteric Yoga it was very normal for me to speak and therefore move without any real awareness of my body. Being in my body and feeling my movements is something that is very steadying and supportive – in every situation and circumstance.

    1. I fab experiment and great to be aware of how our bodies are one whole and not separates parts, lead by our head; the arm, hand, foot, heart all have an equal place and purpose and we can feel so much when we open up to that. And in the feeling we can begin to honour ourselves more deeply and with love.

  13. Hilarious it is.
    We came into planet earth because we created ourselves in this physical (this material) form. And then when we are in that ‘matter’ we try to not feel it -to avoid feeling our own creation.
    It is important that we honour and love our body in every moment so as to build a solid foundation to bring the love we are through.

  14. The mind does matter, but not without matter being its equal complement, as in truth they are one and cannot be separated, or should they be separated by choice, arrogance and ignorance, we lose the oneness and find ourselves fragmented and lost in the pieces that no longer make sense.

    1. It is true we must not make the mind a ‘bad’ thing or place, but we must bring the whole body perspective, rather than consider one more powerful than the whole it is from….this can be understood from a macro or micro level.

  15. We shouldn’t let it get to a point where our body is suffering and this is our normal, but in our global approach to food, sleep/exhaustion and abuse we let the standard slide of living a vital and fulfilled life.

  16. ‘…my physical body was getting sicker, as the practice of ‘mind over matter’ somehow gave me permission to ignore my pain, stresses, worries, anxieties and push through with visualisations and hope.’ This is a great sharing, Jane as it exposes what we believe is good practice or ideal practice for a healthier life when using mediation. Not all meditation is the same and clearly not all meditation is good for you.

  17. I can really relate with this as I am sure many others can ‘And looking back I realise that rather than deal with the stressors in my life, and look at the way I was living, I wanted the meditation to fix something or to bring relief in some way.’ in that instead of being honest and asking myself why exactly are we exhausted, tired, angry, depressed, frustrated, resentful, hurt, sad etc I completely avoided this and looked for something to make me feel better!!!!!! Mmmmm even simple common sense tells me now that if these things aren’t truly addressed then the ‘feeling better’ is going to be not true and superficial. And I would have seen myself as a reasonably intelligent person but clearly when it came to this not so intelligent! It was not until I met Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon that this common sense was brought back and reflected to me in that we need to be honest and address what is there. It is funny (or maybe not so funny) that the many so called supportive tools for us out there are all to do with the mind .. meditation focusing on the mind, mindfulness etc like what about the rest of the body? The heart maybe?

    1. I have never looked back since Serge Benhayon presented on how our body knows the truth of everything and is the greatest barometer in daily life, it knows what is needed – we simply need to be willing to listen to it.

  18. It is true that we can focus our mind to master overcoming and ignoring the messages from our body. Yet what does this offer us in terms of evolution? Mind over matter is a the willful ignorance of using the mind to disregard reading and feeling the quality of energy that is behind, or has created the matter to be. Yet it is only through the awareness of what quality we are being moved by how we feel in our body, that then can willingly align to being moved by the quality of our Soul and live and reflect the power of who we truly are.

  19. “… looking back I realise that rather than deal with the stressors in my life, and look at the way I was living, I wanted the meditation to fix something or to bring relief in some way…” This is key, as if we don’t deal with the issues that create the stressors, like dig deep and ask those seemingly difficult questions of Why? whatever we get into, and think it solves the issue, eventually, in one way or another the unresolved issue surfaces again.

  20. In the education system the mind is considered king, with little attention paid to the physical. – and if that is so it’s often about competition and no real connection with our body – that we take everywhere with us in life.

  21. “The greatest place one can choose to be is deep within our own body.” Yes, the more I stay with my body the more connected I feel – not only with myself but with others – and the universe.

  22. I lived the majority of my life in the arrogance of the matter doesn’t matter, the mind I king. But we live and breathe in a body! Of course, it matters! And there is no escaping that the body will show every choice made in life. Many of my choices did not come from the wisdom of my body. So all those times I pushed my body too hard thinking I was being healthy – running that extra mile, I am now feeling the harm of. It’s listening and letting my body take the lead that heals it because it does know what it needs. I am learning to listen again and trust. To think the mind knows when it is working not in connection with the body is a fallacy.

    1. It is quite a state of illusion, and delusion even, to think and live believing the body has no relevance when it comes to living and being fully present here in this life, I can vouch from experience. Yet begin to cherish and honor the body and its communication and a whole other way of living and being comes to life where living with connection and power takes on a whole new meaning, naturally reflecting a consistent quality of lightness and love.

      1. Well said Carola – “It is quite a state of illusion, and delusion even, to think and live believing the body has no relevance when it comes to living and being fully present here in this life” – I too can vouch for that as I got very sick by ignoring my body, denying and burying issues, and running around in my head e.g. ‘mind over matter’. Since reconnecting with my body and learning how deeply intelligent the body is, though giving my body a say throughout the day I truly benefit – as do those around me as the quality of the way I work and live far excels the lack of quality I had when I was running around in my head.

  23. The Gentle Breath meditation was for me also the start to truly return to that inner stillness in me, that stillness that always already was there but was overshadowed by the continuous doing to become better or to achieve a goal.

    1. For me too – the gentle breath meditation enabled me to connect more deeply with myself – and my inner stillness. I find Esoteric Yoga to be so valuable too – such a practical tool to then take that stillness out into my everyday living.

      1. It is worth more then gold when we came back to that stillness within and therefore we have to appreciate and value the modalities initiated by Universal Medicine for the ‘more then gold’ that hey bring into peoples lives.

  24. I too did some meditations in the past that asked me to sit in uncomfortable positions an at times took a long time to carry on but never ever brought me to my inner stillness that I came back to in only a few minutes at my first trial of the Gentle Breath Meditation.

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