Everybody knows about the power of the mind.
It should be completely obvious that the human mind is amazing!
Well, maybe not. Just what the hell is the ‘power of your mind’ anyway?
Just why exactly is the human mind so damn amazing?
The point of this article is to inspire you with 25 examples of just what the human mind is capable of and how vastly it separates us from other animals of this planet.
So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.
You probably never gave much thought to voodoo before.
Like me, you probably regarded it as hogwash – if you even considered it at all.
But the shocking truth is that voodoo is real! There are many documented cases throughout history of people dying from “curses” placed on them.
Take for example the 1942 case of a Maori girl who died within a day of eating a piece of fruit – after she was told it came from a ‘taboo place’, directly forbidden by her tribal chief!
It’s not so hard to believe – when you think about it.
All these cases are due to the “nocebo” effect. This is essentially the evil cousin of the placebo effect. That is, inert substances invoking negative reactions through the power of suggestion and expectation.
So it’s quite possible for somebody to die just from being told that they’ve taken a deadly poison. Or in this case, told that they’ve been cursed. There’s been a fair bit of investigation into the nocebo effect in recent years. In fact, this study concluded with the sage words:
Words are the most powerful tool a doctor possesses, but words, like a two-edged sword, can maim as well as heal.“ - Bernard Lown
Everybody loves a decent Tibetan monk.
Romanticized by western cinema for their mind-boggling superhuman powers, the truth of the matter is that these exaggerations are actually rooted in reality!
In fact, the power of these monks’ minds is so honed - their awareness so great - that they can increase the temperature of their bodies by their minds alone! Documented evidence exists of monks being placed into a 4 degree room (pretty damn cold), wearing nothing except sopping wet, cold blankets and being able to increase their body temperature to 38.3 degrees (a moderate fever)!
They do this via a little known practice called Tummo – or Inner Fire Meditation.
Some scientifically minded souls have claimed that the temperature increase is partially a function of the ‘forceful breathing’ that the monks perform during the exercise.
Nevertheless, in no way does this detract from the achievement! We don’t see guinea pigs wearing freezing cold wet blankets and doing forceful breathing to train their minds, do we?
Practically nothing makes me want to throw up and run away more than the thought of swallowing a sword!
But nothing provides a more classic example of the ability of the mind to control the body, than this nerve-wracking art!
You may have thought that sword swallowing was a magic trick – somehow something that’s “not real”.
Well, it’s just as real as everything else in this article. That is, 100% real and scientifically verifiable.
Sword swallowing is a learnable skill that any human being can learn, with enough practice, determination and mastery of their own mind. Find out how here.
Just for the record, I don’t recommend it. You’ll probably kill - or at least disembowel - yourself!
I can’t think of much worse than being buried alive. You probably can’t either!
But the power of the human mind is such that it is able to master its instinctual reaction to panic - and not only calm the body down, but slow the heart rate until it's barely detectable!
Yogis absolutely love being buried alive!
Again, you’re probably calling bullshit at this point, but I was able to find dated studies that verify this. The powers of the Indian Yogis were studied in detail by an intrepid bunch of scientists who travelled throughout India in the 1950s with “an eight-channel electro-encephalograph and accessory instruments to record respiration, skin temperature, skin conductance, and finger blood-volume changes”
“According to Hoenig's report, a pit some two by three by four feet was dug on the institute's grounds and covered with wire meshing, a rubber sheet, and cotton carpet. [...] The yogi was confined for nine hours. When he was released he immediately walked about the grounds, according to Hoenig's firsthand account, and demonstrated athletic feats including a headstand with his legs in the lotus position. [...] Lyengar's heart rate gradually slowed from 100 to 40 beats a minute in recurring twenty- to twenty-five-minute cycles. [...] From these records, the experimenters concluded that their subject lay motionless and wide awake, without the active cognition that would have reduced or eliminated his alpha rhythm. Iyengar said he had maintained the shavasana, or corpse pose, using ujjaya breathing while remembering the names of God - Hoenig, 1968
Can you imagine a dog - or any other animal - being buried in such a way and not only surviving but emerging to do head stands?
Such is not only the power of the human mind, but questionably the sanity of the human mind, that examples abound of folk who have taught themselves to defy all aspects of pain and self-preservation!
This is the second entrance of monks into our list. This time not Tibetan, but Chinese! Shaolin monks in fact – the very best form of fighting monk that you can find.
Some shallow-minded sceptics attempt to debunk these death-defying feats with all kinds of scientific malarkey, such as the force of the hammer strikes being deflected away from the body when the blocks break! I’d like to see these same sceptics attempt these feats themselves!
The fact of the matter remains that these are incredibly impressive feats and a testament to the power of the human mind.
A very similar phenomenon was also observed in Jack Schwarz.
This man was forced into a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. To block out the torment of his dire situation, he constantly practiced meditation and prayer. After his release, Schwarz continued to develop his mind power skills.
He would demonstrate by putting a long sail-maker’s needle through his arm without injury! He also possessed the ability to regulate his blood flow by causing the puncture hole in his arm to bleed or stop bleeding at will!
Schwarz was studied by researchers at the Menninger Foundation who found that he could indeed control many of his bodily processes with only his mind. Furthermore, through an electroencephalograph, they determined his brain had different electrical activity as compared to most other test subjects.
There are some things around us that you might have taken for granted. Not that I’m making any accusations.
Some human achievements that have become common place in our modern world are actually breathtakingly amazing, when you take them in perspective – and a testament to what the mind is capable of.
Just look at the road system. There are 2.4 million miles of roads - in the United States alone!
And approximately 18 million miles worldwide!
Given that mars is a mere 33 million miles away, this is mind blowing!
Considering this infrastructure is (for the most part) carefully designed, planned and executed to the highest structural standards, such organizational achievement speaks not only to the power of individual human minds, but to the mind of our collective species (do we really have a collective mind?).
What kind of mind power could create so many fucking roads?
But, let’s not talk further about roads. Let’s talk about a really amazing example of the phenomenal power of the human mind.
When you ask yourself "how powerful is the mind?", consider this:
Most animals are content to stay – if not on the ground – then at least in the atmosphere of our planet.
But the human mind is not content with our own planet!
Did you know that for the last 18 years, there have at all times been at least 6 human beings floating above you in space?
The International Space Station is possibly the most incredible testament we have of the power of the mind to create amazing things.
You think it’s just sat up there floating? This thing is constantly travelling at 5 miles per second! In other words, it orbits the entire planet once every 90 minutes!
And you think that thing was just launched up into space like a hot air balloon? No, the ISS was built in space – assembled over by over 80 missions over a period of 12 years.
What do you make of a species that can organise themselves across 16 physically and culturally diverse countries to design, assemble and launch something made of millions of minor components? 16 nations collaborated to build the ISS at a cost of $120 billion dollars!
It is as great a political achievement as it is a scientific and technological one. There were so many reasons why the ISS project should fail, but serious enduring human mind power saw it through!
You’re probably thinking: oh no this guy is going to tell us about the pyramids now– we already know about the pyramids!
Stop right there.
Pay attention, because I bet your bollocks to a barn dance you don’t know quite how amazing the great pyramid is.
The Great Pyramid is significantly different to any of the other 80 odd pyramids scattered around Egypt. It is also one of the oldest, dating back around 4500 years.
Far from being just a giant pile of old rock, the great pyramid is the most accurately constructed building ever completed by the human race. The shear accuracy of its design make the empire state building look like a toy.
Let’s do the stats.
Best estimates (you can’t see through the pyramid to know exactly what’s in there) suggest there are 2,300,000 stone blocks weighing between 2-30 tons each with some weighing as much as 70 tons.
Then there are the 144,000 casing stones - all highly polished and flat to an accuracy of 1/100th of an inch. These cases stones weigh about 15 tons each and have perfect right angles for all six sides.
What’s more scary is that the base – being 230 metres long, is flush to within an inch!
Can you fathom the level of mind power required to design, plan and build such a construction to such accuracy. It is estimated to have taken 100,000 men more than 20 years!
And don’t forget, the great pyramid was not a tomb! No mummy has ever been discovered in this pyramid. The ‘tomb theory’ is as unconvincing as any of the other explanations. Bare in mind that many features of the pyramid are completely unexplained - such as the hidden ‘star shafts’ that terminate in corroded copper rods.
(hint: If you look at its design, any engineer reading this will recognise it as a machine!)
Imagine waking up one day to find you had been set the task of connecting two countries together. Countries that were separated by 23 miles of water.
The scale is almost unimaginable.
To generations, it would remain nothing but a dream. A fantasy.
Yet, vision, courage and government funding were able to harness the power of the human mind to make this a reality.
This tunnel is literally amazing. At 250 feet deep and 6 years in construction with a team of 13,000, this was one major digging project.
Think about that next time you’re complaining your back hurts when you’re digging up your petunias!
Not only that, but the trains that traverse it are 775 metres long - the same as eight football pitches!
The human capacity to endure and persist through times of hardship is no doubt a marker of our minds - and our spirits.
In fact, the ability to deal with failure and suffering is such an integral part of the human mind that Nietzche considered it essential to fulfilment.
“To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities — I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not — that one endures.”
- Friedrich Nietzche
You may have heard of Nelson Mandela. But who was he anyway?
Mandela was imprisoned by the forces in control of white South Africa in 1964 for his acts against the apartheid government of the time. This leader had the power of mind to endure 27 years in South Africa’s notorious Ruben Island prison.
In fact, Mandela went beyond simply enduring. Not only did he survive 27 years of harsh prison treatment, but he rallied the inmates and peacefully petitioned for improved conditions within the jail.
He secretly wrote a memoir called “Prisoner In the Garden” and buried it in the prisoner’s vegetable patch inside a plastic bag. When it was discovered, as punishment, his studying privileges were revoked and he was only allowed one letter every six months. Doesn’t sound that bad? I can imagine that could crush the spirit of some mortal men.
After being released Mandela went on to become South Africa’s first ever black president and abolish segregation in that country.
Now let’s not forget good old Gandhi himself. We’ve all heard of him, but what exactly did he endure?
This dude went to prison 13 times over a 34 year period, for his anti-government antics.
Many would be tempted to get just a little disheartened over that. Perhaps be tempted to give up entirely. In direct opposition to his Pavlovian instincts to simply stop and hide in the corner, Gandhi forged onwards tirelessly towards his goal.
The power of Gandhi’s mind allowed him to endure adversity and eventually win India’s independence from British rule.
It just goes to show – you can’t keep a good dog down!
Did you know that Edison failed an estimated 10,000 times over the course of 2 years before finally inventing a commercially viable light bulb?
His response to such failures?
- Thomas Edison
It’s pretty inspiring to see what the human sprit is capable of in the face of adversity.
Let’s see what these folks achieved, despite the odds being overwhelmingly weighted against them.
No article about the power of the mind would be complete without a section on Einstein. But do you know what this dude went through before he came famous?
Einstein didn’t even speak until he was four years old!
His elementary school teachers thought him lazy and dull! Bored with the strict and uncreative teaching methods, Einstein could not flourish in such an environment.
Even after leaving school, he went on to fail the entrance exam to university. Then a year later - when he finally did succeed – he would frequently skip class. After graduating, he couldn’t even find a decent job, because none of his teachers would write him a letter of recommendation!
Yet Einstein never allowed this adversity and opposition to overcome his belief in his own ideas. Due to the power of his mind Einstein went on to get a job at a patent office and whilst working there write 3 world-shattering scientific papers at the age of only 26.
He was awarded the Nobel prize for physics and went on to be instrumental in ending WWII.
At home in the ocean her entire life, surfer Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a shark at age 13!
Not only did she return to surfing a month later, but went on to become a world champion – with only one arm!
You would think that the preservation instinct of the human brain would kick in and drive Bethany away from the ocean for ever more. But not so: she was able to use the power of her mind and bold determination to overcome her fears.
Now that’s mind power!
There’s no better example of someone fighting against the system - in the face of adversity - to bring his vision to life than good old Walt Disney.
Walt had a pretty rough start in life. All his siblings gradually ran away from home, due to his overbearing and abusive father.
Bankrupt at 22, after his first failed company - and with only $40 to his name – Disney went on to be fired from a newspaper for not having original ideas!
Continuing his attempts to bring his vision to reality, he had a short burst of success with a character he called Oswalk The Rabbit - yet Walt went on to have the copyright and his entire studio of workers swiped from under him by his distributor!
I’m telling you a lot of people would give up there.
But not Walt Disney. This man went onto create 81 feature films and win 48 academy awards, whilst leaving a legacy of some of the most entertaining and memorable children’s characters ever conceived.
A popular hero, Lance Armstrong deserves the utmost respect and should go down in any record of folk known for facing and defeating adversity.
Nothing could be more crushing to the human soul than being told that you have testicular cancer that has spread to your brain, lungs and abdomen.
But refusing to give in, Armstrong went through 5 months of intensive drug therapy. Being declared cancer free, he then went to not only build back up his ravaged body but win the Tour De France 7 consecutive times.
Armstrong’s mind refused to give in, no matter the cost!
You have to admire Hawking.
Diagnosed with a horrible disease called ALS at age 21, Hawking gradually lost his ability to walk, to speak and then to move at all. He was not expected to live past 25.
Once the disease had fully set in, he was unable to communicate at all - except through a special voice computer activated by the muscles in his cheek!
Just being in such a dire situation would be enough to finish many people off, but Hawking refused to give in. In a true testament to indomitable mind power, he not only survived the disease – but went on to author some of the most influential scientific theories since Einstein – with his cheeks!
Everyone has heard of Beethoven.
But not everyone knows what he endured and overcame.
Despite a tough upbringing, Beethoven mastered the piano and became a popular pianist and composer at any early age. However, at the age of 30 he started to become deaf!
Can you imagine having your life’s passion taken from you in that manner? Like a soccer player losing his legs, or a snooker champion breaking his fingers.
But Beethoven refused to give in, despite the seeming futility of the situation.
He went to such extents as cutting the legs off his piano, to allow him to place his ear against the ground as he played – so he could hear the notes through the vibrations!
Beethoven went on the compose some of the greatest symphonies of all time – whilst as deaf as a doorknob.
A true testament to the power of the mind to overcome adversity, Beethoven left us with these inspiring words:
“I will take fate by the throat; it will never bend me completely to its will.”
Arguably the single most inspiring thing about the power of the mind, is that we all have the ability to take an idea and turn it from nothing - merely an idea existing in our own heads – into reality.
Take Oracle founder Larry Elison.
This sage individual embodies the “American Dream”. Using the strength of his powerful mind, he went from being dirt poor to one of the richest men in America.
Born in the Bronx to a single mother and working odd jobs for 8 years, after dropping out of college, Elison had the idea for Oracle in 1977 at age 33.
He went on to use his mind to take this idea from nothing into an enterprise that monopolises the database industry and owns the technology that runs Facebook! Now that's a powerful mind!
Google has gone way beyond ‘just another search engine’.
In fact, the word Google is now synonymous with internet search in general. I’m not sure how I feel about teaching my kids to ‘go Google’ something – but this is exactly what I say!
It hasn’t always been this way. Google started out as nothing.
It was merely an idea in the heads of Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
Using nothing but the power of their own minds they took this idea through to reality and proceeded to dominate the entire Internet and create some of the most ambition applications in the history of mankind.
You’ve probably heard tale of the power of your mind to heal yourself!
Of terrible diseases suddenly disappearing – purely through will power.
Did you ever give any thoughts to whether these tales were true? You probably just disregarded them as bullshit.
But not so.
The placebo effect for example is well known and well documented!
Many now believe that the placebo effect is getting stronger as years go on. This seems doubtful, but it demonstrates the extent to which the scientific community has now embraced the placebo effect.
To be honest, I reckon sometimes you are better off taking a placebo than modern drugs!
In her book “Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body”, Jo Marchant disbands with any hint of quackery and looks at the matter from a scientific perspective
“I met a transplant patient who drank green, lavender-flavoured milk to suppress immune rejection of his donated kidney. That sounds crazy, but it was part of a trial investigating how we can train our immune systems to respond to sensory cues such as taste or smell. This works through classical conditioning, where we learn to associate a psychological cue with a physiological response (such as when Pavlov’s dogs learned to salivate in response to the sound of a buzzer). Similarly, if you take several doses of a drug that suppresses the immune system, subsequently taking a placebo triggers an identical response, even though it contains no active drug – and regardless of whether you know it’s a placebo“
Taking the theme of our minds’ ability to control our bodies even further, is this fascinating study on breech babies.
In 1994, Lewis Mehl studied 100 pregnant women with breech babies. Under hypnotherapy, these women were encouraged to trust their bodies and nature to restore their babies to the proper head-down position. 81% of the babies of those hypnotized reverted to head-down, compared to 48% of those not hypnotized.
Simply by being told to “trust in nature” the problem in most solved itself. Whereas those told ‘this is a problem’ experienced a problem.
The perfect example of the power of belief in action!
The power of faith must not be under-estimated either.
Nobody is going to be able to offer up a scientific explanation for this case, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real!
Let’s look at the mysterious case of Stamatis Moraitis. This aged Greek war hero was in his 60s when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and given jut 3 months to live. Note that this diagnosis was confirmed by 9 individual doctors. Moraitis declined invasive treatment and simply retired to the little Greek island of Ikaria. Here the dude simply relaxed, reconnected with his faith, worked hard in his garden and lived a traditional life. He went on to live a happy life until age 103 - his cancer had completely disappeared!
Given we’re a site all about lucid dreaming, it would be remiss of me to finish off without reminding you about the power of our minds to dream!
Just as incredible as anything else in this article, is the power of the mind to control its own dreams!
And just like everything else, lucid dreaming is scientifically verified.
It truly is a testament to the level of self-awareness that humans have, that we are actually able to control what we dream about!
And anyone can teach themselves to lucid dream!
Have you ever seen a tiger in the clouds? How about Jesus in the gnarled bark of a tree - or Richard Dawkins in a coffee stain? This peculiar quirk of human psychology goes by the rather lovely sounding name of Pareidolia (say: pah-ray-doh-lee-a). Many great scientists have pondered the origins of this trait. The simplest explanation is an evolutionary one: being able to detect predatory faces and figures amid background noise gives you a greater chance of surivival.
Members of our lucid dream forum have been asking how to create dream characters in lucid dreams. The most common problem is having characters who look nothing like they should. Or they seem disinterested in your company. Or they fail to show up on command altogether. So, how to combat this? It's a matter of finding creative solutions that bypass logical expectations.
To lucid dream, I recommend being able to remember at least one vivid dream per night. That will boost your self awareness in dreams (making lucidity more likely) and also means you can actually remember your lucid dreams. Which is nice. Here are four detailed tips on how to remember your dreams more frequently. And if you don't think you dream at all - trust me, you almost certainly do. It takes an extraordinarily rare sleep disorder to deprive someone of dream sleep.
Virtual reality is upon us. Shipping of the Oculus Rift began in April 2016. Vive launched in June. And Playstation VR breaks loose in October. These mind-expanding technologies are bringing interactive virtual worlds to gamers everywhere. But did you know that you already possess a far superior form of biological virtual reality? It stretches all the way back to before the discovery of fire. To the the dawn of our species.
Chloe is a natural lucid dreamer. That's to say that all of her dreams are conscious (lucid), highly realistic and incredibly vivid. She can remember these dreams as far back as being a toddler. That level of mindfulness we regular folk strive to achieve in our dreams is always present in her nightly escapades. Her dreams, by default, are highly intense, profound and acutely self aware.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?