Have you ever been blown away by some of the extraordinary feats various human beings have accomplished? What if you could do extraordinary things by harnessing the power of your mind?
Does that concept sound too good to be true? You may believe that some people have unique superpowers, but there’s only one difference between them and you: they have realized the power of their mind and you haven’t. As you can see, this isn’t that big of a difference, discovering yourself is all it takes the bridge the gap.
With that in mind, let me introduce you to 6 amazing things you didn’t know your mind could do.
1. You can use your mind to withstand extreme cold
Doctors say we can’t survive for more than a few minutes in extremely cold water. Yet, there is a man that can stand fully immersed in ice for more than 90 minutes, and complete a full marathon above the arctic circle in Finland. All this in temperatures of less than −20 °C while wearing only shorts!
This man is Wim Hof (aka Iceman), and he learned to withstand extremely cold temperatures by using breathing exercises and other techniques to control his mind. He’s not just doing this to be in the Guinness Book of World Records, either. In fact, he has a huge mission: Making people around the world realize that they have the power to use their minds to stay happy, healthy, and strong.
He believes that everybody can do what he’s doing, and he actually proved it by training other people who, after only a few days of training, were able to climb a mountain in freezing temperatures wearing only shorts. It may be hard to believe, but it was captured in a documentary!
Hof is actively collaborating with the scientific community to increase awareness regarding the power of the mind and what it can influence. He’s awesome and has some great stuff that I’ll point you towards in the end, so check out some of the resources I mention after this article.
2. You can use your mind to influence your immune system
Iceman has also been able to demonstrate under clinical testing that he can control his immune system. This is something that scientists previously thought impossible. In a 2011 experiment, he was injected with an endotoxin that should have made him sick for a few hours, but nothing happened. A new experiment including 12 people trained by Wim Hof and 12 “normal” people was conducted in 2013. This experiment produced impressive results that echoed those of the original, and confirmed that we can indeed influence our immune systems. Wim Hof claims that we all have the power to regulate our immune system to prevent illness, it’s just a matter of harnessing that ability. What do you think?
3. You can use your mind to heal yourself
You have the power to heal yourself. The scientists can deny it all they want, but do you know what pharmaceutical companies do before launching a new medicine? They test it to see if it’s more effective than a pill that looks like the medicine but doesn’t have anything in it. They make sure that the pills benefits aren’t simply the placebo effect. The placebo effect occurs when people feel better just because they believe the pill they’re taking is going to make them healthier, even though there’s nothing in the pill. This goes to show that the belief that you’re healing makes you better, not the pill itself.
4. You can use your mind to live longer
Studies have shown that your perception of aging has a deep impact on your life expectancy. People who expect to have a long life, and who have a positive perception of aging, live significantly longer on average than people who have a negative perception of aging. You can read more about that in my article “Why Your Perception of Aging Matters”.
5. You can use your mind to withstand intense physical stress and strain
We’ve already seen that the mind can enable us to withstand extreme temperatures, but that’s only one example of what it can do. Marathons aren’t considered easy, in fact, many people view them as one of the most challenging physical activities that can be undertaken. Yet, for a few people, it’s not much of a challenge.
In Japan, Mount Hiei Marathon Monks from the Tendai School of Buddhism undergo several physical challenges in their quest for enlightenment. They must walk the equivalent of 1,000 marathons in the mountains over a period of 7 years, covering a distance greater than the circumference of the earth. For the first 3 years they have to walk 30 to 40 km (or 18 to 24 miles) for 100 days. When the fourth year starts, they walk two 100-day marathons per year. By the seventh year, the 100-day 30 to 40 km marathons are combined with an 84 km walk (the equivalent of 2 marathons) for 100 days in a row.
Only those who have completed 100 walking marathons in a row during the first year are eligible for the quest, and there’s no going back once they’ve accepted the challenge. They must either complete the marathons or take their own lives.
Believe it or not, walking is the easiest part of the quest. One of the most difficult parts comes during the fifth year, when the monks must meditate for several days without food, water, or sleep. If that wasn’t enough, they must also repeat the same mantra 100,000 times while meditating. The meditating monk is accompanied by two other monks to ensure that he stays awake.
Only 46 people have completed the 1,000 marathons since 1886, and 3 of these people managed to complete it twice.
6. You can use your mind to rewire your brain
You have the power to rewire and modify your brain regardless of your age.
Barbara Arrowsmith-Young was a child with learning disabilities. She was told that she would never learn the way other children did and would have to learn to live with her limitations. She couldn’t tell time, couldn’t read a map, and had spatial problems so intense that she would get lost in friends’ houses.. She was unable to make sense of concepts, ideas, or relationships (like cause and effect). Nor could she understand irony or jokes, so that she had to learn to laugh when other people did.
She eventually attempted suicide due to the despair she suffered. Fortunately, she survived the attempt and went on to discover the work of well-known psychologists who were doing experiments on rats. These experiments revealed that brain stimulation caused physiological changes for the rats. Believing that the same would probably hold true for humans as well, Barbara designed various brain training exercises. These exercise enabled her to change her brain little by little until it was fully functional.
Yes, you can rewire your brain at any age.
Our minds are more powerful than most of us imagine. We can use our minds to safeguard our immune systems, heal ourselves, rewire our brains, and withstand harsh and extreme conditions.
You may think that the examples in this article don’t apply to you. However, it’s important to remember that, on a fundamental level, our minds are all similar. If we’re willing to shift our belief systems and undertake the right training, we can accomplish phenomenal things.
Don’t you feel like pushing your mind a little bit harder now? I know I do!
Resources to go further
On Wim Hof
- Wim Hof Method Mini Class – 3 FREE videos about Win Hof Method – get started with breathing exercises and cold showers
- Autonomic nervous system and the immune system can be influenced voluntarily (13 min video)
On Mount Hiei Marathon Monks
- Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei (5 min video)
- Ryojun Shionuma TED talk (marathon monk) (16 min video)
- What a monk looks like after a week meditation without food, water and sleep (2 min video)
On living longer
- Are You Using Age as an Excuse – Why Your Perception of Aging Matters – article on my blog
- Think Positive About Aging and Live longer – Be positive and add 7.5 years to your life
On rewiring your brain
- The Woman Who Changed Her Brain- Barbara Arrowsmith-Young’s TED talk (14 min)