Is It REALLY Mind Over Matter?

Mind over Matter

Is it really mind over matter? Hey everybody, this is Mike Uhrlaub with Power Your Life by Flex PT. I wanted to take a little bit of time to kind of talk about mind over matter. We seem to always think about how important our mindset is with everything that we do. When I was in the army, that was one of the important parts of basic training. Mind over matter was what the drill sergeants would tell us, except it was a little bit on the other side of it. They would say, “We don’t mind because you don’t matter.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that you guys do matter. That’s usually what the drill sergeants would tell us when we were being punished or if we did something wrong and they would have us do grass drills or these crazy workouts to reinforce it with some physical punishment. I look back on it fondly, but at the time, it would make me mad. So, I want to talk more about what mind over matter means. This is important to talk about because everything in your life involves stress. Whether it be good stress or bad stress, like changing your workout program or having another big change happen in your life. If you must change the way you do certain things, that will most likely create stress.

All this stress can have a huge impact because it can create anxiety and confusion. I’m speaking from experience because every time in my life when there was a major shift or any kind of a major change, like when I was losing weight, there was always that mental stress. However, there was good stress and bad stress. Good stress are the things that we do to strengthen ourselves. For example, when you work out, you stress your muscles and your bones. If you go for a run, you’re stressing your cardiovascular system. Now, those are good stresses because they’re going to strengthen. However, the way that your mind interprets the act, the stress or focuses, this could lead to a negative effect. As you go through these stressful changes, your body releases more cortisol, which is a stress hormone that can slow your ability to lose body fat. This can create some other physiological changes in your body that aren’t so good like raising your blood pressure, raising your heart rate, and changing your respiration rate. This can increase your pain levels and it activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is your fight or flight.

So, you’re always in that heightened state of activity. Even though you might be relaxing, your body is never able to fully relax. When you’re trying to make a change, it’s hard to just shut your mind off. It may even be hard for you to sleep at night. You just have all these thoughts that are just racing through your mind and no matter what you do, you just can’t get it to turn off. Next thing you know, you’re not getting your 7–9 hours of sleep, which creates more stress. This leads to that vicious cycle where you’re not feeling that great. This limits your ability perform, lose weight, or be productive at work. This usually leads to a lot of anxiety and you start feeling overwhelmed, which leads you into that procrastination. You just don’t take action and you start hesitating about when you want to make progress in any part of your life. You’ve got to be very directed and purposeful in everything that you’re doing. So, when your mind isn’t clear, you can’t relax, and you have those feelings of anxiety, it starts to interfere with your ability to make a concrete plan. I’ve been there because that is how I felt at different times, especially when I was trying to lose weight and I didn’t quite know how to do it. It was something that created that stress and confusion for me. I also notice that I noticed that you start having trouble focusing. Whether you are at home or at work. your mind starts wandering and you can’t pay attention to what people are telling you. You may be there physically, but mentally you’re not. Your family or the people you work with will notice that.

You start to miss out on those important moments in life that matter. It all comes down to the state of your mind. That altered state of mind is what you develop due to the stress and anxiety as a result from a change in your life. Then, you just don’t know where to turn to next. That creates that complete overwhelm that you start thinking that nothing is going to work. Your mind becomes completely unfocused and this is called monkey brain.

To me, monkey brain to me is when you’re scattered all over the place and you’re not very focused. This has a huge impact on your ability to be successful in your weight loss program or in taking purposeful action whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. That’s when I started doing something, I never thought I would do. When I was in the army or when I was a competitive power lifter, I never thought that I would meditate. I just never thought it would be helpful.

I discovered that it is helpful, and I used it when I was losing weight. Now, I’ve used it multiple times, when I’m making changes in my life. It has become a habit for me and something that I look forward to every single day because of how it has helped me stay focused. When I was trying to lose weight, my blood pressure was really starting to get up there. It was around 136 over 90, which is borderline hypertension. They were talking about putting me on medication. Even though I lost some of the weight, my blood pressure did not come down as much as I thought it would.

However, once I started meditating for a couple of months, the next time I got my blood pressure checked, it was 117 over 68. It had come down significantly and I know that it had to do with the time in the evenings to focus on meditation and breathing patterns. It helped me get more focused and literally calmed my brain down. It stopped me from that monkey brain, and I became more present with my family and at work.

It was much easier for me to make decisions and to take massive purposeful action towards what I was trying to accomplish, which was a weight loss program. It kept me on track with my workouts and staying on my diet. We could go more in depth with the physiological changes that happened like lowering cortisol levels, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering blood pressure, lowering heart rate, improving your mental state, and decreasing overall pain in areas in the body where you have those stressful trigger points and knots.

So, if you are feeling stressed or anxious, I would recommend that you certainly do this. Take that time out of each day because you only need about 5 minutes. All you need to do is download a meditation app, like Calm or Simple Habit. You just need to pick a 5-minute meditation and take time aside and do that every single day. It will make a tremendous improvement on your mental health. It will also show you that the power of the mind can accomplish anything, and it will harness what’s going on in your body.

I want to leave you with a Tony Robbins quote, which says, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” Whatever you’re focusing on, your energy will be directed into. If you’re focusing on the negative, your energy is going to flow in that negative. However, through meditation, you can start focusing through visualization on the positive aspects of what’s going on in your life, to harness and stay connected. It’ll make a tremendous improvement in your ability to lose weight and your ability to move forward in general with your life. So, I strongly recommend you download one of these meditation apps and give it a try because it can’t hurt. I hope that you experience some of the same benefits that I have had with it. In conclusion, whatever you’re going through in your life, you will always move through it. Just a reminder that we are going to be live again next Thursday at 1:00 PM. Until then, I want you guys to stay healthy and keep moving forward.

I am a Physical Therapist and CEO/Owner of Flex Physical Therapy.