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Mind over Matter it's your choice

Updated on January 12, 2014

Mind over Matter

There is an old saying that you hear often when a person is trying to encourage someone to do something that is very difficult or seemingly impossible to do, and that is “It’s just a question of mind over matter”.

We can see many examples of people putting this saying to work on YouTube. I found this example of people walking on hot coal without burning their feet, you can see them walk the burning coals at around 2 minutes 50 seconds into the video

Walking on Hot Coals in Estonia

They cross the burning coals without any harmful effects, primarily because they believe that they can. Of course, it is common sense, because no one in their right mind would set foot on a bed of burning coals if they did not believe they could walk on those hot coals without it harming them.

The Buddhist Inner Fire or Tummo Meditation

Another more convincing example of the power of the mind over matter is the Buddhist Inner Fire or Tummo Meditation where via meditation the mind can enable the body to overcome the harmful effects of the cold.

In this video, this person sits in just his shorts for in a state of meditation in temperatures around -4 degrees Centigrade. Moreover, after 20 minutes sat immobile, he is seemingly unharmed by the freezing temperature.

Demonstration of the Inner Fire or Tummo Meditation

A person normally exposed and inactive in such freezing temperatures, would be suffering from the effects of hyperthermia long before the twenty-minute stage. I wonder if the man in this video felt the cold as he walked in just his shorts and barefoot back to his car or whether the state of meditation he had been in still sustained him.

I think that this meditation really is a good example of how the mind can change and affect the experience of the body.

If you don't mind, it doesn't matter

As with many sage sayings, it is not long before some wag comes along and puts a humorous spin on the saying. In this case, the wag was Mark Twain and his twist on this was his saying “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

This twist that Mark Twain put on this saying turning it into “If you don't mind, it doesn't matter”, is where I want to put the focus of this hub.

Even though the fire walking and overcoming the cold are interesting, there are not many of us that are going to benefit from knowing more about either in our normal everyday lives.

However, I believe that what Mark Twain has hit on, is something that is far more important to ordinary people in their everyday lives, than what we normally associate with the saying, mind over matter.

If we grasp the truth in “If you don't mind, it doesn't matter”, this little phrase can literally change your life.

A Minder

A Minder Minds
A Minder Minds


If you are a Brit, you will probably know right away, what a minder is, because there was a very popular British comedy-drama TV series that ran from 1979 until 1994 called Minder.

In this series, a London wheeler-dealer type character called Arthur Daley employed an ex-boxer Terry to be his minder. It was Terry’s job to take care of Arthur and see to it that nothing bad happened to him.

We see examples of this type of minding everyday on the news, when we see celebrities on the move, as they often have their bodyguards with them. They employ bodyguards to fend off the unwanted attention of the media and of any other potential troublemakers and it is their job to mind their clients.

My mum would often say to me, mind the stove for me, and let me know when that pan of water starts to boil or mum would tell me to mind my younger brother. When we mind something we pay attention to it, we look after it, take care of it and see to its needs.

Not minding

We are not minding something when we forget about it, my husband loves boiled eggs and he often put half a dozen eggs on to boil, and then forgets that he has put them on, the smell of something burning as the pan runs dry on the cooker is often his reminder that he still has his eggs on.

As you can see, he is not that good at minding his eggs. Fortunately, he has bought himself a timer and a loud alarm goes off now when his eggs are done, so everyone is minding his eggs now.

Minding can hurt you

Over the years, I have seen people damaged by minding about some of the things that people do to them and say to them. They feel the pain, hurt and distress from the damage so badly that they are still feeling its effects, years and even decades after the actual event.

I know this from first hand experience, as an injustice that I suffered when I was at school, though it was a minor thing, it affected me badly for over twenty years and you can read about this here if you are interested I minded deeply about what had been done to me.

Why did the shame and pain of that event last for so long and with such devastating effects, because I minded. I minded it well I gave what happened a place in my thoughts almost daily for over twenty years, and the more attention and care that I gave it, the stronger the hold that it had on me grew.

Minding negative thought produces negative feelings


I minded that I had been wrongfully accused, I minded about who had accused me, I minded even more when they did not believe me when I told them that that I had not done it.

I minded so much that I minded it into a full-blown hatred for my accuser, minding held me captive for over twenty years, and thoughts of this event were never far from my mind.

When something triggered a remembrance of this event, all the negative feelings that I felt at the time it happened, would flood over me but magnified, so that instead of fading with time, because I had minded this so well, I had amplified and increased the way it affected me enormously.

By minding the negative thoughts and feelings that I had connected with this incident, I increased them and I increased the power that they had in me. I minded the negative thoughts by thinking about them, by thinking about what I could have done differently, and thinking about what I should have said, I thought about what they had done, I played regularly with all these negative, hurtful thoughts.

I also day dreamed about situations where I had power over the teacher, all of this produced a host of negative feelings in me which then helped me to feed these thoughts, and of course, as a result I ended minding even more.

Don’t mind and it won’t matter

The event that started this off, was so trivial that everyone else probably forgot it five minutes after it happened, I was the only one that minded this event, so that I ended up being the only person that it harmed, and what made it worse is that I had done all this harm to myself.

My hatred of the teacher never harmed or touched him; he was oblivious of what going off on the inside of me. I only hurt myself by hating this man, and that self-inflicted harm affected the people closest to me, because they had to live with a person who was screwed up by hatred.

Don't drink it is poison

Hatred is Poison

I remember once reading somewhere, that hatred is like taking poison in the hope that it will kill the other person. From my experience of hating someone for years, I can say that this is a very good description of what we are doing when we have hatred in our hearts towards some one.

I know that I was on a daily dose of this poison and like all poisons it didn’t do me any good nor did I feel good all the while I was taking it.

Minding do you have a choice?

Do you feel that you have a choice when it comes to your thoughts

See results

How do you get rid of poison?

The first thing is to stop taking the poison, in this case you have to stop minding what people have done or said to you that is causing you to be upset. It is important to know that you are the one that decides what you let into your head; your mind is yours unless you give it over to someone or something else.

When some one insults you or lies about you or is spiteful to you, what they have done is given you an opportunity to get upset. However, just because you have an opportunity, does not mean you have to accept it.

You do not have to take what they have said or done into your head and mind it. You mind something when you are constantly going over what they did and said in your mind, you mind when you allow this thinking to make you feel angry, upset, hurt, ashamed, or vengeful. All these negative feelings are from the same family of poison as hatred, and they will all damage you and not the person who has done this to you.

Your feelings are lying to you, whatever it was that they did to you, not matter how wrong or unforgivable it seemed they did not make you get anything. Even though it may not feel like it, it wasn’t them that made you, it was you, you are the one that got angry, or mad, or sad, they did not make you.

They may well have intended to make you, or wanted to make you, any one of those things, but the truth is that they couldn’t make you, though I know when it is happening and even afterwards, that is not how it feels.

You may feel you have no choice

Just because you feel like you have no choice in the matter, does not mean that you don’t have a choice. Feelings are not a reliable source of truth. I will give you a little illustration of the unreliability of feelings.

Feelings are not reliable - An Example

When I was young, I went to work in the office of a factory that manufactured a very high-end cosmetic brand. I was a working class girl, and at that time, I was very insecure, self-conscious and had no self worth.

My job was in the office where the two big bosses secretaries worked. These two girls were both what I would have called back then, very posh. They spoke very differently to me, they wore expensive clothes, they were much better educated than I was at that time, and I felt inferior to them because of these things.

When I first started work, I was petrified that I would say or do something wrong and make myself look daft, so for the first couple of weeks I would just keep my head down and get on with my work, and I hardly said a word.

I would listen to their conversations and even though they tried to encourage me to join in, I just could not, because I felt so intimidated by them.

Some time later, when I had gotten to know both girls I was out socially with one of them, and we got to talking about when I first went to work there. I told her what I have just told you, and she burst out laughing when I told her.

I asked her what was so funny about what I had said, she said that I was so quiet and hard working when I first started, that I frightened and intimidated them both. I never said anything when they talked to one another, instead I would just look up and look over at them and enjoy listening to what they were saying.

They thought however, when I was looking at them it was in disapproval, and that they thought I was thinking that they should be getting one with their work instead of chattering. It seems that our feelings had deceived us all, those feelings were not the truth, and that first couple of weeks had been much harder for us all because we minded our feelings. Remember feelings are not reliable.


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    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Thank you soumyasrajan for your very kind and interesting comments, and for sharing your insights.

      I followed your advice and followed the links and you were right I did enjoy reading the article.

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Thank you for commenting Jan, like you I watched the video, and I just wondered when he was trudging back through the snow, presumably to where he had left his car,still just dressed in just his shorts and without his shoes, whether he felt the extreme cold.

      I wonder if his meditative state lasted for a little while after he got up and started walking. I must admit I don't like being very cold, I think that if I had to do just the walk back to the car, dressed in next to nothing I would be suffering from hypothermia by the time I got to the car, never mind doing the 29 minutes before hand.

      Thank you for the compliment it is very much appreciated. :D

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 4 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Very interesting article Maggie. U write so nicely and intimately, one feels as if one has become a part of subject for u.

      I generally find it a bit boring when people advise too much in article- tone is of sort of sermon issuing. On the other hand articles describing one's own experience and how one learnt from it, give a nice feeling and make the article very interesting (at least for me) and also learn from it.

      I enjoyed very much yr description in this style Maggie. yes! feelings can often be very deceptive, one has to be very careful about them. I liked that frank exchange between you and your colleague. But at the same time one has to be careful about reverse too. Not all people are ready to talk frankly like that.

      I like an ancient concept in our country (India) very much. The idea of detachment- detachment from results of what you do. So idea is that you work to do your best but always be ready that final results may not be exactly the same as you expect. This helps in both ways. While working it saves energy and keeps focus on work rather than speculation about result. After the work is done and result is not so great as u expected, it helps in keeping enthusiasm intact for next job.

      Another idea which I have experienced is that often we expect world to be justified place. We expect people to act in justified manner. A very wrong idea. Many don't. While one should always act in justified manner and nicely, one should be also clear that it is a law for oneself and not for expecting it from others. One acts nicely for the happiness of oneself and not in expectation of reciprocation.

      In West some how forgiving has been sentimentally a too important aspect. In India since ancient times is rarely talked about in isolation, reconciliation is much more thought about. Buddha also had interesting ideas about it. though this sentiment is quite ancient in India. you may perhaps enjoy this article on buddha's ideas about forgiving etc.

      It is interesting that most of your sentiments developed with your experiences, which u describe here are very similar to these ancient sentiments in our country.

    • JanMaklak profile image

      JanMaklak 4 years ago from Canada

      I watched the whole "inner fire video" thinking he was going to melt snow. I thought great better than shovelling the driveway. I was disappointed that it was all in his mind. The I realised this was a MIND OVER MATTER article. Whoa. He did great!

      And the whole idea of harbouring positive thoughts over negative ones is just what many of us need.

      Great writing!

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain

      You are right, it is not the easiest thing to do when we are faced by life's challenges and it certainly doesn't mean that we ignore things that do matter.

      When we lost our home and business in this recession, ignoring it was not an option we had to sort out somewhere else to live and another form of income. But I did have a choice how I reacted to and in this situation.

      I got to choose what I minded, and I chose not to get angry, bitter, resentful,or any other the other negative things that I had an opportunity to pick up on.

      I accepted the fact, that it is what it is, and becoming angry, or bitter or any other negative emotion, and stressing out at the injustice, and the corruption was not going to change things either. All it would change is me, and the quality of my life, if I allowed those things into my mind, and began to mind them.

      If I had done that, two years on I would not have been in a different place physically in that my home would not have been magically restored to me or my business, but I would have been in a very different place, both emotionally and physically and the past two years would have been a living hell.

      Instead, I have enjoyed these last two years immensely, and I have found many benefits to the new life that I am now living because of the different conditions that I am now living under, and most of it is positive.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this Hub, I appreciate it very much :D

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 4 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      The Idea of "Mind over Matter" . It, gives us the freedom to ignore what we think or, are made to think of life's challenges. Not the easiest thing to do when others are at odds with what we think.

      For example; Government and those we give power to that may be at odds with ones personal thoughts and beliefs. Sometimes the only alternative is to either ignore it or simply go somewhere else and start your own government. Just as "The United States Of America's "founding fathers did in 1776.

      It,certainly doesn't mean ignore things that do matter!

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain

      What a great way to start off my comments, a billybuc comment, thank you so much Billy it has been a while since I published a Hub, and it is so encouraging and uplifting to get such a lovely comment, in the first few minutes after publishing.

      I am totally with you Billy, today I choose to be happy too, and your comment is something I will choose to mind for the rest of the day, as it has already made me feel happy :D

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      First, you are a very good writer.

      Second, I had a mentor who once told me not to sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff.

      We have a I choose to be happy.

      Great reflections in this one.