Mind Over Matter: The Power of Imagination

Through the discoveries of modern physics, we have learned that the conscious mind is involved in the manifestation of physical reality. However, there are many other interesting observations hinting that the mind can influence the physical objects of our daily life.


Just think of our bodies. In the 1950s, an English container ship that conveyed Portuguese Madeira wine anchored in a Scottish port to offload some cargo. One crew member went into a refrigerated container to check whether all the cargo had been unloaded. While he was inside, another crew member unknowingly closed and locked the door. The trapped crew member used all his strength to pound on the walls, but to no avail. No one heard his cries, and the ship left for Portugal. When it arrived in Lisbon a few days later, the man was discovered dead inside the refrigerated container. Its walls contained a detailed record of the pain the man had suffered, which he wrote using a piece of metal. He had recorded how his body was slowly paralyzed and frozen by the frigid air and how the resultant injuries caused unbearable pain until he finally turned into a lump of ice. But that wasn’t the real shocker. What was most surprising was that the temperature inside the container measured 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius). The refrigeration in that container had not been turned on at any point because it held no cargo. In addition, there was food in the container that the man could have eaten.

Why, then, did the crew member freeze to death? Apparently, he believed with absolute certainty that he would freeze to death because he was in a refrigerated container, and his body followed his belief. It had nothing at all to do with his actual situation, that is, with whether the temperature of the room where he was trapped was actually below freezing. His imagination of his own death caused the result. If he had cast off his belief that he would freeze to death and had sought a way to sustain himself, he would have survived.

This account, from the book “Encyclopédie du savoir relatif et absolu” (“Encyclopedia of Relative and Absolute Knowledge”), by French author Bernard Werber, clearly shows just how powerful are the operations of the brain. Your mind, and its many functions, is one of the most influential operations of the brain. What is amazing is that the brain is unable to distinguish between the mind’s imagination and reality. Whatever your mind believes is real, your brain then truly perceives and processes as real.

Dreaming is one of the functions that truly demonstrates this operation of the brain. For instance, have you ever had something sad happen in a dream and found yourself actually sobbing or shedding tears? Or have you ever broken out in a cold seat or been shocked and awakened when something scary happened in a dream? Even though these are clearly illusions, in that moment, your brain completely believes they are real. In accordance with the information perceived by the brain, physiological manifestations appear in reality, such as your brain waves and respiration changing and your body shedding tears or sweating. This sort of thing happens quiet often in every day life — not just in dreams.


Merely imagining that you are meeting someone you are in love with can cause your body to overflow with happy hormones and bring a smile to your face; imagining that you are eating a slice of very sour lemon can immediately fill your mouth with saliva and bring a grimace to your face. Just imagining things, even though they haven’t actually happened, causes your brain to react as if they had.

So, beware of what you imagine. Even if very subtle, the effects of your imagination might be more immediate and real than you might think.

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