Mind Over Matter

the_lost_symbolI just finished reading Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and without getting into too much narrative about the book, I thought I’d bring up the theory of Noetics, which plays a prominent role in the novel and is relevant to my blog.

(Work with me, here … I promise not to go too new-age on you!)

According to Wikipedia (my favorite go-to source of all things I don’t understand) Noetics is “a metaphysical philosophy concerned with the study of nature and operation of the human intellect, and its relationship with the divine intellect.”

Though The Lost Symbol is a work of fiction (as are all his books) it is also based on some facts — the science/study of Noetics being one of them.

In the book, there is much discussion about the power of our thoughts–and the power of our collective thoughts, as a society, for better or for worse.

But today I’m going to talk about the power of individual thoughts.In the book, one of Brown’s characters contends that the human mind is ridiculously powerful and god-like.

This revelation didn’t cause me to flinch. As you might know, I’m Jewish. We’re taught that man is “made in the divine image of God;” this notion is one of my favorite tenets of Judaism.

In my (note: liberal, non-factual, non-backed, perhaps crazy?!) interpretation, this notion doesn’t necessarily place humans above or below but rather, as almost a spiritual, intellectual equal.

(I found this blog entry by a rabbi that I thought explained it well — towards the bottom, last paragraph if you’re interested in learning more).

But religious teachings aside (again, that is just my interpretation–I have no scholarly journals to back my thoughts up),  I take this to mean that if we allow ourselves to believe we have powers, like God (not claiming we are God, but that we are like God) — if we use our free will to put mind over matter — we can do pretty much anything.

As a society or as individuals.

I see proof of this in my own recovery journey. One day I literally made the decision to stop chewing and spitting. To put the power in my own two hands and say, NO. I chose pride over guilt, and have been (proudly!) doing so since mid-March.

Even if you subscribe to no religious faith whatsoever, the truth is, many of our lives’ greatest achivements are often a result of putting mind over matter: setting out to do something, and doing it.

Believing in yourself enough that you are capable of doing it.

Though I’ve rebelled against it time and time again, truly, so much of life is about mind over matter.

Have you ever quit smoking? Trained for and run a marathon? Lost weight? Written a thesis? Created a scientific experiment that colleagues deemed impossible? Decided to learn a new language? Saved enough to travel somewhere you wanted to go? Made amends with a friend or loved on who hurt you? Quit a job that made you unhappy in favor of something that maybe paid less, but left you feeling satisfied?

Any of those achievements/accomplishments likely required great pre-meditated thought, inherent risk-taking, faith in yourself, and above all … putting mind over matter.

Even when things aren’t going smoothly, even when you want to quit.

Recently, I’ve experienced “mind over matter” first-hand in my personal life with this visit of my in-laws, which you might recall I was quite nervous about. (Sometimes I wonder if I project too much, but I think it’s really more a defensive mechanism: anticipate the worst).

Anyway, they will be leaving this coming weekend. But instead of having a miserable, terrible time as I did the previous year, my mind-shift has allowed me to enjoy the time with them, see past the things that upset me, and test my patience/compassion levels.

It’s also strengthened  my relationship with my husband, and made me feel proud about how I’ve handled (most!) of the time they’ve been here.

Not surprisingly, my anxiety levels are down and my confidence is up. Coincidence? I think not …

I know that I won’t always be able to easily put mind over matter, but I know when I do it, the result is usually much better than dwelling on a negative or longing for the past.

I hope to take away from this book (and my own faith) the knowledge that I do have the power to do it; whatever “it” is –I just need to put my mind to it.

And you do, too.

How about you? Do you believe in mind over matter? How could changing your perspective help you achieve your goal (whatever it may be)?

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