A Remarkable Story About How To Harness The Power Of The Mind
I’ve ALWAYS been fascinated about the power of the mind. I’m sure part of this can be attributed to the stories my mum would tell me when I was younger about what people can achieve through mindset alone.
One of the stories I remember was of someone who couldn’t have a general anaesthetic because of some sort of allergy. However, this person needed open heart surgery. So, whilst almost beyond imagination, they trained themselves to deal with the pain of this surgery through absolutely no anaesthesia and simply the power of self hypnosis.
What this story taught me at a young age, was that we have the power within us to control our mental state, which can in turn control our physical state. So it was no surprise that when I was doing one of my last core Toastmasters Speeches years ago (focussing on inspiring and influencing an audience), that I chose to do it on the power of the mind.
Whilst researching interesting stories I could tell in my speech, I came across one about what monks could do with the power of their minds. It was a fabulous reminder for me about what’s possible to achieve though your mindset. There’s also relevance for how it can address public speaking fears, which is why i’m sharing it here.
In Northern India, in a remote Buddhist monastery, a group of monks sat together outside in the dark of the night. It was a chilly 4 degrees, which mind you is the same temperature a refrigerator is kept at and they were only wearing light clothes.
If that wasn’t enough, they were subsequently draped in wet, ice-cold sheets of fabric and made to stay there like that, for hours.
Now, any normal person would have found those conditions extremely unbearable and might even have frozen to death. However, something astonishing happened instead….
Within minutes steam was rising from the wet sheets and within an hour they were completely dry!! You see the monks were taking part in a meditation practice, where they were required to dry 3 sheets over the course of 3 hours.
How did they transform their physical state like this, in such conditions? With the power of their mind.
They used 3 separate techniques – meditation, a breathing technique called ‘vase breath’ and a visualisation technique called ‘concentrative visualisation’. The meditation helped them remain calm, the breathing technique essentially helped them produce heat and the visualisation (where they focussed on a mental image of flames along their spinal cord) helped them to prevent heat loss.
So what can this teach us about controlling public speaking anxiety? A lot!
The fear that people feel related to public speaking manifests itself in physical forms. Everyone experiences this in their own way, but commonly it’s things like sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat, shallow breathing, going red, talking fast, etc.
So just like the monks are able to control their physical state through meditation, breathing and visualisation, it’s possible for us to control our physical state using these means.
If you too feel the physical effects of public speaking anxiety, try introducing a meditation and visualisation practice into your daily routine and some deep breathing exercises before you next present.
In terms of a personal update, this last month I started a daily meditation and visualisation habit, after years of simply saying I would. Now I do in the mornings just for 10 minutes (5 minutes of meditation and 5 minutes of visualisation) and I can honestly say I will never look back. It has been phenomenal for me in terms of quietening my mind and improving my outlook and mindset. All of which are essential for heading into anything you’re doing with confidence.
I’d love to hear your views on this topic and if there’s anything else you can add!