My imagination saved my life on a day in the wilds of Scotland. The rain was bouncing off my glasses, squinting to see the lines on the road through the drops. Sucked in by the draw of each passing timber lorry, then, spat out again as it passed. The gale force side wind exaggerating the impact. Out of control at 40mph, down- hill, perched on a light carbon fiber bicycle added to my distress. I told myself I was 18 and a half stone (in reality 8 1/2 stone). My bike was made of sturdy steel. I then put all of my focus and energy into being 18 and a half stone. I was 18 and a half stone, every cell, and fiber of my body felt it. Together we were sturdy and grounded to the surface of the road. I felt calm and in control of my bike and myself. On reaching the bottom of the hill, I felt exhausted for a few moments as the weight lifted out of me. Then a burst of energy followed. How your mind can change your body.
I love the science underneath the bonnet of a statement like how your mind can change your body. In 2004 scientists at the Department of Biomedical Engineers at The Learner Institute in Cleveland carried out an experiment with 30 volunteers. Half exercised their little finger by flexing it 15 times with 20-second breaks for 15 minutes a day for 5 days over a 12 week period. The other group just imagined doing the exact same training. At the end of the 12 weeks, the strength of both groups little finger was measured. The group who did the actual training improved their strength by 53%. Those who had ‘only’ imagined moving their little finger had surprisingly increased by 35% without actually ‘lifting a finger’.
The phenomenon of how your mind can change your body allows us to understand that the subconscious mind does not know the difference between reality and imagination. The body will respond to what it expects to happen. For decades athletes have known that visualization can improve their performance and now every top athlete uses visualization to give them the edge.
Earlier this year I met Tessa Guy the founder of InMindInBody. A Virtual Wellness Club using this knowledge with the aim of easing and prolonging the lives of people living with cancer and other serious illnesses. I was honored to be asked if I would contribute to the program. As a sportsperson and hypnotherapist, this just felt very right for me.
If you would like to experiment with the power of your mind have a go at the following exercise.
- Choose something you would like to improve your performance at, something that is important to you. Perhaps a sport or photography, maybe speaking in public or how you respond to someone who has the ability to get under your skin, or something completely different.
- Now visualize or imagine yourself doing that task the way you would like to do it. Take five minutes out of your day every day for 12 days and notice the difference. The key is Repetition,…. Repetition ……Repetition as the neurons in our brain get stronger. It is like taking your thoughts to the gym and exercising them as they get stronger and more capable. You don’t have to see the image in 3D high definition color. We all imagine in different ways whatever way you see it is the right way for you, see how your mind can change your body
I found mine on that wild day in Scotland.