Most people think that either New Years or end of the year is the best time to plan their future and set their goals. However, the truth is that the present moment is the best time to create the future you want! In this article I want to share some scientific research with you that shows how our thoughts and emotions impact our bodymind health and productivity, plus, how your mind really does create matter! I’ve also got some great tools for you to use to help you create the future you want by changing your present, now!
What most people don’t realize is that it’s the thoughts and emotions that are floating around in their bodyminds as they go through their busy day that are actually already creating their future! What happens with most of us, when we get busy (and stressed out), is that we tune out these repetitive thoughts. We’re not even really conscious of the thoughts or the feelings these thoughts are creating. In what I call our “busyness brain fog”, we may only be vaguely aware of feeling uneasy or uncomfortable. We tune out the stiffness, achiness or other body discomforts. We may know we’re tired but not be consciously aware of how fatigued we really are. Even if you start your day off on the right foot, familiar feelings of dread, worry and anxiety – even fear – can creep in as your day unfolds.
Is It All Woo-Woo?
While it might sound odd or even “woo-woo” to say that your mind creates matter, the science shows it is indeed true! An example that every one can relate to is how stress affects us. Have you ever gotten yourself worked up by replaying in your mind an argument you had with a family member or co-worker? Your breathing quickened, your heart rate increased, your shoulder muscles tensed, maybe your stomach got in a knot and your hands got sweaty. But if you take a step back, what’s really happening in the moment? The argument is in the past (maybe yesterday, last week or decades ago). All you’re doing is reliving it in your mind. However, by replaying the scenario in your mind, you’re activating your stress response aka your fight of flight mode of your nervous system and actually causing various cells in your body to produce stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. You’re activating parts of your brain and nervous system that cause your muscles to tense, your heart rate to increase, some of your sweat glands to produce sweat and for your digestive system to be disrupted. All with the power of your thoughts!
So, the moment that you decided to replay this argument in your mind (or even an edited version where you said or did things differently), you just created a future for your mind, brain and body where they are in stress mode. Depending on how long you let the “movie” play in your mind, it could take hours or even days for your body to get back to normal – assuming you don’t decide to play other disturbing memories in your “mind movie theatre”. Repeating this over months and years can lead to chronic inflammation in the body which has been linked to numerous diseases like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and worse! Is this the future you want to create for yourself?
The reverse is also true. If you stop to think about how wonderful your upcoming vacation is going to be (or relive a past positive memory), you can cause your nervous system to go into relaxation mode aka rest and digest mode. This causes cells in your body to create happy healing hormones like oxytocin and DHEA which have a healing effect on your mind, brain and body. It also helps to increase blood flow to key parts of your brain responsible for good decision making, creativity and learning and retaining new information. Again, the moment you decided to focus on thinking happy thoughts and feeling good, you changed the future for your mind, brain and body!
What the Research is Showing
A study done at Monash University in Australia examined astrophysicist and TV journalist, Graham Phillips, who was skeptical of reported health benefits of mindfulness meditation. He agreed be part of an eight-week study where he would do mindfulness meditation daily. Before the study began, the researchers put him through numerous tests evaluating his memory, physical reaction time and ability to focus. He also had a brain MRI done to measure the volume or size of different parts of his brain.
After just two weeks, Phillips reported feeling less stressed and was able to handle the daily challenges in his work and personal life better than before. After eight weeks, he returned to the University for follow up testing. What the scientists found was quite astonishing, although consistent with findings from other studies. Phillips’s brain had become more efficient at doing tasks and his memory improved. Not only that, but the part of his brain responsible for regulating emotion in other parts of the brain (called the dentate gyrus) had actually increased in size by 22.8 percent! “Such brain reconfiguration is occasionally seen in young people whose brains are still growing, but it is rarely seen in adults. The change in Phillips’s brain indicated a dramatically increased ability to regulate emotions. Psychological tests showed that Phillips’s cognitive abilities had increased by several order of magnitude as well.”1
What does this mean? By creating a better functioning brain, can you imagine what kind of future you could create? Just picture having less stressful days, having better relationships with your family, clients and people at work. With a more efficient functioning brain, what kinds of things could you learn about? What creative solutions could you come up with to implement? Think about how you could improve your life, the health and happiness of your family and the prosperity of your business, community and beyond!
So, what can you do now, in the present to create the future you want? Well, I’m going to share three simple but powerful tools you can start using right away.
In the first chapter in my book, Stressed Self to Best Self™: A Body Mind Spirit Guide to Creating a Happier and Healthier You2, I talk about a number of different types of meditation. I mentioned mindfulness meditation in the study done with Graham Phillips, but there are other kinds, too. One that I teach people to do is a simple breathing meditation with a mantra. You can do this virtually anytime, anywhere. One of the mantras or phrases I teach people is “I breathe in relaxation, I breathe out tension.” However, you can use whatever mantra, phrase or affirmation you choose. Some people like to use pieces of scripture or passages from other sacred texts. Regardless of which mantra you choose, just stop and take 10 deep breaths in and out repeating the mantra. I recommend doing this once an hour throughout your day. As I like to tell my clients and students, you’re going to be breathing anyway, so you may as well use it to your advantage! Research cited by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows many health benefits of regular meditation. Newer research shows that when you’re in a deep state of meditation your body produces anandamide, aka the “bliss molecule”, which also inhibits the formation of cancer cells. You mind does change matter! Recently I created a Meditation page on my website that has some guided meditations.Click here for more info.
2. EFT Tapping:
As many of you may know, I’m a Certified EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Practitioner. To date that have been over 100 studies published in peer reviewed scientific journals showing the benefits of doing EFT aka Tapping. Significantly reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, increased levels of the healing hormones like DHEA, better performance in exams, overcoming certain eating disorders, and even effectively treating PTSD are just some of the benefits research has shown to result from doing EFT. And that’s not including the thousands of case studies showing EFT to help with work and sports performance as well as improvements with relationships and more! The wonderful thing about EFT is that you can work with a practitioner if you’re wanting to clear out past trauma or limiting beliefs that are currently holding you back from achieving the health, happiness and success goals that you have. However, you can also learn one of the basic EFT protocols to use as a self care tool to deal with stress. For more info, click here.
3. Create a Vision Board:
Setting aside time to envision what you want in all areas of your life and then creating goals is a very sound success strategy. Doing this at the start or end of the year and revisiting them every quarter is also a great way to keep yourself on track. However, if you really want to create the health, happiness and success you want, I would recommend creating the new habit of tuning in to your thoughts, and how they’re making you feel, at regular intervals throughout your day. If you’ve wandered off track into worry, anxiety, fear, irritation or frustration, stop and use meditation and/or EFT Tapping to shift from feeling stressed to feeling more peaceful, calm and more able to face your daily challenges. You can also use meditation and EFT to help achieve your goals. Changing your present really is the key to creating the future you want!
1. Church, Dawson. Mind to Matter: The Astonishing Science of How Your Brain Creates Material Reality, Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc., 2018, pp 5-7.
2. Harrison, Jennifer. Stressed Self to Best Self™: A Body Mind Spirit Guide to Creating a Happier and Healthier You, Calgary, AB, 2015.