What does mind over matter mean and how is it used? It is a phrase that is uttered frequently, yet some of us struggle to think of a time they can definitively say that Mind Over Matter Techniques have been used.

There is a huge amount of one-off instances, but there are also smaller examples of recurring achievements where willpower has most definitely overcome physical obstacles. Sometimes, to gain a greater understanding of what it is, we need to see some clear cut, mind over matter examples.

Below are examples of when this has happened and when science and researchers have had an input in either recording, witnessing, or explaining the phenomena as they have occurred. But first, what does mind over matter mean?

What Does Mind Over Matter Mean?

Put simply, mind over matter is a person’s ability to use the mind to overcome physical situations that would usually be insurmountable. This can happen in one of two ways. First of all, there are one-off instances where people face heightened and difficult situations in which they perform incredible physical feats that shouldn’t be possible.

Secondly, the mind is trained to alter physical aspects of ourselves, as we’ll see below, or to push the body to push way past the realm of comfortable physical exertion, like long-distance running, breaking records, etc.

In order to understand this in more detail, here are 5 examples of where mind over matter comes into effect.

What Does Mind Over Matter Mean_

5 Mind Over Matter Examples

1) Changing Body Temperature

The combination of inadequate clothing, bitter temperatures, and icy wet towels is enough to induce hypothermia and eventual death in most people. In a remote monastery in Northern India, Tibetan monks practice a form of meditation known as “g Tum-mo”. Dressed in the thinnest of clothes in temperatures as cold as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, other monks place towels soaked in cold water across the shoulders of the meditating monks.

However, it was not long before Herbert Benson, a relaxation researcher from Harvard, began to see steam rising from the sheets. Through their meditation, the monks were raising their core temperature enough to effectively dry the sheets.

Once the sheets were dry they were removed and more soaked towels were draped across their bodies. In several hours, the meditating monks had fully dried three towels and showed no signs of the hyperthermia we would have expected to set in hours before.


“The monks were raising their core temperature enough to effectively dry the sheets”

2) The Placebo Effect

Finnish researchers conducted a study on 180 people divided into three sets of patients. All patients had osteoarthritis of the knee that interfered with motion and caused pain and stiffness.

One set of patients received the standard arthroscopic procedure, and the second had lavage, but the third set of patients were only led to believe they received the surgery. Instead, they received an incision and a procedure was faked before the incision was closed again, ensuring they had no idea that the surgery hadn’t actually taken place.

So, what were the results? In a stunning turn of events, those that had the actual procedures did no better than the patient set that had no surgery at all. They all improved the same amount.

The Placebo Effect is perhaps the most well-documented example of mind over matter. It is used by scientists the world over in medical trials. For a drug to be approved, it must demonstrate that it produces better results than a placebo, or “fake drug”.


“Those that had the actual procedures did no better than the patient set that had no surgery at all”


3) Immunity to Pain & Self Healing

In his research unit at the Menninger Foundation, Texas, Dr. Elmer Green witnesses Jack Schwarz demonstrating the power of mind over matter, or in this case, mind over body.

Jack inserts a long sail maker’s needle straight through his bicep, not a drop of blood is spilled. Dr. Green asks Jack if he can make the wound bleed, breaking Jack’s concentration on his higher self and bringing him back to his ego-self. Instantly his wound begins to gush. To stem the flow Jack brings his mind back to the higher ego and the wound stops bleeding immediately.

There are many examples of ‘pushing through the pain’, particularly amongst athletes. Their focus and commitment allow them to burst past physical barriers and put their bodies through more strain than the average person can handle.


“Jack brings his mind back to the higher ego and the wound stops bleeding immediately”


4) Superhuman Strength

Occasionally, we are faced with situations that are so intense it can lead us to superhuman feats of strength and mental powers.

Tom Boyle Jr. was sitting with his wife as a Camero ran over a boy on a bicycle, pinning him beneath the car and dragging him a great distance before coming to a stop. Immediately Tom rushed over to the car, grabbed it underneath, and lifted the car off the trapped boy long enough for another bystander to pull the boy out.

To put this into perspective, a Camero weighs roughly 3,000 pounds. The world record for deadlifting a barbell is 1,003 pounds.

There are several explanations that have been put forward as to why this super-human feat of strength is possible. The first is adrenaline, however, it is highly doubtful that the jump in strength can be put down to an adrenaline rush alone. It is now thought that the ability of the mind to shut out pain is a major contributing fact to these feats. Only after Boyle got home did he realize that he had clenched his jaw so hard he had shattered eight teeth.


“Tom rushed over to the car, grabbed it underneath and lifted the car off the trapped boy”


5) Stopping the pulse

Yogis originating from India have long been reputed for the remarkable control they demonstrate over their bodies. The most fascinating claim is their ability to stop their hearts at will.

Yogi Satyamurti, a slender man of about 60 years of age, confined himself to a small underground pit for 8 days, which he labeled a state of “Samadhi” or deep meditation. An ECG monitor was attached continuously during the Samadhi and various tests were performed both before and afterward.

The 12-lead ECG recorded before the descent to the pits and portrayed normal heartbeat activity. However, on the second day, it increased to a staggering rate of 250 beats per minute. At 5:15 pm on the second day, when the yogi had been in the pit for 29 hours, the ECG flat-lined. This flat-line persisted until 8 am the following morning when normal activity returned, right before the pit was scheduled to be opened.


“The most fascinating claim is their ability to stop their hearts at will.”


It is important to note that in most of the examples mentioned, the people exhibiting the powers of the mind have trained for years in order to hone their skills. There will be one-offs like Tom Boyle Jr., where we will be thrust into these situations and react accordingly, however, don’t expect to run yourself, or anyone else, through with a sword with no consequences if you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. (Even then we wouldn’t recommend it!)