From the Archives: The Power of the Mind Over the Body

UPDATED: June 2, 2023
PUBLISHED: June 2, 2023
A photograph of an old copy of SUCCESS magazine open to an article about the mind-body connection

A champion prizefighter says that he does not train for his contests. “The weight question,” he declares, “is the least of my troubles. I can make 133 pounds with ease, and while it is not generally known to the public, I will get down to this weight by thinking about making it. I get rid of flesh by always keeping in mind that I must make the weight. I just keep telling myself that I’ve got to get down to the notch. The articles leave nothing for me to do but to be at weight, and I will continue to keep this in mind.”

A Great Awakening

The famous experiments of Professor W.G. Anderson of Yale University prove that the strength of muscles can be increased immensely by mental action alone, without any physical exercise whatsoever.

We hear a great deal about the power of the mind over the body. Why, the whole secret of life is wrapped up in it…. The prophet, the poet, the sage, from earliest times, have felt and recognized it.

“Be ye transformed by the renewing power of your mind,” [Apostle Paul wrote in the Book of Romans]. “’Tis the mind that makes the body rich,” says Shakespeare [in The Taming of the Shrew]. “What we commonly call man,” writes Emerson [in The Over-Soul], “the eating, drinking, planting, counting man, does not, as we know him, represent himself, but misrepresents himself. Him we do not re­spect, but the soul, whose organ he is, would he let it appear through his action, would make our knees bend.”

Today, even the prizefighter—the uneducated as well as the educated, the man who lives on the animal plane even as the man who lives on the spiritual plane—in fact, all sorts of people, are beginning to see that there is some tremendous force back of the flesh which they do not understand. The rapid growth of the metaphysical movement shows how actively this idea of man’s hidden power is working in the minds of all classes.

Mind and Body Building

Some of our best physicians, who only a few years ago ridiculed mental healing, are beginning to adopt the principle—so far as they know how—in their practice: especially the power of suggestion. They are finding that their patients are often more affected by mental medicine—by their calls, their encouragement and good cheer—than by their pills. They are finding, too, that the mental attitude of the patient has everything to do with the effect of the disease, that it often prove the turning point in a crisis. The result of all this mental influence is a very marked falling off in the use of drugs…. It is now well known that scores of eminent physicians employ metaphysical healing in their own families and often for themselves. Even the regular medical schools are taking up the subject of mental medicine in their lecture courses.

Hampered as this great movement still is by the errors and extrav­agances of overzealous followers—and also by the fraud of charlatans, who take advantage of the opportunities it offers to impose on the cred­ulous and ignorant—there is no doubt that the basic principle of this metaphysical movement has opened up many possibilities of mind build­ing, character building, body building and even business building, which are destined to bring untold blessings to the world.

We are beginning to see that we can renew our bodies by renewing our thoughts; change our bodies by changing our thoughts; that by holding the thought of what we wish to become, we can become what we desire. Instead of being the victims of fate, we can order our fate; we can largely determine what it shall be. Our destiny changes with our thought. We shall become what we wish to become when our habitual thought corresponds with the desire.

“Anyone may go into the business of building his own mind for an hour each day, calling up pleasant memories and ideas,” [Professor Elmer Gates said]. “Let him summon feelings of benevolence and unselfishness, making this a regular exercise like swinging dumbbells. Let him gradually increase the time devoted to these physical gymnastics until it reaches 60 or 90 minutes per diem. At the end of a month he will find the change in himself surprising. The alteration will be apparent in his actions and thoughts. It will have registered in the cell struc­ture of his brain.” 

This excerpt has been edited for length and clarity.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo courtesy of SUCCESS magazine.

Marden was an American author and founder ofSUCCESSmagazine.