The song “I believe I can fly” is my earworm for this morning. It floats through my awareness, the background music of the day. It’s a nice song, but despite the positive vibe, I don’t really believe I can fly, so I won’t be jumping off any buildings today.
Along with positive thoughts, there must also be action. Its not that you have to figure out how to do every step that will take you to your dream, what Notes from the Universe calls “the cursed hows,” but you do have to move physically in that general direction. Some things cannot be done by thought alone.
For example, you can’t plant a garden by turning it over in your mind. At some point, you have to get out the shovel and get your hands dirty–the best part of gardening, in my experience. The seeds won’t just jump into the ground by themselves, and they won’t tote their own water or kick out any weeds that suck up their light and nutrients.
A more recent example yesterday showed me how much fear keeps us from doing things that we actually want to do. My daughter, 30-something, has never learned to ride a bicycle. Through some interesting events, she now has access to a nice mountain bike, but she’s afraid of it, and so am I. I did learn to ride a bike some fifty-plus years ago, and I fell off of it a number of times, but as a six-year-old, I wanted to ride so much that I kept getting back on, and eventually got very confident.
But yesterday, I wasn’t confident. I was afraid I’d lose my balance, fall on the concrete in the driveway and embarrass myself. The problem with fear is that it turns off the pre-frontal cortex so that you can’t think, only react.
This didn’t do anything for my daughter’s confidence. She asked me to help her think about how to ride, but riding a bike is something you learn with your muscles, which is why you don’t forget how to do it. So we tried just sitting on the bike and letting it roll, and then she’d turn it around and try pedaling back up the slight incline. This bike also has gears and hand-brakes, so that’s another level of skill to master, just to ride.
I’m sure she will master this skill because she wants to do the green thing, live in a city, ride her bike to work, all of that. And she did eventually learn to drive a manual transmission, something none of her friends can do. But she won’t be able to do it without risking some injury while she is learning. She has to master her fear, trusting her body and her muscles to do what she wants, and letting her mind get out of the way.
Mind over matter has to do with mastering fear. It has to do with trusting the body and getting the mind out of the way. That’s how you maintain the balance of mind over matter.