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Mind Over Matter

man walking on hot coals. mind over matter

Mind Over Matter Definition

Mind over matter.

  • Using the mind to alter or resolve a physical problem or condition. An example being to control physical pain through the power of will or meditation.

Mind Over Matter Examples

  • Deciding to start making healthy choices is a real example of mind over matter.
  • It’s incredible to see the power of mind over matter every day. When you have a career as a Physical Therapist.


Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Mark Twain

Mind over matter, will make the Pooh unfatter.

A.A. Milne

Mind Over Matter Origin

Literary Origin

It may be said that, so far from having a materialistic tendency, the supposed introduction into the earth at successive geological periods of life—sensation—instinct—the intelligence of the higher mammalia bordering on reason—and lastly the improvable reason of Man himself, presents us with a picture of the ever-increasing dominion of mind over matter.

The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man, Sir Charles Lyell, 1863

The earliest example of our idiom as we use it today comes from The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man. A book written by the British Geologist Sir Charles Lyell. The book explores the age of the human race. Also, the idea of evolution through natural selection and the existence of ice ages.

Charles Lyell reverses many of his old beliefs in this book. As a former critic of evolutionary theory and of ice ages. Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, published only four years earlier in 1859 is almost certainly a heavy inspiration for Lyell’s book.

Spiritual Origin

Know, first, that heav’n, and earth’s compacted frame,

And flowing waters, and the starry flame,

And both the radiant lights, one common soul

Inspires and feeds, and animates the whole.

This active mind, infus’d thro’ all the space,

Unites and mingles with the mighty mass.

The Aenid, Virgil, 19 B.C.E (translated by John Dryden)

The earliest example of the idea expressed by our idiom comes from The Aenid. A very influential poem written by the ancient Roman poet Virgil.

Ancient Rome considered the Aenid a national epic. It features the main character Aeneas, a Trojan hero, son of Aphrodite and the Trojan prince Anchises. The Aenid follows Aeneas’ journey from Troy to Italy with a group of survivors from the fall of Troy. The first Romans are likely to be Aeneas and his followers, according to the epic.

The epic likely lends credit to claims by Roman emperors as being descendants of gods and heroes of the city of Troy.