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The Power of Mind

We’ve all heard the cliché “you are what you think”, suggesting our thoughts have the power to shape our reality, but what does this mean in real life? Does this only apply to achievements such as good grades, financial bonuses or can you also fix a broken leg? Renowned spiritual leaders suggest there are no limits to our power except for our own beliefs. In Jerry and Esther Hicks’ famous book “Ask and It Is Given”1 (an absolute must-read if you’re into spiritual juju btw), when asked if there truly are no limits to what our minds can do, “why aren’t people growing new limbs?”, they reply “because no one believes they can.”

Although the term “Law of Attraction” first appeared in 18552, the use of mind power certainly began even earlier. Nowadays, expressions like “manifestation” and the use of tools such as meditation and visualisation to quiet the mind and achieve improbable things are much more popularised. In fact, in the world of sports, sport players such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Phelps and Lindsay Vonn have all reported using techniques such as visualisation to create their desired reality. Can’t say it doesn’t work, hey? But how much of their success can be attributed to the power of their minds, alone?


Well, although considered nonsense for a long time by scientists, the subject of mind power has finally gained some credibility these past few years. Drs. Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson talk about the difficulty in choosing to go down this scientific path in their book “The Science of Meditation”3: “looking inside the mind was a questionable behaviour, a taboo waste of time…” when they first began. But it seems their persistence finally paid off as this kind of research has been gaining more and more attention in a positive manner and is now starting to establish itself in the academic world.


So what kind of research has actually been done? Well, for one, scientists at Harvard looked at people who had never touched a piano before and split them into two groups4. One group spent two hours a day for five days playing a simple piano exercise. The other group did the same exercise, but only in their heads – no finger movements at all. Then, they scanned their brains before and after. Guess what? Both groups showed a bunch of new brain connections and patterns in the part of the brain that controls finger movements. And get this: the mental rehearsal group looked just like the physical practice group! So, even though they didn't physically practice, those mental rehearsals worked like a charm. Through daily mental visualisation, they essentially installed the necessary neural pathways that scientists believed, until not long ago, could only be done by training the body as well as the mind. Isn't that wild? It shows how powerful our minds are. With enough mental practice, we can wire our brains for success without even lifting a finger.


Another study at the Cleveland Clinic5 found similar results, but with muscles instead of piano playing. They had subjects imagine flexing their biceps as hard as possible, in five weekly sessions for 12 weeks. The researchers kept an eye on their brain activity and checked their muscle strength every other week. By the end of the study, their bicep strength went up by 13.5%. And no, they were not lifting weights or physically training their biceps. Even after they stopped the sessions, they kept their newfound muscle power for three months. And there are more studies like this out there, many of which I’m sure you’ve heard of, and their control for variables is getting better and better.

One study went as far as casting subjects’ wrists for one month to avoid any unintentional moving. While one group visualised movement, the other did nothing… at the end of the month, the imagery group’s muscles were TWICE as strong as those of the control group.6

I think it is undeniable that our minds have incredible powers that we have not yet tapped into the full potential of – whether it's playing piano or pumping iron, visualising success can make a real difference. But now I want you to think about joining forces… Can you imagine what a visualising brain on CONKA can do?! (You didn’t really think I’d finish the blog without trying to sell you our product, did you?) But seriously, think about it for a second...

A little mental training + a little CONKA = unstoppable athletes. Simple maths.


Leticia Hosang, BSc

Leticia is a sports science, sports psychology and neuroscience researcher, previously working with Brunel London University and exploring the effects of exercise on brain activity.



2.     The Great Harmonia – A Revelation of Seven Mental States, and of the Laws and Effects of Man's Relations to the Spiritual Universe by Andrew Jackson Davis.

3.     The Science of Meditation by Daniel Goleman & Richard J. Davidson.

4.     Pascual-Leone, A., Nguyet, D., Cohen, L. G., Brasil-Neto, J. P., Cammarota, A., & Hallett, M. (1995). Modulation of muscle responses evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation during the acquisition of new fine motor skills. Journal of neurophysiology74(3), 1037-1045.

5.     Cohen, P. (2001). Mental gymnastics increase bicep strength.

6.     Clark, B. C., Mahato, N. K., Nakazawa, M., Law, T. D., & Thomas, J. S. (2014). The power of the mind: the cortex as a critical determinant of muscle strength/weakness. Journal of neurophysiology112(12), 3219-3226.

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