But the lack of scientific understanding does not invalidate the existence of “those things”.
One of those areas we have been deep in study, and for close to thirty years now, is how a mental attitude and established self-expectations translate into live physical performance in combat. Recently some of us were discussing “fear”. The word itself is as inaccurate as the word “love”. We love our mothers and a nice single malt…but not quite in the same way. Yet the word is the same in the English language. Same for the word “fear”.
Those words tend to create physical manifestations, which I believe in turn have a deep effect of physical performance. Thinking in words creates physical expressions of those words. Ask someone to show you a “fear face” and they will take on a frightened, submissive, hiding posture, like a child hiding under the covers from the monster in the closet. I believe that such physical expressions of thoughts have performance results.
The science - In 1984, Dr. Paul Ekman and other psychologists at the University of California Medical School at San Francisco published an article in the journal Science showing that when people mimic different emotional expressions, their bodies produce distinctive physiological patterns, such as changes in heart and breath rate, for each emotion.
Another proponent of the concept, Dr. Robert Zajonc, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. Zajonc writes that as certain facial muscles relax and tighten, they raise or lower the temperature of blood flowing to the brain and, in turn, affect the activity of brain centers that regulate emotion. In short, facial action leads to changes in mood.
Here are a few other articles on the concept –
This is a controversial discussion and science, but it is there for study. There is no separation between what we think and say to ourselves and what we embody and represent physically. Embrace fear and you will appear fearful and act frightened - even if you try to convince yourself otherwise. This is an active mental and internal thought process and has nothing to do with the presence or absence of adrenaline or the labelled “adrenaline dump”.
The point is that if emotional and mental states have a physical representation, will creating physical manifestations of desired moods and mental states create the reverse. The book we have discussed here – Stealing Fire discussed this in depth and it is a great study.
And knowing this, that mental/emotional mood affects the body, we can then affect the mental/emotional mood by manipulating the body. But even deeper and beforehand, can we circumvent what is a socially trained response by choosing to think in the right words, rather than the words that common language chooses as appropriate?
I think we can. And this is a big part of the work we are doing in the Mind Dojo.