In our previous post, we discussed the importance of following our conscience when faced with challenges to our beliefs. But what about our physical bodies? We’re going to take a look at how we are fooling our bodies. Abraham Maslow, the famed behavioral psychologist, described motivation through the lens of needs. The most important human needs are physiological, pertaining to safety. Once physical needs and safety are secured, the person can then embrace social and deeper personal needs for greater fulfillment.Physical needs are basic. We need air, rest, food, water, and shelter from the elements. When basic needs are unmet, higher needs are illusive and unessential. Our brain needs these basic needs met in order to work properly.
Brain vs. Body
Can a person overcome these basic needs by thought alone? Some argue that the mind is more powerful than the body, and that by conquering physical needs you can reach some state of higher consciousness. I do believe that our minds are more powerful than we realize, and have potential to do more than what we typically accomplish day to day. However, I do not believe that that means I do not need sleep, air, water, or food to be able to think rationally and make clear decisions.Being told, “Sleep is over-rated” and that you can stay up for days and journal in order to make the most of your self-help experience is misleading. Being directed to limit food and water because doing so will increase and sharpen your mental clarity is simply untrue. Hearing that a breathing technique will alter your brain waves, making you more receptive to difficult concepts and better able accelerate your learning, is questionable.
Deprivation is Dangerous
Why are sleep, food and water deprivation used as torture techniques? Do such limitations sharpen mental acuity? Or does such deprivation increase suggestibility? The mind is powerful but the brain is part of the body. It is not a “secret” that the body needs daily nourishment. Nor is it a “secret” that the mind does not simply overcome the laws of nature through thought alone. Many have claimed to experience Maslow’s higher levels of self-actualization. I simply question the assertion that it was accomplished by deciding their bodily needs could be overcome by being totally subjected to their “superior” mind. Be wary of a self-help professional who is encouraging you to ignore your basic needs. This is the type of red flag that may tip you off to a guru who doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Just look at the lives of some of the greatest humans such as Beethoven, Darwin, Dickens — they all ate, drank, and slept! You need to take care of yourself and be fully present to reach your greatest potential.