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There are many stories of Indian yogis and fakirs who have been able to produce remarkable changes in their bodies merely by mentally setting themselves for those changes.One yogi was able directly to change the temperature of two patches of skin on the same hand,making one hotter and the other colder simutaneously.Although the two areas were only a couple of inches apart,they showed a temperature difference of 10 degrees Farenheit.The hot area looked bright red,while the cold area of the palm looked ashen gray.In such cases the yogi usually achieved the result by strong visualization,imagining one side of the palm to be burned by a hot coal,the other to be frozen by ice.
The Russian mnemonist "S" also used his remarkable powers of imagery to accomplish similar feats.Not only was he able to control the temperature of his hands,he was able to raise or lower his heart rate by imagining himself running for a train or lying flat in bed.He was able to alter the size of his pupils by visualizing varying degrees of light ,and he could change alpha-wave patterns in his brain by visualizing a light flashing in his eyes.
He could also use imagery to control PAIN .He described how at the dentist ,for example,he would sit there and "when the pain starts,I feel it...it's a tiny ,orange-red thread..I'm upset because I know that if this keeps up,the thread will widen until it turns into a dense mat..so I cut the thread,making it smaller and smaller until it's just a tiny point,and the pain disappears.
In the West there has been a growing interest in the technique of biofeedback,by which a person can change such physiological parameters as blood pressure,skin temperature,brain activity,and other factors previously thought to be beyond individual control.The person does not try to change the physiological parameters,rather he tries to find a mental state that produces the required change,and he is able to observe whether or not he is successful by information 'fed back' from monitoring instruments.Imagery has been found to play an important part in biofeedback.Skin temperature can be changed by imagining oneself hot or cold;and blood pressure and muscle tension can be lowered by imagining relaxed conditions.
A few people have gone further to suggest that mental imagery and belief can actually change the world around.Here we get into the field of miracles and superhuman powers ,such as walking on water and levitation.Such things may not be altogether impossible....