Imhotep (why do I say this). For an introduction to the Laws of Tehuti and book recommendations, click here.
The principle of Mentalism states "The All is Mind; The Universe is Mental." And already, this principle challenges us to think beyond ourselves; beyond the concrete and physical world that we can detect with our five senses. "The All" can be translated as "Spirit" "God", or "the Universe." It is no coincidence that the word also means "everything" in English. This principle refers to the notion that everything is a mental creation of spirit/God/the Universe. It means that everything you experience, see, feel, touch is a thought or a dream of a larger entity, the All. We (humans) and our world are simply the dream/thoughts of Spirit/God/The Universe.
Can you see now, why tying some of this to a more tangible practice like yoga can be soothing? Thinking about the fact that we are just the product of a thought is a little overwhelming. It challenges us to consider that Spirit/God/The Universe is bodiless. According to this principle, there is no one identifiable, containable entity that is thinking, dreaming, and "wanting" things, which contradicts the way most religions discuss "Spirit."
In the practice of yoga, I find that the mantra, "I am not this body" ties into the principle of Mentalism. "I am not this body" reminds us that, we too, are Spirit/God/The Universe. If EVERYTHING is Mind, then so are we. The mantra helps me focus on the fact that all of my physical sensations, all experiences, are through my soul/Spirit, and that this body is not "who I am." In a society that emphasizes, glorifies, and also destroys our "physical bodies," I find it relieving to remind ourselves that it is only a very small aspect of life. Yoga as moving meditation allows us to experience bodily sensations with more sensitivity, increases mindfulness, and shifts the focus inward. Combined, with the mantra, "I am not this body," we can shift away from the destructive messages society sends us about what is important. The focus on the body as a non-spiritual entity fuels consumerism, vanity, and mental illness. Truly appreciating the body as an expression of Spirit can allow for love for self and others, compassion, and mental health.
It is no surprise to me that this is a concept our ancient Egyptian ancestors understood. Throughout all aspects of society, we can see that everything always had more than one meaning. In particular the language, mdw ntr, each hieroglyph had multiple layers of meaning, a complexity which allows for a concept like Mentalism to even be described and understood. So the next time you allow yourself to focus your attention on your physical sensations during your yoga practice, try to remember the concept of Mentalism. Remind yourself that "I am not this body," and take note of any changes in emotion or perception that occur when you remember this. What do you learn about yourself when you realize that you are Spirit? Hotep.
This post is part of a blog series, "Digging Deeper: Using Yoga to Understand the Laws of Tehuti." Please make sure to read this brief introduction to provide some context for the blog series.