© Ian Lawton 2014

The power of ‘mind over matter’ is legendary. Anecdotal evidence of apparently superhuman strength – a mother lifting a car to save a trapped child, for example – abound.

In March 2014 a BBC Horizon documentary entitled ‘The Power of the Placebo’ reported how several enterprising health professionals have been pushing the boundaries of research into the power of the mind. For example in the UK sports psychologist Dr Chris Beedie of Aberystwyth University gave a number of professional track cyclists a supposedly legal, performance-enhancing pill that actually contained nothing more than cornflower. Although all of them were tired from an initial control run without the pill, every single cyclist recorded a faster time after taking the placebo. One even recorded a personal best.

In the US neurosurgeon Dr David Kallmes of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota pioneered the technique of injecting liquid cement into damaged vertebrae, but then noticed that a small number of patients reported reduced pain and improvements in mobility even when the wrong vertebra had been treated. Going out on a limb he managed to conduct a study in which some patients were only given a placebo operation under local anaesthetic, although this mirrored the real thing as closely as possible. He found there was no statistical difference in the reported improvements between those who had the real operation and those who only experienced the placebo.

But perhaps you think such mind power can only be tapped into in extremis, or that it’s something only some people can use, not you? Well, I’ve got news for you. All of us are using the power of our minds to manipulate the physical environment that forms our experience of life all of the time. For better or worse we never stop, even when we’re asleep.

You don’t have to take my word for it. The idea that we ‘create’ or ‘manifest’ our reality using the ‘law of attraction’ has formed the basis of many esoteric teachings, although often couched in obscure language to protect the authors from persecution by dominant orthodox religions. But the ‘New Thought’ movement that emerged in the nineteenth century can probably be credited as the first to openly discuss it, and when Wallace Wattles’ seminal The Science of Getting Rich was published in 1910 it was a fully formed prototype for the plethora of modern books on the power of positive thinking, manifestation and attraction. Another landmark contribution was Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, which came out in 1937.

So what’s different about The Power of You? Why do we need yet another tome? There are five main reasons.

First, for all that they’ve achieved some wonderful results for thousands of people, many of those who’ve read popular books such as Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret have found themselves unable to put its theory into practice anywhere near as much as they’d have liked. Some may even have felt themselves to be complete failures as a result, thereby ending up in a worse emotional and psychological state than when they began. This is because, although the ideas themselves are extremely simple, putting them into practice in a widespread and consistent manner is not – at least not for many people – and anyone who pretends otherwise is perhaps presenting an unrealistic and potentially damaging panacea. So we need to make sure that we understand the reasons why proactive, deliberate or conscious creation of specific outcomes can be difficult. My own personal experiences of apparent ‘failure’ to create the life I desire have taken me to some pretty dark places, even quite recently, and I’ll bring them into play where appropriate. The result is, I hope, a book that’s grounded and realistic.

Second, although many contemporary spiritual writers have thrown their weight behind the law of attraction, few if any have been able to coherently slot it into the context of a broader worldview. For example, huge numbers of modern seekers believe in concepts such as reincarnation, karma, and life plans and contracts. So how does having supposedly complete free will to direct our experience fit into such a picture? Are there any restrictions on our free will, and if so what are they? Or do we need to develop a radically different model of how soul consciousness operates that brings everything together in a simple, coherent whole? There are no prizes for guessing my answer.

Third, this book has a fundamentally different emphasis from many others. This is because it’s at least as much about not giving your power away, not avoiding responsibility by blaming other people, past lives, karma or life plans, and not attracting the things into your life that you don’t want, as it’s about proactively attracting those things you do want. This may sound somewhat heretical to those who’ve been schooled, quite correctly, that we shouldn’t concentrate on negative outcomes, even if our focus is on their avoidance. But what I’m talking about are techniques for reducing the amount of time we spend thinking limiting thoughts, and I’d suggest these are at least as important as those used to attract specific outcomes.

Fourth, some people have a serious aversion to books on the law of attraction, and to the concept generally, not just because it may be difficult to put into practice. They see it as an idea that only well-off people in developed countries can afford to indulge, while it’s of little use to those dying of starvation in Third World countries. They see nice people who get seriously ill, who maybe even die well before old age, and wonder how the law of attraction applies there. Perhaps more than anything they see books that are deliberately marketed to the masses who want to have more money, lose weight and so on, and they conclude that the conscious creation of abundance is self-centred, materialistic, and can only be obtained at the expense of others. These objections usually mean the baby is thrown out with the bathwater. Indeed they act as hugely significant blockages to the widespread acceptance of the idea that we have complete responsibility for creating our experience of the physical world – primarily as individuals but also, as a result, as a collective. Yet such acceptance is probably essential to the further evolution of the human race. Because these objections are so important, yet rarely if ever tackled properly, we’ll cover them all in the opening chapter.

The fifth difference in this book is that, as far as I’m aware, no one has yet pulled together the wonderfully wise and consistent messages from the sources on which it’s mainly based. In fact it seems to have been overlooked that, if the vast majority of the most celebrated channels of the last fifty years have one consistent message for us, it’s that it’s time for us to forsake childish religious restrictions and other unduly limiting spiritual ideas, to regain responsibility for and control of our lives, and to remember just how powerful we are as ‘creator gods’. In fact the inference seems to be that this lies at the very heart of the shift in consciousness humanity is now witnessing.

If your life is already completely fulfilling and pleasurable because you’re able to achieve such a state naturally and automatically, without the help of this or any other book, that’s genuinely terrific – although of course we should never become too complacent, because life can change, sometimes dramatically, for any of us at any time. But in any case the vast majority of us probably feel there are at least some areas of our life that could do with some improvement.

You can read this book in only a few hours, although you’ll probably want to revisit some of it, maybe repeatedly. Yet even after one read you should be better equipped to begin consciously and wilfully fashioning your experience of this world so that it’s much more to your liking.