Sources: Power Through Repose
ADOPTING the phrase of our forefathers, with all its force and
brevity, we say, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."
If the laws adduced in this book are Nature's laws, they should
preserve us in health and strength. And so they do just so far as we
truly and fully obey them.
Then are students and teachers of these laws never ill, never run
down, "nervous," or prostrated? Yes, they are sometimes ill,
sometimes run down and overworked, and suffer the many evil effects
ensuing; but the work which has produced these results is much
greater and more laborious than would have been possible without the
practice of the principles. At the same time their states of illness
occur because they only partially obey the laws. In the degree which
they obey they will be preserved from the effects of tensity,
overstrung nerves, and generally worn-out bodies; and in sickness
coming from other causes--mechanical, hereditary, etc.--again,
according to their obedience, they will be held in all possible
physical and mental peace, so that the disease may wither and drop
like the decayed leaf of a plant.
As well might we ask of the wisest clergyman in the land, Do his
truths _never_ fail him? Is he _always_ held in harmony and nobility
by their power? However great and good the man may be, this state of
perfection will never be reached in this world.
In exact parallel to the spiritual laws upon which all universal
truth, of all religions, is founded, are the truths of this teaching
of physical peace and equilibrium. As religion applies to all the
needs of the soul, so this applies to all the needs of the body. As
a man may be continually progressing in nobility of thought and
action, and yet find himself under peculiar circumstances tried even
to the stumbling point,--so may the student of bodily quiet and
equilibrium, who appears even to a very careful observer to be in
surprising possession of his forces, under a similar test stumble
and fall into some form of the evil effects out of which he has had
power to lead others.
It is important that this parallelism should be recognized, that the
unity of these truths may be finally accomplished in the living;
therefore we repeat, Is this any more possible than that the full
control of the soul should be at once possessed?
Think of the marvellous construction of the human body,--the
exquisite adjustment of its economy. Could a power of control
sufficient to apply to its every detail be fully acquired at once,
or even in a life-time?
But when one does fall who has made himself even partially at one
with Nature's way of living, the power of patient waiting for relief
is very different. He separates himself from his ailments in a way
which without the preparation would be to him unknown. He has,
without drug or other external assistance, an anodyne always within
himself which he can use at pleasure. He positively experiences that
"underneath are the everlasting arms," and the power to experience
this gives him much respite from pain.
Pain is so often prolonged and accentuated _by dwelling in its
memory, _living in a self-pity of the time when it shall come again!
The patient who comes to his test with the bodily and mental repose
already acquired, cuts off each day from the last, each hour from
the last, one might almost say each breath from the last, so strong
is his confidence in the renewal of forces possible to those who
give themselves quite trustfully into Nature's hands.
It is not that they refuse external aid or precaution. No; indeed
the very quiet within makes them feel most keenly when it is orderly
to rest and seek the advice of others. Also it makes them faithful
in following every direction which will take them back into the
rhythm of a healthful life.
But while they do this they do not centre upon it. They take the
precautions as a means and not as an end. They centre upon that
which they have within themselves, and they know that that possible
power being in a state of disorder and chaos no one or all of the
outside measures are of any value.
As patients prepared by the work return into normal life, the false
exhilaration, which is a sure sign of another stumble, is seen and
avoided. They have learned a serious lesson in economy, and they
profit by it. Where they were free before, they become more so; and
where they were not, they quietly set themselves toward constant
gain. They work at lower pressure, steadily gaining in spreading the
freedom and quiet deeper into their systems, thus lessening the
danger of future falls.
Let us state some of the causes for "breaking down," even while
trying well to learn Nature's ways.
First, a trust in one's own capacity for freedom and quiet. "I can
do this, now that I know how to relax." When truly considered, the
thing is out of reason, and we should say, "Because I know how to
relax, I see that I must not do this."
The case is the same with the gymnast who greatly overtaxes his
muscle, having foolishly concluded that because he has had some
training he can successfully meet the test. There is nothing so
truly stupid as self-satisfaction; and these errors, with all others
of the same nature, re fruits of our stupidity, and unless shunned
surely lead us into trouble.
Some natures, after practice, relax so easily that they are soon met
by the dangers of overrelaxation. Let them remember that it is
really equilibrium they are seeking, and by balancing their activity
and their relaxation, and relaxing only as a means to an end,--the
end of greater activity and use later,--they avoid any such ill
As the gymnast can mistake the purpose of his muscular development,
putting it in the place of greater things, regarding it as an end
instead of a means,--so can he who is training for a better use of
his nervous force. In the latter case, the signs of this error are a
slackened circulation, a loathing to activity, and various
evanescent sensations of peace and satisfaction which bear no test,
vanishing as soon as they are brought to the slightest trial.
Unless you take up your work with fresh interest and renewed vigor
each time after practice, you may know that all is not as it should
To avoid all these mistakes, examine the work of each day and let
the next improve upon it.
If you are in great need of relaxing, take more exercise in the
fresh air. If unable to exercise, get your balance by using slow and
steady breaths, which push the blood vigorously over its path in the
body, and give one, to a degree, the effect of exercise.
Do not mistake the disorders which come at first, when turning away
from an unnatural and wasteful life of contractions, for the effects
of relaxing. Such disorders are no more caused by relaxing than are
the disorders which beset a drunkard or an opium-eater, upon
refusing to continue in the way of his error, primarily caused by
the abandonment of his evil habit, even though the appearance is
that he must return to it in order to re-establish his
One more cause of trouble, especially in working without a guide, is
the habit of going through the form of the exercises without really
doing them. The tests needed here have been spoken of before.
Do not separate your way of practising from your way of living, but
separate your life entirely from your practice while practising,
trying outside of this time always to accomplish the agreement of
the two,--that is, live the economy of force that you are
practising. You can be just as gay, just as vivacious, but without
the fatiguing after-effects.
As you work to gain the ideal equilibrium, if your test comes, do
not be staggered nor dismayed. Avoid its increase by at once giving
careful consideration to the causes, and dropping them. Keep your
life quietly to the form of its usual action, as far as you wisely
can. If you have gained even a little appreciation of equilibrium,
you will not easily mistake and overdo.
When you find yourself becoming bound to the dismal thought of your
test and its terrors, free yourself from it every time, by
concentrating upon the weight of your body, or the slowness of the
slowest breaths you can draw. Keep yourself truly free, and these
feelings of discouragement and all other mental distortions will
steadily lose power, until for you they are no more. If they last
longer than you think they should, persist in every endeavor,
knowing that the after-result, in increased capacity to help
yourself and others, will be in exact ratio to your power of
persistency without succumbing.
The only way to keep truly free, and therefore ready to profit by
the help Nature always has at hand, is to avoid thought of your form
of illness as far as possible. The man with indigestion gives the
stomach the first place in his mind; he is a mass of detailed and
subdued activity, revolving about a monstrous stomach,--his brain,
heart, lungs, and other organs, however orderly they may be, are of
no consideration, and are slowly made the degraded slaves of himself
and his stomach.
The man who does not sleep, worships sleep until all life seems
_sleep,_ and no life any importance without it. He fixes his mind on
not sleeping, rushes for his watch with feverish intensity if a nap
does come, to gloat over its brevity or duration, and then wonders
that each night brings him no more sleep.
There is nothing more contracting to mind and body than such
idol-worship. Neither blood nor nervous fluid can flow as it should.
Let us be sincere in our work, and having gained even one step
toward a true equilibrium, hold fast to it, never minding how
severely we are tempted.
We see the work of quiet and economy, the lack of strain and of
false purpose, in fine old Nature herself; let us constantly try to
do our part to make the picture as evident, as clear and distinct,
in God's greater creation,--Human Nature.