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About Faces

Categories: Uncategorized
Sources: Nerves And Common Sense

WATCH the faces as you walk along the street! If you get the habit

of noticing, your observations will grow keener. It is surprising to

see how seldom we find a really quiet face. I do not mean that there

should be no lines in the face. We are here in this world at school

and we cannot have any real schooling unless we have real

experiences. We cannot have real experiences without suffering, and

suffering which comes f
om the discipline of life and results in

character leaves lines in our faces. It is the lines made by

unnecessary strain to which I refer.

Strange to say the unquiet faces come mostly from shallow feeling.

Usually the deeper the feeling the less strain there is on the face.

A face may look troubled, it may be full of pain, without a touch of

that strain which comes from shallow worry or excitement.

The strained expression takes character out of the face, it weakens

it, and certainly it detracts greatly from whatever natural beauty

there may have been to begin with. The expression which comes from

pain or any suffering well borne gives character to the face and

adds to its real beauty as well as its strength.

To remove the strained expression we must remove the strain behind;

therefore the hardest work we have to do is below the surface. The

surface work is comparatively easy.

I know a woman whose face is quiet and placid. The lines are really

beautiful, but they are always the same. This woman used to watch

herself in the glass until she had her face as quiet and free from

lines as she could get it--she used even to arrange the corners of

her mouth with her fingers until they had just the right droop.

Then she observed carefully how her face felt with that placid

expression and studied to keep it always with that feeling, until by

and by her features were fixed and now the placid face is always

there, for she has established in her brain an automatic vigilance

over it that will not allow the muscles once to get "out of


What kind of an old woman this acquaintance of mine will make I do

not know. I am curious to see her--but now she certainly is a most

remarkable hypocrite. The strain in behind the mask of a face which

she has made for herself must be something frightful. And indeed I

believe it is, for she is ill most of the time--and what could keep

one in nervous illness more entirely than this deep interior strain

which is necessary to such external appearance of placidity.

There comes to my mind at once a very comical illustration of

something quite akin to this although at first thought it seems

almost the reverse. A woman who constantly talked of the

preeminency of mind over matter, and the impossibility of being

moved by external circumstances to any one who believed as she

did--this woman I saw very angry.

She was sitting with her face drawn in a hundred cross lines and all

askew with her anger. She had been spouting and sputtering what she

called her righteous indignation for some minutes, when after a

brief pause and with the angry expression still on her face she

exclaimed: "Well, I don't care, it's all peace within."

I doubt if my masked lady would ever have declared to herself or to

any one else that "it was all peace within." The angry woman

was--without doubt--the deeper hypocrite, but the masked woman had

become rigid in her hypocrisy. I do not know which was the weaker of

the two, probably the one who was deceiving herself.

But to return to those drawn, strained lines we see on the people

about us. They do not come from hard work or deep thought. They come

from unnecessary contractions about the work. If we use our wills

consistently and steadily to drop such contractions, the result is a

more quiet and restful way of living, and so quieter and more

attractive faces.

This unquietness comes especially in the eyes. It is a rare thing to

see a really quiet eye; and very pleasant and beautiful it is when

we do see it. And the more we see and observe the unquiet eyes and

the unquiet faces the better worth while it seems to work to have

ours more quiet, but not to put on a mask, or be in any other way a


The exercise described in a previous chapter will help to bring a

quiet face. We must drop our heads with a sense of letting every

strain go out of our faces, and then let our heads carry our bodies

down as far as possible, dropping strain all the time, and while

rising slowly we must take the same care to drop all strain.

In taking the long breath, we must inhale without effort, and exhale

so easily that it seems as if the breath went out of itself, like

the balloons that children blow up and then watch them shrink as the

air leaves them.

Five minutes a day is very little time to spend to get a quiet face,

but just that five minutes--if followed consistently--will make us

so much more sensitive to the unquiet that we will sooner or later

turn away from it as by a natural instinct.