Power Through Repose by Annie Payson Call (Part 1 of 3)

[amazon-product align=”right” alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″ region=”us” tracking_id=”varsblah-20″]1440458928[/amazon-product]The guidance of the body

“When illnesses are caused by disobedience to the perfect laws of Nature, a steady, careful obedience to these laws will bring us to a healthful state again.”

Health is complicated. And the fact that we have so many books on the subject only makes it worse. Many of them give superficial solutions, which is why illness and disease are still problems in our lives.

In Power Through Repose, Annie Payson Call explains that all the pills in the world won’t matter if we keep making the same mistakes. “No medicine can work in a man’s body while the man’s habits are constantly counteracting it,” she writes.

That means we need to change our behaviour on a deeper level if we’re ever going to be healthy. More importantly, we need to get it right before it’s too late: “Nature, who is so quick to help us to the true way of living, loses patience at last, and her punishments are justly severe.”

Rest in sleep

“The longest and most perfect rest should be during sleep at night. In sleep we can accomplish nothing in the way of voluntary activity either of mind or body. Any nervous or muscular effort during sleep is not only useless but worse,–it is pure waste of fuel, and results in direct and irreparable harm.”

We sleep so we can rest. So why do we wake up tired? In many cases, it’s because we don’t let go completely when we sleep. We tighten our bodies and make our hands into fists. Instead, we should completely relax. Stretch out your body and let your head fall heavy on the pillow. Let the bed hold you instead of trying to hold yourself on the bed. And don’t worry about your thoughts. Just relax your body and you’ll relax your mind.

The use of the brain

“When, for purely mental work, all the activity is given to the brain, and the body left free and passive, the concentration is better, conclusions are reached with more satisfaction, and the reaction, after the work is over, is healthy and refreshing.”

We also waste a lot of energy when we think, especially if the subject is complicated (or if we’re reading good books). We scrunch up our faces and clench our jaws. But there’s no need to involve other parts of the body if we only need our brains. Relax your body and your mind will get the strength it needs.

The brain in its direction of the body

“Thumping on a piano, or hard scraping on a violin, will keep all possible expression from the music, and in just the same proportion will unnecessary physical force hide the soul in a voice.”

The same applies when we speak. We waste a lot of energy by involving the whole body, especially when the conversation is heated. Instead of throwing your voice from your throat, relax and let it come naturally. Don’t yell when you don’t have to; life is loud enough already. Besides, sometimes speaking softly is the only way to be heard.

Nervous strain in pain and sickness

“Pain comes from an abnormal state of some part of the nervous system. The more the nerves are strained to bear pain, the more sensitive they become; and of course those affected immediately feel most keenly the increased sensitiveness, and so the pain grows worse.”

We all have pain. But suffering only comes based on how we respond. If we fight the pain by ‘gritting our teeth’ and bracing up, we feel it even more. That’s why we need to let go. Instead of pushing away pain, we need to welcome it.

For example, if you bang your toe, just take a few deep breaths and be aware of the throbbing sensation. Feel the pain and let it be. Let it fill your whole body if it has to. Just be present. Don’t get mad at yourself for being such an idiot. Of course, if you need to bandage it up, then do that. Just don’t get mad at yourself for making a mistake. That’s what causes your suffering.

The same applies to physical illness. If you’re sick, just be sick. Don’t get mad at yourself for the inconvenience of it all. Just let your body rest and recover. Any extra stress will only keep you sick longer than necessary.

Nervous strain in the emotions

“Never resist a worry. It is increased many times by the effort to overcome it. The strain of the effort makes it constantly more difficult to drop the strain of the worry. When we quietly go to work to relax the muscles and so quiet the nerves, ignoring a worry, the way in which it disappears is surprising.”

We must also learn to relax into emotional pain. Instead of pushing away your emotions or labelling them as ‘bad’, just let them be. Any thoughts or criticism will only make things worse. So if you’re feeling angry, anxious, or depressed, just ride it out. Don’t make any important decisions until the emotion has passed. Just keep breathing as you watch it come and go.

But how should we deal with emotions in other people? Many of us feel that the best way to help others is by showing sympathy. We believe that the only way to show we care is to join them in the swamp and feel their pain. But how much help can you give others when you’re both drowning? Sometimes the best we can do is stay on firm ground.

This doesn’t mean we should push down our feelings and show no concern for others. It simply means we should not get swept up by the emotions in them or in us. We can feel whatever we feel as long as we don’t let it affect our judgement. There’s no need for us to get angry, anxious, or depressed when others feel the same way. All we have to do is watch the emotions as they come and go. Let’s not be slaves to them any longer. Let’s free ourselves once and for all.

If you enjoyed this post, please remember to Like, Tweet, and Share it using the links at the top or bottom of the page. And remember to subscribe to free alerts or follow me on Twitter to be notified when the next review is released. For more on the subject, watch Iain McGilchrist’s fascinating talk on ‘The Divided Brain’.