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

[amazon-product align=”right” alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″ region=”us” tracking_id=”varsblah-20″]1440458928[/amazon-product]Last week, in the second part of this review, we continued exploring the idea of relaxation. Sometimes relaxing is unpleasant. But we might just be experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a stressful life. At other times, relaxing is too pleasant. But we shouldn’t go too far. Our goal is balance. We relax so we can work better when it’s time to work again.

Our relations with others

“[What] we do must be done with love or it will have no force. Without the living spark of love, we may have the appearance, but never the spirit, of useful work or quiet content.”

Dealing with other people can be stressful. But we will never be happy or at peace unless we get along with those around us. The best way is to let everyone be themselves and live their lives however they want. We should love them even though we think they are ignorant or ‘wrong’. Never force other people to agree with you or try to help them “for their own good”. This only causes more strain for everyone involved.

This doesn’t mean we should just leave other people to make bad choices. It simply means we can only really help them if and when they ask for help. If people don’t want to be helped, just leave them alone. This doesn’t mean you don’t care. It means you respect them enough to let them go their own way. You can give advice but you must always be prepared to let them make their own decisions. As long as they know you’re available if and when they need you, they will turn to you when the time is right. It has to come from them.


“When the body is perfectly adjusted, perfectly supplied with force, perfectly free and works with the greatest economy of expenditure, it is fitted to be a perfect instrument alike of impression, experience, and expression.” – W.R. Alger

Annie Payson Call was a physician. She wrote Power Through Repose to help women suffering from extreme nervous tension (or “Americanitis”, as one German physician jokingly called it). The book was published 120 years ago, which is why some of the examples are outdated. But since our lives have become much more stressful than they were in her time, this book is even more relevant.

All in all, this book is quite easy to read and includes a number of practical exercises to help you release tension. My only real criticism is that it tends to jump around quite a lot. It might have been better for her to start by covering all the physical aspects before moving on to the mental ones and then ending with the moral ones (including our relationships with other people). That way, the core message would have been much clearer.

Despite this problem, the main point from this book is still fairly straightforward. It’s about resting when it’s time to rest and working in the most efficient way. It’s about dropping all forms of physical and mental resistance before and after any task. This applies to everything we do. Standing, sitting, eating, sleeping, walking, talking, thinking, reading, breathing, driving, and even going to the dentist! Just let go of all tension. Relax your body and mind. Remembering this has already made me aware of a lot of unnecessary strain, which I’m slowly starting to drop.

I like the fact that she talks about the danger of quick fixes. We live in a world where pills are the first choice in solving our health problems. But this will never really work. Instead of controlling appearances or working on symptoms, we need to get down to the underlying causes. We need to change from the inside out. That’s because all our physical pain and illness is caused by disobeying Nature’s laws. For example, instead of taking an antacid to help your indigestion, why not just eat less? That’s the simplest way.

I also liked her views about ‘sham emotions’ and how they can often make things worse. When we’re sick, we should just be sick. There’s no need to add an extra layer of suffering by getting angry at ourselves. Also, we shouldn’t add more suffering to the illness in other people by trying to sympathise. It does nobody any good if everyone is miserable. Again, this doesn’t mean you should repress your true feelings or show no care. It just means you should feel what you’re feeling and then let it go. Don’t make it bigger or smaller than it really is.

On a deeper level, this book is about letting go of all our struggles and embracing life exactly as it is. We need to stop fighting and just let go! Don’t accept your physical illness or mental stress as a part of your life because that’s just “how things are”. All it takes is a few small steps every day to start getting better. When will you take yours?

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 Daniel Wolpert’s fascinating talk on the real reason for brains.