Practical Methods for Self-Development
Spiritual, Mental, Physical
by Elizabeth Towne
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This book contains much useful information on how to live a healthy, prosperous life. The author gives advice on how to maintain youth and vigor and shares her own health-promoting mental and physical exercises, giving special emphasis to the importance of deep breathing. Contents include: The Rising Tide and the House of Sand; To Decide Quickly and Well; Expansion; Realization in Detail; To Free Your Soul; To Grow Spiritual Consciousness; Thought, Breath and Exercise; Points on Breath; Breathing Exercises; How to Treat Bugs and People; Jack Spratt's Wife; To Heal Asthma, Etc.; When Sins Come A-Visiting; To Command Yourself; and Physical Culture.
The Rising Tide and the House of Sand
People wonder why they fail to make quick progress in the New Thought; why they cannot "overcome" at a more rapid rate. It is for lack of consecration that they fail. Consecration is concentration, and one's progress in anything is governed by the degree of concentration, or consecration, he brings to bear. The half-hearted man attains success in nothing. The man who lives mental science at stated hours and lapses between times back to ordinary ways of living is no more "saved" than is the "Sunday Christian," who robs and oppresses his fellow creatures the remaining six days of the week.
Life is full of tips and downs, with more downs than ups until the individual has experienced enough to give him an absorbing passion for living right. The "lord his God" is a jealous God who brooks no dividing of his love. Until he is ready to leave houses, lands, father, mother, wife, children and even his own ways of doing and thinking "the lord his God" can do little toward "saving" him.
Why, dearie, it is his houses, lands, father, mother, children, wives and ways that he needs to be saved from. And his "lord God," the highest of himself, cannot save him until he is ready to be saved.
The trouble with us is that we want to be saved in our mistakes, not from them. We want the unseen powers, the Law of Attraction, or God, to work our way. We are not willing at all to give up our way and make a business, nay, make it the passion of our lives to understand the Law and live it.
Well, the time will come to every soul when to know the Law and live it will be the absorbing passion. In the meantime he is free to go in and out and find pasture where he pleases. In one thing only is he not free; if he goes out of the Law for his pasture he must feed on stubble arid stones. And no amount of weeping and wailing, agitation or supplication will transform his stubble and stones into joy and health-giving food.
And it is funny how blind we can be until we get our eyes open. We deliberately or ignorantly choose to go out of the Law for our pasture and then, when we find stubble and stones, we lift up our voices and declare there is something wrong with the Law—"it won't work in my case"—"there are persons who can't be healed"—et cetera. When a cow jumps a fence she has good sense enough to get into better pasture, but a human being "can't see" why he can't jump any old fence and find better pasture. So he goes in and out—over the fence—and finds pasture more or less to his liking.
Until finally he gets his eyes open and borns an instinct for the right side of the fence.
To be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise a man must live according to the Law of his being, which is the Law of all beings and the universe at large. He is free to live according to the Law, or contrary to it, but he is not free to live contrary to the Law and yet reap happiness, health, wealth, wisdom, houses, lands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, "his own way," ten fold more in this present life, and in the time to come life everlasting.
If you can't get your way, if you have not the houses, lands and relations you would like, it is not a sign the Law is out of joint. It is only a sign you are on the wrong side of the fence. You are not living according to the Law of your being.
Every little unpleasant experience, every little curling of your solar plexus, is a shouting sign-board that says "GET OUT OF THE STUBBLE AND STONE FIELDS!" The farther you get away from the Law of your being the larger grow the signs—the harder the experiences and stony feelings.
Read and heed the signs, "Back again to the way!"
What is the Law of being? Why, dearie, it is just Love. "God is Love." The lord thy God is love. "God" is diminutive for "Good"—just as "Will" is diminutive of "William." The lord thy good is love. Love is good. Good is love. Love is the only good. Love is that which, when expressed, draws all good things to it. (Sounds like Mary Baker Eddy, doesn't it? But it is good sense just the same. Read it carefully—absorb it, and it will illuminate you.)
The Law of your being is LOVE.
If you want to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise, clear down to the littlest things, you must live Love clear down to the littlest things. To love one person devotedly is not enough. To love a dozen is not enough. To love a person and yet live in faultfinding with him is not enough. To love the whole world so you would give your body to be burned for it, and yet live condemning it and exhorting it, is not enough.
To live love is to see no evil to condemn.
"Oh, but," you exclaim, "evils are facts. How can I help seeing them? It is a fact that my boy is wayward and my husband neglects me and I have not money enough to do with and my neighbor tells lies about me. How can I help seeing it all?"
Bless your dear, anxious heart, what are facts?
Nothing but children's sand forts on the beach, that the incoming tide levels again—ready for more forts and children. Facts are killing things; they are "the letter" that maketh not alive. Don't be a Gradgrind nor the son of a Gradgrind and you will not have such "Hard Times." If your son or husband or neighbor makes a crooked fort on the sands of time, what of it? Is there any reason for you to neglect your sand houses whilst you wring your hands over his?
Remember the rising tide, which will sweep all your forts, your "facts," to a common level and give you an opportunity to build better. The universal Love-tide is rising, rising, and you may safely trust it to sweep clear and clean everything which does not deserve immortality. And after your neighbor and husband and son and you have built enough sand houses; and lost them by the rising Love-tide; you will have learned better how to build, and where; and you will go away up and build on the rock.
Don't let "facts" get between you and the TRUTH. The fact of today is not the fact of tomorrow. It is a "fact" that blood circulates in the living human body. Tomorrow or next day the fact may he that electric fluid circulates, instead of blood. Less than one hundred years ago it was an accepted "fact" that blood was stationary in the veins. So the doctor bled his patient carefully on both sides to keep the blood even!
Don't exaggerate the importance of "facts."
Remember the rising Lone-tide of the universe and trust it to wash out all mistakes. I would say trust it to wash out all "evil," only there isn't any evil to wash out. The nearest approach to any "evil" is this habit of exaggerating "facts" until they get between you and the truth of your being, and your husband's and son's and neighbor's being. You can hug a "fact" until it will shut out the entire universe; just as a dime held close to the eye will obscure the sun. And if you persist in hugging "facts" so tightly you will not see where you are, and the rising Love-tide may sweep you to a level with the sand house "facts." Thus is the Pharisee rewarded.
Tend to your own sand houses.
And when the Love-tide rises over your building, never mind. Just get ready and build again.
It is building, and building again, that draws out the wisdom which is trying to shine through you. The mere possession of the thing after you have finished it is nothing at all. No, it might even be a millstone around your neck, or a "fact" in your eye.
Just rejoice when the Love-tide sweeps things away, rejoice and go on building. Go on waking up and utilizing the new ideas gained from working on that last sand house. Become as a little child—dance around and shout for glee as the rising tide licks up your sand house and makes everything smooth for a better one and more fun.
The universal Love-tide is rising in every human soul—rising, rising, leveling, cleaning, making ready the soul for wiser building.
Your business is to trust the Love-tide in others; affirm it when you cannot see or feel it; be still and know that it is working there just the same; and turn your efforts upon your own work, to the end that the Love-tide be not hindered in you.
The Love-tide rises through the sun center or solar plexus of you, and flows out into all your body, and still outward through your aura or atmosphere where it touches that which rises through other people.
You can do much to obstruct the rising—for a time—by simply withholding love. Your solar plexus can be puckered up or let out. When it is let oat love flows unrestrained, you "feel good" and everybody who touches you "feels good." "Virtue hath gone out" of you—the rising Love-tide swells through you and sings and murmurs love-words in you.
But when you pucker your solar plexus ever so little you restrain the rising tide, which keeps pressing to come through. This contraction on your part, and pressure on the part of the Love-tide, makes you "feel bad." You are oppressed with the blues, and all sorts of emotional storms and electric displays are the consequence, proportionate in intensity to the degree of puckering you make. We speak of "oppressive weather" and then there is a thunder storm to clear it. Our personal atmosphere is subject to the same laws. An angry fit and then a "good cry" does for us what a thunder storm does for the earth's atmosphere—it breaks up the puckering and gives free action again to that rising Love-tide.
It is THOUGHT which holds the solar plexus puckering string. It is THOUGHT which draws it tight and makes you "feel bad." It is THOUGHT which lets out the draw string, admits the rising Love-tide and makes you "feel good."
Let-go-thoughts release the puckers and free the solar center to its normal, happy shining. Resistance-thoughts keep puckering, puckering—until it takes a thunder storm to make you let go.
If you think a thing is good you automatically let go and let your Love-tide flow—outward through all your nerves, on out through your aura to all the world. The reason for this is that you are good, clear through from center to circumference, and when you recognize another good person or thing you recognize your affinity and you just naturally shine—you let love flow unobstructed.
But you hate and are more or less afraid of all which is not good. Consequently when you recognize any person or thing as not good you automatically pucker. You can't help it and never can—any more than you can live and not breathe.
To recognize a good thing frees you; to recognize a bad thing puckers you. And your feelings match to a hair's breadth.
It takes more than one evil recognized to pucker you to the verge of a thunder storm. Our thoughts in us are just like people in the world. A few people in the world have immense power to influence; a few thoughts that come to us have great power to influence us. A thought of fear has puckered a man until he died outright. Another thought of great good has opened so suddenly the floodgates of love that the man couldn't bear the joy, and died.
But the great mass of our thoughts are like the great masses of people; it takes a lot of them, a mob, or a caucus, or the whole lot at the polls—to make any perceptible impression.
The most of our emotional storms and bad feelings come from piling on, one after another, a great mass of these common every-day thoughts. Each one makes such a little pucker that we don't notice it; but after a whole mob of these little thoughts have collected we feel a very decided and ugly pucker right in the "pit of the stomach," back of which lies the solar plexus and all the puckerings; we "feel depressed" or "bad," or "blue," or our "heart sinks." Then if just a few more unpleasant thoughts come and do each his little puckering, there is a mighty emotional storm—thunder, lightning and showers. Then we "feel better"—because we let go—had to—puckered so hard, with the Universal Love-tide pressing harder, that we couldn't stand it any longer.
Recognition of not-good puckers the solar plexus and we "feel bad."
Recognition of good lets out the puckers and we "feel better."
From this you will see that if we want always to "feel good" we must recognize only good. You will never "feel good" and be a good mental scientist until you have swallowed and digested this idea: "EACH thing in its place is "best" Until you can bring all the happenings and people of your every-day life into this thought, and until you know that "each thing" is in its place, you will be more or less of a not-good scientist, and your feelings will match.
There is no use in my trying to reason you into knowing that "each thing in its place is best" and each thing is in its place. Tomes have been written upon this subject, and tomes more might still be written, and still you would neither understand nor apply the truth. One man's reasons are not the enlightener of another man's reason.
And yet the whole world recognizes that reason needs enlightenment. That enlightenment must come from the Universal Spirit witnessing with the individual spirit that any given proposition is true. Take those statements, "each thing in its place is best," and "each thing is in its place,"—take them into your consciousness and live with them. Hold them up before your mental eyes and wait patiently for the Spirit to illuminate your understanding. Set them up as King-thoughts within you, and let them rule until all your being, every tiny cell and atom, is converted and cries out in spirit, "Yes! I see, I see— each thing is in its place and is best!" Just "hold the thought" and wait patiently until its spirit illumines you. Those words are spirit and they are life. LET them witness with your spirit and bring you to life. This is spiritual digestion.
Be still and know.
This is the only way to arrive at the stage of all-good recognition and all-good feeling.
The uneducated eye sees masses and misses details. It sees a mob as a mob, not as a collection of individuals. It sees a man as a two-legged creature; not as a collection of separate and distinct motives and purposes acting more or less in concert. So the person whose mental eye is not educated sees his thoughts only as they gather in mobs. His individual thoughts and attendant feelings entirely escape his notice. Ho doesn't know that there is almost a continuous stream of unpleasant recognitions passing through his mind, each giving a little pucker to his solar plexus. He has not noticed his thoughts as they passed. Only after each has made his little pucker until there has aggregated a great big pucker at his solar plexus does he notice that there is anything wrong.
Until we have arrived at a certain stage of development we live in a pucker and never know it. But we wonder why we don't feel good and why we don't enjoy life.
Do you know that little feeling at the solar plexus is our highest conscience and an infallible guide to all good? It is the "Urim and Thummim" of intuition, the enlightener of reason and all objective life.
A little pucker means think the opposite thing. A big pucker means you have been thinking a lot of mistakes until a whole mob has gathered.
Sometimes a mob can be dispersed quickly, as when there is a thunder storm, but generally it slowly disperses, one pucker at a time, as you deny the thought that made the pucker. As long as you affirm the thought the pucker stays.
Remember, it is always unpleasant thoughts that pucker. Now there is nothing in all this beautiful world which is essentially unpleasant. It is the individual's point of view which makes him say one thing is pleasant and another is unpleasant. The point of view is always in himself. For instance, a reeking compost heap is a pleasant sight to a good farmer, hut a city dandy steps gingerly past it with tilted nose and curling lip. The farmer sees latent possibilities and rejoices—lets out a pucker. The dandy sees only a reeking fact and curls his solar plexus a little tighter.
Everything and everybody has two points of view, the real and the ideal. We can see the real only, and either expand or pucker ourselves over it, according to whether we want or don't want it at this particular time and place, or we can see the person or thing as a potentiality of beauties yet to manifest, and thus find in it cause for expansion,, rejoicing—cause for loving.
If we cannot always feel with the potential side of him, we can at least try to feel with it. And we can always affirm it.
And every one of these little affirmations lets out a pucker in our solar plexus. We have only to repeat the affirmation times enough to let them all out and stand forth free, a veritable glowing sun of love, a joy to ourselves and to all others.
It takes a tremendous pucker and a thunder storm to turn the heedless or ignorant one from the error of his way. And then he is only turned for the moment. Back he goes on to the same old track.
But he learns. And when once his attention is turned in the right direction, when he lets all the puckers out and sets himself to "walk softly" and guard against even a tiny new one—when once he realizes the joy of free loving of all things and people—it becomes the passion of his life to keep his light shining. It becomes the passion of his life to consult and obey the "Urim and Thummim" oracles of good in his own solar plexus—soul-ar center. Where it once took whole mobs of unpleasant thoughts and consequent puckers to call his attention to the mistakes of his thinking, it now takes but one little false thought to make pucker enough to call him back to the way of right thinking. He is learning to "walk softly" before his God, and take notice of little things, of details, instead of tearing heedlessly along until little things aggregate in some great "evil" of depression or emotional storm.
This is refinement. It is true sensitiveness to the spirit within. The new sensitiveness leads to absolute freedom from puckers, because it is sensitiveness on the God side of us. The old sensitiveness led to innumerable and multiplied puckers, because it was on the outside of us and made us cringe and curl back upon ourselves.
Keep letting go, letting go, and affirming Good, until you get every last pucker out of your solar plexus.
Then you will be sensitive to its intuitions. "Walk softly" and you will detect and deny every mistaken thought as it presents itself, and thus wilt you live always in soul-shine and joy—instead of puckers. And gradually these old mistaken race beliefs of evil will disappear from you and all your environment.
It is the only way. Eternal consecration to good is the price of freedom and joy and life abundant and eternal.
Pucker not over thine own or another's houses of sand, but remember the rising Love-tide. Let it into thine own soul-ar center.
Be still and know the I AM-GOOD in everything.
Is your solar plexus curled up and you don't know why? Never mind trying to find the particular mistaken thoughts that made the puckers. Just set to work and loosen the puckers. Perhaps there is someone who is particularly trying to you, or some work particularly distasteful. You may safely guess it is the things you've boon thinking about them that have shriveled you so. Now call them up before you and remember their good points. Enumerate them to yourself, one by one. Hunt for them—even if you have to use a microscope to find them. Then lump them all together in your thought and say, "You are good—you ARE. I love you. I LOVE you. I LOVE YOU!" Say it hard, and say it over and over. Do this at night and go to sleep on it. You will be amazed at the good will you will feel toward those people and things in the morning. You will wonder how you ever managed to see so many faults in them yesterday, and you will feel as kind and loving as can be. Furthermore, you will find all your work go along as smoothly as can be. All because your sun is shining.
After you have gone to sleep this way a few nights you will find it become easier and easier to do, and all your work and daily relations will be easier and easier. Not only your soul-light will shine, but everybody's else will begin to peep out, from sympathy.
Your solar plexus is probably stiff to begin with, like any long-contracted muscle. That is why you can't loose all the puckers with a word, but must repeat your statements over and over, with vigor, and then go to sleep into the bargain, before you can feel the soul center expand. But as you keep practicing you will find your solar plexus respond more and more readily, until you can let out the puckers almost with a word and two or three slow, full breaths.
And always remember that an ounce of prevention is worth whole pounds of cure. Be kind, and puckers won't come. Walk softly. Handle things gently, lovingly. Try to feel with them. Remember that all eternity is before you. There's plenty of time.
There's the Love-tide, rising, rising. Let it rise.
To Decide Quickly and Well
"I want to be able to decide quickly, feeling the decision to be right, and not regretting same later." L. B.
The habit of indecision is due to the habit of conscious interference with the functions of the sub-conscious self. Indecision is peculiar to the very materialistic person, or rather, to the person who is passing through the materialistic stage of development, whose sole reliance is placed upon the visible and conscious world. When he says "I" he thinks only of that which is contained "between his hat and his shoes," but principally of that which lies directly under his hat. He thinks his judgment is about all there is to him. So he tries to weigh every little thing as well as every great thing, and to decide which is right. And finds himself oftener wrong than right; which adds to the difficulty of the nest decision.
If you pass him the fruit he simply can't decide which "will be best for him." And eventually he can't even tell which he prefers! If it is a question of what to wear he is in a worse dilemma. There are so many "ifs" to be weighed in each balance before the decision can be made. Shall he go down town now, or wait until later? It is "later" before his decision is made. Then it is still later before he can decide whether, or not, to take an umbrella.
Such a man wears his nerves to tatters trying to decide the trivial things in life; when it comes to matters of real importance he simply can't decide. Somebody must do it for him. He is so weighed down with remembrance of the trivial things he decided wrong that he dares not decide this important matter.
And this man is always one of the intelligent and good men who can do things, who have no bad habits and who are anxious always to do right. They are so anxious that they overdo the thing. For every time the ordinary "sinner" falls short of the mark of exact righteousness this good and anxious man overshoots the mark twice!
Note the opposite of the painstaking, conscientious fellow —the happy-go-lucky, healthy "animal" man. This man bears a charmed—and charming—life. Everybody is attracted to him, for he has no cares and is consequently always ready with a jolly. The world loves a jolly—it greases the wheels of progress in any and all directions. The world passes the "animal" man the fruit dish and it never fazes him. Whilst the other man's face puckers into an anxious frown in the attempt to decide whether an apple or a pear would disagree least with his internal economy, the "animal" man takes 'em both!—and flings you back a quip that makes the world wish it had more to offer.
The first man is lean and anxious; and he expects nothing less than that the "animal" man will be blasted for his reckless disregard of "nature's laws," etc. Not so; the "animal" man is fat and prosperous, with a heart at leisure to jolly his way through life. And maybe through death too—who knows?
A little self-consciousness is a dangerous thing. That is the trouble with the man who spends his life trying to decide—and regretting his decisions afterward.
The "animal" man is not self-conscious at all. He lets his appetites decide for him, and his mind and heart are free for the enjoyment of all that comes. He is a typical Adam in the garden of Eden, and to save your life you can't help admiring and loving the strength and readiness and sunshiness of him, no matter how much, you may disapprove of some of his acts. Your heart naturally warm? to him, as your body does to the sun; for he is alive with the Love of Life.
The man of indecisions is more "advanced" than the animal man; he has been driven by his developing intelligence from the garden of Eden, and is wandering in the Wilderness trying to "decide" what is "good" and what is "bad."
By and by his self-consciousness will grow up and he will find he has traveled in a circle and come back to the garden of Eden.
A little self-consciousness.—
All a man's brains are not contained in his hat. All a man's power of judgment and decision is not in his skull. There are brains distributed all over his body—far more brain, in bulk, than can be found in his head. Not only this, but every cell of his body has a brain of its own. The body is all brain. Not a portion of it but knows how to weigh and judge whatever facts are related to it. It is the province of the digestive organs not only to take care of the food given it, but to decide what food is best. The "animal" man's conscious mind—the brain under his hat—has nothing to do with his decision to take both apple and pear. His digestive brain makes the decision, unconsciously to himself—to his conscious mind.
The Wilderness man interferes with the action of at least ninety-five percent of his brains, which are in his body. He tries with his little five percent conscious mind to boss his whole life and all its decisions. No wonder he is dead tired mentally. No wonder he can't "let go." No wonder he develops nervous prostration.
The "animal" man lets each function of his body use its own brains and make its own decision, whilst his five percent conscious mind, and all his body, enjoys the results. He does all this without thinking about it. "Thinking" is done by the five per cent conscious mind.
The fully developed man will do just as the "animal" man does; except that he will know what he is doing, and why.
Now I have talked about the body because every man who is afflicted as L. B. is, is a materialist and wants something tangible to pin his faith to. But I want to impress it upon every reader that the brains of your head and body are but the smallest part of the brains you have to depend upon.
About you is an aura which contains still finer brains and nerves than any in your head or body.
And outside your aura are the still finer brains and nerves commonly called "God," which are yours for the asking. Or, rather, they are yours for the trusting.
Through these highest and finest brains and nerves you are connected with every other human being. The man who leaves his higher decisions to the God-brains of us will be "led aright." It is not necessary for you to decide to go see a certain man today, only to find him gone, or out of humor for your proposition. The God-brain of you knows where the man is, and what his humor. The God-brain impresses you to go or stay. Unless you have accustomed your little five percent conscious mind to interfere with the God-mind impressions you will know instantly, and without thinking, just what to do. Religionists call this being "led by the Spirit." I want you to know that it is a real thing, to be depended upon in the tiniest and most trivial affairs of life, as well as in the most important. This God-mind of you is the God-mind of me, and of every other being; and it is the particular part of our wonderful selves which knows what to do, and when, and how, in all those things in which are involved people or things outside our physical bodies.
There are brains to take care of each and all functions within the body—brains of whose workings we are not conscious and with whose decisions it is most foolish to interfere.
Around our bodies are the aural brains which, all unconsciously to us (i. e., our five percent conscious selves) weigh and judge of matters which come within range of our senses of sight, smell and hearing, but not in range of touch or taste.
And over all is the Universal Mind in which we live and move and by which we exist, and which is intelligent enough and loving enough and big enough to lead us all right, each for his own-best good, and for the good of all others.
Now all these different departments of mind (or brains), focalize at that little five per cent conscious brain of you, which has the power of interfering with and upsetting the workings of these other and larger brains of your being.
All these other departments of you have but one way of speaking to your conscious mind; they impress it to do thus, or so. The man who follows his impressions, as does the "animal" man, is led aright. The fully developed man will follow his impressions and his life will run on well oiled tracks.
To every human being his sub-conscious and super-conscious minds send the right impressions. The fault lies in the little conscious five per cent mind, which gets too busy to receive the impressions.
To be still mentally is the key to the whole thing.
To be still physically is the greatest aid to mental stillness; hence the value of relaxation and silence hours. "Be still and know the I Am-God," is a scientific injunction, and must be heeded by him who would receive correct impressions on any line.
Besides this, the man of indecision must practice decision on the little things of life. When the fruit is passed he must take one before he has time to think. Then he must stick to it that his sub-conscious self made the right decision. No matter what the results he must not allow himself to question that decision— not even if he has to stamp his foot and shout, "It was right—it was!"—in order to scatter the doubts. After which he should run quick and get interested in something else.
This is the course he should religiously pursue until he sets the habit of quick decision—of deciding without thinking (thinking, mind you, is the little dinkey business of that impotent five percent of you), and trusting his impressions as correct.
Oh, at first he will seem to make mistakes; but after a few months' practice he will find "mistakes" far fewer. Eventually there will be none. And, oh, the relief to that poor little burdened five percent self!
Be still and know.
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