It is painful to see a man—thin and pale from the excessive nervous force he has used, and from a whole series of attacks of nervous prostration—speak with contempt of “this method of relaxation.” It is not a method in any sense except that in which all the laws of Nature are methods. No one invented it, no one planned it; every one can see, who will look, that it is Nature’s way and the only true way of living. To call it a new idea or method is as absurd as it would be, had we carried our tension so far as to forget sleep entirely, for some one to come with a “new method” of sleep to bring us into a normal state again; and then the people suffering most intensely from want of “tired Nature’s sweet restorer” would be the most scornful in their irritation at this new idea of “sleep.”
Again, there are many, especially women, who insist that they prefer the nervously excited state, and would not lose it. This is like a man’s preferring to be chronically drunk. But all these abnormal states are to be expected in abnormal people, and must be quietly met by Nature’s principles in order to lead the sufferers back to Nature’s ways. Our minds are far enough beyond our bodies to lead us to help ourselves out of mistaken opinions; although often the sincere help of others takes us more rapidly over hard ground and prevents many a stumble.
Great nervous excitement is possible, every one knows, without muscular tension; therefore in all these motions for gaining freedom and a better physical equilibrium in nerve and muscle, the warning cannot be given too often to take every exercise easily. Do not work at it, go so far even as not to care especially whether you do it right or not, but simply do what is to be done without straining mind or body by effort. It is quite possible to make so desperate an effort to relax, that more harm than good is done. Particularly harmful is the intensity with which an effort to gain physical freedom is made by so many highly strung natures. The additional mental excitement is quite out of proportion to the gain that may come from muscular freedom. For this reason it is never advisable for one who feels the need of gaining a more natural control of nervous power to undertake the training without a teacher. If a teacher is out of the question, ten minutes practice a day is all that should be tried for several weeks.
TRAINING FOR MOTION
“IN every new movement, in every unknown attitude needed in difficult exercises, the nerve centres have to exercise a kind of selection of the muscles, bringing into action those which favor the movement, and suppressing those which oppose it.” This very evident truth Dr. Lagrange gives us in his valuable book on the Physiology of Exercise. At first, every new movement is unknown; and, owing to inherited and personal contractions, almost from the earliest movement in