DID you ever have the grip? If you ever have you may know how truly it is named and how it does actually grip you so that it seems as if there were nothing else in the world at the time—it appears to entirely possess you. As the Irishman says, the grip is “the disease that lasts fur a week and it takes yer six weeks ter get over it.” That is because it has possessed you so thoroughly that it must be routed out of every little fiber in your body before you are yourself again, and there are hidden corners where it lurks and hides, and it often has to be actually pulled out of them. Now it has been already recognized that if we relax and do not resist a severe cold it leaves us open so that our natural circulation carries away the cold much more quickly than if we allowed ourselves to be full of resistance to the discomfort and the consequent physical contraction that impeded the circulation and holds the cold in our system.
My point is this—that it is comparatively easy to relax out of a cold. We can do it with only a negative effort, but to relax so that nature in her steady and unswerving tendency toward health can lift us out of the grip is quite another matter. When we feel ourselves entirely in the power of such a monster as that is at its worst, it is only by a very strong and positive effort of the will that we can yield so that nature can guide us into health, and we do not need the six weeks of getting well.
In order to gain this positive sense of yielding away from the disease rather than of letting it hold us, we must do what seems at the time the impossible—we must refuse to give our attention to the pain or discomfort and insist upon giving our attention entirely to yielding out of the contractions which the painful discomforts cause. In other words, we must give up resisting the grip. It is the same with any other disease or any pain. If we have the toothache and give all our attention to the toothache, it inevitably makes it worse; but if we give our attention to yielding out of the toothache contractions, it eases the pain even though it may be that only the dentist can stop it. Once I had an ulcerated tooth which lasted for a week. I had to yield so steadily to do my work during the day and to be able to sleep at all at night that it not only made the pain bearable, but when the tooth got well I was surprised to find how many habitual contractions I had dropped and how much more freedom of action I had before my tooth began to ulcerate. I should not wish to have another ulcerated tooth in order that I might gain more freedom, but I should wish to take every pain of body and mind so truly that when the pain was over I should have gained greater freedom than I had before it began.
You see it is the same with every pain and with every disease. Nature tends toward health and if we make the disease simply a reminder to yield—and to yield more deeply—and to put our positive effort there, we are opening the way for nature to do her best work. If our entire attention is given to yielding and we give no attention whatever to the pain, except as a reminder to yield, the result seems wonderful. It seems wonderful because so few of us have the habit of giving our entire attention to gaining our real freedom.