MOST people will admit that with many fitness is largely a question of nerves. Further, nerve troubles are often brought about by indigestion. Tea and coffee to some act like a poison. It is impossible to continue fit for long in body or mind if we do not become, not only masters of our stomachs, but also of our nerves. With many it is a much greater task to control their nerves than their appetite. The mastery of both, however, must be attained before perfect health and fitness can be assured.
The purer, the simpler and the less stimulating the food, the easier the control of ones nerves. The stimulating diet that fish, flesh and fowl provides, is anything but helpful. It is quite possible, however, to take the most easily digested food in the best possible manner, that would prove beneficial under normal conditions, yet may prove quite otherwise if accompanied by grief, fright, worry or a fit of temper.
Any of these conditions may bring about indigestion. In fact nerves and indigestion act and re-act on each other. Many helpful things may be done for both but without a determined will, set like a flint, to overcome the difficulties, things are likely to get worse rather than better, the ultimate result being a nervous breakdown in one or other of its many forms.
It should be remembered, further, that it is not the “dont care” folk who thus suffer, but the best of men and women, who are willing to carry not only their own burdens, but also those of as many weaker ones as possible. These good people often view from a wrong angle the world they so much wish to serve. When told that they must take things easier, they will say “that is impossible”, but they have to learn that the world did manage to exist prior to their endeavour to make it better, and will continue to improve when they have finished.
There are times when “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Further, ” it is much better to take a rest when you can, than to lay up when you must.” Many good people have day-dreams, and have already made the world a better, sweeter and richer place through their endeavour to translate such dreams into actual being. Their endeavours to “build a new Jerusalem in Englands green and pleasant land” have not been without avail. It is not day-dreams, however, that I wish to talk about.
About thirty years ago I was sitting at lunch with about a dozen ministers, who were attending a conference, when the conversation turned to dreams. I was surprised to hear that although they all believed that they were responsible for the control of their thoughts when awake, they did not think they were responsible for either their thoughts or dreams when asleep. This led me to join in the conversation and say that experience had taught me otherwise, to my lasting benefit in mind and body. I, like most others, have had the nightmare, have fallen off the top of a house, and have had many other nerve-racking experiences.
Many doubtless have to admit also that they have yielded to temptations that have come to them during sleep that they would have resisted when awake, and have wakened thoroughly disgusted with themselves. The clergymen sitting round the table actually believed that these things could not be helped, and they were not responsible. They could scarcely believe that I had finished with all such things before I was twenty years of age, by going to bed to sleep and learning to take no troubles to bed with me.
I think I have described how this was accomplished in “HEAL THYSELF” some time ago, viz. by sitting on the side of the bed in the cold and dark, ready to get between the sheets, and thinking and settling all my troubles before getting into bed. It is wonderful how soon one has finished. The last thoughts for this purpose that one has before falling asleep should be, “It is only a dream, it is not reality, take no notice, do not let it affect you in the least.” With a little practice you will be aware that you are dreaming. Having accomplished this, you will soon cease to dream at all. It thus had mastered my dreams by banishing them, instead of being a slave to them.
I have never seen, to my knowledge, any of those ministerial friends since, but I have often wondered whether the relating of my experience had any influence on them. In any case my experience has proved most beneficial to me. It has provided me with restful sleep, an up-and-at-it feeling on awaking and a fitness for work that I do not think I otherwise ever should have possessed. I am not at all sure, however, that this is all the truth about dreams. More than fifty years experience has led me to believe that my conclusions about dreams may be quite wrong. It may be that my sub-conscious mind is at work all the time, without taxing the body in any way.
I will sum up more than fifty years experience and let my readers draw their own conclusions. At the age of fifteen I was in a large house of business, and although we usually worked well into the night we formed an “Early Morning Cricket Club”. I was appointed captain. We soon found that most mornings more members stayed in bed than turned up on the cricket pitch. It accordingly proved too much trouble to run after the ball behind the wicket. As I had been brought up by the sea and had learned to net, I volunteered to make a net to place behind the wicket.
There were obtained the necessary materials for a start soon after eight oclock one evening, but after sticking to the job until twelve oclock I gave it up as hopeless, not having succeeded in making the first stitch. Not a very enviable position to be placed in, with a dozen other youths all “living in.” However, I soon fell asleep and woke up, only in time to make for the cricket field, but as soon as I awoke I knew how to make that first stitch, and what is more, i got out of bed and made it.
since then I have found in my business career, to say nothing of the many duties undertaken in connection with outside philanthropic organizations, as many problems as most men. Many of the food problems have resulted in scores of experiments being made. I have always tried to let none of these worry me, but have slept over them. They have almost all been settled after a dreamless (?) sleep, without any effort, before getting out of bed at six oclock. Two hours gardening before setting out for the office has done the rest. Thus has been accomplished the impossible of yesterday.
Variety of medicines is the child of ignorance; and if it be true, according to the proverb that “many dishes have made many diseases,” it is not less true that many medicines have made few cures.-BACON, Advancement of Learning.