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How to Stay Well

The Power Of Mind Over Body

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Every action of the mind produces a certain effect in the body. When the mental action is weak or superficial, the physical effect may be too slight to be noticed, but when this action is both deep and strong, the results will be so clearly in evidence that any one can detect them. These effects, however, are not simply functional, nor is it the nervous system alone that is acted upon. The power of the mind can and does affect everything in the body, frequently producing chemical changes that we have believed were possible only through the use of most powerful drugs. But the action of mind in the body always follows exact law; therefore when one knows the exact physical effect produced by each mental state, physical conditions can be largely determined by the intelligent use of the mind.

A few illustrations of this law will prove both interesting and profitable. That selfishness should contract the cells of the physical body does not only seem plausible, but has been demonstrated to be scientifically true. The selfish attitude is contractive. It has a tendency to draw one's self within one's self, and also to live for this isolated self alone. When the cells are contracted, what may be called a dried-up condition invariably follows, which in turn produces weakness, old age and decay.

The contraction of the cells frequently produces disease, because the contracted or dried-up cells are useless, and all useless cells become waste matter. The contraction of the cells also interferes with the healthful normal actions of the system, which, if not always producing disease, will always produce weakness; and a weakened system cannot long remain in perfect health.

The effect of selfishness upon the cells of the brain is similar. The selfish mind is always a cramped mind, and such a mind cannot attain greatness, because greatness demands mental expansion. The development of the brain and the mind through the methods of subjective concentration -methods of exceptional importance cannot be promoted with any degree of satisfaction so long as selfishness is marked and strong. Brain development requires the constant expansion of the cells, while selfishness invariably produces contraction of the cells.

It will not be necessary to draw upon one's imagination to realize that a sour mind produces a sour stomach, because this fact has been demonstrated so frequently and so conclusively. It is true that certain kinds of food may not always agree with us, but as a rule the fault does not lie with the food. Sometimes the food is at fault, but in the majority of cases the fault is in the state of mind.

Those who do not believe that the mind can affect the stomach or interfere with digestion, will be required to explain why sudden and shocking news will destroy the appetite completely also why a vivid description of the most luscious eatables will make anybody hungry, even within an hour after a hearty meal. Why the mouth should water when we think of good things may seem somewhat mysterious, but it proves conclusively that the actions of the mind can increase or retard the flow of the various juices of the system.

Those who have been observing have discovered that a person with chronic sourness of mind, and who maintains habitually a surly disposition, is very frequently troubled with sour stomach. His food does not digest, because the gastric juices are not only retarded in their flow by this disordered mental state, but these juices are chemically changed in many instances by these same states of mind. That the opposite state, cheerfulness, should help digestion, is therefore evident.

A sluggish mind produces a torpid liver, while a dull, heavy mentality produces costiveness, the reason being that the various nerve centers become almost inactive when the mind is dull, heavy or sluggish; and since these nerve centers control the different organs and functional activities of the body, a corresponding sluggishness will take place in many parts of the system. To stir up all the dormant cells, therefore, both in the brain and in the nerve centers, would aid remarkably in promoting good digestion.

Nervousness has the same effect upon the digestive process, because nervous attitudes waste energy, thereby depriving the natural functions of 'their necessary supply. Anger produces uric acid in the blood, and uric acid produces rheumatism. All rheumatism, however, does not come from anger, but anger does indirectly produce rheumatism; therefore it is wisdom to train oneself to gain absolute control over one's temper. Intense fits of anger will cause confusion and consternation among all the vital energies. These energies will accordingly go on the rampage, and will tear up millions of the weaker cells in the body.

All of these destroyed cells will be drawn into the circulation as waste matter, and will clog the smaller blood vessels, thereby causing pains and inflammation. Anger also overheats the blood, excites the action of the heart, and nearly always causes the circulation to be too strong in some parts and too weak in other parts. This, however, is not all the damage that may be wrought by anger. Anger actually burns up vital energy, and that is the reason why one feels weak after having indulged thoroughly in this expensive luxury of the smaller man.

The stubborn attitude of mind produces unconscious resistance to the natural forces, thereby preventing those forces from proceeding with their normal functions. The action of everything in the human system is more or less retarded when the mind becomes stubborn. It is therefore evident that a stubborn mind cannot become a great mind; neither can the best physical and personal development be promoted while such a mental state is permitted.

The attitude of pride has a tendency to produce artificial conditions in the system, and these in turn may produce artificial growths. A person who is full of pride does not try to improve his appearance by improving himself, but by adding something artificial to himself. Frequently this desire to add the artificial becomes so deep and strong that it takes root in one's subconscious activity. Nature herself will accordingly imitate these subconscious activities, which nature is doing all the time, and will try to add artificial growths to the physical form. In many instances she will succeed.

We do not mean, however, that all abnormal growths in the system come from pride. There are various causes for these things, and a very common cause is the clogging of waste matter coming originally from such causes as over-eating, lack of vitality, poor circulation, anger, or other disturbed states of mind. The mental attitude of pride will produce a tendency to add something artificial to the human form, and then this tendency becomes very strong it will do what it has all the time threatened to do. We should say farewell, therefore, to pride and vanity of every description, and proceed to improve ourselves by bringing forth the greater perfection of life from within.

The attitude of hatred implies the act of separation, and this action will express itself more or less in every part of the system when that feeling of hatred is strong. The system will thereby be divided against itself. Equilibrium will be disturbed. Nerves that should work together will be driven apart, and no two functions will be able to work in that perfect concord that is necessary to health, wholeness and harmony. To secure the greatest results, all things in mind and body must work together, but hatred tends to drive them apart, and therefore may cause both disease and failure. Indignation, whatever its motive, may produce the same results. For this reason indignation can never be righteous.

The attitude of worry tends to dry up, harden and ossify the cells, both of the body and of the brain. It is, therefore, one of the chief causes of old age and those conditions of lessened ability and vitality that come with old age. Worry acts directly upon the nervous system, depressing the nerves and thereby producing not only pain in the nerves, but also every imaginable form of nervousness. In fact, there is no cause that produces so many nervous disorders as worry. Such mental states as gloom, despair, despondency, discouragement and anxiety produce the same results.

They are all different forms of worry, however, sometimes mixed with selfishness. Their tendency is to depress not only the mind, but the physical tissues. This depression causes the tissues to dry up, harden and ossify, and here we have one of the principal causes for that stiffness in the human framework that we mistake for old age. When we eliminate worry, we shall eliminate one of the principal causes of disease and weakness, and we shall find it an easy matter to prolong life many many years, and stay young and vigorous as long as we live.

Envy and jealousy proceed from the desire for things that do not belong to us; that is, things that have no place in our world. It is therefore not strange that the envious person should be very susceptible to germs, epidemics, contagious diseases and the like. Jealousy repulses what we want, but attracts what we do not want. A jealous mind is repulsive, and thereby causes good things to depart from us; but it also has a weakening effect upon the body, and it is the weakened body that is the most susceptible to the ills that may exist in our environment.

The attitude of grief wastes the tissues, both in the body and in the brain, though especially in the brain. The thought of grief is loss, and as like causes like, the thought of grief will naturally produce loss wherever it may act; that is, it will cause the tissues to waste away, and will cause the system to lose much of its life and energy. Those who have grieved much have felt this loss among the elements of their own system, and when we look at those who grieve we discover the wasting process at work in every fiber. Nothing is gained, but much is lost through grief. To "dry those tears" is therefore the height of wisdom; and we all can learn how.

To enter the attitude of fear is to become negative, and to place the mind in a state of incapacity; that is, a state where you are much less than you can be. The person that fears does not hold his own, but opens his entire system to the enemy that may be at hand. To fear an adverse condition is to give that condition permission to take full possession of the system. The same results would take place if that adverse condition were purely imaginary. That which we fear we impress upon the mind, and what is impressed upon the mind will be created in the mentality, to be in turn expressed in the personality.

This is the reason why the things we fear come upon us; we create them in ourselves. Fear is always negative in its action, and a certain form of fear when very intense will entirely remove the resisting power of the physical system, thereby rendering the system extremely susceptible to any adverse condition that may exist in the body or in one's environment. In fact, in the attitude of fear we absolutely give in to everything that in any way may tend to gain a foothold in mind or body. To live in fear, therefore, is to place yourself in an utterly helpless condition. Among all the undesirable states of mind, fear has the greatest power, the reason being that it is so deeply felt, and what we feel deeply we impress deeply upon the subconscious. Fear can be entirely removed, however, by directing the subconscious to have faith -perfect faith -in all things and at all times.

To remove the effects of adverse mental states, the opposite states should be impressed upon the subconscious in every case. This practice will in a short time also remove the tendency to wrong thinking, and will increase the power of right mental states. The first function of right mental states is to re-establish normal conditions in the system. The second function is to chemically change the system so as to gradually produce more perfect actions among all the organs, functions and faculties; in other words, to steadily develop and refine every part of the mind and body so as to produce a higher order of personal and mental action.

The personality can be refined through the exercise of right mental action in the body, and as this is being done the joy of physical existence will increase correspondingly. The tendency to disease, weakness and physical inharmony will decrease, while the personality will become a more and more perfect instrument through which the limitless possibilities of the great within may be expressed.

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