A1. Some Laws of Health and Beauty.
Your thoughts shape your face, and give it its peculiar expression. Your thoughts determine the attitude, carriage, and shape of your whole body.
The law for beauty and the law for perfect health is the same. Both depend entirely on the state of your mind; or, in other words, on the kind of thoughts you most put out and receive. Ugliness of expression comes of unconscious transgressions of a law, be the ugliness in the young or the old. Any form of decay in a human body, any form of weakness, any thing in the personal appearance of a man or woman which makes them repulsive to you, is because their prevailing mood of mind has made them so.
Nature plants in us what some call “instinct,” what we call the higher reason, because it comes of the exercise of a finer set of senses than our outer or physical senses, to dislike every thing that is repulsive or deformed, or that shows signs of decay. That is the inborn tendency in human nature to shun the imperfect, and seek and like the relatively perfect. Your higher reason is right in disliking wrinkles or decrepitude, or any form or sign of the body’s decay, for the same reason you are right in disliking a soiled or torn garment. Your body is the actual clothing, as well as the instrument used by your mind or spirit. It is the same instinct, or higher reason making you like a well‑formed and beautiful body, that makes you like a new and tasteful suit of clothes.
You and generations before you, age after age, have been told it was an inevitable necessity, that it was the law and in the order of nature for all times and all ages, that after a certain period in life your body must wither and become unattractive, and that even your minds must fail with increasing years. You have been told that your mind had no power to repair and recuperate your body—to make it over again, and make it newer and fresher continually.
It is no more in the inevitable order of Nature, that human bodies should decay as peoples’ bodies have decayed in the past than that man should travel only by stage‑coach as he did sixty years ago; or that messages could be sent only by letter as they were fifty years ago, before the use of the electric telegraph; or that your portraits could be taken only by the painter’s brush as they were half a century ago, before the discovery that the sun could imprint an image of yourself, an actual part of yourself, on a sensitive surface prepared for it.
It is the impertinence of a dense ignorance for any of us to say what is in or what is to be in the order of nature. It is a stupid blunder to look back at the little we know of the past, and say that it is the unerring index finger telling us what is to be in the future.
If this planet has been what geology teaches it has been,—a planet fuller of coarser, cruder, and more violent forces than now; abounding in forms of coarser vegetable, animal, and even human life and organization than now; of which its present condition is a refinement and improvement as regards vegetable, animal, and man,—is not this the suggestion, the hint, the proof, of a still greater refinement and improvement for the future; a refinement and improvement going on now? Does not refinement imply greater power, as the greater power of the crude iron comes out in steel? and are not these greater and as yet almost unrecognized powers to come out of the highest and most complex form of known organization, man? and are all of man’s powers yet known?
Internally, secretly, among the thinking thousands of this and other lands, is this and many other questions now being asked: “Why must we so wither and decay, and lose the best that life is worth living for, just as we have gained that experience and wisdom that best fits us to live?” The voice of the people is always at first a whispered voice. The prayer or demand or desire of the masses is always at first a secret prayer, demand, wish, or desire, which one man at first dare scarcely whisper to his neighbor for fear of ridicule. But it is a law of Nature, that every demand, silent or spoken, brings its supply of the thing wished for in proportion to the intensity of the wish, and the growing numbers so wishing; who, by the action of their minds upon some one subject, set in motion that silent force of thought, not as yet heeded in the world’s schools of philosophy, which brings the needed supply. Millions so wished in silence for means to travel more rapidly, to send intelligence more rapidly; and this brought steam and the electric telegraph. Soon other questions and demands are to be answered, questions ever going out in silence from multitudes; and, in answering them, in at first attempting to carry out and prove the answers and the means shown to accomplish or realize many things deemed impossible or visionary, there will be mistake and stupidity, and blunder and silliness, and breakdowns and failures, and consequent ridicule; just as there were ten smashups on railways, and ten bursted boilers in the earlier era of the use of steam, to one of to‑day. But a truth always goes straight ahead despite mistake and blunder, and proves itself at last.
There are two kinds of age,—the age of your body, and the age of your mind. Your body in a sense is but a growth, a construction, of to‑day, and for the use of to‑day. Your mind is another growth or construction millions of years old. It has used many bodies in its growth. It has grown from very small beginnings to its present condition, power, and capacity in the use of these many bodies. You have, in using these bodies, been far ruder and coarser than you are now. You have lived as now you could not live at all, and in forms of life or expression very different from the form you are now using; and each new body or young body you have worn has been a new suit of clothes for your mind; and what you call “death” has been and is but the wearing out of this suit through ignorance of the means, not so much of keeping it in repair, as of building it continually into a newer and newer freshness and vitality.
You are not young relatively. Your present youth means that your body is young. The older your spirit, the better can you preserve the youth, vigor, and elasticity of your body. Because the older your mind, the more power has it gathered from its many existences. You can use that power for the preservation of beauty, of health, of vigor, of all that can make you attractive to others. You can also unconsciously use the same power to make you ugly, unhealthy, weak, diseased, and unattractive. The more you use this power in either of these directions, the more will it make you ugly or beautiful, healthy or unhealthy, attractive or unattractive; that is, as regards unattractiveness for this one existence. Ultimately you must, if not in this in some other existence, be symmetrical; because the evolution of the mind, of which the evolution of our bodies from coarser to higher forms is but a crude counterpart, is ever toward the higher, finer, better, and happier.
That power is your thought. Every thought of yours is a thing as real, though you cannot see it with the physical, or outer eye, as a tree, a flower, a fruit. Your thoughts are continually molding your muscles into shapes and manner of movement in accordance with their character. If your thought is always determined and decided, your step in walking will be decided. If your thought is permanently decided, your whole carriage, bearing, and address will show that if you say a thing you mean it.
If your thoughts are permanently undecided, you will have a permanently undecided gesture, address, carriage, or manner of using your body; and this, when long continued, will make the body grow decidedly misshapen in some way, exactly as when you are writing in a mood of hurry, your hurried thought makes misshapen letters, and sometimes misshapen ideas; while your reposeful mood or thought makes well‑formed letters and graceful curves as well as well‑formed and graceful ideas. You are every day thinking yourself into some phase of character and facial expression, good or bad. If your thoughts are permanently cheerful, your face will look cheerful.
If most of the time you are in a complaining, peevish, quarrelsome mood, this kind of thought will put ugly lines on your face; they will poison your blood, make you dyspeptic, and ruin your complexion; because then you are in your own unseen laboratory of mind, generating an unseen and poisonous element, your thought; and as you put it out or think it, by the inevitable law of nature, it attracts to it the same kind of thought‑element from others. You think or open your mind to the mood of despondency or irritability, and you draw more or less of the same thought‑element from every despondent or irritable man or woman in your town or city. You are then charging your magnet, your mind, with its electric thought‑current of destructive tendency, and the law and property of thought connects all the other thought‑currents of despondency or irritability with your mental battery, your mind. If we think murder or theft, we bring ourselves by this law into spiritual relationship and rapport with every thief or murderer in the world.
Your mind can make your body sick or well, strong or weak, according to the thought it puts out, and the action upon it of the thought of others. Cry “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, and scores of persons are made tremulous, weak, paralyzed by fear. Perhaps it was a false alarm. It was only the thought of fire, a horror acting on your body, that took away its strength.
The thought or mood of fear has in cases so acted on the body as to turn the hair white in a few hours.
Angered, peevish, worried, or irritable thought affects injuriously the digestion. A sudden mental shock may lose one’s whole appetite for a meal, or cause the stomach to reject such meal when eaten. The injury so done the body suddenly, in a relatively few cases, by fear or other evil state of mind, works injury more gradually on millions of bodies all over the planet.
Dyspepsia does not come so much of the food we eat, as of the thoughts we think while eating it. We may eat the healthiest bread in the world; and if we eat it in a sour temper, we will put sourness in our blood, and sourness in our stomachs, and sourness on our faces. Or if we eat in an anxious frame of mind, and are worrying all the time about how much we should eat or should not eat, and whether it may not hurt us after all, we are consuming anxious, worried, fretful thought‑element with our food, and it will poison us. If we are cheerful and chatty and lively and jolly while eating, we are putting liveliness and cheer into ourselves, and making such qualities more and more a part of ourselves. And if our family group eat in silence, or come to the table with a sort of forced and resigned air, as if saying, each one to him or herself, “Well, all this must be gone over again;” and the head of the family buries himself in his business cares, or his newspaper, and reads all the murders and suicides and burglaries and scandals for the last twenty‑four hours; and the queen of the household buries herself in sullen resignation or household cares, then there are being literally consumed at that table, along with the food, the thought‑element of worry and murder and suicide and the morbid element, which loves to dwell on the horrible and ghastly; and, as a result, dyspepsia, in some of its many forms, will be manufactured all the way down the line, from one end of the table to the other.
If the habitual expression of a face be a scowl, it is because the thoughts behind that face are mostly scowls. If the corners of a mouth are turned down, it is because most of the time the thoughts which govern and shape that mouth are gloomy and despondent. If a face does not invite people, and make them desire to get acquainted with its wearer, it is because that face is a sign advertising thoughts behind it which the wearer may not dare to speak to others, possibly may not dare to whisper to himself.
The continual mood of hurry, that is, of being in mind or spirit in a certain place long before the body is there, will cause the shoulders to stoop forward; because in such mood you do literally send your thought, your spirit, your real though invisible self, to the place toward which your power, your thought, is dragging your body headfirst; and through such life‑long habit of mind does the body grow as the thought shapes it. A “self‑contained” man is never in a hurry; and a self‑contained man keeps or contains his thought, his spirit, his power, mostly on the act or use he is making at the present moment with the instrument his spirit uses, his body; and the habitually self‑possessed woman will be graceful in every movement, for the reason that her spirit has complete possession and command of its tool, the body; and is not a mile or ten miles away from that body in thought, and fretting or hurrying or dwelling on something at that distance from her body.
When we form a plan for any business, any invention, any undertaking, we are making something of that unseen element, our thought, as real, though unseen, as any machine of iron or wood. That plan or thought begins, as soon as made, to draw to itself, in more unseen elements, power to carry itself out, power to materialize itself in physical or visible substance. When we dread a misfortune, or live in fear of any ill, or expect ill luck, we make also a construction of unseen element, thought,—which, by the same law of attraction, draws to it destructive, and to you damaging, forces or elements. Thus the law for success is also the law for misfortune, according as it is used; even as the force of a man’s arm can save another from drowning, or strike a dagger to his heart. Of whatever possible thing we think, we are building, in unseen substance, a construction which will draw to us forces or elements to aid us or hurt us, according to the character of thought we think or put out.
If you expect to grow old, and keep ever in your mind an image or construction of yourself as old and decrepit, you will assuredly be so. You are then making yourself so.
If you make a plan in thought, in unseen element, for yourself, as helpless, and decrepit, such plan will draw to you of unseen thought‑element that which will make you weak, helpless, and decrepit. If, on the contrary, you make for yourself a plan for being always healthy, active, and vigorous, and stick to that plan, and refuse to grow decrepit, and refuse to believe the legions of people who will tell you that you must grow old, you will not grow old. It is because you think it must be so, as people tell you, that makes it so.
If you in your mind are ever building an ideal of yourself as strong, healthy, and vigorous, you are building to yourself of invisible element that which is ever drawing to you more of health, strength, and vigor. You can make of your mind a magnet to attract health or weakness. If you love to think of the strong things in Nature, of granite mountains and heaving billows and resistless tempests, you attract to you their elements of strength.
If you build yourself in health and strength to‑day, and despond and give up such thinking or building to‑morrow, you do not destroy what in spirit and of spirit you have built up. That amount of element so added to your spirit can never be lost; but you do, for the time, in so desponding, that is, thinking weakness, stop the building of your health‑structure; and although your spirit is so much the stronger for that addition of element, it may not be strong enough to give quickly to the body what you may have taken from it through such despondent thought.
Persistency in thinking health, in imagining or idealizing yourself as healthy, vigorous, and symmetrical, is the corner‑stone of health and beauty. Of that which you think most, that you will be, and that you will have most of. You say, “No.” But your bed‑ridden patient is not thinking, “I am strong;” he or she is thinking, “I am so weak.” Your dyspeptic man or woman is not thinking, “I will have a strong stomach.” They are ever saying, “I can’t digest any thing;” and they can’t, for that very reason.
We are apt to nurse our maladies rather than nurse ourselves. We want our maladies petted and sympathized with, more than ourselves. When we have a bad cold, our very cough sometimes says to others, unconsciously, “I am this morning an object for your sympathy. I am so afflicted!” It is the cold, then, that is calling out for sympathy. Were the body treated rightly, your own mind and all the minds around you would say to that weak element in you, “Get out of that body!” and the silent force of a few minds so directed would drive that weakness out. It would leave as Satan did when the man of Nazareth imperiously ordered him. Colds and all other forms of disease are only forms of Satan, and thrive also by nursing. Vigor and health are catching also as well as the measles.
What would many grown up people give for a limb or two limbs that had in them the spring and elasticity of those owned by a boy twelve years old; for two limbs that could climb trees, walk on rail fences, and run because they loved to run, and couldn’t help running? If such limbs so full of life could be manufactured and sold, would there not be a demand for them by those stout ladies and gentlemen who get in and out of their carriages as if their bodies weighed a ton? Why is it that humanity resigns itself with scarcely a protest to the growing heaviness, sluggishness, and stiffness that comes even with middle age? I believe, however, we compromise with this inertia, and call it dignity. Of course a man and a father and a citizen and a voter and a pillar of the State—of inertia—shouldn’t run and cut up and kick up like a boy, because he can’t. Neither should a lady who has grown to the dignity of a waddle run as she did when a girl of twelve, because she can’t, either. Actually we put on our infirmities as we would masks, and hobble around in them, saying, “This is the thing to do, because we can’t do any thing else.” Sometimes we are even in a hurry to put them on; like the young gentleman who sticks an eye‑glass to his eye, and thereby the sooner ruins the sight of a sound organ, in order to look tony or bookish, or as a chromo literary fiend.
There are more and more possibilities in Nature, in the elements, and in man and out of man; and they come as fast as man sees and knows how to use these forces in Nature and in himself. Possibilities and miracles mean the same thing.
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Luxury Bali Villas (n.d.). [Image]. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://www.ultimatebali.com/
Mulford, P. (1886-1887). Some laws of health and beauty. Your forces and how to use them (pp.127-136). Hollister, Missouri: YOGeBooks by Roger L. Cole. doi: 2015:01:16:10:43:09