As noted in a previous chapter, the New Thought is in full accord with all reasonable hygienic principles. However, it is obvious that physical culture and hygiene are not within the scope of this work, and it is not proposed to make more than a very few general observations concerning them.
There are now many popular periodicals and books especially devoted to physical health culture, and general hygienic education is receiving attention through many channels.
Every university, college, and many schools of lower grade, have a well-equipped gymnasium, and through these and other agencies, the spread of knowledge in systematic physical training has been very rapid.
The decided reaction which has taken place against the general resort to and reliance upon drugs, with the substitution of natural remedial and preventive measures, is very encouraging. It has properly accompanied the more general apprehension of the remarkable availability of the forces of the mind, and their possible cultivation.
Nature with all her varied and wonderful resources is beneficent and truly friendly to human welfare. It was formerly thought that she needed to be corrected and even opposed. But compliance with her laws is now becoming the general aim and object.
Like everything else, hygiene may be overdone and become slavish. Only then is it out of accord with mental hygiene. To live by rigid rule, in detail, makes life mechanical, and destroys a natural and elastic spontaneity.
General rules are well, but they must be kept subordinate, and made servants instead of masters. As an instance, many who professedly are in the New Thought differ as to the advisability of using flesh for food. It is all right to think differently, but it is unwise to become dogmatic either for or against. Be tolerant. Undoubtedly there is a growing sentiment against the use of animal food, and while we believe that this sentiment is well-founded, there is no occasion for vows or cast-iron rules. The question is not of vital import, and individual liberty and taste should govern.
While plain and simple foods and moderation in quantity are important, digestion is in great degree a matter of mental states.
The well-poised man will be led naturally and almost intuitively toward a wise discrimination in the matter of physical nourishment. Too much food is a far more common error than too little. The laws of life put a premium upon moderation.
Stimulation, whether through the use of spirituous liquors, drugs, tobacco, or strong tea or coffee, involves the formation of a debt which draws compound interest. In some shape, it must be paid "to the utter-most farthing."
Life is an unending series of experiments. Until the real man—the higher self—gains the conscious control he is in some degree of slavery.
If one's rights and privileges are invaded from without, the act is resented, but far more generally man is enslaved by his own lower nature.
The sum total of evolutionary progress is the attainment of full freedom, and its value is beyond estimate. No one is perfectly free, but the future ideal is a freedom which is complete in its scope.
Hygienic detail will not be entered upon in this connection. With all the light of the present time, it should not be necessary to urge upon intelligent people the importance of plenty of fresh air, including open windows in sleeping-rooms at night, cultivated and systematic deep breathing, the thorough mastication of food, plenty of pure water, frequent bathing, all-around judicious exercise, purity in mind and body, and, in general, prudent care without anxious thought. Athletics and sports in moderation are wholesome, but there is a decided tendency toward unwarranted extremes.
The body is a delightful servant but a tyrannical master. Physical sensation is only a lower expression of life, and links us to the animal, when made ruling.
The relation of the physical organism of man to the material elements which surround him is so intimate, reciprocal, and perfect, that its interpretation and solution will be an ever increasing delight to the thoughtful student.