You have relaxed your body and created conditions in which you can efficiently perform your mechanical functions during sleep. You have accumulated the nervous energy with which you will do your work of repair. You feel almost ready to go to sleep.
That is, you have taken off your brakes, you have filled your petrol tank, and your engine is running. You feel almost ready to drive away.
But .... by the way, can you drive? Do you know anything about driving? Because it is quite important!
Do you know how to work your switch, your choke, your clutch, your gears, your steering-wheel, and your horn? Can you give the approved signals? Can you do all these things efficiently, at the right time, almost, as it seems, unconsciously, without thinking? Do you even realize that it is quite easy to do them all perfectly and to be fully conscious of every little refinement in your actions?
There is no need to convince you that the condition of your mind (the driver of your body) has a good deal to do not only with the way in which you will perform your work of repair during sleep, but even with the simpler problem of how merely to go to sleep.
You know that your mind goes on working subconsciously during sleep, and that what you do or say to it whilst it is functioning consciously has a great influence on that subconscious work. You know that the mental angle of the problem of sleep is one that must be tackled and can only be tackled during consciousness, if it is to be tackled by yourself, and you probably suffer from the general reluctance to hand over the control of your mind to another in the unconsciousness of hypnosis.
What do you want to do or say to your mind before sleep? What is your purpose in doing or saying anything to it before your period of repair work?
Before you allow yourself to lose consciousness you must address your mind in such a way that you will induce it to promote efficient and sustained repair work during sleep. You know that your mind can only obtain work from your body or any part of it by leading your brain to discharge nervous energy into your body or any part of it, and that it can only do so by thought. For instance, you know that if you are lying down, at rest, nothing will ever induce your body to get up and walk, except the thought of getting up and walking, which discharges the appropriate amounts of energy from your brain to the parts concerned, and that you cannot pass from walking to running without thinking additional energy from your brain to your legs.
Your body cannot do work without energy; it must get that energy from your brain; and since you can only induce your brain to discharge it by thought, you will have to discover and apply before sleep some process of thought which will have the effect of discharging energy from your brain to your body and maintain its supply as long as any repair work remains to be done.
You cannot doubt that you have the power to send your nervous energy from your brain to your body and its various parts, in quantities and for purposes which you control, for your conscious activities are clear evidence of that power. But whilst you have such conclusive evidence of your power to energize your body by thought when you wish to use it, you may doubt whether this power holds good when instead of using your body, you wish to repair it.
This power holds good for repair work, as you will appreciate if you observe facts of common knowledge, and grasp their meaning and implications.
Just as you cannot move your hand without discharging energy from your brain to that hand by thinking of that hand, so you cannot think of your hand without discharging energy from your brain to that hand.
Instances of this law are of daily occurrence. Look at the foot of a stranger in a railway train and you make him self-conscious, force him to think of that foot, and lo and behold! it twitches and moves. Tell a child she is pretty and you make her self-conscious, force her to think of her face, and she blushes.
In each case, thought of a certain part of the body has produced a displacement of energy from the brain to the part concerned, but in one case this energy has been expended in movement and in the other in circulation change. Why this difference? Where does it lie? Can we learn anything from it, and can we make practical use of what we learn?
The subtle hidden difference must evidently lie in the nature and quality of the two processes of thought. Why is it that one induces energy change in the motor nerves through which we control our muscles, and the other in the vaso-motor nerves through which we control the expansion and contraction of our blood vessels?
If you can detect this mental difference it seems that you will be able to do at will, and consciously, to any part of your body, what the blushing child unconsciously does to her face.
Self-consciousness is clearly present in both processes, and if we find no other character common to both, we must logically conclude that self-consciousness is the factor that produces the energy change in the vaso-motor nerves and through it the visible and health-giving increase of circulation.
Why does movement get superimposed on circulation in the case of the foot? Because, when we think of our feet, we are much more accustomed to think of moving them than of feeling them and being conscious of them, and when we are made self-conscious about them, we unconsciously and through sheer habit, add a shade of thought involving movement, aimless and uncoordinated movement it may be, but movement nevertheless.