Your brakes are off, your petrol tank is full, your engine is running, you know how to drive, and you are about to move off.
But where are you going?
That is, by relaxing your body, you have created conditions in which you can efficiently perform your mechanical functions during sleep; by resting with your hands clasped and your feet crossed you have accumulated the nervous energy with which you will do your work of repair; and by thinking self-consciously of the whole of your body in detail you have discharged nervous energy from your brain to your body for repair work in your body, thereby tending to slow down and calm your brain.
You are now ready to lose consciousness and perform efficiently your work of repair, for having practised the First Series of Exercises for a number of days, you have become proficient in them.
But sleep is not only work of repair, it is also work of development. In life, you are never stationary, but keep moving up or down; and you can always grow and develop in some direction.
As you go to bed to-night, you want to wake up in the morning a better man or woman than you woke up this morning, or you have given up real living and are merely hanging on to life. You do not expect to wake up miraculously better, but just as much better as the best possible work of development in sleep can make you.
If you are a Marathon runner, is there anything you can do, before losing consciousness, to secure that your work during sleep shall develop you into a better Marathon runner?
As you have trained and raced, and your body is now relaxed for sleep, there is nothing more you can do through your body.
Can you do anything through your mind?
You know from experience that you can do nothing with your body unless that action has first passed through your mind. If you want to blow your nose, you must blow it in your mind before you can even get out your handkerchief. If you want to go from London to Liverpool, you arrive at Liverpool in your mind before you can even start on your drive to the London station.
When your conscious mind creates the image of " you blowing your nose," it initiates the creation of a whole chain of images of successive actions which must be lived in the mind and then lived in the flesh, before the last action of blowing your nose (the first to be conceived), can itself be lived in the flesh.
That is, because you have lived " yourself blowing your nose " in your conscious mind, you successively live in it, and then execute, a long string of images; your hand goes to your pocket or bag, disentangles your handkerchief from all sorts of oddments, raises it to your nose, your fingers squeeze your nose, your lungs work, and you blow your nose.
All this you create and are aware of with your conscious mind, but you are entirely unconscious of how the continuous and wonderfully accurate adjustment of muscles and organs that produces the end action of blowing your nose is done for you. And yet the whole complex procedure is so miraculously perfect in every little detail, that although you are not conscious of being particularly intelligent about it yourself, you register and postulate the action of a force which is obviously both intelligent and subconscious.
How the mere creation by the conscious mind of the wish-image of blowing your nose is sufficient to induce the subconscious mind to produce all the necessary nerve, muscle, and organ changes, and how it produces them, you do not know, nor could anyone tell you, even in scientific terms. But the fact remains that it not only suffices, but is indispensable.
This creation of wish-images is effective, not only in real life, but even in dream life, in producing the end action involved in it.
You dream that you are running to catch a train. You run perhaps faster and longer than you could in real life, but sleep has cut off the motor nerve connection between brain and limbs, and your arms and legs remain at rest. Suddenly you wake up to discover that although your arms and legs have not worked, your heart, lungs, sweat glands, and other organs are functioning actively and doing the very work of repair and readjustment you would have needed if you had been exhausted by an actual run.
This convinces you that just as the image of " you blowing your nose " suffices to induce your subconscious mind to release the nerve, muscle and organ changes necessary for the act, the dream-image of " you running " suffices to induce the same subconscious mind to release the metabolic work of repair that would have been needed had you been exhausted by an actual run.
But as you have only dreamt your run, you have not exhausted your limbs and heart and lungs, and you do not need that metabolic work as repair work. It is therefore work over and additional to repair work; it is work of development, growth, creation, undertaken by you, under a plan, subconsciously conceived by you: the dream-image of " you running."
This dream-image, this plan evolved by your subconscious mind, suffices to produce all the nerve, organ, and, ultimately, cell changes, that will specially develop anything in your mechanism that plays any part, however trifling and indirect, in the act of running.
Alter your plan, change your dream-image; instead of running, jump, swim, play golf, tennis, football, sing, play any instrument in a concert hall, speak in public, dream anything you like, and the new plan will produce new metabolic changes of development, and through them, tend to make you better jumpers, swimmers, golfers, tennis players, footballers, singers, artists, speakers, etc.