"A man must be next to a devil who wakes angry," says Horace Bushnell.
How we feel on waking depends on how we felt when going to sleep. No man should wake angry, because no man should go to sleep in an angry mood.
The subconscious mind can build or destroy, can make us happy or miserable, can make us feel like a devil or an angel, according to the pattern we give it. Every thought dropped into the subconscious mind before we go to sleep is a seed that will germinate in the night while we are unconscious and, ultimately, bring forth a harvest of its kind.
Dr. Elwood Worcester, of Boston, and many others working along the same lines and getting similar results, says: "There is a very easy and rational way by which many childish faults can be removed; that is, by making good suggestions to our children while they are in a state of natural sleep.
"My method is to address the sleeping child in a low and gentle tone, telling it that I am about to speak to it, and that it will hear me, but that my words will not disturb it nor will it awake. Then I give the necessary words, repeating them in different language several times. By this means I have removed childish fears and corrected bad habits. I have checked nervous twitchings, anger, violence, a disposition to lie, and I have improved speech in stammering children."
Before going to sleep we can, through autosuggestion, treat ourselves in a similar way. We can impress whatever message we desire on the subconscious mind, and it will affect us according to its nature. Swedenborg claimed that his "spiritual vision" was opened in the unconscious hours of the night. "When corporal and voluntary things are quiescent," he said, "the Lord operates."
When we stop to think that the majority of us spend about one-third of our lives in sleep we get some idea of the importance of putting ourselves in the right mental attitude before going to sleep. Eight hours out of the twenty-four cuts a swath out of life that no one can afford to ignore or minimize. Here and there, of course, we find a rare exception like Thomas A. Edison, who does not need, and who insists that others do not need, to give anything like this amount of time to sleep. But the fact remains that pretty nearly all of us do spend from eight to nine hours out of the twenty-four in bed. This being so, if we make the most of life as a whole, we must prepare the mind for sleep with as much care as we prepare the body.
No one can afford to awake to a new day feeling like a devil. To do our best during the day we must awake in tune with the Infinite, in harmony with the spirit of divine love. To do this you must go to sleep in the right mood.
Never allow yourself to drop to sleep with anything on your mind against any living creature. If you have a grudge against another, forget it, wipe it out, erase it completely, and substitute a charitable love-thought, a kindly, generous thought, before you fall asleep. Don't let the sun go down on your wrath.
No matter how tired you are, or how late you retire, make it a rule never to go to sleep without erasing every unfortunate impression, every disagreeable experience, every unkind thought, every particle of envy, jealousy and ill-will from your mind. Just imagine that the words "Harmony," "Love," "Good-will to every living creature," are written all over your bedroom in letters of light. Repeat the words to yourself, or, if alone, out loud until your mental atmosphere responds to their suggestion.
Unless we attune our minds to harmony for sleep, there will be a constant strain on the nervous system all through the night. For even if we do manage to go to sleep with a troubled mind, the brain keeps on working along the same line of thought. If, for instance, we go to sleep worrying, depressed, jealous, envious, angry, melancholy, we will awake tired, exhausted physically and mentally. There will be no elasticity or spring in our brain, no buoyancy in our spirits. The blood poisoned by wrong thinking is incapable of refreshing the brain.
Those who have learned the art of putting themselves in harmony with all the world be fore they retire, never harboring a thought of jealousy, hatred, envy, revenge or ill-will against anyone, or irritating or distressing thoughts of any sort, not only get a great deal more out of sleep but they retain their youth and vigor much longer than those who are in the habit of going to bed all out of tune, or of reviewing all their disagreeable experiences and thinking over all their troubles and trials after they lie down. I know men whose lives have been revolutionized by adopting the practice of putting themselves in a harmonious condition, getting in tune with the Infinite before going to sleep.
Many people age more during sleep than while awake, because they do not prepare their minds for sleep. They do not take their mental harmony bath, but go to bed nursing their grouches, their hatreds, their petty jealousies, their worries, their anxieties and envies. These enemies of their peace and happiness, working all night, cut deep furrows in the brain, which soon appear on the face.
I know a man who is aging very rapidly from his business and family worries. I frequently travel morning and evening to and from the city with him, and instead of looking fresh and rejuvenated in the morning he actually looks older and more careworn than he did the night before. This is because he takes his troubles to bed with him and falls asleep worrying and depressed. Instead of practising mental chemistry, and neutralizing or driving them out by the peace thought, the harmony and love thoughts, he lets these vicious mental devils, which are playing such havoc in his life, work all night in his brain. And, of course, they poison his blood, deplete his vitality and cut his wrinkles deeper and deeper every night.
At no time can we use auto-suggestion, this great "therapeutic agency" and "uplifting ethical force," with more effect than on retiring for the night. That is the time of all others when the rush and hurry of the day is past, when we can most effectively put ourselves in tune with the Infinite. Taking love as our key thought, there is no mental state, no matter how troubled or worried, how discordant and out of tune, that cannot be brought into harmony through auto-suggestion.
There are marvelous possibilities for health building, success and happiness building in ourselves, in impressing on the mind as vividly as possible before going to sleep what we would like to become and what we long to accomplish. That wonderful force in your subjective self will immediately begin to shape the pattern, to occupy the model which you thus give it. If you put your objective mind in tune with your highest hopes, your loftiest expectations and ideals, your subconscious mind will do a lot of creating during the night. It will build rather than tear down, as it does when one goes to sleep in a discordant mood.
If you make it a rule to go to sleep in a harmonious mental attitude you will be delighted to find not only how much fresher and younger and more virile you will be, but how much more you will accomplish from day to day. If we should prepare the mind for sleep with the same care that we prepare the body; if we were to give it a cleansing mental bath, erasing from it all black, discordant pictures, all the worries and fears which harassed us during the day, instead of taking them to bed with us and allowing them to rob us of needed rest, what a difference it would make in our achievement, in our lives!
If children were trained to form the habit of falling asleep every night with pleasant thoughts uppermost, with bright, beautiful pictures in their minds, they would wake in the morning fresh, vigorous, cheerful, instead of peevish, fretful and unhappy, as is the case with so many. And what a difference it would make to them when started on an active career to find this priceless habit as natural as eating and drinking!
But it is never too late to form the habit. No matter what your age you may begin now. You can, if you only persist in continually flooding your mind with the love thought, fall asleep every night like a tired, happy child, and awake in the morning just as refreshed and happy. Your subconscious self will, after a while, carry out your behests without any conscious effort on your part. The habit of falling asleep in a mental atmosphere of love and peace will become second nature.
From the standpoint of physical well-being alone it is imperative to form the habit. It is fundamental to sound health to make it a rule never to discuss business troubles, or anything whatever that vexes and irritates at night, especially just before retiring. When you compose yourself to rest, let there be nothing in your mind which will cause you regret, no ghosts of unforgiven offenses; no grudges or jealousies. Be sure that your mental bath has washed out everything that could offend, everything that could cause you pain. Forgive all of your enemies if you have any. Do not let yourself go to sleep with any bitter thought in your mind.
Mental chemistry shows us that opposite thoughts - thoughts of love and hate, of harmony and discord, of good-will and ill-will - cannot exist in the mind at the same time. If you flood your mind with love thoughts, goodwill thoughts, with optimistic, hopeful, helpful, pictures of yourself and others you will erase all unkind thoughts, all thoughts of revenge, jealousy, envy, hatred, ill-will.
If you form the habit of going to sleep with the Christ mental attitude toward every human being, with the mind that was His, with the philosophy that was His, that was reflected in the Golden Rule, holding in your heart good-will for every living creature, you will awake every morning refreshed and renewed. You will arise a new creature, full of hope, energy and courage, with a new lease of life, a new joy in living.