I stayed up too late last night reading more of Mr. Peale. I was struck by the fact that many of the techniques he suggests to relax and find peace are things that I already know. I've practiced relaxation techniques before. Tensing each muscle group and then slowly releasing that tension. Feeling yourself relax.
What I've recently found to be helpful to relax is simply deep breathing. In through the nose, out through the mouth. It doesn't take long, just a couple of slow breaths and I feel my shoulders relax.
Mr. Peale tells stories of people who when they start feeling tense or agitated, intentionally do the opposite of what they feel like doing. Say if you clench your fists when you're angry, purposely force yourself to keep your fingers extended. Or lower your voice to a near whisper. It's forcing your emotions to cooperate with your body, instead of the other way around.
However, I think some of this can be taken too far and be counterproductive. It's not always a good idea to force yourself to be so meek and quiet that you have no backbone. I know a person who is very quiet, but she is not at peace. She is the most nervous person I have ever met. She makes me nervous when I'd around her. She may be quiet, but she lacks self confidence.
For this he suggests visualization. A tool commonly taught to athletes. As I was reading this chapter, I was wary that it was just another Secret. Think good things and it will come to you. But as I read further, I don't think that's was the point he was trying to get across. His illustrations included people who always failed at whatever they did as though there was some curse upon them that followed them everywhere. From sports teams to individuals. Mr. Peale explains that the curse is self doubt. And it's not that simply thinking and believing good will mean that you get everything you want. It's more that with a positive attitude, even when bad things happen, you are better able to look on the bright side.
The illustration he focuses on is of a trapeze artists. A student became fearful and didn't think he could accomplish the task. His instructor said that of course he could and this is how, "Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow." In other words, don't let doubt keep you from realizing your full potential. Give all you have to everything that you do.
What bar are you staring at this morning? How are you going to conquer it?