The Indian System Applied To Work
( Originally Published 1930 )
Everyone, while at his vocation or at play, can develop his body at the same time. A little thought and effort will form new habits, working both automatically. With habits once formed it would seem tiresome and awkward to do any other way.
There is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. The Indian considers that time and energy are too precious to be wasted, so he concentrates his efforts, mentally and physically, by employing the same system of body development and weight placement in his labor that he uses in his exercise or games.
And so, with manual labor, put your thoughts and will power into it, as the Indian does, making it accomplish a double purpose : over-coming old habits and rebuilding the body at the same time. Get the joy out of work by doing both the work and the exercise as well as you possibly can. And do not be too easily satisfied—strive rather for perfection—there is always something more to learn. As we reach perfection in one line we have the opportunity of teaching others, passing the good work along, and soon a way opens for still greater achievement—automatically brought about by the law of cause and effect—a compensation.
The western cowboy has absorbed much of the Indian's athletic psychology in his years of contact with the red man and has adapted many of the Indian's methods to his own use. With his daring spirit and quick wit he has added a surprising number of stunts and dare-devil feats which make him an athlete to be reckoned with and in a class quite by himself. Whether breaking a broncho or merely handling a pail of water, he applies the same basic methods and—thinks while he does it. He thinks and wills strength into his body. Accuracy and efficiency together with lightning speed accompany his actions, coolness and absolute self-control dominate his emotions and calm, fearless decision occupies his mind.
There are many forms of labor extremely useful in physical development, such as digging, gardening, chopping wood, pitching hay, pruning trees and many outdoor jobs, such as cleaning automobiles, keeping up the lawn, etc. There is no better all-round exercise for women than housework. Sweeping, cleaning, kneading bread, and even dish-washing may be made a valuable exercise by introducing the right movements while working. Breathe rhythmically, stand correctly, place the weight where it belongs, use the arms and hands gracefully, poise the head carefully, use the eyes accurately and above all think right. Plans for the systematic management of the home, the meals, the children all may be worked out mentally while disposing of the dishes. Great problems of love, happiness, unselfishness, and sacrifice have been solved over the dish pan !
Simplified living would reduce the cost of living and preserve the health of the family as well, to say nothing of conquering half the drudgery. Far too much time and energy are wasted over fancy dishes and elaborate meals, catering to abnormal appetites, desires and greed—labor which only causes sickness, expense and more labor later nursing and doctor bills. Simplicity is the keynote to health and longevity. It might be wise to follow the Indian's philosophy of life and develop an appreciation for the values hidden in the common things of life.
When reaching, lifting, pulling, or shoving, follow the rules of weight placement and posture, and apply the exercises given herein. Let the big muscles do the major part. Experiment, study yourself and your body, and learn to do your work scientifically, using the least amount of energy to accomplish the greatest amount of work. Let your head save your energy. Think before you act and then think with the action.
EXERCISE 108.--When reaching for small or medium-sized objects be careful to follow the rules for posture and weight placement. Reaching is good exercise when properly done; habits formed while reaching for the lesser things will work spontaneously when reaching for large or heavy objects where real strength and head-work are required.
Get a good firm stance with the feet wide enough apart to feel secure, and do the major part of the balancing with the thighs to carry the weight. A very heavy weight cannot be handled with the feet close together.
Take a deep breath, brace the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles firmly, in and up, to keep the vital organs in place, and be sure to work with a flexible spine; you will have twice the power and will be much better able to maintain perfect balance.
Stretch the muscles of the arms, legs, and joints and learn to balance the body without any means of support or without leaning against anything.
In ordinary reaching for comparatively small objects on shelves, the weight is usually placed over the foot and leg on the same side as the arm used. Keep the other hand ready to assist always on the alert.
Assume correct standing posture.
Inhale and place weight on right foot and leg.
Sway slightly forward as you reach upward with the right hand, allowing the wrist to lead the movement. Use both hands if the object is heavy. Never attempt to reach for any object with one hand in your pocket or on the hip; keep it in readiness to balance the object reached for or to assist in case of accident, either to grasp the object or hold your balance.
Grasp the object firmly, rising on the toes if necessary to get a good hold, then, holding the breath.
Lower the heels to the floor, using the muscles of the arms, shoulders and hands, and bring the object to any desired position. Exhale and relax to position.
Do not do all of your work with the right hand. Try to use the left as often as you do the right hand. Train the left.hand and arm to become as actively useful as the right; this will insure an even development of the muscles and will help you to acquire greater poise and balance as well as add to your efficiency, physically and mentally. To use the left hand and arm necessitates using the eye, the mind and the brain as well as the muscles and nerves on the other side of your body. Become ambidextrous, so that in case of accident to either member you will not be so hampered it is all a matter of culture and self-training.
EXERCISE 109.—In preparing to lift a heavy object it is advisable to take three deep breaths and concentrate upon vitalizing the body. It is necessary also to have perfect confidence that you can successfully lift the object without dropping it and without injury to yourself. If you know that the weight is beyond your strength and that you might run the risk of overstrain, do not attempt it. It is better to train the muscles gradually to carry any desired load. The effect of overstraining is bad upon the heart as well as the lungs and nerves ; the danger of accident is oftentimes very serious. An attempt to "show off" or "take a dare" may injure you for life it is very foolish. Use common sense and do not be "bullied" into attempts beyond your strength.
Follow the rules for posture and weight placement, being careful to keep the spine flexible.
Get a firm stance with the feet wide enough apart to form an arch of the legs. (The arch is the strongest form of architecture known.)
Bend the knees, keeping the weight placed well upon the thighs and poised over the arches of the feet, allowing the tendon Achilles at the back of the heel to act with the thigh as double leverage, using the knees and ankles as fulcrums.
Grasp the object to be lifted firmly with both hands.
Take a deep breath and hold, bracing the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles firmly in and up to hold the viscera in place and act as a protection against sudden strain or rupture.
Do not attempt to lift the hands alone but, holding the object firmly, lift your entire body by the muscles of the legs. This will throw the work on the largest and strongest muscles of the body and prevent any undue strain upon the spine or the small of the back. The muscles of the arms, shoulders, sides, and back will naturally assume their proper share of the burden. The back will arch somewhat quite naturally. (Figure 44.)
Whether the burden is to be raised to a higher level, moved to the side, or the front, or carried, the same rules apply. The arms, hands, and shoulders act much as a crane does the power for the weight and propulsion are in the machinery of the legs.
Exhale slowly when the burden is deposited, or, if it is to be carried, breath rhythmically and principally in the upper portions of the lungs, holding the abdominal walls firmly in and up.
EXERCISE 110.-By going through the motions as described above and lifting an imaginary weight, great strength and ability may be acquired.
Similar development may be obtained by practicing the following instructions for pushing and pulling, but with an imaginary heavy weight or force, and by positively directing the will power.
Get a firm stance with the feet wide apart; inhale and hold. Count four. Be careful to observe the rules of posture and abdominal muscular control.
Bend the knees and lower the body, balancing forward, and do all the work with the legs, keeping the hands and arms relaxed, allowing them to fall forward toward the object to be lifted.
Grasp the object with both hands and pull up with all your strength with the legs until you stand straight, then lift with the arms, using the large muscles until the imaginary weight is above the head, and then push. Feel the pull and effort in the muscles from the finger tips to the toes. Additional effort may be used by bringing the feet together, rising on the toes and pushing still higher.
Exhale slowly as you resume correct standing posture. Breathe three times rhythmically before repeating the exercise.
Shoving or Pushing
EXERCISE 111.-The rules for posture and weight placement are the same for shoving and pushing as for lifting. Brace the feet firmly, gripping the ground with the feet for support; use the legs for power.
The shoulders, arms and hands act as secondary means of propulsion. The muscles of the back form an arch or bridge between the action of the legs and arms. Be careful not to let the small of the back curve in too much and thereby take the brunt of the weight at a wrong angle. This often causes strain or rupture.
Assume the correct standing posture in front of the object to be shoved.
Inhale deeply as you place one foot a little ahead of the other and place your hands conveniently against the object as near the region of the shoulders as possible, as it is here the best leverage is maintained.
Grip the ground firmly with the feet and use the muscles of the legs to do the principal part of the work. Even when walking, while shoving a heavy object, the main part of the work can be done with the legs. (Figure 45.)
It is better to rest and exhale slowly than to attempt breathing while shoving with the full extent of your strength. Then take another deep breath and proceed.
The Indians respect a certain rhythm in all their heavy lifting, pushing, and pulling, working in unison and timing the rhythm to the breath. Sailors work in a similar fashion, sometimes singing a monosyllabic melody for encouragement or confidence and to facilitate working together in accurately timed efforts.
EXERCISE 112.-The rules for posture and weight placement are the same for pulling as for lifting. Get a good firm stance, spread the feet slightly, a foot or so apart, distribute the weight evenly and emphasize the stance with the thighs as well.
Take a deep breath while reaching for the object and hold.
Grasp the object firmly with both hands and pull, easily at first, to gauge the amount of strength needed, then steadily as you become accustomed to the weight. The muscles of the shoulders, arms and hands serve to hold and the muscles of the legs do the principal part of the work—the back acting as a bridge.
Exhale and breathe deeply before the next pull.
Always concentrate the will upon accomplishing the task and with certainty of success. Learn to have perfect confidence in yourself —confidence based on past performance and a knowledge of your ability and confidence in that supreme All Power acting through you.
If pulling a heavy object while moving, whether walking back-ward or forward, always allow the legs to assume the heaviest part of the burden.
When pulling up from the ground, directly or vertically, the position should be practically the same as for lifting and the principal burden assumed by the legs.
It is particularly important to keep the spine flexible when moving heavy objects. It is then easier to maintain a perfect balance without injury and facilitates quick movement in any direction. Further, there is less jar upon the super-sensitive nerves of the spine, especially in case of accident, falling or slipping.
In pulling an imaginary object from above, concentrate the will upon attaining a tremendous vital power which you wish to draw through your body for good use.
When performing any kind of work close to the ground it is advisable to practice the various forms of squatting and kneeling. The spine should be flexible and the weight placed upon the legs. Keep the knees limber with exercises so that you will not feel the strain when working.
EXERCISE 113.-Assume the correct standing posture and inhale.
With the weight poised slightly forward, lower the body toward the ground, bending the knees and ankles as the thighs take the burden of the weight and the tendons Achilles guide and support the motion. Hold the breath during the descent.
The lower you squat the more the weight is naturally thrown forward so that a rise on to the balls of the feet is necessary and comfortable.
If you work with the hands straight in front it may be necessary to spread the knees. If at the side, your knees will naturally swing a little in the opposite direction. It is restful to change about. The Indian is so in the habit of squatting and even moving about in that position that he seldom tires. Anyone can do it it is merely a matter of practice.
If you intend rising immediately, hold the breath while accomplishing the act and exhale upon rising. If you remain squatting for any length of time, breathe rhythmically.
Indians do much of their ground work on their knees, sometimes resting back upon the heels and sometimes propelling their movements to the right or left and backward or forward. The principle remains the same the work is done mainly with the thighs, the spine remaining flexible and sometimes relaxed. The arms and hands should accomplish their work from the shoulder joint. (Figures 29 and 31.)
The cross-legged sitting position is almost as popular with Indians as kneeling or squatting for they like to be in contact with Mother Earth while working and enjoy the benefits of her electric and magnetic currents which are believed to pass through their bodies. (Figure 30.)
In any of these positions the Indian is taught not to slouch but to hold himself with becoming dignity, obeying the rules of correct sitting posture with all sense organs quietly alert. Sleepy looking Indians seldom miss anything that is going on about them—they are silently observant, weighing and considering with keen interest but with con-trolled thoughts.