I came across your website and had a question if you have the time. For exercise #1 you are to stay still for 15 minutes and let your mind wonder. Do you keep your eyes closed or does that not make a difference?
For exercise #2, you are to not allow any thoughts into your mind. The book mentioned this would be difficult and most would only be able to do this for a few moments. But how long should each exercise session be? Should I try to do this over and over again for 15 mins to a half hour or literally just try it for a moment? This one is going to be tough for me (lol).
Good questions. They are questions that are asked a lot.
Let’s go through each of them one by one.
Believe me, they are easier than you think.
All of the exercises in The Master Key System are straight-forward. Some people over-think them.
Just do them as Haanel wrote.
Keep it simple, student!
The Exercise for Week One of The Master Key System
This exercise is fairly easy. You are to sit “perfectly still” for fifteen minutes.
44. Now make the application: Select a room where you can be alone and undisturbed. Sit erect, comfortably, but do not lounge. Let your thoughts roam where they will but be perfectly still for fifteen minutes to half an hour. Continue this for three or four days or for a week until you secure full control of your physical being.
Mr. Haanel wrote that some would find this “difficult” while other would “conquer with ease.” Whichever the case, you must master this.
Should your eyes be closed as you sit still?
Yes. Close your eyes for this exercise.
Close your eyes and sit still.
This exercise will show you how many of your body’s movements happen practically subconsciously (or unconsciously). It will show just how little control you truly have at times over your own body. And if you can’t control yourself to any significant degree, how can you control anything else?
Think of a time when you witnessed a person who just could not control himself. He fidgeted, fiddled with his hair, kicked his feet, he swayed and rocked back and forth. You could just tell that he was a mess. He was not composed.
Just by looking at him you could tell something was not quite right.
Do you want that to be you?
You can tell a lot about a person — and you usually do tell a lot about a person! — by the way that person holds himself.
Is he calm, cool, and collected?
Or is he nervous, fidgety, and twitchy?
How are you?
Which would you rather be?
You see, this exercise has an application on a very practical level.
But why is it so important?
Because to master your mental world, you must master your physical self.
It’s as simple as that.
This will also be the first step in your “base state” for doing all of the exercises in The Master Key System. From now until Week Twenty-four, whenever you do an exercise, your first step will be to sit still.
The Exercise for Week Two of The Master Key System
30. Last week I gave you an exercise for the purpose of securing control of the physical body. If you have accomplished this you are ready to advance. This time you will begin to control your thought. Always take the same room, the same chair, and the same position, if possible. In some cases it is not convenient to take the same room. In this case simply make the best use of such conditions as may be available. Now be perfectly still as before, but inhibit all thought. This will give you control over all thoughts of care, worry, and fear, and will enable you to entertain only the kind of thoughts you desire. Continue this exercise until you gain complete mastery.
31. You will not be able to do this for more than a few moments at a time, but the exercise is valuable because it will be a very practical demonstration of the great number of thoughts which are constantly trying to gain access to your mental world.
This exercise is the most misunderstood exercise in the entire book. Most people think that they are to quell their thoughts for fifteen minutes. They think that the point of the exercise is to “inhibit all thought.”
Those are not what this exercise is really about.
First, it is doubtful that you can stop your thoughts for fifteen minutes.
Or five minutes.
Or even five seconds.
While it might be nice to be able to quell your thoughts like a Zen monk, it isn’t possible …
… nor is it necessary.
Read again what Haanel wrote.
“You will not be able to do this for more than a few moments at a time …
… it will be a practical demonstration of the great number of thoughts …
… trying to gain access to your mental world.”
This exercise is about noticing your thoughts
You notice your thoughts.
Then you stop your thoughts.
Your thoughts will be quelled for a few moments.
Then you’ll have another thought.
You will notice that thought and you will stop it and then ….
It’s not about becoming a Zen monk.
It’s not about blanking your mind.
It’s not about hearing the sound of one hand clapping.
It’s simpler than that.
Simpler and more important.
As you actively notice your thoughts, you will be able to actively select your thoughts.
This is your first step to mental mastery.
Think of this exercise in a practical sense, as well. We all run into those situations where we get into a mental log jam because there are too many thoughts at the same time thus causing our actions to be erratic or clumsy. That is when this exercise comes in handy. You will now be able to quell those errant thoughts and choose the best action for the situation.
You see? Simple.
Practice these two exercises until you master them. It should take about one week for each.
Then move on to Week Three.
As you progress, you will keep returning to these two exercises because they will be your base state. Before every exercise, you will first sit still and then clear your mind.
You can do it.
You will do it.