The exercise for Week Two of The Master Key System is the one exercise for which I receive the most emails. It is also the one that frustrates the most people — and, unfortunately, causes many people to give up.
I am happy to tell you that this exercise is much easier than you think it is.
Also, the goal of the exercise is quite different than what you probably think it is.
It is my hope that this explanation will assuage any frustrations that you’ve had and set you on the right track to mastering this exercise and getting the full benefits from it.
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.
32. Next week you will receive instructions for an exercise which may be a little more interesting, but it is necessary that you master this one first.
The Exercise Explained
Before I explain this exercise, I want you to read what the exercise is again.
Now, here’s what most people get wrong: Most people believe that the goal of this exercise is to “inhibit all thought.” They think that they have to become some sort of super-yogi Zen master and have no thoughts for minutes, hours, days, weeks.
It’s not. Inhibiting your thoughts is not the goal of the exercise for Week Two.
The goal for this exercise is stated by Mr. Haanel in point number 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.
Most people go into this exercise trying to do their best to inhibit their thoughts for minutes. When they can barely do a couple of seconds, they get very frustrated.
In that same point, though, Haanel explicitly states that you “will not be able to do this [inhibit thoughts] for more than a few moments at a time.”
Moments. Not seconds. Not minutes. Moments.
One of the definitions of “moment” is “A brief, indefinite interval of time.” It’s a very short amount of time. Very short. It’s, as the perhaps clichéd phrase goes, fleeting. Moments are here and then gone.
Does that make sense? Does that now make the exercise doable? Easier?
Haanel in that same point tells us what the real goal of this exercise is: “[I]t 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 made to showcase just how much mental chatter is constantly bombarding us. That’s it.
Concurrent with that, it will also allow us to develop ways to stop those thoughts as they occur. When you do this exercise, you will inhibit your thoughts. You will only be able to do that for a moment or two before a thought creeps into your consciousness. “Hey! I think I got it … Doh!” Then you stop that thought and return to inhibiting your thoughts again. That will once again last for a couple of moments. And then … It goes on and on.
So, your aim with this exercise is not to be Mr. or Ms. Zen Master. You don’t have to worry about inhibiting your thoughts for minutes. Heck, you don’t even have to quell your thoughts for seconds!
The chief aim of the exercise for Week Two is to just notice how many thoughts are constantly happening in your head and then to stop them at will.
Doesn’t that make more sense? I hope it does. Now, go and do this exercise properly. You should feel no frustration at all and you should be able to master it with ease.
The Benefits of This Exercise
The tangible benefits of this exercise are manifold. The chief one is this:
Have you ever set yourself to do a task and then, all of a sudden, you start hearing that “little voice” that says things like “Isn’t it time for lunch?” or “How about that other thing you have to do?” or even “It looks like a nice day outside.”
Those are those thoughts that come to us — unbidden and unwanted.
As you master this exercise, you’ll be able to notice those thoughts quickly and then cast them out just as quickly, thereby allowing you to focus solely on your task.
Here’s another benefit: Do you ever denigrate yourself with negative self-talk? Of course you do. We all do. As you perfect this exercise, you will be able to notice yourself doing that quicker and then stopping it quicker. You will find yourself to be a happier person.
This is a form of mental mastery that is much more important than inhibiting thoughts.
Tips for the Best Practice of Week Two’s Exercise
There are no specific tips for mastering the exercise from Week Two other than what is written here. Go to your place. Take your seat. Keep your body still. Inhibit your thoughts. As you see, hear, or feel thoughts coming into your consciousness, shut them down and inhibit your thoughts again.
Don’t worry about how long you can inhibit your thoughts. The person who can, for whatever reasons, inhibit their thoughts for a minute is no better than the person who can only do it for a second or two. It just doesn’t matter!
Do your best with what he exercise is really about: noticing those thoughts that come and then stopping them.
That’s it for this week. Stick with the exercises and remember that they are all building toward something.
Until next week, please get for yourself the best of everything…