As we explore the exercise for Week One of The Master Key System, this marks the first in what will be a series for the next twenty-four weeks as we explore and explain each and every exercise in the book. While in the previous “cycle” we explicated thoroughly the body of the book with only glances at the exercises, for this cycle we will focus solely on the exercises.
As you may know, I’ve often referred to the exercises in The Master Key System as the “meat and potatoes” of the book. Friedrich Nietzsche once remarked that all books could be reduced to one paragraph without losing any meaning. While I think that might be tough with The Master Key System, I’ve opined that it could be reduced to maybe five or six pages.
That’s because the ideas in the book are presented in many ways. You have the various “laws” (attraction, love, growth), the concepts of the “world without” and the “world within,” the ideas of “cause and effect,” and other such notions — and each is presented in different forms throughout the work.
The real power of the book resides in the exercises. As Haanel often writes, it is “in the application alone that the value consists.” By that he means that we should practice the exercises.
Or, as I often say, it’s not good enough to read the book and know the information, one must truly understand the material in order to experience the wonderful effects of this philosophy.
So, for those reasons, for the next twenty-four weeks we will explore, explain, and make clear each and every exercise that Haanel gave us in The Master Key System. I am highly confident that you will benefit greatly from these teleseminars. If what I receive in my email is any indication, the vast amount of questions I receive all revolve around how to master an exercise. So, I hope that I help a lot of people — including you.
To obtain the full benefit from these articles, teleseminars and exercises, I highly recommend that you get for yourself Charles F. Haanel’s Complete Master Key Course. You’ll not only get the best version of The Master Key System available anywhere, you’ll get the entire philosophy of success — plus a whole lot more. Have a look; you’ll be glad that you did.
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.
45. Many will find this extremely difficult; others will conquer with ease, but it is absolutely essential to secure complete control of the body before you are ready to progress. Next week you will receive instructions for the next step. In the meantime, you must have mastered this one.
The Exercise Explained
The first exercise that Haanel gives us and that we encounter is a seemingly easy one. It’s one not to be taken lightly, though. As you’ll see as we progress through the exercises week by week, each new exercise builds upon the one prior to it. In other words, by the time we reach Week Twenty-four, we will see a cumulative effect with the exercises.
So, take each exercise seriously — and do master them as best you can, especially with the information you garner from these teleseminars and articles.
For Week One, Haanel instructs us to sit comfortably and be “perfectly still” for fifteen minutes to half an hour. What’s the purpose of this? As Haanel wrote, it’s to “secure complete control of the body.”
This is very important. As we progress through the exercises, we’ll be dealing mainly with the mental aspect of ourselves. In order to get to that point, we must first control our body, which may be a distraction from our mental pursuits.
Now, this is a bit of a difference in thought from what we will come to know of Haanel’s philosophy. You see, Haanel — and The Master Key System as well as the entire philosophy — is about cause and effect: our mental is the cause and the world around us is the effect, thus we must work with the cause (our mind) should we want to remedy the effect.
With this exercise, though, we are seemingly working in reverse. Instead of working on our mind to keep our body still, we are keeping our body still in order to learn to control ourselves as we aim to quell (or gain control over) those subconscious yearnings of our mind to move or fidget. It’s a strange juxtaposition — and the only time we’ll see something like this in all of Haanel’s philosophy.
This exercise is the base-point. With every exercise in the book, we will always begin here. Even when we reach Week Twenty-four, you’ll find that to effectively do the exercise, you will first keep yourself still. Look at this exercise as the basic move, like the “box step” in dancing.
The Benefits of This Exercise
I have found that while the exercises in The Master Key System aim toward an overall goal (those being what you should be learning as you explore the book, which I listed in our very first teleseminar), each exercise has its own tangible benefits that will help you in real life.
For this first exercise, the major (and obvious) benefit is that you will gain self-control over your body. No more will you fidget or appear to others to be a “mess” with bouncing knees and twirling your hair. Instead, you will be the picture of physical composure. Calmness. You’ll be “cool.”
Think of how that will benefit you. Instead of being the “nervous wreck” in, say, a job interview, you’ll display an outward calmness that most people do not have. You won’t be tapping your pen or playing with your nails. You’ll be composed. While at this point you may be roiling internally, you will give the appearance of placidity. And that means a lot.
Another benefit that you’ll find is that when you master gaining control of yourself and keeping still, you’ll find it easier to calm down should you get heated or riled or anxious. Our physical body does in some ways control our mental aspect. Forcing yourself to smile when you’re sad or angry often times does bring about a true happiness. At the very least, it improves your mood. Thus, learning to keep yourself still will assuage your nerves should you be beset by them.
Tips for the Best Practice of Week One’s Exercise
For such a seemingly easy exercise, I’ve received countless emails asking questions about it. Here are some tips that may answer questions you may be asking yourself.
First, while you don’t need a “perfect” room or location, try to find a place that provides as much solitude as possible. I know that’s not possible for some people. Thus, sometimes you have to make-do with what you have or what you can find.
Technically, this exercise can be practiced just about anywhere. Sitting in a waiting room, on a bus, at work, on a plane. Anywhere you have a place to sit and no one is bothering you. It is best, though, if you have a place where you can return to regularly, especially as we get into the later exercises. You want the place to be comfortable to you. So, if you have a little office space for yourself, that would be best. If not, as noted, please make-do with what you have at your disposal.
This exercise (and all the following ones) are made to be done while you’re sitting! Please don’t make the mistake of lying in bed or on a couch. Sit as Haanel describes. The goal is not to fall asleep! At the same time, you’re not to sit rigidly erect. Sit as you would if you were driving a car: back straight as if it were supported by a lumbar support and your feet firmly on the floor.
You will close your eyes as you practice this exercise. (Hence, the no lying in bed!) This will prevent you from blinking.
Major movements are to be avoided or refused! These include scratching your nose, shifting your weight, unclasping your hands. Anything like that.
Minor, uncontrollable movements are OK: breathing, small tics, perhaps a nose twitch. Please don’t condemn yourself because your chest is moving with your breathing. It’s OK.
Lastly, I have found that keeping my hands palm-down on my thighs as I sit is best. I have found that intertwining my fingers leads to them eventually falling asleep and then producing some pain. It’s best just to keep your hands on your thighs. Believe me, you’ll thank me later.
At this point I’d just like to say to you to not over-think this exercise (or any of the exercises, for that matter). They are all pretty straight forward.
I’d like to note one significant thing: These exercises aren’t magical. They’re not meditation. You won’t see God or transmute lead into gold if you perfect them just right. Approach them as you did math homework problems that you had in grammar school. You did them so that you could increase your skill in math. Well, we’re doing these exercises to increase our skills in thinking, in focusing, in cutting through the noise of the world. Approach them with that in mind and you’ll see true and impressive results.
Until next week when we probe the depths of the exercise from Week Two of The Master Key System. Be well and get for yourself the best of everything!