Many years ago a famous artist was challenged to paint “chair”. Not an upholstered chair, or a wooden chair, or a high chair, or a patio chair. Just “chair”. A generic chair, with no distinctives that would identify it as any particular chair.
Do you know how hard that would be???
I had an odd, sinking feeling in Week 2 when I learned that one exercise
I had to do was to sit for 15 minutes a day, perfectly still, and empty my mind of all thought. THAT, I thought, was impossible! Even Charles Haanel, who originated the exercise, said no one would be able to do it for more than a few moments at a time. But the exercise was valuable for showing me how busy — can I say turbo-charged — my mind is, and how easily distracted. It’s a great awareness exercise, helpful as a starting point for controlling my thoughts.
This week’s exercise is equally challenging.
Unless directly asked, give NO OPINIONS. Period. Be the non-judgmental OBSERVER. Notice how you continue to do it in your head — how you debate and judge others’ opinions in your mind.
Within an hour, I knew I was in trouble. My son, Nathaniel, is 15, and a real thinker. He cannot read a book, or watch a movie or TV program, without stopping to express his thoughts every few minutes. I delight in seeing him develop into young manhood and following the same pattern his older brothers and sisters did. He knows what he believes, and why, and it isn’t because he’s been indoctrinated or brainwashed by his parents or teachers. He is an independent, strong thinker, just like his siblings.
But I sat there, dumbly clamping my lips tight, thinking, “I can’t even talk to my own son!” Why? Because so many of our conversations are a sharing of thoughts, ideas, and yes — opinions! I have guided my children through the years, and not forced them into the mold of my own opinions. I’d like to think all I’ve done is my job as a mom. So perhaps that isn’t what we’re to avoid in this exercise. Whether it is or not, the exercise was amazingly effective in showing me how quick I am to WANT to express my opinion!
So very many of our opinions are “attachment to our associative memory”, and as long as my associative memory is my identity, I cannot find the real truth, or my authentic self. It’s crowded out by my jumping to conclusions based on my faulty perceptions, past and present.
Wow! What a lesson!