The Headless Way
A method of self-enquiry
pioneered by Douglas Harding
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A Useful Tool and Much More


Nick Smith

I first experienced headlessness in early summer of '94 and it gave me direct access to lots of things that hitherto I had only lots of written evidence for and that seemed to make sense but were still remote and intangible.

The workshop had quite an impression on me and I carried the ideas away and worked on incorporating them into my life. The first I experienced after doing an exercise with a paper tube - just looking down it into someone's face filling the other end.

The coaching for the exercise was to focus more on our own end of the tube than staring at the other person. My end of the tube felt vast and I experienced a profound sense of being the front end, if you like, of something huge. It really did feel like I had the backing of the universe and I had the sensation that I could even lean backwards and be supported physically.

For years I've read literature of all denominations and philosophies talking about oneness and our separateness only being an illusion, but nothing gave me tangible physical access to this in the way that my headless experience did.

I've also believed that I am more than just my physical appearance/my body and headlessness gave me a real experience of this in a way that words cannot adequately describe. I will however share three things I experienced, two on the workshop and one in a hotel some weeks later.

The first thing was just a comment from a fellow participant on a workshop when she announced that she was going to pour some water into the void and my perception of eating and drinking altered dramatically. To which someone added "Only God tastes, smells and hears".

The second was during an exercise where instead of perceiving the world through the two eyes we see when looking in a mirror, we actually looked out as if through one eye and then we were only limited as to the width of our vision by the width of the room.

Someone mentioned at this stage that they knew a friend who "wore the stars as a hat". I had a good belly laugh to this but it also helped me shift to a new level of awareness that feels really simple yet incredibly profound.

The third experience I had was a few weeks later and is similar to the `stars as a hat' example.

I was in a hotel room on a business trip and whilst setting up for my morning meditation session I felt disturbed as my normal habit is to sit in the centre of the room - and the way the room was laid out meant this was not possible. It was here I started laughing to myself as I thought that once I was meditating with my eyes closed the fact I was not physically positioned in the centre of the room made no difference at all as I could free myself from any perceptual limitations.

I realize as I write that these experiences are quite difficult to convey but I hope they may wet your appetite if not satisfy it.

I'll finish by sharing two ways in which headlessness has a really practical application.

First, in my job quite often I have to speak in front of lots of people and I find that by trading faces with the audience I'm nowhere near as affected by the difficulties.

Secondly, by far the most valuable way in which I've learned to use headlessness is in being able to listen to people and really get myself out of the way (literally) so I can hear them without judging or assessing them - which I believe is the greatest service we can provide for our fellow man.

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