The exercise I’m about to share with you is a re-creation of Douglas Harding’s simple pointing experiment that is at the heart of the headless way. This technique has brought me more directly and with greater speed to awareness than any other technique or practice. Based on conversation with graduates of the finders course the consensus is that headlessness is the most effective spiritual practice for bringing on awareness, and they should know as the course has a 70% success rate and teaches the most effective research proven techniques for initiating a transformation into fundamental wellbeing.


Douglas Harding’s headless way doesn’t set forth any beliefs, theories, explanations, or concepts. Douglas just offers you an opportunity to redirect your attention so that you can experience yourself as you truly are at center. If you take the opportunity, then when you look from zero distance you find yourself as open capacity for life. This exercise is an opportunity to look and take in what you see, notice what you don’t see, and strive not to be misdirected by what you think.

All down the ages the central question posed by mystics and held by many as the key to enlightenment was “Who am I?” The answer can never be expressed in words; it can only be known. The pointing exercise and Harding’s other exercises are an answer to this mystical question. In effect, they encourage you to have direct experience and first-person knowledge of “Who you are”.


The Pointing exercise can be done anywhere, anytime and with anyone, in a group or on your own. I find it best to start the pointing exercise in a relaxed state and from a stationary position. Enough talking, lets get started all you have to do is do the following:

With your preferred hand, point at a distant object or feature. I like to form a fist with my index finger pointing and my thumb resting on my second finger. The exact way you point doesn’t matter though, it’s best to do whatever is natural and comfortable. The distance between you and what you point to doesn’t matter, it could be across the room, across a valley, or across the universe.

I normally start by pointing whatever is opposite me, so right now I’m pointing at a building out of my window. Take a moment to note what you see, for example the objects color, texture, and its position relative yourself. Consider the other senses, its smell and sounds, and how it feels to you. Is it part of you or separate?

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Step 1: Finger pointing at a distant object

Keeping your finger pointing directly at the object and wait for a few moments. Reflect on whatever is being pointed at before moving your finger, so that you’re now pointing at the ground in front of you. Again, take a moment to take in the floor. Consider its color, distance, texture, density, feeling, and your relationship with it.

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Step 2: Pointing at the floor

Now point at your foot, any foot, it doesn’t matter which. While pointing at your foot, focus your attention on to the foot in question and take note of what you see, maybe a shoe or sock, note the texture, color and how this foot feels different from the floor you were considering a couple of moments before. Are you separate from your foot, are you inside the foot is the foot inside of you? How is the sensation of your foot different from the perception of the floor or the impression of the object you pointed at?

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Step 3: Pointing at your foot

After a few moments of reflection move your finger so it’s pointing at your knee. Likewise, let your attention flow to your knee. Again, take note of your knee’s shape, color, texture, and its distance from you. Reflect for a moment on these things and how it feels. Is it an object, is it separate from you, are you inside that knee or is it inside of you?

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Step 4: Pointing at your knee

Next, rotate your finger up your body so that your hand is pointing directly at your torso. It doesn’t matter exactly where on your torso, your naval, diaphragm, or your chest are all just fine. Again, follow with your attention to where your finger is pointing. Take in the texture, color, and sensations that you find when you follow where your fingers lead.


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Pointing at chest

Finally, and most importantly rotate your finger again so that now it’s pointing directly at your face. I find about 6 inches is a good distance. Now look where your finger is pointing. Literally direct your attention away from the pointing finger to the place it’s pointing at. Take your time and look at the place, be aware of the place you are looking out from. It’s not the hand that you can see from there, instead you are focusing on the place you are seeing from.


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Pointing at your center


What can you see as you point at your center? You can see a hovering digit, sure and doubtless some background beyond, but keep your attention on where the finger is pointing at. Do you see any color or structures there? Do you see your face or any signs of a head?

I can see my finger and I’m vaguely aware of the background behind and I can see arms extending from my pointing hand and disappearing into the void. It’s not just arms that disappear into this void. My little legs and torso extend up and disappear into this void just below my neck line.

From here I see a pointing arm disappearing into the void at my center

For me now, I am aware of the space at my center. I’m aware of the capacity in me for all, the capacity that I look out from, and which takes everything in. The space itself is transparent, it has no color and no shape. The space is a blank canvas for whatever comes its way. It accepts all and knows no bounds.

At my center, it appears that I am this spacious capacity. When I take a moment to observe this space, I sense its openness and know my true nature as clarity and openness. As the capacity, I don’t judge, I just accept everything. As spacious capacity, I’m perfectly at peace with everything that comes my way, accepting all, loving all. As capacity for life, I’m free of all the ideas, beliefs, and opinions that have ruled my life for so long. They are not part of who I am at zero-distance. At zero-distance I am aware-space with capacity for all.

What I can’t see is my head, where I’ve always thought my head was is just this big space. No eyes are seen but one single view is revealed. I’m looking out of the window and the image of a moment back is gone, no trace of it remains as its place has been taken by a new vista.

My face is not here for me because it’s there for you. But more on that later in another experiment!


Keep looking, don’t make this pointing exercise a one-off curiosity or worse, something you read about. Keep repeating the exercise and take the time to look carefully at this place, the space. Notice also the place that you are looking out from. You are looking out from the place you are observing. This is a taste of awareness of awareness, the knowing of awareness. This is your first taste of reality. This is the first inkling of all there ever is.

Initially, try to make time every day, and ideally several times a day, to do the pointing exercise. Don’t just do the exercise, dwell in that place you find at your center. Linger in the space that you can see all from and in which all appears. Get to know it, feel at home.

Keep curious. Don’t revert to your old assumption that you know who and what you are. Keep looking so you can see what you are at zero distance. Pretty much all your life you have been conditioned to believe that you are a person, you are Jamie, John, or Jose. But look again, is that what you see at zero distance? Is there a person at your center or is there, as I see, nothing? I see that I am a ‘no-thing’. I’m just this spacious capacity for the world.

Don’t listen to me, don’t dwell on my words, and don’t over think it. Look for yourself. What are you? Are you a person or are you just capacity?

Keep looking at the place where others see your face, let it fill with whatever comes along. Look at the things that you are seeing. Is there a distinction between the objects and the awareness of them? The space, as I look, is bubbling with sounds, objects, and sensations, but my experience is that I can’t find anything that separates the space or awareness from the things it contains. I find that I am both the spacious capacity and the objects it contains.


What this all hints at is oneness. No one is outside you, everyone is inside, no one is separate.

When you come to your center you experience the same capacity for all that I do. This capacity is not your capacity; it is just the capacity for all. It is the same capacity for all of us, the exact same capacity, not lots of facsimiles — it is the exact same space.

When you dwell on this and feel the universality of the capacity at our center, this awareness starts to change your relationship to everyone. You see me as part of you, nothing I do is separate from you, nothing that happens to me is not happening to you.