After a decade of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), I walked away.  It wasn’t reaching the parts I wanted it to reach.  I wanted peace, freedom, and most of all, to see through the self persona – that would be my vehicle.  But NLP was about self-enhancement, adding choices, when I had suspicions about the chooser.  It was going in the opposite direction, so I said goodbye.

I bobbed around for a bit, looking for a ‘true way’, I didn’t find it, but clearly had a course addiction, so I joined a coach training, and became a qualified coach.  And I coached.  I was good.  But it didn’t satisfy.  The old pull kept on pulling, gnawing away.  The feeling false, the pretence, you know what I’m talking about – the dissonance inherent in being a self.

Now, NLP seeks to resolve conflicts, align values, clarify goals and the intention is always, as Robert Dilts will tell you, positive.  But, and its a big but, it had no clue when it came to self.  It didn’t have the framework or the mood to explore it.  There was no wriggling free of the fundamental drive to make the self better, stronger, bigger, more flexible, resilient.  Seeing the self as a ‘problem’, or a ‘difficulty’, or a ‘challenge’, was not in NLP DNA.

Without going into details, I did eventually find an apprenticeship of deep inquiry that created the conditions for ripping apart pretence, exposing suppressed hurt, was cruel to be kind, and always, always, focussed on learning.  Funnily enough, the most inspiring NLP trainer in my book, Todd Epstein, would often say – in one of his famous rants – “Look to yourself first”.  He encouraged us to meet this basic rule of self-inquiry – but we didn’t.  I remember hearing this and thinking how left-field it seemed to the rest of our training.  But of course, it was central, and had it been placed at the core, the course and NLP would have been playing a whole new kind of tune from then on.  Sadly Todd died, and perhaps took this possibility with him – at least for a time.

Having gone through several awakenings over the last five years, and guiding people through it for themselves, it now strikes me how relevant NLP tools are.  Not the values, but the tools, and some of the models.  I’m aware of a few examples of NLP moving into spiritual areas, but haven’t yet seen an application that brings a clarity to the ‘problem definition’ such that the best tools for the job are selected to apply the relevant resources.  For those interested, you may want to check out the S.C.O.R.E. model (Dilts/Epstein) – stands for SYMPTOM > CAUSE > OUTCOME > RESOURCES > EFFECTS.

Awakening is an effect of a dramatic (albeit subtle) shift of perception.  This shakes the ground.  Enlightenment tends to occur after several awakenings bring about a paradigm shift, a tipping point.  Having sequential awakenings certainly makes it easier to integrate, and deal with a paradigm shift.  In those rare cases, of someone being – as it were – struck with light; it can be devastating and can take months or years to integrate.

The NLP model of Perceptual Position is one place to start.  1st Position – the self, and Meta – the observer.  Both positions are familiar to NLPers who can happily dance between both perspectives in a flicker.  Typically, we come back to 1st Position – the implication being that this is our true position; but what if we look upon 1st Position as a conditioned cluster, an embodied description?  Then we are forced into Meta, the observer.  But do we ever consider life not as this self?

NLP is all about possibilities, the AS IF, and this is the perfect place to explore WHAT IF this self that you think yourself to be – isn’t you at all, but is rather a familiar, habitual set of feelings and sensations wrapped in a host of beliefs?  What then?  You could even spatially anchor the you-now (as self) to one spot, and walk to another place, and as you walk, let the self drop away, till you reach the place of, for the sake of simplicity, no self.

Explore these two poles.

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