March 31, 2020
A managing director of a company based in Bengaluru came to see me as he was suffering from severe migraine. He had done everything possible to get rid of it. Just with a 30 minutes session, he could heal himself. A lady pilot who had a skin allergy for the past four years could heal herself in 45 minutes. Fairy Tales? No. These are just two cases among the many who have found solutions for migraines, allergies, phobias of many kinds, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs), obsessive compulsive disorders (OCDs), to name a few. These are psycho-somatic diseases (dis-ease) and conventional medicine, counselling and many types of psychological approaches fail to deal with these ailments. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) did the trick.
An American Jesuit priest in Bengaluru, Fr Richard McHugh, PhD, was the first person from whom I learnt NLP. Two British NLP Master Trainers, Dr David Lincoln and Ralph Watson’s training programme in Goa in 2012 enabled me to update my knowledge and skills on the subject and my journey of learning, teaching continues. Developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California in the early 1970s, NLP gives you an incredible insight into human thinking, feelings and behaviour. It is widely used in therapeutic interventions, business, sales, negotiations, sports, coaching and learning, parenting and self-development. Any human experience has a structure and it is subjective in nature. It has three components – neurology, language and programming. NLP deals with how we organize our thoughts (neuro), what meaning we give to our thoughts that produce our outcome and how we express them verbally and non-verbally (linguistics) and how these two components together produce our conscious and unconscious behaviour (programming).
Running (Programming) Your Brain
Our experience in the brain is processed, coded, transformed and stored just like software or programmes (the structure of subjective experience) and are called Internal Experiences (IRs) in NLP. The internal representations determine our thinking and behaviour. Hence, “programming” here refers to deleting or upgrading programmes (IRs) and thereby changing the way we think, and as a result, feel and act (behave). The mind is nothing but a supercomputer.
Medical science acknowledges the fact that nearly 70 to 85 % of all diseases (dis-ease) are psychosomatic in nature. Psycho means mind and soma means body. NLP believes that mind and body are inseparable. A phobia of any kind is a good example of how our mind runs a programme and our behaviour. A particular situation or trigger, say the sight of a dog, in the case of a dog phobia, elevator in the case of an elevator phobia, produces a strong physical response like palpitation, sweating or fear. This is a classic mind-body connection. The cause is in the mind and effect is in the body. Medical science and most therapies including counselling look at the behaviour which is external (physical symptoms or response) as the problem. No, the cure is in the mind, not in the body!
Most construction workers in Mangaluru, come from North Karnataka, where job availability is meagre. Average wage per day here Rs.600/. Often, even when they run a high fever, mostly malaria, they go to work and rush to a doctor in the evening for treatment. Their belief is in the efficacy of the injection is very strong. Knowing this, the standard treatment by most doctors is to give them appropriate medicine along with an injection of sterilized water. Some children who are not happy in school develop fever, stomach ache or diarrhoea on Monday morning. The physical symptom is real. Yet, if the mother permits the child to stay home, the ailment vanishes within minutes. Beliefs play a powerful role in our lives.
Few days ago, a mechanical engineer working in the Middle East and currently in Mangaluru on leave, visited me with a strange problem. The sight of his wife’s curly hair infuriated him and the innocent lady had to visit a hairdresser every week just to ensure that her hair remained short without curls. The man did not know consciously what caused this behaviour. Using Timeline Therapy (a technique in NLP), he was assisted to move back in age (regress). He found himself at the age of 20 years, studying in a college, where he fell in love with a girl with curly hair. She ditched him at the time his infatuation for her had reached its height. Can you imagine the hurt and anger at the betrayal? Of course, the experience had gone out of his conscious mind. But the sight of his wife’s curly hair brought the suppressed emotions from the unconscious mind to the surface. Once he realized the cause he could heal himself. All phobias and traumas are of this kind. There is a cause and there is a solution.
Conscious and Unconscious Mind
Our brain runs two minds – the conscious and unconscious. The conscious mind learns and the unconscious stores these learnings. However, the conscious mind is limited and when it does repeatedly something overtime, the unconscious takes over and frees the conscious mind to learn a new behaviour. Nearly 93 percent of our behaviours is run by our unconscious mind. Good or bad habits are learnt consciously before they become unconscious. Bandler says they are all learned behaviours. The good news is, we can always unlearn or change our habits– of course the bad ones. Child learns effortlessly. The child doesn’t have the vocabulary ‘it’s difficult’, ‘I cannot’, etc. We, the adults still have the same abilities, but our conscious mind – the analytical, logical, and the critical, controls our life. The unconscious mind is the powerhouse. Make your unconscious mind an ally! Take charge of your brain and therefore your life. Two years ago, when I was running a workshop in Mumbai, one of the participants who turned 50 on the third day of the workshop, brought a cake. When I saw the icing, my intuition (the unconscious) told me not to eat the cake as the icing didn’t look fresh enough. But my conscious mind ruled over it. I ate 2 pieces. The result was mutiny in my tummy. Does it make sense?
It is All in Your Mind
The Upanishads say ‘you are what you think’. Bandler says again that babies are born with two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noise. All human fears are learned behaviours. If you have a fear/phobia of spiders, crowd, dog, heights or any other thing or event it is that you have learnt how to be afraid of it. Therefore, if you have learnt to be afraid, you can also learn to be unafraid. The mind which learns something wrongly can also unlearn it. That’s NLP.
Programming Our Minds
People programme themselves before going to sleep to wake up at a particular time in the morning and they do wake up without an alarm. Even if you set the alarm, we wake up a few seconds before the alarm goes off. If we can programme ourselves to do one little thing such as waking up without an alarm, we can programme our minds to do many things. We are “highly programmable beings”.
Cellular Memories and Healing
NLP, as mentioned earlier makes it clear that you cannot separate mind from the body – they are a cybernetic loop. What affects the one affects the other. Dr Candace Pert discovered that mind exists throughout the body, not just the brain. The vehicle the mind and body use to communicate with each other is the chemistry of emotion. The chemicals in question are molecules – the short chains of amino acids called peptides and receptors that are believed to be ‘bio chemical correlate of emotion’. The peptides can be found in your brain, but also in your stomach, your muscles, and your glands and all over your major organs, all over your body, sending messages back and forth. Healing can be done at the cellular level. Dr Deepak Chopra, famous author of ‘Ageless Body and Timeless Mind’, popularized this subject of cellular memories. Emotions and memories are stored in many parts of the body, in fact in the cells of those parts or organs. The emotions and memories can be anger, sadness, guilt, hostility, frustration, remorse, revenge, fear and unforgiveness. When emotions are released through NLP therapy, healing occurs.
A gentleman working as an accountant elsewhere was transferred to a hospital in Mangaluru. When he was writing the duty report that morning, he found that his right hand was not moving properly. He was surprised. On the third day, he could not use his right hand to write. He sought medical help. He consulted several medical specialists – orthopaedics, neurologists, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists. By using Timeline Regression Therapy on him, I found that he had gone to the same hospital around the age of 7 to see an uncle of his who had been badly injured in a motor vehicle accident. He was frightened by the sight. This memory of fear got triggered when he went to the same hospital again. When this insight dawned on him, there was instant cure. NLP works. So, go ahead and take charge of your life.