15 THROUGH 26
Note: The following Meta-Reflections were sent out to Neurons from March of 2007 through May.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #15
March 5, 2007
THE SPIRIT DIMENSION
Meta-Land is the land of spirit. That’s why the four meta-dimensions of Neuro-Semantics are also the “spirit” dimension. And while this involves what we call philosophy and religion— Neuro-Semantics is not religion or philosophy. Neuro-Semantics is a model of human functioning, it is a model that models how we operate and experience our life with an eye on developing the processes and tools for mobilizing resources to facilitate full self-actualization so that we can perform our highest meanings.
If that’s what Neuro-Semantics is about, how does it relate to “spirit?” What does it mean that there is a “spirit” dimension in the higher levels of our mind-body system? Over the years, I have received a great many questions about Neuro-Semantics and the “spiritual” dimension of life. In this and the next Reflections, I’ll attempt to address some of these questions.
The experience that we call “spirit” and “spiritual” is obviously part of subjective experience.
Yet, what does this mean?
How should we think about “spirit” and “spiritual?”
If we were to model “spirit” as in the human spirit or the qualities and experience of being “spiritual,” how would we go about it?
What is the Neuro-Semantic take on this dimension of life?
Since “spirit” and “spiritual” are nominalizations, noun-like terms that falsely imply some kind of thing, then what are the actual processes (verbs) that we are referring to? Similar to the nominalizations, “mind” and “thoughts,” when we de-nominalize these terms we come back to the non-specific process of “thinking” which we can then specify as representing, editing an image, creating a context by setting a frame-of-reference, etc.
In a general way, the idea of spirit efers to that which is higher in us— the meta-levels of our mind-body experiences. This is one of its meanings, something that is “above and beyond.” And where does this come from? The simplest explanation is that we have a sense of spirit based upon our ability to transcend to higher levels of awareness. We call this higher sense of ourselves spirit. Neuro-Semantically, we are of course describing the experience of reflexivity— reflecting back onto ourselves with additional thoughts-and-feelings. So it is in the process of reflecting back, stepping back, meta-stating, rising up and applying our mental-and-emotional responses to — that creates our sense of transcendence and spirit.
If we are biologically wired with levels in our brain anatomy (which we have) which, in turn, allows us to experience reflexivity so that we can step back from ourselves (in our mind-emotions) and transcend our current experience and move to higher levels of awareness—then “spirituality” is part and parcel of the human experience. This makes it a legacy for all of us, which probably explains why all humans are “spiritual” and have to invent some “religion” to explain this transcendence. Most literally “spirit” means “breath” hence, in-spirited, hence energy.
It is in this sense that all of Meta-Land, all of the meta-dimensions, is what we might call “the spiritual dimension” of life. Here we experience the higher life above and beyond mere survival. Here we move into concepts, meanings, and understandings of things “not seen, not heard, not felt, not smelt, not tasted.” We are at a conceptual level that defines and qualifies our “spirit.”
And these higher frames generate our attitude, which, of course, is another use of “spirit.” Sometimes, when we talk about someone, we say things like, “What kind of a spirit does he have?” “What’s her spirit today? Is she still down?” Spirit in this sense works as a synonym for attitude, for a person’s disposition of mind or of emotion. We even use this language to describe a group attitude, a cultural attitude. We speak about a victimhood spirit, a depressed spirit (disspirited), an inspired spirit (full of spirit, inspirited), a joyful spirit, a playful spirit, etc. We even talk about the “atmosphere” of a business, home, group in terms of spirit. “I like the spirit of that restaurant.” “They have a good spirit there.”
As we use our reflexivity to transcend our current state and include it within a higher attitude, belief, perception, understanding, value, etc., the “spirit” dimension of Meta enables us to ask the “spiritual” or existential (existing) questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What is this all about? What’s the meaning of life? Asking such existential questions has been the domain of religion, philosophy, and psychology. Here we enter into the semantic states of “time,” “meaning,” “purpose,” “destiny,” and a hundred other abstractions. And it is regarding these abstractions that we develop various beliefs and belief systems.
Spirit and “Time”
“Time” as another nominalization does not exist except in meta-land. We create “time” as we represent things that have happened, things that are happening, and that will happen. This gives us a flow of events “through time” and so a time line or time channel. Then, as we step back, reflexively contemplate “time” itself, we ask additional temporal questions, the big questions. When did it all start? How? By whom? These are also spiritual questions. Only we human beings are able to enter “time” as thoroughly as a “spiritual” dimension.
Maslow used another facet of time to define spiritual. He said “spiritual” means seeing life “under the aspect of eternity.” It involves being able to take a long-term perspective of life and actions. Animals, who do not live in “time,” do not do this. Nor do children. Nor do people who only live in the concrete world. It is an unique experience for us as we rise above the immediate, here-and-now and think in terms of what shall be.
We also use of the words “spirit” and “spiritual” to convey the conceptual idea of the special, the sacred, the holy, the sense of awe, the feeling of being touched by something that’s more than the human, what we create. This takes us back to the original meaning of the world holy, it literally refers to what is whole, integrated, all-of-one-piece, not dichtomized. Holy refers to what is whole, well, and healthy. Psychologically, it is operating fully, being a“fully functioning” person (Carl Rogers).
So what is the spiritual life is the life of love, compassion, empathy, and care. It is the life of self-awareness, self-control, and self-discipline (emotional intelligence). It is the life of proactivity, responsibility, and accountability. It is the life of openness, honesty, and truth. It is the life of vulnerability, forgiveness, and healing. It is the life of abundance, giving, and extending oneself for the benefit of others. It is the life of goodness, altruism, and virtue. In all of this, are we in the realm of psychology or theology? Or, could it be both?
In Neuro-Semantics, the “spiritual” life is the higher or meta-life. It is the life of the grown-up or mature person who thinks in an integrated, holistic, and systemic way about things. The spiritual life is one of transcendence, peak experiences, and higher values. It is about being able to embrace the unknown and mystery. It is to feel appreciation and gratitude, to embrace the creaturely feeling of being limited, ignorant about so much, humble, to stand in awe before the mysterium tremendum.
To be spiritual is to be god-like in accepting life and reality as it is. It is the sense that life matters, that it is ultimately meaningful, that the universe is friendly (Albert Einstein), that there is good and evil; healthy and unhealthy, that we are ultimate responsible for our choices and actions, to experience self-transcendence in a peak experience. Theologian Paul Tillich defined spiritual and religion as “one’s ultimate concerns,” and “concern with ultimate concerns.”
In all of this, “spiritual” is part and parcel of being human. So, the question is not whether we are “spiritual” beings in search of meaning, purpose, identity, and love. The question is rather the quality of our spirit and of our spirituality. Is our spirit healthy, beautiful and clean? Or is it unhealthy, ugly, and distorted?
In all of this, I have not spoken about “religion” at all— about the specific beliefs and belief systems that characterize the historical religions which have emerged to address our spirit and spiritual quest. So here is the Neuro-Semantic distinction— “spirit” and “spiritual” is built into our biology and nature. We are spiritual to the extent that we can “go meta,” use our self-reflexive consciousness to enter into the higher life. “Religion” inevitably follows as our beliefs and belief systems about our spirituality. It is how we form and construct our understandings and maps about what we experience.
The next Meta Reflections will explore beliefs, ethics, values, and meaning as part and parcel of the “spirit” dimension.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #16
March 12, 2007
THE SPIRIT DIMENSION
Neuro-Semantics, as a field, is about performing our highest and most exciting meanings. To perform our highest meanings speaks about our beliefs. It speaks about the beliefs that inspire us, the meanings that energize us with excitement. So as a discipline of modeling experience, we use the tools of Neuro-Semantics to understand our beliefs about the higher dimensions of life, what we call the realm of “spirit” and the “spiritual” state. We can do that because we know that it is beliefs all the way up, beliefs about beliefs.
In this Neuro-Semantics has no commitment to any one form of spirituality; it has no alliance with any religion, although people of many religions and beliefs do use the models and processes. Conversely, we can also use Neuro-Semantics as a modeling tool to evaluate the health or unhealth, the accuracy or inaccuracy, the quality or lack of quality, the value or lack of value of beliefs, belief systems, forms of spirituality, and religion.
How do we go about doing that? First we establish our criteria and make them explicit. Of course, as we do, we acknowledge that whatever we set as our standards, values, and understandings are our maps about such. There is no infallibility although popes of all sizes and shapes are constantly attempting to claim infallibility. No map is the territory. Maps, even invisible mental ones in our heads are just maps. And a map is only as good as what it enables us to do things and facilitates the journey that we want to make.
This distinction enables us to identify the primary thing that turns any belief toxic. Namely, believing in our beliefs. Believing and even having layers of beliefs about our beliefs is one thing, but believing in the ultimate reality and absolute rightness of our beliefs is another. That’s what creates fanatics and fundamentalists. And a fundamentalist fanatic is a very different creature from a person whose beliefs keep him or her opens, curious, explorative, in dialogue, fallible, and modest. It is not belief or believing that separates people, that separates a scientist from a religious person, that separates an atheist from a religious person. We are all believers. The scientist believes in the scientific methodology, the atheist believes in the presence of no God.
When it comes to beliefs and belief systems, we all have them. In fact, we have hundreds, even thousands of beliefs. We have beliefs about ourselves, others, the world, business, wealth, health, criticism, fun, holidays, etc. Whenever we confirm a thought about anything, we begin to believe. We believe that such is “the way it is.” [see Sub-Modalities Going Meta]
We do not just make pictures in the theater of our mind and then add sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations, we have higher level ideas about those images— what they mean, what they suggest, what they demand of us. Beliefs don’t even have to be true to be believed. How about that? How many things have you believed that you now know were not true at all? How many stupid, false, and limiting beliefs have you experienced? What have you believed that stopped you from following your vision, from being true to yourself, from taking chances, from speaking up, etc.?
And because we all believe, we are all religious. We all have ideas about life, about the universe, about purpose and destiny. And those beliefs, those assumptions, guide the way we live our lives. Do we believe in values, morality, ethics? Do we believe in being fair, loving, good, and kind? Do we believe in responsibility, choices, consequences? Beliefs can be ferreted out in behaviors. That is, we can start with a list of our behaviors, the things we do, the way we spend out time, energy, and money. The way we relate, talk, run our business, exercise, eat, etc. and we can backtrack to the beliefs that drive our lifestyle.
Beliefs are not only confirmed thoughts but are also the things of importance that we value. Do you exercise and eat heathy? I bet you not only believe in health and fitness, I bet you value such as a critically important facet of life.
When begin believe in our beliefs, our beliefs become toxic. Believe your beliefs and you close your mind, end the exploration, and become a fanatic. Now, you may even refuse to use the term “belief,” and just say, “I don’t believe that, I know it.” This has been and continues to be one of the greatest dangers facing mankind— politically and internationally. It was bad enough that Hitler believed in his racist ideas. But worse, he believed in his beliefs. That’s what made him a fundamentalist and impossible to work with.
The belief system of the fanatic then has this structure: he believes in his beliefs. This is true for Moslem fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists, science fundamentalists, political fundamentalists, environmental fundamentalists, etc. It is the attitude or spirit of assuming one is absolutely right and that being right gives one the right to impose it on others.
Now something else tragically occurs. As the believer is no longer believing so much in the object of the belief, but the belief itself. The person now believes in his ideas, creed, mental maps than the object of the belief, even God. This is a form of idolatry. The belief is valued more than anything else, more than love, compassion, responsibility, ecology, kindness, equality, dignity—for the fundamentalist nothing is more important than the survival and expression of his belief.
Fundamentalism used airplanes as missiles on Sept. 11. Fundamentalism bombs abortion clients to kill doctors for killing. Fundamentalism fed the intolerance of Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam, and every other dictator. Fundamentalism ruins marriages, destroys businesses, and sabotages communication.
What frees us from that kind of fanaticism is the realization that our beliefs are beliefs— fallible maps conceived in a fallible brain. When you know that, instead of believing in your beliefs, you’ll keep an open mind to exploring the foundational facts, exploring with a humble attitude that you could be wrong, and dialoguing with others to discover what others know that you don’t.
I learned a trick for separating the fanatics some years ago. I lived in town where almost weekly someone was knocking on my door wanting to share their beliefs, to give me their pamphlets, and show me the truth. “Great!” I’d say. “Come right on in, if you can be wrong and are willing to have an open-mind and dialogue with my truth as well. I’ll be open-minded to your truth to the extent that you could be wrong. So, if you could be wrong in your beliefs, step across this threshold.”
Talk about a way to stop a fundamentalist cold in his steps! Typically, because I set the frame, if you could be wrong step across the threshold and let’s explore, they would stay outside and argue that they are right, no question about it. “Absolutely?” I would ask. “Totally and completely and you know the absolute truth and you could not be wrong?” Some would hesitate but eventually nod yes, others were ignorant enough about their own ignorance and fallibility to say, “Yes, of course.” Ah, they believed in their beliefs!
I would then dismiss them. “I’m not interested in talking to an infallible god this morning, I was kind of hoping for a good fallible human being. If you ever step down from being an infallible know-it-all pope and embrace you own ignorance, come and see me.”
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #17
March 19, 2007
THE SPIRIT DIMENSION
If, in the dimension of spirit, there are beliefs and belief systems, and beliefs all the way up, and beliefs about all kinds of things. For example, there are beliefs about values, beliefs about ethics, beliefs about origin and source, beliefs about ending or teleology, beliefs about God or Intelligence or the Ultimate concern, beliefs about human nature, and so on. And these are the kinds of beliefs that make up the “spiritual” facet of our lives and that make up the content of our “religion.”
What is the Neuro-Semantic position on all of this? There is a two-fold position. And this two-fold focus leads to two very different responses.
First, the area where we take no position. As we consider this dimension of life where all these beliefs operate, we are dealing with beliefs, concepts, understandings and do not have access to the actual references. So, without any actual referent, there’s nothing to model or study.
Second, the area where we can take a position. Yet because these are beliefs, we can model the beliefs themselves, we can model the people who hold such beliefs, and we can model out the result of these beliefs.
First, No Actual References
In Neuro-Semantics we take no position about the content of beliefs about God, or any given belief about any given religion. All of that belongs to theology or philosophy and is not the focus, direction, or purpose of Neuro-Semantics. We respect that the mapping and modeling tools of Neuro-Semantics (including NLP, General Semantics, etc.) is for mapping human experience—the subjective experience of people. We leave it to other fields to figure out as best they can the content of these domains.
Second, Modeling Belief Experiences
What we can model are the beliefs and experiences of people —the beliefs that enrich their lives, expand their choices, and enable them to be loving, joyful, healthy, creative, informed, contributing, etc. And we can also model the beliefs and experiences of the beliefs that reduce the quality of life, limit possibilities, induce negative states that undermine sanity and health. Then, from those modeling experiences, we can deduce that there are beliefs about such “spiritual” things that support and enhance life, are ecological for relationships, and those that do not. Yet even when we do that, it’s important to remember that this does not establish the truth or validity of those beliefs, only their usefulness, their effectiveness in human personality, and whether they tend to support health or to be toxic.
We can model peak experiences— when men and women are at their best, when they feel that they are living at their best, being their best, having a sense of transcendence over time, space, culture, others, etc. And from modeling these peak experiences, we can identify the things that seem to support a “spiritual” way of life, that is, living with a sense of meaning, purpose, direction; living to create, contribute, and leave the world in a better way; living with passion and joy that enriches others.
We can even model people of “high ethics” to identify how they think about ethics, what they believe about how to treat others, what particular criteria and standards contribute to an ethical lifestyle. Does honesty, openness, flexibility, care, empathy, respect, etc.? Which are the highest in priority when there’s a conflict between these values? We can model how our self-reflexive consciousness that creates our ethics, levels of ethics, growth and development of ethics, cultural ethics and development, and how they are effectively languaged.
We can model the ethical beliefs that seem to create the best kind of social relationships, that lead to an entire society being supportive of human life— creating respect, honesty, responsibility, etc. We can model the relationship between psychological growth and ethics, religious beliefs and ethics, ownership of personal responsibility and ethics. We can model ethical decision-making, how it works, those who seemed skilled in it, those who do not. We could model the ethics of the “criminal mind” and those with little sense of others, empathy, and “conscience.”
We could model ethics in the light of self-actualization and the being-values. We could model those who have a healthy sense of “ought-ness” within them (as in, What ought I to do? How ought I to live?) and compare that to those who have an unhealthy sense of “oughtness.”
In all of these ways, Neuro-Semantics, as a tool and set of models for discovering the inner structure and process of experience, could offer a contribution. But in itself, Neuro-Semantics is not a “spirituality,” not a religion, not a philosophy, and not an ethical code. We have an ethical code that we have accepted about operating from a spirit of inquiry, abundance, professionalism, openness, responsibility, accountability, etc. But again, that’s not what Neuro-Semantics is.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #18
March 26, 2007
THE SPIRIT DIMENSION
In the current Meta Reflections I’ve been attempting to answer the question about the relationship of Neuro-Semantics to “spirituality” and “religion.” As most people notice in Neuro-Semantic trainings, because we invite people to rise up above and beyond the primary state to their higher mental-and-emotional states, many of the processes feel like a “spiritual” activity. This is especially true of the intentionality pattern, but equally true of meta-pleasure, exploring a matrix, meaning enrichment, opening-up a belief system, etc.
I’ve been referring to this as the spirit dimension of meta (Reflection #15). It is the dimension of in-spir-ation—passion, hope, dreams, purpose, destiny, direction, intentionality, etc. It is also the dimension of “beliefs”— those mental maps that we map about the meaning and purpose of life, who we are, what we’re up to, etc. And it is in this sense that in the dimension of spirit, it is beliefs all the way up.
Now in this dimension of spirit, intention, and belief, there’s another factor at work—valuing. That’s because at the heart of the good life, the “spiritual” life, is “values.” Why? Because it is in valuing or having values that we become “spiritual” persons. Recognizing and living by values raises our lives above the lowest levels of just surviving to living for something more, for something higher. Here we map out “the good life” and how to create a life well lived.
Of course, this sounds like “values” are things when they are not. The false-noun of “values” is actually a nominalization and is derived from the verb, to value, to treat as important, as meaningful, to see the worth and significance of something. So what we label as “values” actually is a state— a state of mind, of emotion, and even of body. Consider that. If it speaks about a particular state of mind, what is the mental state of valuing?
If it speaks about a sate of emotion, then what is that emotional state?
And if it speaks about a state of body, what is the physiology and neurology when we are valuing?
The answer may seem strange at first, but that’s only because we so overuse the vague nominalization “values” and don’t map valuing as a dynamic and living process. The answer is that the mental, emotional, and neurological state is that of appreciating, sacralizing, seeing and feeling the everyday world in the aspect of eternity and so, seeing and feel gratitude.
How about that? Actually this gives us a way to find our true values. What do you appreciate? What does your mind and heart feel grateful for? Where do you invest your time, energy, and money in? What do you treat as significant and important? What do you sacralize? What do you worship? Is it money, sex, power, things, status, approval, acceptance, no conflict, health, fitness, superiority, being ‘right,’ putting others down, growing, seeing others grow, etc.?
Values are not things, but processes. Given that, where does the process of seeing and investing with significance show up in your life? What magazines do you spend money on? What television shows do you invest time in? What activities?
It is in valuing that we express ourselves as “spiritual” beings. It is in seeing wonder and worth that we are inevitably worshiping beings. Worship doesn’t just occur in Churches and Mosques. It occurs wherever a human heart admires, adores, appreciates, and feels the joy of significance. So we worship leaders, movie stars, athletes, the rich and famous. So we worship money, status, and power.
We even “worship” models, beliefs, and ideas. We are a worshiping species. That’s because we inevitably look around to search for value, importance, and significance. It is part and parcel of our passion for meaning. If nothing meant anything, if we didn’t need to do what’s meaningful, we would not feel the call to the special, the sacred, the holy, the glorious, the admirable, and the awesome.
Valuing then is the heart of spirituality. It is the essence spiritual thing you do. When you value, you look to find what matters, what makes a difference, what makes life and experiences special. And this is what drives every form of celebration. The heart pulse of celebrating is that of acknowledging value. It happens whenever we acknowledge, complement, and praise someone. It happens when we throw a party for winning, returning home, having a birthday, and just about any other occasion we can invent!
And if valuing, seeing value, adding value lies at the heart of spirituality, then even business, enterprise, and commerce can be spiritual. After all, what creates “wealth” other than adding value? It is when we create something that solves a problem, adds a benefit, invents a new tool or process, gives a service, etc. that we are doing what builds a successful business. Here, even capitalism, as an economic process, can be performed as a spiritual act. If we are adding value through our products and services, through the information, innovations, and experiences that we are offering— we are doing something spiritual— adding value to people and making the world a better place.
How then does Neuro-Semantics relate to “spirit, spiritual, and spirituality?” We do so by de-nominalizing what actually occurs in our mind-body-emotion system when we believe, value, intend, that builds up our sense of inspiration and that addresses our higher self-actualization needs for hoping, believing, intending, contributing, making a difference, creating value, etc.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #19
April 2, 2007
THE SPIRIT DIMENSION
Your Being-ness — Your Spirituality
There is doing, there is having, and there is being. The first two of these are easy to understand and experience. The third one is difficult. In fact, doing and having is where our minds, our consciousness normally and naturally go. Our brains go outward to the outside world to detect the environment, and to scan what’s happening around us. We notice the results we’re getting from what we are doing and the things which that allows us to have. And that’s how we determine if we’re succeeding or not, achieving our outcomes or not.
Being, that’s where the challenge comes. Being refers to existing with what is, and so implies first witnessing what is. That is, just observing and noticing what is and being with it without defending against it or seeking to escape it. Being with also implies acceptance. That is, just welcoming it into our awareness, our world, our life. Now acceptance is not resignation. It is not condoning. It is not permission. It is just acknowledgment of what is. Because this ends the internal fight, it takes a lot of ego-strength.
Ego-strength, the ability to witness and accept what is, what exists, without falling apart, without caving in, and without activating the defense and escape mechanisms to protect a fragile ego that would prefer to live in a world of wishful thinking, magical thinking, and childish thinking. Ego-strength is a sign of development, actually meta-development of one’s inner world, and enables us to face reality so that we can then deal with it and take effective action.
Being begins with witnessing and accepting, but does not end there. To truly enter into the meta-realm of being, we also have to use our meaning-making skills to appreciate, or to use Maslow’s terminology, to sacralize all of life. What does this mean? Sacralizing is the state of being where we can find value, wonder, awe, significance, meaning, and importance in anything, in everything. That is, to see things in the aspect of eternity and to give it rich significance so that we sense and feel its meaningfulness.
This is spirituality. When you can do this, you are no longer living in a meaningless universe, a secular world that has no more significance than doing and having. You have moved to a higher realm, a higher dimension of experience, a higher realm of being. And from this higher place, you are able to feel inspired (in-spirit-ed) in living.
Maslow described this realm as the realm of being that describes the “growth” motivation of self-actualization. He contrasted it with the realm of deficiency which describes life at the lower needs. In the higher or being-realm we experience the being-needs and so think and feeling using being-cognition. This contrasts with the deficiency-needs and deficiency-cognition of the lower needs.
The being-values also reflect what every major religion and most philosophies have argued for over thousands of years: truth, goodness, beauty, unity (wholeness), dichotomy transcendence, aliveness, uniqueness, perfection, necessity, order, simplicity, richness, effortlessness, playfulness, self-sufficiency, meaningfulness. This also is the place where we become more truly human.
Another contrast with being-ness is instrumentality. When we operate in an instrumental way, we are looking at the instruments (tools, processes, patterns, models, technology) that enables us to reach our end-goals. Instrumental goals are the steps and stages that enable us to get there. Instrumentality, we go to work, make money, pay our taxes, follow the rules about driving, etc. Generally we do these things not for the experience itself, but for the results we obtain.
Now thinking instrumentally and operating instrumentally is part and parcel of being successful, of achieving our objectives, of making things happen in our lives, and of being human. But being human involves so much more than instrumentality. The person who makes instrumentality the purpose of life becomes a “human doing,” rather than a human being. The person who does that then evaluates and judges life in terms of instrumental goals. That then becomes a very toxic thing. Then, if a person isn’t succeeding in terms of goals, one feels like a failure as a person.
Yet life is not only about instrumental goals. Yet at the lower need levels, at the level of our survival, safety, social, and self needs—we have to achieve certain things. If we are not effectively instrumental at that level we suffer physically, economically, and psychologically. So we need to be instrumental, yet life is also about being-needs. It is about learning how to be within ourselves and with others. When we move to this level, the “modal operators” change from necessity to possibility. This is part of spirituality as defined by almost every theology and philosophy. At being-ness we experience “peak” experiences that are typically characterized by a purpose-lessness, a pure being-ness.
The external context of these experiences hardly matter at all. We can have these peak experiences at any time and in any place. That’s because the quality of the experience is a being-experience. Inside, we transcend time and space, even self, others, environment, causality, etc. We enter into an eternal moment, a perfect moment and whatever the engagement—we are totally present. If it is holding a newborn baby, if it is enjoying a sunrise, if it is having a fierce conversation, it it is walking on a beach, if it is playing tennis, if it is holding a loved one, if it is being quiet in the presence of another person. The event that we’re engaged in is not the key. The key is being there. It is being present—fully and completely present as we are being with the people and activities that we’re engaged with. Such makes life spiritually meaningful.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #19
April 9, 2007
Life is the adventure of development. At every age, whether 21 or 50 or 100, we are never finished. There’s always more to learn, to experience, to discover, to contribute, and to become. Isn’t this exciting? Of all species, we of the human species are the most incomplete, not only at birth, but throughout our lifespan. It is because we are born without instincts, without the specific content knowledge for knowing how to be human, that human life is all about learning and changing. Being human is what we have to discover and invent. And becoming fully human, fully alive — this is the drive within all of us that we call self-actualization.
Self-Actualization theory, as developed by Maslow, recognizes that we are born to develop, to unfold, to actualize our potentials, and to become what we are born to become. We are born with an inner drive for unleashing more and more of our potentials. How do you experience this drive? How fully do you embrace this? What is your next level of development?
In fact, we now know that we can continue to grow, learn, develop, unfold, and actualize more and more of our potentials throughout all of the stages of life. Yet while we can, this is not inevitable. With our powers, we can also ignore this inner call. We can deny it. We can repress it so that it goes away.
If it is our nature to develop and we lack the specific instinctual details, then a great deal of the human adventure is about discovering how to fully develop and what to more fully develop. Yet what do you think about the idea of always being unfinished? What do you feel about the fact of all of life being about ongoing development? Does this intimidate or thrill you? Does it put you off or does it turn you on?
One secret about life is that life, as development, occurs on levels. First there is the development of our life style. This concerns how we live, what we do, who we associate with, and all of the first level of development that takes care of our lower needs (survival, safety, social, and self needs). Most of us live all of our lives on this level—getting by, finding work that we enjoy, figuring out how to get along with others, etc.
Yet there is more. There is our meta-development—developing our inner world of meanings—the beliefs that empower and enhance us as we move through life, the meanings that give us direction and purpose.
Meta-development is the ability to reflect on our experiences, to edit our inner representations, to examine our inner perceptions, to detect the frames that we operate from, and to step back to the choice point where we can truly choose how we want to live. This is the place of true human freedom—the freedom to choose, to assume responsibility, to architect our future, and to become the author of our own experiences. NLP speaks about this as “running your own brain.” In Neuro-Semantics we speak about it as developing our highest executive self and states, the states that facilitate our full self-actualization.
How highly developed are your meta-abilities? What is the next step in your own meta-development? What are you seeking to actualize in yourlife at this stage of your development? What new possibilities are you awakening to that you will work to unleash in the coming months?
Our meta-development involves the higher levels of change beyond merely enhancing our performances. They involve our developmental changes and our transformational changes. Developmental changes involve changes in your beliefs, meanings, understandings, decisions, etc. Transformational changes refer to changes in our direction, orientation, and purpose. It refers to when a paradigm shift occurs and we begin living for something new.
This is the realm of “spirit” and is related to what I’ve been writing about as the dimensions of “spirit.” If the terms “spirit” and “spiritual” refers to feeling an inspiration about life, self, others, growth, etc. (in-spirit-ed), then this is the passion that drives spirituality. It is the high drive to find meaning so we can live meaningfully. Maslow used these words (menaing and spiritual) synonymously.
“If there were no joy in life, it would not be worth living. … Life has to have meaning, has to be filled with moments of high intensity that validate life and make it worthwhile. (Journals, p. 180)
“The higher nature (or higher life-spiritual life) emerges to be seen clearly. Was it there all the time? Yes, as a universal potentiality. That is, every human being has within his nature a yearning for truth, beauty, goodness, justice, order, humor, completion, etc. (or a preference for the true rather than the false, or to see rather than to be blinded, etc.), but this emerges only as lower basic needs are satisfied — i.e., under the very best conditions.” (Journals, p. 47)
How’s your meta-development? Are you developing your at your highest levels? As a meaning-maker, are you living and experiencing some really rich meanings, robust meanings, and inspiring meanings that pull you out of bed every morning ready or the day?
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #20
April 16, 2007
When people first experience a meta-state process, it’s not uncommon for them to comment about how much it feels like a trance. “Wow! That was kind of hypnotic.” “I feel like I’ve been somewhere else.” And no wonder! As a state-about-a-state, meta-states take us inside and so we naturally transition from the outside world to the inside world.
It gets even more trancy as we move up the levels. Consider one of the key patterns we have in Neuro-Semantics, the Intentionality Pattern. With this pattern we essentially meta-state ourselves with intentionality all the way up. Here we begin with the real world—the world of physics where our experience is grounded in the empirical qualities of sights, sounds, sensations, and smells. Then we ask a series of meta-questions:
“Is that important to you? Why is that important? What are you doing that for? What’s in the back of your mind about that?”
To answer these questions, we go inside. We move into the world of symbols and communication, the world of representations and codes. Here there are no pickup trucks and fast food, no tree or yards that need mowing, no coconuts or snicker candy bars, no bosses or jobs, no faxes or reports, no gyms or court houses. These things do not enter the inside-world. This is a world of maps, ideas, thoughts, and facsimiles of the things “out there.” Into this world tangible objects cannot enter. In this world there are only messages and messages-of-messages. This is the world of hypnosis. It is the world of meta-states.
We enter this world by thought, by re-presenting to ourselves the sights, sounds, sensations, and smells of the real world. This is the inner world of our minds, of our Matrix where we give birth to our sense of reality, our model of the world. It seems real and it is real-to-us when we are in there. It is also real to our nervous-system-and-brain that creates it and that will attempt to real-ize the messages that we send to ourselves. Yet it is not the real world of physics, it is the invented or constructed world of meaning —layers and layers of meanings.
We can go further into it. When we ask the meta-questions of intention repeatedly,
“So that is important? Great. How is it important? What’s your intention in wanting that? What will that get you? And when you get that fully and completely in just the way you want it, what will that give you that’s even more important to you?”
When we then begin to answer these questions, we transition to a yet higher level of consciousness as we go into more of a trance state. Our answers even become trancy— vague, general, conceptual. We want peace, oneness, connection, purpose, fulfillment, authenticity, contribution, etc. To move up the meta-state levels is to enter into a hypnotic state. In this, all meta-states are hypnotic structures and facilitate hypnotic experiences. This means that the Matrix also is a hypnotic state. And when we complete the communication loop to bring the meta-state back down to the primary level so we can interface the world with it —our meta-state sets up hypnotic suggestions, commands, and post-hypnotic behaviors for us.
Given this, every state of hypnosis is actually a meta-state. It involves layers of meta-states that have been built up in our mind as we have gone inside and created various ideas, images, and suggestions. The depth of the hypnosis is the height of our meta-stating frames. Knowing this about meta-states now enables us to examine our states and behaviors that have a hypnotic feel to them and that do not serve us well and re-formulate them so they do enhance our lives in releasing our highest potentials.
Trance states are meta-states and meta-states are trance experiences. Knowing that, you probably won’t be surprised to know that one of the things we often do in some of our trainings (Master Practitioner) is to have people take their genius meta-stating process from Accessing Personal Genius (APG) and write out the genius state as an induction. Ah, an induction! As in “a hypnotic induction” that creates and facilitates the meta-state structure.
So in the Intentionality Pattern, when you meta-state yourself with intention upon intention, it takes you to your highest frames of purpose, destiny, identity, legacy, etc. This generally induces a very deep hypnotic state, or shall I say, a very high hypnotic state. You go higher-deeper within your inner world, internally seeing your highest meanings, highest purposes, and feeling inspired by the inner vision. Then with all of that in mind, when you bring it to the interface point and see your everyday activities with those eyes— you set up a post-hypnotic suggestion for how to move through the world. It creates a higher level way of being in the world.
That’s meta-trance. That’s trancing out with your highest and best meta-states. That’s more up, up, and away from the first primary state to the levels of your meta-mind which is generally outside-of-consciousness. How are you at meta-trance? What are your best meta-trances for work, relationships, health, exercise, creativity, wealth, etc.? What is Neuro-Semantics about? What will Meta-States do for you? It will create great meta-trances— trances of genius, of love, of passionate commitment to things that matter to you, and of unleashing potentials!
May all of your trances this week be positively empowering ones that unleash more and more of your potentials!
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #21
April 23, 2007
Several years ago I wrote an article that I titled, Which Unconscious Mind Do You Train? In it, I distinguished several references that we call by the same term, “the unconscious mind.”
1) Conscious dropped into unconscious awareness as our storehouse of knowledge
2) The autonomic nervous system
3) The sub-conscious mind processing information below the threshold of consciousness
4) The forgotten mind of stored memories
5) The repressed mind
6) The meta-consciousness of assumptive frames
The design of the article was to warn against a sloppy use of the vague phrase, “the unconscious mind” and to warn against positing the unconscious mind against the conscious as if it were god —always right, infallible, all knowing, etc. and the conscious mind was inferior. I argued that “the unconscious mind” should no more be implicitly trusted than the conscious mind. Every aspect of our holistic mind is human and therefore fallible.
Yet “mind” as reason, consciousness, and meaning-creation is our primary survival mechanism. And it is through developing a mindful awareness that we are able to monitor and regulate our consciousness and use it in thinking with clarity, precision, and understanding. And this is what makes us most fully alive/ fully human and so actualizing our best. And this applies to our whole mind in both conscious and unconscious forms.
This, in fact, was part and parcel of the original NLP vision about “running your own brain.”
It is mindful awareness that allows us to recognize the movies that we’re playing on the theater of our mind and begin to edit them in terms of their cinematic features.
It is mindful awareness that enables us to discover the perceptual filters (meta-programs) that govern what and how we sort for information as we move through the world and expand those perceptual filters so that we don’t create a self-impose blindness by over-relying on a particular meta-program.
It is mindful awareness that empowers us to recognize the states we apply to our states that create our higher and more complex meta-states by which we create our sense of personality and identity and the textured qualities of our states.
And what is mindful awareness but the ability to access and use our meta-consciousness? How well are you able to do that? Now to read some authors and some disciplines, you would think that consciousness is the central problem of human life. You would think that being mindful, having the power of reason, and being aware is the source of all evil. It is not.
True enough, there are forms of consciousness that are very problematic. If your consciousness is full of judgments, harshness, demandingness, rules, and punishment— well, you would experience that as a really big problem. You could hardly “think” or be aware without experiencing immense pain. A consciousness like that would make you your own worst enemy. A consciousness like that would be so hard on yourself. A consciousness like that would tempt you to try to avoid thinking and avoid awareness itself. And that, in turn, would undermine your cognitive efficacy.
Timothy Gallwey calls that kind of consciousness Self-1 and identifies it as the reason so many people sabotage themselves and prevent themselves from taking their performances to new levels of expertise (The Inner Game of Tennis). That’s why we use acceptance, appreciation, awe, love, support, empathy, etc. so often in Neuro-Semantics as resource states to meta-state ourselves and others with. Doing so changes consciousness. Doing so gives us a kinder/gentler meta-consciousness whereby we are able to live more graciously with ourselves and then, in turn, with others. For this reason also we use the “Releasing all Judgment” pattern in Neuro-Semantics to shift out of a critical demandingness state of mind to one of simple witnessing and noticing.
As one facet of our “unconscious mind” is our meta-consciousness which includes all of the assumptive frames that we have absorbed from the numerous cultures that we live in. These higher outside-of-consciousness frames make up the content of our overall “model of the world” that we live within as our mental-emotional atmosphere. And while we are unconscious of it, we can bring these frames into awareness so that we can quality control them and choose those that enhance our self-actualization.
To further develop a rich and robust meta-consciousness, we explore our matrix of frames. If we aren’t able to detect the assumptive frames that govern our everyday experience, then the matrix has us. To become a master of your own matrix and to be able to change it from within at will, we have to be able to detect and explore our highest presuppositional frames. That’s where the Matrix Model offers us a useful tool.
How open are you to your meta-consciousness? How skilled are you in exploring your assumptive frames? How often do you run a meta-cognitive analysis to quality control the self-organizing frames that structures your life? How able are you to create a new matrix of frames to tap into potentials yet to be released?
It is within our meta-consciousness that we can set “standing orders” as policies of our executive level of mind. Here we can establish self-organizing attractors at the higher levels and automatize a frame. And that will be the subject of the next Meta Reflection.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #22
April 30, 2007
There is a part of your mind that makes decisions. It’s at a meta-level. Now it is true that at the primary level you can make a simple choice. You can choose to go toward something attractive that you like and that gives you pleasure. You can choose to move away from something aversive that you dislike because it creates pain. At the primary level, our neurology is designed for this and so it comes equipped with toward and away from energies (one of our meta-programs). That happens pretty much automatically and without thought.
But decision generally involves thought. Lots of thoughts. Thoughts this way and thoughts that way. We go back and for as we weigh the pros and cons of a choice. We alternate back and forth, saying yes one minute, and then no the next as we weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the choice before us. At this point we are in-decisive. We are in a state of doubt. We don’t know what to choose. Yet eventually we “make up our mind” and so we say no to one side of the choice and yes to the other. It is this cutting off of some alternatives that allows us to make a decision. And the word de-cision speaks of this. We cut (-cision) off and away from (de-) one thing from another thing. Ah, within a decision we use our primary states of validation (yes) and dis-validation (no).
The executive part of your mind that makes up your mind makes a choice, chooses, decides, says yes and no and so cuts a pathway that will determine your actions and orientation. When that part of your mind does this, it terminates the indecision, throws its energy one way, and so sends messages to your mind-body system to make the internal and external changes that the decision formats.
Actually the executive part of your mind is a pretty high level facet of your meta-consciousness and one connected with the part of your mind that creates and sets intentions. In fact, to intend to do something, believe something, feel something, identify with something, etc. is part of the decision process. In this way the conative part of our mind and personality operates as one of your key faculties. That’s because, you get to choose. In fact, without the programming of instincts with content-information like animals, you have to choose. You don’t have a choice about not choosing!
Yet when you choose, when you make up your mind, you formulate the content of your meta-consciousness. You set the higher frames of your mind which operate like self-organizing attractors in a system. What does this mean? It means that the decisions operate as your intentions and these intentions as beliefs (after all, it’s beliefs all the way up) operate in a way that we typically describe as a self-fulfilling prophesy. That is, what you believe and expect to get is precisely what you are set to see, perceive, and receive. If you decide to believe that you live in a friendly universe and that positive intentions drive what people do, so you will find that in the world. You attract friendliness and positive intentions to yourself. You attract it inside yourself — as your way of seeing, processing information, interpreting, creating meaning. You attract it outside as it invites those who agree to befriend you.
The attractor that you set by your decision, intention, and belief operates like the “rules of the game.” That if we think about it as a “game” —an inner game, these are the rules of the game which set in motion the way you play the game of life and the game that you invite others to play with you. Yet because all of this comes from your meta-consciousness, most of this is outside-of-consciousness. It’s part of your “unconscious mind” and to the extent that it is, it operates automatically and without your awareness. No wonder frame game analysis then becomes such a powerful Neuro-Semantic tool for gaining control over this facet of your unconscious mind.
The decision-intention-belief that you set through your yes-ing one choice and cutting off by no-ing the other choices also sets a “standing order” in your mind. This offers another way to think about an self-organizing attractor. The attractor is a standing order about what to sort for, pay attention to, notice, respond to, and punctuate. That standing order may be a taboo — what you have decided to prohibit and forbid, or it may be a command — what to welcome into your consciousness. So, given all of this:
C What self-organizing attractors have been set in your meta-consciousness as standing orders, executive policies for coping and mastering things, and the rules of the games you play?
C What patterns do you find keep repeating in your life?
C What do you keep attracting time and again, year after year, in your life, in your finances, in your relationships, in your health, in your business, in your fitness?
C And even more important — what new policies would you like to establish?
C What standing orders would you like to executively make and set in your meta-consciousness?
Your self-organizing attractors do not absolutely create your “reality.” Oh that things were that simple! But they are not. Your self-organizing attractor frames (as meta-states) interact with “reality.” In fact, we could say this, your self-organizing attractor frames is the inner “reality” that you create as you map things from your experiences. You then use them to test out how well those maps work on external reality.
So attracting things to you is not an absolute process, but a relative one and dependent on the accuracy and usefulness of your maps. If you map out something totally irrational and erroneous, you only create a very un-useful map that will put you at odds with reality as it exists beyond your nervous system—physical reality, social reality, political reality, etc. To quote from Korzybski, a map is only as good and useful as it has some correspondence to the territory, at least enough so that you can use it in navigating to the places that you want to visit and experience.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #23
May 7, 2007
LEVELS OF REALITY
We set higher level attractor frames in our mind (Reflection #22), to influence our own inner reality and we do that, in turn, to affect our outer reality. It’s the inner game/outer game dance! This gives us minimally at least two dimensions of what we call “reality.” There is the inner reality of your matrix of frames of meaning. This defines your inside reality; it also creates a great deal of that reality. Then there is the external reality of the factors and constraints that we have to deal with “out there” beyond our own skin.
So even before we ask the fundamental questions about reality there is a step. And that step is to define what we mean by “reality.”
C What is real?
C What is reality?
C How can we determine our reality?
C To what extent do we contribute to creating our reality?
C How do the inner and outer realms of reality relate to each other?
C Do we create our reality?
So the question before all of these questions is, “What reality are you speaking about?” We have to ask this because there are different dimensions and levels of reality.
The external reality has been the subject and focus of science. Once upon a time, with the discovery of the atom we thought we had gotten to the bottom of it all. But there’s now all kinds of sub-atomic factors of neutrons, electrons, quarks, etc. and the quantum world. But since none of us take our cars to a quantum physicist for repairs! For the mechanics of a car, we need a Newtonian physicist— someone who knows how to deal with the Newtonian world of physics where the macro-level of mass, energy, and movement interact.
Yet that is not the only external reality “out there.” We also have the external social world—social reality. This is the reality that we find and encounter “out there” made up of the relational interactions of other people. Here we have families, groups, colleagues, movements, corporations, etc. Here we have external facts about people and the cultures they create. And these cultures contain both lots of external things (rituals, environment, architecture, schools, clubs, etc.) and lots of internal things: values, beliefs, understandings, identities, etc.
Then there is another external reality—the external political world, political reality. This is the reality that’s “out there” that govern how groups of people relate for decision making and leadership that creates various political structures – socialism, bureaucracy, democracy, etc.
These are some of the dimensions of external reality. And in addition to these, there are the dimensions of internal reality. There is the level of representational reality— what we represent in our mind that creates the beginning of our inner reality. Above that is the linguistic reality of how we use words and language to define and call into existence the landscape of our inner world. Above that are the higher and more abstract concepts that give birth to our conceptual reality. These are some of the levels of inner reality within the meta-dimensions of our mind-body system.
Given that we can now begin to specify different realities, how do these different inner and outer realms of reality relate to each other? And, do we create our reality?
Obviously we create some of our reality. We create ideas in our mind as representations, words, and concepts and then translate those creative inner concepts into objects for the outside world as we innovate new inventions. But we do not create all of our reality. There are givens and constraints with which we have to learn about and adjust ourselves to. There are neurological constraints of our nervous-system-and-brain constraints regarding what our sense receptors can receive and how our nervous system create transforms of physical phenomena. There are external constraints of time, energy, money, intelligence. There are social constraints even in the language we use to think and encode our understandings of things. Each language also establishes categories of reality for members of a social system. This creates the socially agreed upon fictions in that culture.
“One way in which our models of the world [inner reality] will necessarily differ from the world itself [external reality] is that our nervous system systematically distorts and deletes whole portions of the real world.” (The Structure of Magic, Volume I, page 9, John Grinder and Richard Bandler)
So while we participate in the creation of our subjective reality, we do so while living within the givens and constraints of other realities—social, political, linguistic, and physical realities. Given that some NLP people are now assuming that we create all of our reality, this seems to be a overlooked or forgotten part of he NLP Communication model. Yet you can read about these “constraints” in the first volume of The Structure of Magic (pages 5-13).
Do we create our reality? Yes, in part, but not the whole; reality is also a given. This means that “reality” is both objective and subjective and they interface with each other. Our subjective reality influences objective reality and objective reality ought to influence our subjective reality. When it does, we map the territory and create “our model of the world.”
Ah, now we are back to mapping. We map reality in order to create our inner “model of the world” so that we can navigate reality with more skill and elegance. We also map new possibilities for reality so that we can then create and innovate new influences in the world. And as we do this, our inner mapping and framing thereby attracts skills and resources to ourselves. So with our skills, resources, communication, responses, and interactions we attract new external possibilities to ourselves. But the so-called “law of attraction” is not absolute. Nor does it operate apart from the givens and constraints of the real world. And, more about this in the next Reflection.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #24
May 14, 2007
LEVELS OF ATTRACTION
In the last Reflection I wrote about Levels of Reality to distinguish the dimensions of inner and outer reality and some of the multiple levels in each of those. The term “reality” is not a monolithic term referring to a singular thing. What is real depends on the dimension in which w are referring. The two primary dimensions are within our nervous system-brain (inner reality) and “out there” beyond all of our interpretations, understandings, information processing, communication about it (outer reality).
To fail to make this critical distinction confuses map and territory. Some people who confuse the two are fanatics. For a fanatic, his or her map is the one, the only, the true, the only true map. It is real. It is the territory, and woe be unto the person who questions it! Eric Hoffer called this kind of person a “true believer.” For the fanatic the primary purpose in life is imposing the maps on others and even on the world.
There are others who confuse map and territory. One group doe so by assuming that whatever they map is real or is going to be real. This is a delusion however. The delusion is that they have that kind of power in their mapping and that the only possible thing that could be wrong in life, in the world, is that they are just not mapping enough— believing enough, imagining enough, intending enough, etc.
The problem in this is that they think that they can map anything, and that whatever they think, they make it so. This over-simplistic understanding of reality forgets that we are mapping a territory and that the territory has to be taken into account in the mapping. It’s the old thing of taking a map of London and trying to navigate around any other city on the planet. It won’t work! Sure, there will be a few streets with the same name, perhaps a similar river or mountain, but for the most part that map is not designed for any territory other than London.
Mapping does not create external reality. By mapping we create some of our internal reality —our subjective reality so that it calls our beliefs, identities, hopes, dreams, intentions, etc. into being. And as our mapping interacts with the constraints of our body, our context, our mind, our nervous system, we are able to tap into the predispositions, talents, and potentials and create something new from all of those components.
It was on this note that I ended Meta Reflection #23 regarding the givens and constraints of the world. Yes indeed thinking makes it so to quote Shakespear, but thinking does not make everything so and it does not dismiss or automatically over-ride the givens and constraints of reality. Mostly, the thinking that “makes it so” refers to our self-reflexive thinking, the thinking we engage in as we create our inner models of ourselves, our world, our place in the world, etc.
It is on the inside, in that inner world of our subjective reality made out of the thousands of belief frames, intention frames, decision frames, understanding frames, identity frames, permission frames, etc. that “as we think, so we are.” This is the domain of psychology, of your inner psycho-logics. As you map things with your thinking, believing, and framing— so your brain and nervous system attempts to “make it real.” It does this first and foremost inside your body as your representations on the theater of your mind which then, in turn, sends messages to your body and all of your higher belief frames sends commands to your body.
No wonder it’s so critical to learn all you can of your Movie Mind—becoming conscious of your representations and how to edit the cinematic features with as much skill and elegance as possible (see MovieMind or any good NLP Introduction). And no wonder it is even more critical to learn all you can of your higher self-reflexive mind —your meta-states so that you can become conscious of the frames you have set and continue to set. Awareness of that level of your mind puts you at choice point in your psychology. Then you are able to elect what to set as your desired frames (see Winning the Inner Game).
Think of these first two meta-dimensions as levels of attraction. Attraction at the first level, the level of representation is pretty powerful. What you picture in your mind and all the qualities of sound, sensation, smell, etc. that you edit into those images powerfully influences what you create in yourself and your world. This is the place of imagination— images, inwardly “seeing” your goals, hopes, dreams, or fears, dreads, worries, angers, resentments. Twenty some years ago in Dallas, Texas the cancer researchers discovered the power of images and imagination. And for longer than that, athletes have known the power of “seeing” their best practices in their minds from Jack Nicholson’s famous quote about only hitting the golf ball after he creates a little movie of a perfect shot.
Yet if that level of attraction is power, the meta-state level is a hundred times more effective. This is the level of belief. It is the level when we take our representations and step back and confirm them with layers of validation so that we say to ourselves “This is real,” “This is the way it is.” “This is true.” Say that about anything and you will convince your nervous system that it is real and so you will feel and then act and try to bring into creation.
At this level we have to be careful, because as Jesus noted, “Be it unto you according to your belief.” Whatever you believe— true or false, heathy or sick, invigorating or dis-empowering, life-enhancing or morbid and neurotic — whatever you believe you will see the world in terms of it and attract things into your life to try to make it real. I say “try to make it real” because you may or you may not. It depends. If the map is really delusional, you won’t be it real at all. If the map does not take into consideration the facts of reality— physical facts, empirical facts, political facts, social facts, etc., then the map probably will not empower you to actualize it. You will end up frustrated, angry, confused, disillusioned, etc.
It is at this higher level also that we have the attraction of our intentions. Our intentions govern nearly everything. This is the executive level of consciousness where we get to decide, set our direction, choose our beliefs, choose our thoughts, behaviors, even our emotions. Of course, it does have to be acknowledged, appreciated, and owned. And when we do that, then we can align our attentions to our highest intentions. When it is not, we will suffer from IDD— intention deficient disorder and, living attentionally, be pushed to and fro by everything in our environment and head that grabs our attention. But, more about that next time.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #25
May 21, 2007
THE ATTRACTION LEVEL
From the Levels of Reality arise our levels of attraction. These levels move from representational attraction (images, inner movies) to the attraction power of beliefs and intentions. Today most people recognize that beliefs operate as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Beliefs operate so that they attract to us the very things that we believe. That’s what we mean by the phrase —a self-fulfilling prophecy. And yet this process is not absolute. It is not an infallible “law of attraction,” rather it is a basic tendency at work in our psychology.
This process works relative to constraints of external reality and the constraints of our mind-and-body. Beliefs, no matter how irrational, toxic, or morbid will attempt to get our body to actualize it. That’s why above and beyond the state of depression are depressive beliefs about self, life, and the future.
So also with numbness. Above and beyond the state of numbness and a sense of being “out of the body” are fearful beliefs about it being unsafe to acknowledge and own one’s physical sensations. The person may even believe that he or she is not in his body. But they are. There’s no such thing as dis-embodied persons or consciousness. The depressed person is in his body, and his mind in all of its dimensions is running the person’s autonomic nervous system, immune system, heart and lungs, memory, imagination, body temperature and a million other things. The person just doesn’t believe that it’s safe or okay or right to be “in” their body and that belief is attempting to actualize that idea of dis-embodiment. There is no actual “disassociation,” only the feeling of it — numbness, strangeness, weirdness, etc.
[Understanding this should give us pause about the glib way many in NLP talk about and use th word “disassociation.” I’d recommend to avoid using it when you are simply speaking about stepping back from one state and accessing or stepping into another state. These are relative terms. Every time you step out of one, you are stepping into another. We are always in some state.]
What’s the point in this? First, that there’s an attraction of beliefs and second, that it’s good to become picky about the beliefs we feed our mind. Ultimately, as you believe, so you will tend to become. Beliefs work as commands to the nervous system and that’s part and parcel of how they organize us.
All of this is even more true of intentions. Set an intention and, pow! that intention will begin assuming an executive role in your personality. I like to say in Meta-States that “All consciousness is motivated.” Take any piece of consciousness — conscious awareness or unconscious unawareness and within it you will find three strands— content of something, context which then gives that content meaning, and intention. Content is the details and specifics, context is the frame (frame of reference) and intention are all of the thoughts in the back of the mind about it —motivation, agenda, objective, outcome, etc.
Animals and small children live entirely in the world of attention. They responded to any loud noise, bright light, strong smell, touch, etc. — the sensory based facts of the world that gets their attentions. And typically their minds are full of attentions. This and that, then this other thing. They notice this voice, then that music, then those actions. In this there’s hardly any focus, but lots of shifting and changing. An abundance of attentions— yet we call it attention deficit disorder!
Then, when a person gets lots of things in the mind, there’s even more to distract from a focus and more to attend to — this thought, that memory, this fear, that joy, thousands of them! Without taking charge of intentionality, we are doomed to live in the world of attention. We live attentionally highly receptive and response to all of the stimulus around us and in us. Whatever intentions we have are outside-our-awareness and so driving us unconsciously.
To step back and access an intention, then an intention of that one and so on all the way up the reflexive levels until we get to some of our highest and most expansive intentions enables us to then choose to energize those intentions and then deliberately align our attentions to that intention. To do that is to live intentionally, to move through life on purpose, and to enter into the human domain.
And, to do this also is to set an self-organizing attractor in place in our mind that will send out messages to our body and commands to our nervous system that will enable us to attract our intentions. This is powerful. Very powerful. Not absolute power, not divine power. It can be interfered with, but it is nevertheless, a very powerful process.
For most of us, while we have this power, it operates unconsciously within us. We have not consciously set our intentions. Our highest intentions emerge through experiences outside-of-our-awareness and often involve intentions that, while driving, are not all that useful. Our intentions are to always be right and never wrong; to be on top; to avoid criticism at any cost, etc. So the power is there and it participates in creating our experiences, yet it is mis-used and untapped as a resource.
The solution? First, becoming aware of this power and how we are now using it. Then from awareness we can choose to stop the old unconscious intending and set new self-organizing intentions. And of course, this is what we do within the Accessing Personal Genius training as well as other Neuro-Semantic trainings.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #26
May 28, 2007
In the last two Reflections I’ve described what we call a self-organizing attractors. In the human mind-body-emotion system, we can set frames of beliefs and intentions which, due to the lack of genetic content information about life or “instincts,” and the information that we set send commands to our nervous system to make the content of our beliefs real in our lives.
This basic mechanism is powerful. And yet in saying that, it is also not an absolute power. To be explicit— this does means that not everything you think, believe, or even intention will be attracted to you or that you will be able to make real. For one thing, fallibility is built into the system. Your thinking, believing, and intending is fallible and variable as it is influenced by numerous other things.
The system is also relative to, and dependent upon, the constraints of reality. It is required in all of our internal mapping through thinking, believing, and intending that we map things that are within the realm of possibility and that our maps be accurate enough to the territory so that we are not living in delusions and fantasies. The map must accord at least somewhat to the territory. It must have a similar structure to the territory. If it does not, we start to create and live in a fantasy world of make-believe that does not allow our neurology to actualize our content.
It is true that “as we think so we are,” that “thinking makes it so,” that believing is a powerful mechanism for health and success, but such thoughts (at whatever level) must be thoughts that can be actualized. That the thoughts send messages and commands throughout our mind and body and enable and empower us to act on them.
Thoughts are not magical. They do not “create” reality in some magical way. And this means that calling upon “the quantum dimension” doesn’t suddenly endow thoughts with supernatural power. Yes, I know that “quantum”is a sexy term and that using “quantum” as an adjective is very popular these days, but creating that label does not make it so. That’s why there are no such things as “quantum linguistics,” “quantum psychology,” “quantum understanding,” etc. And because these sexy-sounding PR phrases are captivating, but totally empty of actual references, they are meaningless goobledygook.
Yes, the ultimate bottom line of reality may involve the quantum world, but we do not live there.
We do not drive quantum cars, we do not ride on quantum elevators, we do not go to quantum mechanics for car repair, or quantum builders to add on an addition to our house, or quantum interior decorators, or quantum doctors when we’re not feeling well or need surgery. With the bodies we have, we live at a much higher macro-level of life.
We do not even live our lives at the molecular level, let alone the sub-molecular level. That’s why we cannot and do not put our hands through solid furniture, cannot walk through walls, and cannot fall off a skyscraper without getting hurt. Stones crush our bones, speeding cars rip our fragile bodies apart, and spoiled food turns our stomachs. And even the best thought, the most powerful beliefs, and even the most innocent and focused intention, cannot prevent or stop these things. Think quantum thoughts all you want. But if you jump off a skyscraper or out of an airplane without a parachute, you will fall and you will suffer and probably kill yourself.
In the small book that’s now in bookstores, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (2006) quotes John Assaraf who says, “A thought has a frequency, we can measure a thought.” (p. 9). Again, a fascinating and even sexy kind of thing to day, but it is just not so. The author has confused levels. A “thought” exists at a macro-level of our phenomenlogical experience. What occurs at the level of the brain processing is the exchange of chemicals (neuro-transmitters, peptides, etc.) and the charging of protons and electrons as a bio-impulse moves along the neuro-pathways and the ions are exchanged in the cells. We can see and measure and somewhat understand these mechanisms, but these are not “thoughts” or “emotions” — those terms do not apply at that level, they apply as a much more macro-phenomena.
All of these bio-electrical and bio-chemical processes are the sub-strands and sub-layers that comprise a gestalt that we call “thoughts” or consciousness. So “thought” has no frequency. The overall functioning of the brain has frequencies and within those operations of the brain, we experience different kinds of thoughts.
The author Assaraf has also forgotten that the idea of “frequency” applied to thought is a metaphor — a metaphor! — not an empirical description. This is similar to the metaphor that is used throughout the book of magnetic attraction, “Thoughts are magnetic.” Yes, metaphorically. But no, not empirically. And this confusion of levels has led to non-sense and ignorant statements like the following, statements asserted without any evidence:
“The law of attraction simply gives you whatever it is you are thinking about.” (p. 13)
“Quantum physicists tell us that the entire universe emerged from thought!” (p. 15)
“Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thought.” (p. 28)
Such over-simplistic explanations create several toxic thought viruses. The last statement implies there are no other factors, no other variables in the world except thought which, of course, is blatantly false. The first statement is indistinguishable from the magical thinking stage of cognitive development that occurs in children from 3 to 5 years of age, again implying that thought is the only creative factor and that there are no constraints of reality to interfere. If only! And the second statement is completely undocumented; I have never read a legitimate book on the subject that even comes close to asserting anything like that. Yes, the indeterminacy factor means that we tend to observe what our assumptions and premises prepare us to observe since the observer influences the field. But that’s a very long way from saying that the universe emerged from thought!
There’s several dangers in this. Exaggerating, confusing levels, failing to index statements, failing to include the other multiple contributing factors etc. leaves the impression that people are “gods” or at least almost all-powerful in creating reality. Not so. Where is fallibility in all of this? Where is mortality? Where is social reality? Where are the constraints of reality?
So to ameliorate all of this, the truth is more balanced. We do create ideas and meanings and as we hold them in mind, we send messages and commands to our neurology to try to actualize them in our bodies. Try to make them actual and real, however, is a very different thing from thought absolutely creating your reality. If it did, the people in the back rooms of psychiatric hospitals would be some of the most powerful people on the planet instead of some of the most sad and pathetic.
Yes, thinking, feeling, believing, and intending do create and set up self-organizing “attractors” or attractions within us, but this is mostly a way of talking about the mind-brain relationship, the reflexive communication processes within us, and should not be taken as an empirical description. There’s still much mystery about all of this, and anyone even slightly educated acknowledges.
Yet there are a few people in NLP who have taken this exaggerated and unbalanced view and created the toxic non-sense that therefore everything that happens to you— you are responsible for it. You brought it into your life. Ah what power! There were no other factors. No other variables. No other influences. You and you alone are totally responsible for everything that happens to you. Now, that’s about as toxic an idea as they come. It implies that other people cannot be responsible for what they say and do. It implies that you do not live in various family, cultural, social, political, economic worlds. It implies that you are like a “god” who makes everything happens.
If only! But it is not so. There are constraints in all of those dimensions that we have nothing to do with. We did not create the world. We were born into the social, cultural, political, and economic worlds that we now live. Our responsibility is to first map out these territories and then develop the knowledge and skills for coping with such. So here’s to your effective mapping as you set belief frames, understanding frames, and intentional frames that will bring out your highest and best!