Engineering “States Plus”
Becoming a “State” Connoisseur
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
- Suppose you could texture your mental and emotional states…
- Suppose you could add various tastes, feelings, qualities to your current frame of mind…
- Suppose you could make the way you move through the world richer and fuller and radiating with a delightful and fascinating aroma…
- Suppose that you’re not stuck or limited with just the plain vanilla states…
One of the things that we are able to do in Meta-States that extends and expands NLP is texture states. That’s important. It’s important first of all because the quality of our states directly influence the quality of our lives. It’s important also because it is really not what states we experience that matters most, but the quality, nature, properties¾ texture of the state.
The supposing questions above speak about the quality and nature of our everyday mind-body states and suggests that we have the power to actually design and engineer the very quality of our states. Imagine that! Imagine being able to texture the very quality of your states. When we do this, we move to one of the most exciting and captivating features of Meta-States.
Plain Vanilla States
Consider the nature and quality of some of the following mental and emotional states. Examine the following list of terms that summarize these common everyday states and take a moment to explore them in terms of how you experience the quality of these states. You could ask about their¾
- Intensity and Strength
- Accessibility and Development
- Features and Feel
- Ecology and Balance
What kind of texture do you experience with these states? What are some of the qualities and properties that characterize them? Perhaps you experience¾
- Hesitating confidence; courageous confidence; foolish confidence; playful confidence, bold confidence
- Slow Clarity; dull clarity; bright and brilliant clarity, developing clarity, curious clarity.
- Fear of commitment; total commitment; stressful commitment, playful commitment, miserable commitment.
- Aggressive curiosity, rigid curiosity, humorous and silly curiosity, serious curiosity.
- Hostile anger; dreadful fear of anger; shame about feeling guilty for being angry
- Shameful fear; bold fear; curious fear; playful fear
The Meta-State Flush Out
The fact that we have, and experience, our mind-body states in terms of other qualities and properties informs us that we have, and carry with us, meta-states. Typically, however, we don’t experience them as “meta.” It all seems part and parcel of one state¾ one experience. This means that the higher level thoughts and feelings that we have applied or “brought to bear” upon the plain vanilla state has completely coalesced into the state and now comprises it’s texture.
It is in this way that our higher or meta-states get “into our eyes.” They coalesce and percolate into our muscles. They become part of our muscle memory. Of course, when this happens, we cease to notice them as separate or apart of our regular everyday states. They become a part of the state and no longer apart. They enter into the state as the higher level qualifying and governing frames-of-reference. And in this way, our meta-states seem hidden and invisible to us even though we never leave home without them.
Yet we can easily tease out the higher levels. We can use the qualities of our states as a way to flush out meta-states (whether your own or those of someone else). Simple inquire about the quality of a state.
- When you get angry, what’s the quality of your anger?
- Would I like to receive your anger?
- Are you respectful and thoughtful when you’re angry?
- Or do you lose your head and go ballistic when you get mad?
- Can you maintain civility and patience when you’re feeling upset and angry?
- Or do you become impatient and insulting?
The answers and responses that emerge from the quality question about a state flushes out the higher frames. And typically, there are many of them. You can also ask about other meta-level phenomena.
- What do you believe about anger?
- What memories in your personal history informs you about this?
- What values or dis-values do you have about experiencing anger?
- What moral judgments do you make about this?
- How does this affect who you are?
- How does anger play into or fail to play into your destiny, mission, and vision?
- What do you expect about anger? About people when they get angry?
Understanding the Meta-Levels in our States
Far from exhausting the subject, these questions just get us started in this domain of the meta-levels in our Neuro-Semantics. Yet to fully understand what we mean by meta-states and their importance, we need to step back and think about our everyday states. At first reckoning, they seem ordinary, plain, and of vanilla flavoring. But they are not.
They are textured. They have properties and features and characteristics that go far beyond “plain vanilla.” Over the years, via everyday experiences, we come to qualify them. We set them inside of various frames-of-reference. And every time we do, we thereby create a meta-level state. And remember, we’re using the term “state” here as a holistic and dynamic term that includes state of mind, state of body, and state of emotion.
So, using “anger” as a prototype, we come to experience thoughts-and-feelings and neurological somatic sensations about the state of anger. We like it or dislike it. We fear it or love it. We dread it or long for it. We believe it can serve us; we believe it only turns things ugly. All of these are meta-states. Dynamic, ever-moving and changing mental and emotional states about other states.
Structurally, a meta-state stands in special relationship to our states. They relate to the primary state as a higher state of awareness about it. This makes them about the lower state as a classification of it. The junior state functions as a member of that class. The higher or meta-state functions as a category for understanding and feeling about the lower.
- That’s why “fear of our anger” (fearful anger) differs in texture so much from “respect of our anger” (respectful anger).
- That’s why “shame about getting angry because it only turns things nasty” differs so much in texture to “appreciation of my powers to get angry because it informs me that some perceived value or understand feels violated and allows me to respectfully explore the situation anger.”
As a higher logical level, the mental and emotional frames that we bring to our primary experiences represent the governing influence in our lives. The higher frame as a message about the lower experiences modulates, organizes, and governs. It functions like a self-organizing attractor in the mind-body system. That’s why meta-states are so important. In your meta-states, you will find all of your values, beliefs, expectations, understandings, identifications, etc.
The Systemic Nature of Meta-States
While I have teased apart the structure of our higher frames-of-references (or meta-states) from the primary experiences, we can only do that for sake of analysis and understanding. In actual practice primary and meta levels of experiences or states merge into one unit. Research scientist Arthur Koestler introduced the term “holons” many years ago to describe reality as composed of “whole/parts.” These whole/parts holons refer to any “entity” that is itself a whole and yet simultaneously a part of some other whole.
Consider our “states” as holons. We experience our “states” as a whole. Confidence, courage, commitment, playfulness, joy, flow, etc. We experience each as a whole within itself. And yet, they also all exist (and actually only exist as a part of some larger whole). We would have no state without a body, a functioning nervous system, a thinking brain, “life,” oxygen, an atmosphere, etc.
A mind-body state operates as a holon also in terms of all of the higher mental and emotional frames (beliefs, values, expectations, etc.) that support it. The state of confidence is a whole and it is also a part of many other higher level frames.
Ken Wilber speaks about holons in terms of agency and communion, and transcendence and dissolution. Each holon has its own identity or autonomy. It has its own agency or identity as a whole. Yet as a holon within a larger whole, it also communicates and has communion with other wholes (i.e., confidence with respect, within esteem for self, within possibilities, etc.). This allows it to transcend itself and to go beyond what it has been to become more of what it can be. It can add novel components to itself. Or it can dissolve. A holon can be pulled up or pulled down.
Yet when a state as a holon moves up and experiences a transcendent of itself (self-transcendence) something new emerges. This occurs, for example, when we develop a compelling outcome so that we’re empowered to boldly face a fear. In this case, courage emerges. And while the lower was transcended and included in the higher, this continuous process produces discontinuities. Yet the leap upward does not work in reverse.
In systems theory we say that the new gestalt is “more than the sum of the parts.” Some new configuration has emerged. And merely adding all of the parts together does not, and cannot, explain it. Emergence has occurred. There was a leap upward to a higher form of organization and structure. Wilber (1996) writes:
“So there are both discontinuties in evolution¾ mind cannot be reduced to life, and life cannot be reduced to matter; and there are continuities ..” (p. 24)
He also says that “holons emerge holarchically.” (p. 27) . This term, holarchically, also comes from Koestler and replaces “hierarchy.” Holarchically describes what we mean by a natural hierarchy, not the ones that we create which involve dominations. Natural hierarchies describe an order of increasing wholeness: particles to atoms to cells to organisms or letters to words to sentences to paragraphs. The whole of one level becomes a part of the whole of the next.
Each higher level embraces and engulfs the lower. That’s why when we take a primary everyday state like anger or confidence and set various frames on it, we create new emergent properties to nurture the mind-and-body on.
Imagine embracing your anger with acceptance, appreciation, and then wonder. Imagine engulfing it in love, respect, and honor. Imagine applying mindfulness, values, and patience to it. Imagine bringing ecology concerns, moral uprightness, and honor to it. Mix well. Put into the oven of your mind, let it bake for awhile…
Imagine embracing your power to take action in the world with acceptance and appreciation. Imagine engulfing it with ownership, excitement, and joy. Imagine applying hope, desired outcomes, willingness to take intelligent risks, love, and concern for others, to it. Mix all of these well in a state of contemplative relaxation. Let it bake as you learn and explore and develop…
Texturing occurs. With Meta-States, you can now take charge of the process and design the kind of quality states that will turn you on to life in new and exciting ways.
States Plus: Transcend and Include
To transcend any everyday plain vanilla state, we begin at the primary level of consciousness as we notice our thoughts and feelings about something “out there” in the world. This defines a primary state. Our awareness focuses on something external to ourselves. We fear driving fast, closed in places, particular tones of voices. We get anger at violence, insults, and threats to our way of life. We delight in and enjoy the beauty of a scene or a piece of music.
We transcend this experience while including it as we move up to a higher level of thought, emotion, and awareness. This creates a new level of organization. We have something higher that still contains the essentials of the lower plus something else.
In respect, considerate, and patient anger¾ we still have anger. We still have the sense of threat or danger to our person or way of life, yet the anger is now textured in larger levels of mind and emotion. That causes something new to emerge. We have the Anger State Plus something that transcends “mere” anger (that is, animal-like, brute anger). Now we have a higher kind of human anger, even spiritual anger.
We have hierarchy (levels) of states or holoarchy because as Aristotle first pointed out:
All of the lower is in the higher, but not all of the higher is in the lower.
Molecules contain atoms, but atoms do not contain molecules. As we move up levels, the higher level includes the lower and transcends it. As it transcends the lower, it adds new features, qualities, properties, and characteristics to it. In Meta-States this provides us the ability to engineer new emergent properties for our states. It gives us the key to the structure of subjectivity as experiences become more complex and layered.
When our learning is taken up into playfulness and appreciation, when we engulf it with passion and the intention to improve the quality of life¾ something new emerges. We have a passionate learning state that’s much accelerated and that’s a real turn-on. It takes on more of the qualities of “genius.” Each higher level has added new components that enrich the emergent gestalt. Now something bigger and more expansive arises. Now we have the Learning State Plus.
When I first wrote the text for the first edition of Meta-States in 1994/5, I made several mistakes in conceptualizing and theorizing about the structure of the model. These have been completely updated and the mistakes eliminated in the totally revised edition (2000). Among those mistakes was the idea that I had then that the higher levels could not be anchored kinesthetically. I now know better. In fact, today that’s one of the things we do regularly in our Meta-States Trainings. Yet at that time I didn’t understand how the higher levels operate as holons, how they not only transcend but also embrace and include the lower levels. I now understand how they permeate the lower levels giving what had been a plain vanilla state all kinds of rich textures, tastes, aromas, etc.
Accordingly, we have recently been developing a whole series of patterns and processes for “mind-muscling” the mind-body integration that fully allows the higher levels to percolate down through the levels. This completes the process by which we layer thought upon thought and feeling upon feeling so that in the end we have holons¾ whole/part states within a hierarchal or holarchical systems. These State Plus experiences then offer us top-notch high quality states that we have textured with the very best of resources. And when you get to this place, you have entered into the highest of design engineering with Meta-States. Now we have a powerful process for texturing our states so that they respond to our intentional designs.
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D., researcher and modeler, international trainer and entrepreneur (P.O. Box 9231; Grand Jct. CO. 81501; 970 523_7877), developer of the Meta-States Model, along with Dr. Bobby Bodenhamer, co-founder the Institute of Neuro-Semantics®, currently involved in several modeling projects: wealth building, selling/persuasion excellence, accelerated learning, etc. Look for Frame Games coming to the UK and Europe this year.
Hall, L. Michael (1995/2000). Meta-States: Managing the higher levels of the mind. Grand Jct. CO: Neuro_Semantics Publications.
Hall, L. Michael; Bodenhamer, Bobby. (1999). The structure of excellence: Unmasking the meta-levels of submodalities. Grand Jct. CO: E.T. Publications.
Hall, L. Michael (2000). Frame games: Persuasion elegance. Grand Jct. CO: N.S. Publications.
Wilber, Ken. (1996). A brief history of everything. Boston MA: Shambhal.