Three days ago I was walking in our creek bed, very rocky and jumbled — and ¼ mile wide — since the huge flood last September. I carelessly tripped over a large stick, tumbled forward and fell heavily on my right side, pulling the muscles in my left leg so that I could only walk by hobbling and lurching with most of my weight on my right leg. My knee soon swelled up, and the muscles above and below the knee became very sore.
We almost always notice the sudden onset of an injury, and the same is true of many illnesses. But we tend not to notice the healing, which is almost always more gradual. Our image of the onset of the injury or illness is usually very vivid, while our image of healing is typically faint or non-existent. We may have gotten sick — and well again — countless times, yet think only of the getting sick, while ignoring the getting well. People often say something like, “I’m always getting sick,” but I have never heard anyone say, “I’m always getting well,” even though almost every “getting sick” is followed by “getting well.”
This creates an implicit bias in our memory and thinking that is certainly not pleasant, and probably not useful in supporting healing. How can we rebalance — or even reverse — this unconscious bias of thinking mostly of getting sick, while ignoring getting well?
There is a way to assist in natural healing that I have used for years, that automatically “kicks in” whenever I am injured or sick. Initially my internal “film clip” of falling, and the resulting soreness and pain, was very vivid in my mind, along with the present pain and soreness — and I had no image at all of healing. So the first thing I did was reduce the vividness of this onset image by making it dimmer, smaller, faded, colorless, and farther away. This reduced its prominence in my mind, and diminished the possibility of it continuing to elicit thoughts of being damaged, what is sometimes called “retraumatization.”
Next I accessed an internal representation of all the times I have healed from an injury or illness — everything from a scrape or bruise to a very badly broken ankle in high school and several hospitalizations for massive internal bleeding during my stressful college days. Since I’m 78, I have quite a lot of examples of healing.
This redirected my attention from the unpleasant memory of stumbling — and landing — to the much more attractive representation of the many, many times when I have healed in the past, implying that my body will also heal again now. Literally seeing this convincing evidence of the power of natural healing was a lot more pleasant than thinking about tripping and falling, and I found myself relaxing and breathing more easily. The ongoing pain changed from a signal of disaster to become simply a warning about needing to protect the injured areas to allow healing to take place.
The composite representation of healing is one I built years ago, when I was developing the material for my book about self-concept, Transforming Your Self. A quality such as the ability to heal can be a part of your sense of who you are, part of your self-concept. It’s really quite simple to build a solid knowing that your body can heal itself.
Briefly, the first step in creating healing as part of what you know is true of yourself is to find out how you already represent a quality that you know is true of you. Think of another quality that you know is true of you, such as honesty or persistence, and notice what you see, hear and feel internally.
Although there are many variations in exactly how people do this, the two main possibilities are either a collage of images of examples of this quality (which is what I do), or a sequential slide show that presents one image at a time in rapid succession. Each of these has certain advantages and disadvantages, but they both work well, and they can also be combined.
The location of this collage or slide show in your visual field is very important, and the size, brightness, color, 3-D, etc. of each image is also important. You can find more detail on how to do this in my book, and you can read a verbatim transcript of the process of building a new aspect of self-concept here.
Once you have determined how you already represent a quality that you know is true of yourself, the next step is to use that structure as a template to build a new quality, namely that your body knows how to heal itself without your help or interference.
Elicit examples of healing, one at a time. Since we usually ignore healing, it may be easier to think of an injury or illness, and then run the movie of that time forward until you come to the point where you realize that it is healing by itself, and you feel normal, or near normal, again. By itself this is a useful process, as it changes how we experience those past memories as well.
Then make this image look just like the ones in your template — the same size, brightness, color, 3-D etc. — and then put the image into your template.
Do this repeatedly until your template is filled with different images of successful healing. This collection of images is much stronger and more convincing than a single image. When you are done it will then recede into unconsciousness, providing ongoing compelling evidence of your body’s ability to heal from all sorts of injuries and illnesses.
Someone may say, “Oh, I know my body can heal itself.” But if there are no experiences represented in a composite template, it will only be an intellectual knowing that will have no effect on their felt experience and physiology.
I have a lot of experience in using this process to alter many different aspects of self-concept that result in useful changes in people’s attitude and behavior. I know that people experience shifts in their state that they find useful, and that it has made my experience of injury much better subjectively. I don’t know if the process will speed up healing, but I’m reasonably sure that dwelling on an injury, or getting upset over it, will interfere with healing. There is a lot of evidence that a more positive attitude enhances the immune system and healing generally.
The process is easy to do, takes only a small investment of time, and I don’t see how it could possibly do any harm. I am generally healthy, and I have dodged a couple of recommended surgeries based on my assumption that my body can usually heal itself. It is good to keep in mind that even when surgery is necessary, it is our body’s natural healing ability that joins the cut pieces back together.
Over the next couple of days the swelling and soreness around my knee gradually lessened, and at a certain point I noticed that I was walking normally, putting my full weight on my left leg, no longer lurching and dragging it around.
In an earlier blog post, I described several other ways to support natural healing, including an example of Connirae Andreas’ natural healing process, described in detail in chapter 20 of our book Heart of the Mind.
Posted by: Steve Andreas in: New Product
It isn’t often that a really new process is developed, in NLP, in therapy, or in spiritual groups either. Most are new names for old methods, or some new mix of the same ingredients.
Connirae is just making available a process that brings something new to the scene. If you are interested in any type of personal growth, therapy, or spiritual growth, we think you’re going to want to know about this one. See below for the time-limited special offer.
The method, called the Wholeness Process, is a precise and specific model for actually doing what many spiritual teachings talk about.
If you’ve explored Eastern spirituality, you’ve probably heard phrases like “The small self is an illusion. Realize that you are a vast Self,” or “Enlightenment comes through loss of the ego.” But what do such statements actually mean? In this training you’ll learn a step-by-step process for dissolving the everyday sense of the ego. The experience ranges from extremely ordinary to something that can be quite profound. (You can read a few examples below.)
And what does this have to do with resolving our life problems?
Sometimes spiritual practices are taught and done in a way that actually creates a degree of separation between meditative or profound states, and daily life. People might enjoy deep meditative states, but find that their life issues don’t necessarily go away.
With the Wholeness process, there is a natural and immediate integration with daily living. Our life issues can actually be doorways to the experience of this “vast self” spoken of – or just a sense of affectionate presence and clarity. And the life issues are transformed in the process.
Some people have found that issues that hadn’t changed with years of effort, are finally changing using the Wholeness Process. And the results are more significant and ongoing than just solving problems.
If you choose to use this simple method as a life practice (and this can happen in only a few minutes a day, once you’ve learned the method), you will most likely experience a fundamental shift in how you are in the world. Some describe it as having a growing sense of wellbeing, or peace, or joy. And it’s the kind that enables us to be to increasingly interact with others from a place of wisdom, compassion, and humor. Rather than becoming some idea of “perfection”, the wellbeing comes through a very specific, and increasingly effortless way of including and integrating everything that does – or could – arise in our experience.
“The Wholeness Process is an effective, simple, and direct method for spiritual awakening, as well as for your own personal development or therapy. From my personal experience, I am delighted to recommend this program. If I can follow it and get a lot from it, then I suspect you will too.”
— Shelle Rose Charvet, NLP Trainer, author of Words That Change Minds
“This simple process defintely works for me. While I’m doing it, no spiritual fireworks, « just » a deep, healing peace. Over time, for now : not an « egolessness », but a very gradual loss of attachment to « ego ». And that’s much more than I had hoped for when starting this program… With … deep gratitude,”
— Maarten Aalberse, Clinical Psychologist, France
Almost everyone can find significant benefits from learning and using the Wholeness Process.
You get the full 2-days of this carefully-sequenced training, guiding you through the Wholeness Process. Connirae lays the groundwork for your unconscious to experience the method naturally and easily. This is a professionally recorded and edited training, and includes demonstration and teaching of 4 Wholeness methods.
Day 1 Wholeness methods resolve many life issues, and create a deep relaxation of the nervous system, plus greater wisdom, clarity, and compassion.
Day 2 Wholeness methods create a sense of substantialness and embodiment of the above in the world. This happens through a deep resolution of what we can call “authority”, in a new way that hasn’t been done before in any field of therapy or spirituality.
More comments from subscribers to the Wholeness Process streaming video training…
“Wow indeed… I hadn’t known that I had subscribed to such a process… Amazing. Bowing to it all.”
“It’s still early days for me, and yet I already see wonderful (and totally unexpected) effects… Thank you,”
“This is amazing. I did the process just for 5 or 10 minutes at my computer. The sensation [what I was working with] – was gone! No content – just being aware of the sensation and trusting what is coming up. The dissolving of the “I” (like fairy dust going down both sides of me and then up through my core in a circle) and my awareness seemed to integrate with the original sensation without me even making an effort.”
“I watched the first nine or ten videos. Wow, you really did it. Made the gurus redundant… Much more I could say, of course.”
“Reclaiming inner authority [from the second day of the training] is an incredibly powerful application of this amazing process. …. It feels like a lot of internal shifting take place.”
“…[when we paused the video], suddenly I felt as if I were ‘pulled in’ to a pleasant but unfamiliar state. I don’t know how to describe it, I have received hundreds of Core Transformation sessions so I am familiar with profound states, but this was different. Nothing much seemed to matter, I no longer felt the need to speak, and when [my wife] returned with her cup of tea and spoke to me, neither did I feel the need to speak to her, nor could I speak, the mouth wouldn’t open, although there were words there to be spoken if they could have been spoken. Noticing her concern, I decided I needed to find a way to speak to her to let her know I was OK. Because I felt ‘pulled in’ I sort of looked for something to ‘hang on to’ to ‘pull myself out’, but there was nothing. After a few minutes of willing it and trying to attach myself to something ‘solid’ (gee, it’s hard to find words to describe it), I was able to mumble a few words to let [my wife] know I was OK and that we should continue with the course. Gradually, after a few more of these videos, I returned to normal but I was left with an unusual feeling of joyfulness for the rest of the evening…”
“I am just beginning to listen to your series. It is a wonderful talent to be able to break things down to its true components. Thanks for doing the work.”
“Wonderful, thanks Connirae, especially for the Reclaiming of Inner Authority. Thanks also for this communication comment forum, it is wonderful to connect in these ways.”
In this session Connirae guides a young woman in using the basic Wholeness Process with a life issue she is facing, as well as in using it meditatively. You’ll see how this single session made a “huge shift” for her.
$19.00 Introductory offer.
Attend the training live, with Connirae in any one of three locations — Boulder, CO, San Francisco, CA, and New York, NY. All excellent opportunities to experience the method in person and deepen your results.
Begin with whatever best fits your learning style, and your schedule. Each of the options above offers unique benefits.
If you’re already fairly sure you’ll want to learn and use the Wholeness Process, Connirae suggests beginning with the Training (either streaming video or live). The training will guide you through each aspect of the Wholeness Process in a systematic way. Then you can use the individual session video as a way to consolidate your learnings.
If you’d like to start with something smaller, the individual session will give you a significant “taste” of what this is all about, for a very low cost.
Connirae recently presented the Wholeness Process to a large group at the Psychotherapy Networker Conference, in Washington DC. Most of the group were therapists with mindfulness background, and the feedback was VERY positive. Some were saying “This is what mindfulness is all about, but this method gives me a precise and dependable way to do it.”
The previous blog post, “Recontextualizing Skills,” featured an example from Don Aspromonte, who taught a man who was a skilled runner, but had difficulty writing reports, how to “run a report.” (If you haven’t read that one yet, you may want to read it first.)
Don sent us an email with some important additional detail that we’re passing on to you below:
The most important NLP skill to bring to this task is the ability to notice when the client transitions from a dissociated state to an associated state. As you ask them to think of a hobby that they enjoy, they will initially begin to tell you about it. This dissociated state does not fully elicit all the resources and strategies they use when they are actually doing it.
You need to continue to challenge them to tell you more about actually doing it. When you see them transition to the actual state they enter when they are engaged in the activity, you are ready to deliver the integrating question. When they enter the associated state they will begin to describe perceptions and strategies that are difficult to follow. When I get lost, I know it is time to say, “Can you find any parallels between what it takes to [do the skill] and [the problem task]?”
Typically, they will stay in the associated resource state while they process the integration. This intense learning state lasts from about 30 seconds to more than 2 minutes. Then they will begin to make an attempt to explain the solution to me. I do not allow them to do that. I simply change the subject and break off the intervention as soon as possible. This allows the integration to continue without interference from conscious activity until all the connections have been made.
The end result is that they usually become amnesic for the event and find the resulting enhanced solution to be unremarkable — which it is for them, since they already had the skill in a different context. I think that is ideal because they simply accept the ability to do what they have not been able to do before as a natural part of their capability. This enhanced ability in an area where they were previously weak, may also result in some improvement in their sense of identity.
The distinctions Don makes are important when using many other NLP methods, particularly when working conversationally. When someone is talking about something, it is rarely useful in creating change unless they go on to live it more fully from the inside. And when someone’s eyes glaze over, indicating that they are processing something internally — putting things together — that is the time to wait patiently for them to complete what they are doing before attempting anything else.
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Milton Erickson, probably the greatest therapist who ever lived, often helped people by utilizing, “what you know, but you don’t know that you know.”
All of us are skilled in certain contexts and very limited in others. When we feel incompetent, we may despair, thinking that we will have to laboriously learn a complex new skill — and often that may be true. However, sometimes we already have an appropriate skill in another context. For instance, someone may find themselves shouting at their squabbling kids, yet be a highly skilled (and highly paid) mediator in business or law. Whenever this is true, all you need to do is apply the existing skill in the troublesome context. “What if you thought of your kids as if they were having a corporate dispute?” The following example from Don Aspromonte, a colleague in Dallas, TX is marvelous in its conversational simplicity:
One day several years ago the sales manager of a large company mentioned the following problem to me. One of his key people, who was responsible for selling millions of dollars worth of products each year, was driving him crazy, because he wrote absolutely worthless reports. Whenever the sales manager needed written information, what he would get were badly organized, incomplete, even erroneous reports. The manager asked me if there was anything I could do to help this key employee, because the man’s job was in jeopardy.
I sat down with the fellow, and asked him about the report-writing problem. He knew that his boss was having some kind of problem with the reports, but he was unaware of the seriousness of the situation. As we talked, it became obvious that he had never been very good at organizing information for a written communication. It was as if his brain was “broken” in that special place that generates reports.
I knew that his most important hobby was running. In fact, he was a very serious amateur marathon runner. I began to ask him questions about running marathons — something I knew almost nothing about. At first, he simply told me general things about getting into condition, practicing, and the sort of things you might tell someone who you know is not familiar with your hobby.
I continued to probe into the details by asking questions like, “What does it take to be really, really good at running a marathon?” Suddenly, he began to almost live the experience. He said, “Well, what I do is I break the course down into logical segments. Then I analyze each segment of the course and decide how I am going to run that particular piece. Of course I have to keep in mind the entire run to make sure I pace myself—”
I interrupted him and asked, “Can you find any parallels between what it takes to successfully run a marathon, and what it takes to write a really good report?”*
The transformation was amazing. Suddenly I could see him beginning to make the connections in his “broken” brain. He began to explain to me how there were many parallels between the two activities, which he had never noticed before. I left him to ponder those ideas, and went on about my business.
A few days later the sales manager asked me to step into his office. He said, “I want you to look at this report. It is one of the best reports I have ever received from anyone who worked for me. It is neat, complete, concise, and accurate. What did you do to him?” I replied, “I taught him how to run a report.”
Each of us has developed excellent ways to accomplish things in our hobbies, our personal lives, and our work. Often we just don’t apply these skills in other areas of our lives. I have especially noticed that often people don’t apply strategies that they use in their hobbies to their work situations. If you are a great cook, you could view your work as the preparation of a special holiday feast for family and friends. If you are a musician, you might compose or orchestrate your day at the office, and come home happier and more refreshed. I leave it to your imagination to discover how you might enjoy using your existing skills in new areas.
A parallel example comes from Rob Voyle, who teaches communication and change skills to ministers. A pastor was having great difficulty preparing sermons. However she was an expert quilter, and discovered that she could easily “quilt a sermon.”
Another example — also involving running — can be found in the free verbatim transcript of a therapy session with a man who had great difficulty keeping track of money and taxes. As part of my work with him, I elicited his strategy for planning how to run a race in some detail, and then suggested that he apply it to managing his finances.
*Any sentence that begins with “Can you—?” is an everyday hypnotic language pattern called a “conversational postulate.” For instance, “Can you shut the door?” or “Could you pass the gravy?” The literal answer to such a question is almost always “Yes,” and it usually elicits the response or behavior specified by the words that follow the “Can you—?” in this case, “—find any parallels between what it takes to successfully run a marathon, and what it takes to write a really good report?”
UPDATE 3/7/2014: Don added a few more key points here in this postscript.
Fairly often someone writes to me asking about how to gather information to determine what the structure of the problem is, and what intervention to use. “How can I decide what to do when, and which method to use?” This is a very important basic question, and I want to offer a few thoughts in response to it, and some alternate ways of thinking about it.
When you have a number of different interventions that work for different problems — and not for others — it is important to make sure that the solution is appropriate to the problem. In contrast, many therapists still use a “one-size-fits-all” method, so they don’t have to gather information at all; they simply launch their one intervention and hope that it works.
For instance, Gestalt Therapy — which I was deeply involved with for about ten years back in the 1960’s and 1970’s — always involves fully experiencing and identifying with different aspects of a conflict in the present moment. That works pretty well for grief, in which the client feels separated from the lost person, because in the two-chair process they can fully experience reengaging with the special feelings they had with the lost person. But Gestalt has no impact on a phobia, because the client is already fully experiencing the terror in the present — the solution offered by Gestalt is the same as the problem.
Now let’s take a look at the presupposition in the word “the” in “the problem” — that there is only one problem. Some limited problems have a structure that can be resolved with a single intervention, and this is true of most phobias and many simple habits or responses. A problem like a phobia that occurs only occasionally in a limited set of contexts will usually have a simpler structure and will be easier to resolve. A problem that occurs in a wide range of contexts is more likely to result from a combination of factors, or from a key element of someone’s functioning, such as decisions, motivation, the way they organize time, or a part of their identity.
Sometimes a single inappropriate structure may have many different problematic results, so when you change that structure, a number of seemingly unrelated problems resolve simultaneously. Changing someone’s personal timeline often does that. For instance, a timeline that is stretched out in space, so that images of tomorrow and yesterday are always a block away, will cause someone to disregard past mistakes and future consequences, and pay more attention to the immediate present. This will tend to have a large number of consequences, including strong motivation toward pleasure in the present, vulnerability to temptation, and a poor ability to hold a job or stay with a task that is not pleasant in itself, but which promises future rewards. With a more compressed timeline, those images of tomorrow and yesterday will be closer and larger (and often brighter and more colorful) so they will have much more impact on present decisions and motivation.
But most people don’t have one problem, they have several, and some have quite a lot of them. What may seem to be a single problem may have many different separate aspects or elements, and each of them usually requires a different method to resolve.
For instance, in PTSD, there is usually what I call the “phobic core,” a memory of a terrifying life-threatening experience, often a “frozen” momentary image that appears in “flashbacks” in response to sensory triggers. But usually PTSD also includes other aspects — guilt, shame, grief, regret, anxiety, hypervigilance, violence, etc., and the client often experiences them as a single tangled mess. My online video streaming program, The PTSD Training, demonstrates how to tease these different aspects apart and work with each of them separately, so that each one can be worked with using an appropriate method. (The introductory discount for ordering this program—with no risk money back guarantee—is available through January 31.) My other online streaming video program, entitled Releasing PTSD, demonstrates how to do this in working with an Iraq vet over 4 sessions totaling 9 hours.
When I’m teaching a particular pattern or intervention, I don’t have to gather any information; I simply ask for someone who has the kind of problem that the intervention is designed to work with. I ask for someone who is grieving, or has a phobia, or has difficulty making decisions. Occasionally the volunteer has a different experience of the words I use — for instance, they have anxiety, rather than a phobia — but usually there is a good match, and what they have is appropriate for the intervention I want to demonstrate.
This suggests a possible alternate way to work with a client, particularly for a beginning therapist, or someone who has only a few methods available to them. Rather than beginning with a general inquiry about what problem(s) they would like to resolve, or what outcome(s) they would like to achieve, and then gathering more detailed information, you could try a different approach.
You could make a mental list of the different methods that you know, and what problems they resolve, and then do the same thing I do in a training — ask your client if they have a problem for which you have a dependable solution. “Do you have a phobia? Are you troubled by grieving over a loss? Do you have anger or resentment that interferes with your life? Do you have anxiety in certain contexts? Are you ever troubled by regret?”
When the client answers “Yes” to one of your questions, you can proceed to offer them a method that is appropriate, with a high probability of success. Rather than risk getting lost in endless information-gathering and possibly getting “over your head” trying to solve problems for which you are not well prepared, you can offer them a sort of smorgasbord of what you know how to do dependably.
This approach is particularly useful with a client who is in a major muddle, and doesn’t have much idea of what they need. Your list of problems may include one that they hadn’t thought of, or that they assumed was not something that can be solved, so they wouldn’t think of asking for it. If a client doesn’t realize a phobia can be cured in one session, they won’t ask for it.
There are a number of advantages to this approach. You can be more confident of being useful to a client, knowing that you can deliver results rapidly when working with the kinds of problems you know how to solve. When the client gets results quickly, that delivers value, and builds rapport and the likelihood that they will return to get resolution for other difficulties. In the process of solving one problem, others may emerge, and you may get information about other aspects of the person that is useful in making other changes.
However, this approach would not be as appropriate with a client who already has a pretty well-formed description of their problem or outcome, because they might feel that you are ignoring that, so it’s important to maintain rapport, or use a different approach with them.
Yet another way to work is to become fluent in several fundamental processes that often underlie so many problems, such as decisions, motivation, timelines, and identity. Then when a new client comes in, you can listen respectfully to how they describe their problem, and if you know how to resolve it, proceed to do so. But this would only be a sort of preamble to saying, “I have found that if I investigate certain fundamental skills that everyone has and needs, I can be of more use to you more quickly in helping you with the specific problems that you are concerned with,” and then gather information about how they make decisions, how they motivate themselves, how they represent the flow of time, or how they think of themselves, and offer any useful changes you can identify that would be useful. (There is an introductory chapter on each of the first three topics in Heart of the Mind,and a whole book about the fourth, Transforming Your Self.
Making changes in any one of these four basic processes may even solve the problem that brought them to you, or it may resolve other issues that they may not have recognized, or which may not have been in the forefront of their experience. At the very least it will be interesting, and offer important clues about what else might be useful or not useful to explore further.
To summarize, you can gather information about the presenting problem or outcome, you can offer a sort of smorgasbord of different specific changes for the client to choose from, or you can investigate some very basic processes that are likely to be useful for every client. And you can always combine these different approaches, or move smoothly from one to another as the session unfolds, making it less likely that you will ever get stuck in any one of them.
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