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NLP and Mindfulness

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Helping to calm your mind.

Does NLP play well with mindfulness?

I was recently asked whether NLP plays well with mindfulness.

Both, by themselves, can make a huge difference to people.

So can they be combined?

This seemed such a good question, it deserves more analysis...

What is NLP?

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is about modelling the way people really think, about modelling excellence in their subconscious minds, so that we can programme ourself in the same way. It is the study of the structure of subjectivity.

The first people to be modelled were psychotherapists who were getting fast positive results for their clients. Milton Erickson (a leading hypnotherapist), Fritz Perls (originator of Gestalt therapy) and Virginia Satire (family therapy).

The studies looked at what they were doing to help people overcome internal difficulties, so that other people could be helped in the same way. The findings have been detailed in some amazing (but highly complex) books, including "The Structure of Magic" and "Patterns".

Here's a short video from Dr Richard Bandler, who co-invented NLP with John Grinder in the 70s, is still active in NLP, and who I directly recieved my NLP training from.

NLP is used by many of the big name mentors, coaches and self-helo gurus, including Paul McKenna, Tony Robbins, Robert Dilts and the Human Givens' fast phobia cure. They have jointly helped many presidents, CEOs, celebrities and sports stars.

Many of the NLP techniques focus on our internal representation of the world. That is, what you remember seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting or smelling.

Then changing the submodalities of that representation (e.g colours, location, size, movement) into a form that represents the outcome that we want.

For example, really vivid memories are often large and colourful in our mind.

NLP has many applications, including helping people to stop smoking, build confidence and performing better.

There are a lot of "NLP trainers" and NLP books out there, which only teach a version of some of the NLP models that have been developed. The power of NLP often isn't what it should be...

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an approach that can help us to be self-aware and present.

It can help us become more aware of our inner mental, emotional and physical states.

The practise of mindfulness appears in many Eastern philosophies, religions and activities. For example in Buddhism, Hinduism, meditation and yoga.

It is suggested that Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced mindfulness to the Western world, when he developed his 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, in 1979.

While mindfulness is perhaps most well know as a method for managing stress, it is also being used for helping to treat a variety of illnesses such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, cancer, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, skin and immune disorders.

NLP and mindfulness

Considering the original question, on how NLP and mindfulness can integrate, I see great opportunities and many similarities.

Both seek to help us by changing our thoughts, so that we can change our feelings, so that we can change our nature.

Both invite us to consider what we are thinking, feeling and doing.

Both often use a relaxed meditative state of mind to introduce positive change.

Mindfulness excels at helping us become aware of our inner state and instilling calmness.

NLP excels at providing tools to change our inner state into a desired state.

My conclusion is that Mindfulness and NLP can play very well together, and can benefit our minds and bodies.

What are your views?

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Keywords: NLP, mindfulness, NLP and mindfulness, Bandler, Kabat-Zinn, MBSR.