Review: The NLP Practitioner DVD Collection (Tad James)

NLP Practitioner DVD Collection This 16 disk DVD set is a professionally produced video presentation of parts of Tad James seven day NLP practitioner certification program. Each DVD is about 90 minutes, so there is a huge amount of material presented, especially since it is very well edited to leave out unnecessary segments and to add in commentary by the trainers on the processes. It is available at the site.

It covers all the basic NLP processes comprehensively and effectively including sensory acuity, rapport, submodalities, and anchoring. The demonstrations with participants for each process are very smoothly carried out, and Tad James shows his long experience in training by following the script closely and only demonstrating what he explicitly intends to demonstrate.

The series also includes several DVDs on Time Line Therapy, a powerful change technique for which Tad James is probably best known. In fast-paced and effective demonstrations, the trainers use Time Line Therapy to remove negative emotions and limiting beliefs from participants. Then they take the whole group on a fast floating journey to remove any anxiety in the future. They also show how to place a future goal in the Time Line in a way that is likely to maximize its possibility of success. These are all very useful processes.

Tad James is presenting the course with his wife, Adriana James, who is equally proficient in the practice of NLP, although she is less well known than Tad. The two of them work well together throughout although some of the jokes and little stories seem somewhat contrived – presumably after being regurgitated in too many seminars. On the other hand, this huge amount of practice is very useful in the superb double inductions which feature in the hypnosis training section of the course. They are a fine team and in general come across as very genuine in their desire to empower people and to spread the useful skills of NLP.

This video series is probably most useful for people who have studied NLP elsewhere and want to get a new perspective, or of course, for people who actually took the course and want to get a review. For people who have not studied NLP before, it will certainly be useful, but the necessary lack of interactivity in a video series could give the viewer the congnitive concepts of NLP without the experiential learning that is necessary to make sense of it and to realize its true value.

For me, Tad James sometimes comes across as a little arrogrant, for example when he talks about Time Line Therapy as the greatest invention in the history of mankind, and his self-positioning as ‘the expert’ for values and metaprograms. From the demonstrations, he is clearly on top of his material and an extremely skillful user of hypnosis and NLP, so this self-promotion and self-positioning probably wasn’t necessary and in my eyes at least, actually had a negative impact.

One of the last DVDs was pretty much a commercial for the Master Practitioner program. In fact, throughout the last few DVDs, there were various references and suggestions to sign up for the Master Practitioner course. Personally, I felt that it was a little too much upselling of other products, but I’m sure that some people will be happy to get the addiitional information about the higher level material that is available.
I didn’t enjoy the Huna section so much either. While the trainers emphasize that it isn’t NLP and are careful to differentiate it, I’m not sure that it sits well with the other videos and information and techniques presented in this series.

Overall, I highly recommend this video series to people who have studied NLP elsewhere. Tad James has a strong ability to condense a subject down to its essence and to present it easily in the form of small digestible chunks.

Review: Coaching Cards

These coaching cards from Salad Ltd. are a resource that I come back to again and again. They were created by Jamie Smart who always does a very fine job of teaching NLP in his videos and other products. Previously, I have reviewed his excellent Ericksonian hypnosis cards, and this set reaches the same high quality.

These cards are mainly based around the linguistic patterns of the NLP Meta Model. The Meta Model  was the first model devised by Bandler and Grinder and it still stands at the heart of NLP as the primary tool for helping people to re-access the experiences that have become encoded in the maps in their minds, to move back from the map to the territory in orcder to eventually create richer and more useful  maps. While the Ericksonian cards aim to bring people into trance, these cards aim to chunk down, these cards aim to bring people back to reality and view it in fresh ways.

It is easy enough to learn the linguistic structures of the Meta Model, but it is only through enormous practice with a large number of examples that it is possible to get these patterns in the muscle to the extent that they flow naturally in a coaching situation. I have carried these cards on trains and planes and played with them for hours, sometimes just flicking through them as I thought of an issue in my own life, or sometimes playing card games either alone or with someone else. This is much much more fun and engaging than any other way that I have come across to learn and practice these patterns.

In addition to the cards, when you order a set from Salad, you also receive a link to a downloadable audio program in which Jamie Smart talks through the cards one by one, explaining each and giving examples taken from many different areas of life. I have often played this audio program several times in a row and it has helped me to absorb these language patterns at a much deeper level.

Salad also sells various DVD series featuring workshops by Jamie Smart and other people, and throughout the vidoes it is clear that Jamie is using the patterns effectively and congruently. I have no connection at all with Salad, but for anyone seriously interested in NLP coaching or related work, I highly recommend getting a set of these cards and a set of the Ericksonian hypnosis cards and allowing yourself the chance to have lots of fun as you take your language skills smoothly to the next level.

Review: Christina Hall’s Video Series: Discover the Difference

Discover the Difference Video Series
by Christina Hall

Christina Hall has been training NLP since 1977. She collaborated closely with Richard Bandler for many years and was also closely involved with the development of many important NLP innovations including Submodalities, The Swish Pattern, and The Compulsion Blowout Technique. She also reportedly wrote or co-wrote some of the early manuals for NLP training, the influence of which is still felt today in trainings around the world. She is also a licensed psychotherapist, a Certified Hypnotherapist, and holds a Doctorate in Psychology and Neuro-Semantic Linguistics.

Apart from these qualifications and her long association with NLP, what is most significant for this review is her reputation as ‘the language master’. Her knowledge and expertise with using language is the primary attraction of this video series.

The video series examines the Meta Model in more detail than I have ever seen elsewhere. The Meta Model still lies at the heart of NLP, allowing practitioners to help people move back from their maps of the world to real sensory experience. Our maps of the world get encoded in language and we label experience with such words as ‘depression’, ‘success’, and ‘problem’. All of these nominalizations take us further from the simple fact that life is a series of ongoing processes – things that happen in time, right now. The Meta Model allows us to recognize the distortions, generalizations, and deletions that we have made from original experience when we represent them in language and memories. By using the Meta Model to revisit the original experience or recode it in more useful terms, it is possible to change our perception of the experience, to update our map. Thus, the Meta Model is fundamental to all NLP processes – the link that allows us to move between map and territory, and this video series explores all of the linguistic patterns in amazing detail.

The contents of the video series is shown below. Keeping in mind that each video is 90 minutes or more in length, you can begin to understand the depth to which Christina is taking the participants in understanding and using the Meta Model.

  1. Language as a Perceptual Tool
  2. Neurological Shifts and Temporal Perspectives
  3. Presuppositions and the Structure of Time
  4. Thinking Skills and Logical Levels 1
  5. Thinking Skills and Logical Levels 2
  6. Open Q&A Session on Language Patterns
  7. Universals and State Elicitation
  8. The Meta-Model as a System of Relations
  9. Chunking – Creating a Multi-Dimensional Network of Perspectives 1
  10. Chunking – Creating a Multi-Dimensional Network of Perspectives 2
  11. Building Intensity
  12. Guiding a Process of generalization
  13. Lost Performatives and Sorting Markers 1
  14. Lost Performatives and Sorting Markers 2
  15. Structuring Implications
  16. Complex Equivalencies

I wish I had been at the workshops where these videos were made. It is clear that a huge amount of learning was achieved, but watching it on video does not achieve nearly as much. One of the great advantages of being a participant would have been the ability to ask questions, to interpret Christina’s talk in the context that it was presented, and to enjoy the flow of learning as it naturally emerged. That is, of course, one of the disadvantages in watching it on video because much of the context and the perspective of being a live participant is lost. Perhaps the best way to understand this is to think of the fourth NLP metaprogram: Perceiver vs Judger. Being in the workshop is like being a Perceiver – enjoying the flow as it emerges. Watching in on video makes me wish that it had be created with a Judger in mind because the emergent organization is often not clear on the video. I would love to see an edited book version of this series, or perhaps to listen to a properly recorded straightforward lecture series based on the same material. Christina Hall has an awful lot of useful stuff to say about the Meta Model and other linguistic tools used in NLP, but watching these videos is a poor substitute for being there in person. Apart from the lack of structure, the video quality is not high enough to show what is being written on the board, so it is difficult for the viewer to follow along with the examples. Christina Hall hasn’t published much in NLP. I see that there is a Japanese language version of a book based on her seminars in Japan. I’m going to pick up a copy of that in a while, and will eventually get around to writing a review. However, I read English a whole lot better than Japanese, so it may take a while.

Complaints aside, this is an amazing resource for people who want to understand the Meta Model at a deeper level. It is definitely not for beginners in NLP. Not just Christian Hall, but also the participants in workshop are obviously extremely familiar with the linguistic distinctions and tools of NLP. If you are willing to take the time to watch the entirety of this series, and perhaps to watch it again and again, there is a wealth of material here that can benefit your NLP work. For me, I think it will probably be quicker to read the book in Japanese, and hopefully Christina or her publisher will get around to producing an English version one of these days that gets her great knowledge out to a wider audience. And one of these years, I’m going to take a few days off and listen to the whole thing again. This is worthwhile material.

The DVD series can be purchased here.

Here is a good summary of the topics covered from Christina’s website.

Tape 1: Opening: Language As A Perceptual Tool
A lot has been written in NLP about teaching to the unconscious. This tape shows a master of this valued skill at work. I counted four sets of embedded loops (with three to four stories each), three embedded trances,  and nine spatial anchors, just to set up the seminar. And I’m sure I missed some. If you want to take your presentations to a new level,  this tape is a must.

Tape 2: Neuro-Logical Shifts and Temporal Perspectives
Chris explains some of the primary Submodality differences among various parts of speech and temporal (time) sorts.  This facilitates a change in the organization of a perceived “problem, ” setting a new orientation without necessarily having to do a formal NLP technique.  She also shows how changes in language,  even subtle ones,  can enrich the traditional NLP Outcome Frame.

Tape 3: Presuppositions & the Structure of Time
Chris focuses on phonological ambiguities and gives a number of specific examples of common questions that can be improved.  She also begins discussion on how certain words trigger Meta-Programs.

Tape 4 & 5: Thinking Skills and Logical Levels
Chris shows how prefixes and suffixes set the direction in someone’s thinking.  She also uses them to form double and triple nominalizations.

Tape 6: An Open Session With Questions & Answers: Language Patterns
Chris answers questions including such topics as Lost Performatives, Modal Operators, Tag Questions,  Meta-Programs, Polya patterns, implications and chunk size.

Tape 7: Universals and State Elicitation
If your idea of state elicitation is “Think of a time…  ” you will be amazed at the information on this tape.  Chris demonstrates how eliciting and pacing universal experiences are powerful tools of change.

Tape 8: The Meta-Model as a System of Relations
Most of us leaned the Meta-Model as a set of challenges to “violations”.   Chris takes the Meta Model to a whole new level of utilization in demonstrating its reflexive and nested structure as an underlying matrix of patterning. With a touch of genius, Chris has transformed and redefined the Meta-Model beyond a mere information-gathering tool into an understandable and vastly more useful organizing skill.

Tape 9 & 10: Chunking: Creating a Multi-Dimensional Network of Perspectives.
Every person categorizes their experience to make sense of and organize the events of their life. Chris demonstrates how guiding an individual to change the ways in which they perceive and internally organize an event can access freedom to think more resourcefully.

Tapes 11: Building Intensity
Chris shows how to find the strategy that an individual already uses to build intensity to set a different direction creating and developing resources using the person’s own strategy.

Tape 12: Guiding the Process of Generalization
Chris uses backtracking and the art of questioning thereby opening up choices where someone thought there were none.  She demonstrates how the Meta-Model questions you ask set a direction for any context.

Tape 13 & 14: Lost Performatives and Sorting Markers
Chris explores the interplay of Lost Performatives and Meta-Programs to track a person’s strategy.  She also talks about the impact that Modal Operators and temporal markers play in the creation of Generalizations.

Tape 15: Structuring Implications
Chris leads an in-depth exploration of the power of implication through presupposition… a nested structure of the 1st,  2nd and 3rd order which support the universals in all languages.

Tape 16: Complex Equivalencies
Generalizations that map across logical levels,  creating semantic confusion and resulting in unresourceful “behavior-to-identity” equivalents are a major source of what Korzybski refers to as “unsanity.”  Here you will find tools to identify,  unlock and render powerless those previously limited “realities”.

Review: The Definitive Book of Body Language

The Definitive Book of Body Language
by Allan and Barbara Pease (2004)

Now, this is a great book for anyone interested in body language, how we communicate non-verbally by the way we sit, move, and set up our surroundings. While it is written in a very readable, often humourous style, every single page is full of useful observations and generalizations about how to interpret body language.

The authors describe many of their own experiments. For example, by using namecards they rearranged the seating in training rooms and moved all the previously keen learners  from the front to the back and sides of the room. This had the effect of reducing their learning and interest in what the trainer said. Conversely, the people who were moved into the front and center had a big increase in both learning and motivation. Along with their own research, they have explored the major research by Paul Eckman and many other body language researchers, and the back of the book contains a rather impressive seven pages of tightly typed references. What the authors have achieved is to summarize this research into highly useful and readable chunks that are accessible to the everyday reader.

In every one of the 19 chapters, there were moments when I just had to stop and go “wow, so that’s what was happening in that situation – if only I had known.” Maybe that’s simply because I’m a man, and men are notoriously worse at noticing body language than women. The female brain is organized for multi-tracking, to identify different conversational tones easily, and to subconsiously read the body language of other women and men. The promise of this book is that men can learn to achieve this through consciously reading the signals, and that everyone can learn to do it much much better.

The authors cover a huge range of topics which are shown below, and even the shorter chapters are packed full of useful information. This is a long-term reference book as well as a good read.

  1. Understanding the Basics
  2. Hands
  3. Smiles and laughter
  4. Arm signals
  5. Cultural differences
  6. Hand and thumb gestures
  7. Evaluation and Deceit Signals
  8. Eye Signals
  9. Territories and Personal Space
  10. Legs
  11. Common Everyday Gestures
  12. Mirroring – how we build rapport
  13. Secret signals of cigarettes, glasses and makeup
  14. Body pointing
  15. Courtship displays and attraction signals
  16. Ownership, territory, and height signals
  17. Seating arrangements
  18. Interviews, power plays and office politics
  19. Putting it all together


For NLP work, it is useful to ask: Does it work? There is no doubt that much of body language is common and can be judged relatively accurately using the information in this book. This is supported by the research by Ekman, the authors, and others. However, what is important is to always calibrate – the person in front of you is the most important person to be dealing with, and it is quite possible that they will deviate in some systematic ways from the information in this book. The key word here is ‘systematic’ – you still need to calibrate the person who is sitting in front of you to understand what any particular gesture or cluster of gestures means for that person. The greatest value in books of this type is that they raise our awareness of the sensory distinctions that we can use to improve our own sensory acuity. This book is a very fine map of the world of body language and highly recommended for anyone involved in NLP, but it is also useful to keep in mind that the map is still not the territory.

Review: Dynamic Learning

Dynamic Learning
by Robert B. Dilts & Todd A. Epstein

Dynamic Learning CoverBecause I have been a teacher for almost 20 years, Dynamic Learning is an NLP book that I have been meaning to read for a long time. Such a great title! That’s exactly what every teacher wants to see in their own classroom – dynamic learning happening as the students are engaged and learning content and strategies that will enrich their lives. Like many NLP books, Dynamic Learning is the transcript of a seminar and while this does add a certain sense that the reader can experience the ‘feeling’ of the seminar, this is one book that I felt could have done with a lot of editing. In some sections, the demonstrations seem to go on far longer than useful and they were clearly more useful in the shared physical space than they appear on the written page.

The blurb on the back of the book says that “The authors describe a multitude of ways to make learning fun, easy, and effective.”  That’s a big goal and while the authors have provided some extremely useful advice in some areas, the book would have benefited from some more background information and statistical support as well as cutting down of the long demonstration transcripts.

Chapter 1 (The Fundamentals of Dynamic Learning) is essentially a short summary of NLP from the authors’ perspective including Dilts’ neurological levels model, a good introduction to strategies, and a kinesthetic approach to creating good learning states in the classroom through posture, gestures, and eye movements. For people already familiar with NLP, it seems brief, but undoubtedly it will be not enough for people who are not familiar with NLP, highlighting one of the difficulties of targeting an NLP-based book at a more generally area such as education.

Chapter 2 (Remembering Names) and Chapter 3 (Memory Strategies) offer some useful strategies, but they could have been greatly reduced in length. On the other hand, the long elicitation of these strategies given in the transcripts of the demonstrations may be interesting to NLP modellers or even teachers who are interested in modelling other skills important in learning. Chapter 4 explores how people can improve their senses (Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) through simple exercises and also briefly examines submodalities.

Chapter 5 provides one of the better ideas in this book. It details how effective strategies can be transferred between two people. For example, two teachers or two students may have different strategies for achieving a task. By eliciting and sharing the goals of each person, and looking at their evidence procedures and operations, it potentially becomes possible to learn a strategy from a more effective learner. Combined with the sensory distinctions of NLP, this simple idea is very powerful.

Chapter 6 is an overly long account of the spelling strategy. The long transcriptions which bring the chapter to 57 pages (!) would have been better presented in the form of standard prose. Perhaps the core question that I kept asking myself is whether this book is about modelling or about the sharing of the results of modelling. From the point of view of the teacher who wants to use the spelling strategy, all the detail is unnecessary. For the dedicated NLP modeller, it certainly provides insight, but still seems far overpresented. The book seems to wander between modelling (which can be seen to be the core of NLP) and presenting useful things for teachers (the trail of techniques which results from this modelling).

As a language teacher and language learner, I was particularly interested in Chapter 7 (Learning Language). It introduces the NLP idea of second position modelling, stepping into the shoes of an expert speaker of the language and beginning to take on their gestures, beliefs and eventually language. In my own classrooms in Japan, this is something that would be very beneficial to students since their own highly-defined (if unconscious) Japanese identity is so strong that it tends to stop students from modelling non-Japanese. I found the rest of the chapter to be less useful. The obstacle course and other activities can be viewed as a repackaging of the classic TPR (total physical response) methodology introduced by Asher in the 1970s. The activities are useful, but this chapter adds little new to language teaching.

Chapter 8 provides some useful tips for increasing reading speed including the use of peripheral vision and the reduction of subvocalization.

Chapter 9 (Creative Writing) was my favourite in the book, and it provides some excellent ideas for using connectives (e.g. because, therefore, after, while …) as prompts for writing. On page 308, the authors do something that I always see as one of Robert Dilts’ great strengths – they combine several tools to create a more powerful tool or model. In the table below, they combine connectives with perceptual positions, representational systems and time frames to create a series of prompts that will help any stalled creative writer, or even an already active writer!

Connective Perspective Representational System & Time Frame
because I see – saw – will see that
therefore we hear – heard- will hear like
after you feel – felt – will feel how
so that They touch – touched – will touch as if

Chapter 10 offers some useful tips on assessment and how to deal with ‘resistance to learning’. The book also has some appendices which offer worksheets and some more background on Dilts’ neurological levels model and how it relates to Batesons’ levels of learning. This latter material could probably have been usefully presented at the beginning of the book to frame the authors’ important underlying idea that the most important thing is to learn is ‘how to learn’. When students can learn to learn and to take control of that learning, that is when we could truly get Dynamic Learning. While this book has some good ideas, there may be too much unessential material and too little signalling for the average busy teacher to get much out of it, and someday I would like to see a new Robert Dilts book where he refines the ideas of this book for an audience of teachers who could really use it to create dynamic learning in their classrooms and beyond.



Review: Michael Hall’s Secrets of Personal Mastery Videos

Recently I was watching a video by a well-known NLP trainer, Michael Hall, in which he was discussing the development of personal mastery. This, of course, raises the question: What is personal mastery? And as Hall points out, the answer is surely different for each person. To start the seminar, he gives his own examples of how he has achieved or is moving towards personal mastery in his own life. These are paraphrased below and provide good examples of what the video course is designed to achieve:

  1. the ability to be in control of my brain and to run it any way that I want to run it.
  2. the ability to manage my emotions, so that ‘I have them’, rather than ‘they have me’.
  3. being able to say what I want to say, having the flexibility to express myself in the way that gets the type of communication response that I want.
  4. getting the intentions from the back of my mind into the front of my life, so that I can do the things that I want to do.
  5. using my resources effectively to move in the world in a way that supports my relationships, my work and all my other activities.
  6. being congruent – being authentic – being able to take the ups and downs of life and bounce back

Unfortunately, the video and audio quality was a little poor which may have been the result of digitization of an old VHS video or other analogue format. Some tweaking with the equalizer helped the audio considerably (I recommend the ‘Live Music’ setting which worked very well in reducing the hiss and other noise!)

In the blurb for the video, the course is described as follows:

… a course that accesses and allows you to re-structure your
* mind and emotions
* self-sabotaging frames
* innate genius for personal and interpersonal development
* passion for the excellence of expertise
* languaging for empowering semantic states
* mind-muscle connection for greater congruency

Apart from the problems with the audio, Michael Hall’s use of language is sometimes a barrier to understanding the material that he is presenting. He is clearly extremely proficient at NLP and very widely read, but his presentation style and language use is quite similar to John Grinder. The extensive use of academic-sounding language is sometimes useful for relating the ideas to other fields, but probably more often makes simple ideas more difficult to understand until the listener/viewer has managed to penetrate Hall’s terminology. As a researcher myself, I am very familiar with the necessity to use appropriate academic language in order to define terms clearly in a way that is understandable to all within the discourse community, yet like many conference presentations that I have attended the dense language used in the video was often off-putting.
Conversely, Hall demonstrates that he has a very good command of persuasive language in the many demonstrations in the videos. He also has excellent hypnosis skills and the videos include a lovely trance induction which he uses to let the participants get a recharging rest. While the trainer himself needs a break once in a while, it is nice to see this respectful atmosphere created for the seminar participants, and I would have liked to have some of these trance breaks in some of my trainings in the past! As well as helping the participants to relax, Hall is quite entertaining. He uses Peanuts cartoons (featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy and all their friends) to explain metastates in a very fun way.

Another way that Hall explains the concept of metastates is through ‘outframing’. A higher state gives us a bigger frame in which to view the original situation. Hall also illustrates the concept by using the old Einstein quote that “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

The demonstrations of processes show Hall using very powerful language and creating effective change in a very short time. One example is Hall’s alignment process which is similar to the more widely known parts integration process. Rather than dealing with the common examples of two contradictory behaviors, the process searches for the higher intention or higher state of two contradictory states and then integrates them. In another process, he identifies and utilizes what he calls the ‘executive’ in the mind, a higher state that makes the decisions and guides the lower states. The idea of ‘executive’ is very useful terminology, and I can see that it would be very useful for NLP training in a business context, but throughout this process and others there is an awful lot of terminology hiding what appear to be relatively simple chunking up processes, or identifying the core state as in the core transformation process.

Hall also puts a strong focus on what he calls the mind-muscle connection (similar to bodywork or Dilt’s idea of somatic mind) and helps the participants to find the body postures that will best recall a powerful state. He also uses physical anchors in a  nice realization of an exercise in Grinder’s book, Whispering in the Wind–in the Commitment Process, he emphasizes the importance of creating clean states which are 100% available when required. He has the participant set up two very different states in different locations and adds resources to each to make it powerful. Then the participant practices moving from one state to another, in a totally clean manner, so that there is no contamination between the states. This is a very valuable exercise since our resourceful states do tend to get diluted or contaminated by other states. Hall reminds us that leaving a resourceful state fully and completely is just as important as accessing it.

Near the end of the videos, there is an interesting discussion of the differences between NLP and neurosemantics. Hall admits that the distinction is arbitrary but says that everything at ‘primary level’ is NLP, and those above it are Neurosemantics. As an example, he suggests that anchoring is at primary level and falls into the classical definition of NLP. The processes that he demonstrates in the videos which involve metastates would be considered as neurosemantics. For more information on neurosemantics, you can visit Michael Hall’s website.

Overall, I was a little disappointed by the video series. While it contains some very useful demonstrations and a new perspective on NLP, much of the material seemed to simply add a new level of terminology to the field without adding any substantial new ideas.

Review: Richard Bandler DVD: Class of a Master

There is very little that I can say about this four-DVD set by Richard Bandler, except … get your hands on them, and watch the master in action. Bandler’s inductions get better and better, and faster and faster. I’ve watched the DVDs several times now and am still learning more and more from Bandler. As well as his astonishing non-verbal hypnosis abilities, these videos also provides a huge amount of material for those interested in Bandler’s rich use of language to produce rapid change.

The DVDs are very well created with professional camera work and perfect sound throughout. The cameramen zoom in to show us fluttering eyelids and other signs of trance and we can see all of Bandler’s smooth moves. And of course, we can also hear all the jokes and crazy stories that he tells. I’ve heard people debating about whether his stories are really true or not – is he truly outrageous enough to have cruxified the guy who thought he was Jesus, or to have waved an axe at the poor schizophrenic who thought he was John the Baptist. There’s surely lots of exaggeration going on, but it doesn’t matter at all. They are all metaphors which communicate on multiple levels, to both the conscious and unconscious mind of the volunteers on the stage and to the members of the audience who may not be talked to directly but are very much talked to on the unconscious level. And of course, the audience also extends to you if you decide to go ahead and get your hands on these DVDs. Bandler changes minds, beliefs, and lives very quickly – and while he is changing your mind and your life, you’ll also enjoy listening to a man who knows how to have fun.

Each DVD deals with a theme:

Volume 1: Instant Talent
Volume 2: Inner Beauty
Volume 3: Rapid Hypnotic Inductions
Volume 4: Fantastic Futures

I had previously seen Volume 3 which was included as a free DVD with a Bandler book that I bought a few years ago. It was well worth watching again (and again and again) to see how he brought six people on stage into trance in seconds, using a variety of techniques to demonstrate the possibilities that are available to people interested in hypnosis.

The other volumes were more focused on content (development of art, development of inner beauty, and creating a fantastic future), but through them all runs the amazing language of Bandler. More than any video of him that I have seen in the past, this set shows off his ideas and techniques at a very high level.

The DVDs are available here and probably elsewhere online.

Review: From Coach to Awakener

From Coach to Awakener
by Robert Dilts

In this book, Robert Dilts uses his model of Neurological Levels as a comprehensive base for advice and exercises for personal and business coaches. The book is structured around this model, so I have shown a brief outline in the table below.

Chapter Title Neurological Level
 1  Caretaking and Guiding  Environment
 2  Coaching  Behaviours
 3  Teaching  Capabilities
 4  Mentoring  Beliefs and Values
 5  Sponsorship  Identity
 6  Awakening  Spirit

Review: NLP II – The Next Generation

NLP II: The Next Generation
Enriching the Study of the Structure of Subjective Experience

by Robert Dilts and Judith DeLozier with Deborah Bacon Dilts

It has been a long time since NLP Volume 1 was published back in 1980 with its wonderful subtitle: the study of the structure of subjective experience. That’s 30 years in the development of NLP. Volume 1 is still one of the most prized NLP books that I have on my shelves and is the one that I took to have signed by the authors, Robert Dilts and Judith DeLozier, when I trained with them in Santa Cruz. The original volume was also authored by the two founders of NLP, John Grinder and Richard Bandler, and their absence from Volume II is as good a sign as any of the fragmentation that has taken place in the field of NLP since its founding. More than almost anyone else in the field, however, Robert Dilts has tried to keep the field of NLP coherent and up-to-date through his work at NLPU and his constant development and refinement of traditional NLP processes.

However, there is also no doubt that the absence of Grinder and Bandler is significant. As far as I understand, since the development of New Code Grinder  has placed the primary focus of NLP on modelling, particularly on unconscious modelling, and Bandler has led NLP and other techologies such as DHE much much deeper into hypnosis and into the use of submodalities at a very rich level. I am sure that others may have a better understanding than me of the current work of Grinder and Bandler, but what is clear is that NLP Volume II is the fullest statement and development of Robert Dilts’ and also Judith DeLozier’s ideas to date.

Dilts and DeLozier worked together on the Encylopedia of Sytemic NLP and NLP New Coding and after all the time and development on this project and others such as the trainings at NLPU, they note that

… the time had come to finally complete our commitment to a second volume. In our view, there was clearly something new to say. This book NLP II: The Next Generation is a result of that decision.

I have read a lot of Robert Dilts’ books recently and I have found this one to be among the best, certainly the most completete statement of his thinking especially his conception of NLP as focusing on three minds: cognitive, somatic, and field. His ability to generate models and back them up with processes is superb, and in this book he and the other authors have presented the broadest, most systemic, and possibly most explanatory view of NLP–one that could possibly eventually become the most influential model in the field of NLP, the study of the structure of subjective experience.

Cognitive Mind

Chapter 1 of the book examines the cognitive mind, in particular the new ways of thinking about the structure of subjective experience that have been elaborated since the first volume in 1980. These include Timelines, Perceptual Positions, and probably the best explanation to date of Dilts’ Neurological Levels model. However, what really stands out in Chapter 1 is the so-called Unified Field Model. This is a superb achievement in creating a powerful model which unifies different aspects of NLP such as timelines, perceptual positions, neurological levels, and metaprograms. Just these 28 pages which describe this model in detail would make the cost of this whole book worthwhile. The Unified Field Theory provides a way of understanding many older processes in NLP such as Change Personal History, New Behaviour Generator, and Reimprinting. It’s not necessary to know about this new theory to make the old processes work–it simply creates a much better understanding of exactly what is happening in the client’s subjective reality. The authors also call this model (or the total spaces in time and perspective that the model covers) the NLP Jungle Gym, and this is an apt name because it provides a remarkable three-dimensional virtual space in which a huge number of perspectives can be taken on any situation. The core presupposition of NLP is that the map is not the territory, and the NLP Jungle Gym provides us with one of the richest sets of maps that has yet been made available. This map is also shown to be highly useful in Generative NLP, where instead of the traditional approach of helping someone to solve a problematic issue, the NLP practitioner helps someone to really enrich something that they are already doing well.

Somatic Mind

Chapter 2 of the book focuses on the Somatic Mind, the representation of intelligence throughout the body (rather than the more traditional view of intelligence being located only in the brain). Recent research into neuroscience, children’s education, and psychology are all indicating strongly that the old maxim, a healthy mind in a healthy body, is excellent advice. The original formulation of NLP was primarily cognitive. Others in the field have already drawn close attention to the importance of the body (e.g. work on State Management by Bandler and Grinder’s work  in NLP New Code), but DeLozier and Dilts have taken it considerably further, noting that the body acts as a representational system and including motion in most NLP processes. They attempt to develop this idea of a body representational system through ideas such as somatic syntax, biofeedback, the representation of the body within the brain, and the presence of very significant clusters of neurons in both the human stomach and heart. There is no single model for Chapter 2 with the explanatory and exploratory power of the Unified Field Model presented in Chapter 1 for the Cognitive Mind, but the explanation of Somatic Mind in this book can potentially open up many possibilities and provide a useful framework for further research and development in the field of NLP.

Field Mind

Chapter 3 of the book examines what the authors call Field Mind which is defined as

a type of space or energy produced by relationships and interactions within a system of individuals. Central to this idea is the idea that relationship itself is a “third entity” generated between those involved, similar to the way that hydrogen and oxygen can combine to produce the third entity of water. The relationship becomes a container tha holds, processes, and evolves the thoughts, emotions and experiences of those involved.

The concept of Field Mind draws heavily on aikido, energy work, and the work of Stephen Gilligan in Generative Trance. While many of these concepts are not widely accepted and may be considered as pseudo-science by many, the authors do emphasize that the concept of Field is a ‘subjective’ understanding and does not need to be taken literally. In other words, if an experience in a person’s life can be improved in some way through the subjective perception of a field, then it does not necessarily matter whether that field can be measured in any ‘objective’ way. Chapter 3 does offer many convincing descriptions and exercises which help to show the value of the notion of Field, and while it is unlikely to become accepted as easily as the concept of Somatic Mind, it is a valuable idea that will be useful to many practitioners and their clients.

Applying Next Generation NLP

Chapter 4 completes the book with guidelines and exercises on how to interpret and apply the ideas in the first three chapters. It offers some very useful suggestions for NLP coaches, especially at the level of Identity. This brings the authors to the idea that Identity can be usefully seen to consist of two components, the ego and the soul. The ego focuses on survival, self-benefit, and ambition. The soul focuses on awakening, service, and connection. This idea is used to tie the ideas of the book together in a rather artistic and touching conclusion:

When our body (somatic mind) and our intellect (cognitive mind) connect like two dancers responding to the music of life (the field), then the soul has a vehicle for expression and we find ourselves more alive, with greater joy, more intuition, and we feel more at home in the world. Charisma, passion and presence emerge naturally when these two forces (ego and soul; vision and ambition) are aligned. Optimum performance comes when the ego is in the service of the soul.

Final Comments

This is one of the best Robert Dilts’ books in a long time and a good description of his current thinking, a systemic view of NLP which is recommended for reading and consideration by all serious NLP practitioners and researchers. It offers some very strong models which many people may not accept but which could potentially have a strong long-term influence on the future of NLP. By expressing these strong and sometimes controversial ideas in clear terms, this volume puts NLP on a more solid footing and provides a framework for future research and practice.

Review: Using Your Brain ­- For a Change

Using Your Brain ­ – For a Change

by Richard Bandler

Edited by Steve Andreas and Connirae Andreas


Richard Bandler is a remarkable individual, with simple ideas that he develops in very interesting ways, and Using Your Brain is one of his best books. This book is completely based on the simple idea of submodalities, the idea that we can represent the world usefully in terms of our five senses (modalities) and that by changing the parameters of these modalities (submodalities), we can radically alter our subjective experience of the world. From this simple starting point, this classic NLP book shows how phobias can be cured, motivation can be used generated, beliefs can be changed, and much much more. If Bandler can written nothing else in his career, this book alone, with its deep exploration of the potential of submodalities, would have been a massive contribution to our understanding of how the human brain can be run more effectively.

When I say ‘written’, this is a bit of a misnomer, because like many books in the field of NLP, Using Your Brain is an edited transcript of a workshop or series of workshops. While this transcript format does not always work well, it does work well in this case, due to Bandler’s skill in oral presentation and the fine editing of Steve and Connirae Andreas. The book allows the reader to participate in the seminar virtually and to gradually deepen his or her understanding of the possibilities of submodalities in a natural and effective way. Questions from the audience answer many of the questions which I had myself, and the demonstrations provide excellent examples of how these techniques can be used to promote change in other people in counselling or coaching situations.

Submodalities are nothing new; it is in the exploration of the concept in such depth that Bandler’s contribution lies. In everyday language, people say things like “She has a bright future”, or “She has a colourful past.” While these are generally seen as metaphors, Bandler suggests that they are precise descriptions of the speaker’s internal thinking, and that changing these internal descriptions is the key to effective change, learning, or communication. For example, if you think of a pleasant memory and notice the picture that you see, what happens when you make that picture brighter? Or change the location of that picture? You will probably notice that these changes produce an instantaneous change in the type and depth of feelings that are attached to this memory. Even with this simple example, you can probably already think of ways that you can make other memories even more pleasant, or reduce any bad feelings associated with other memories. These simple submodality shifts are just the beginning of the possibilities that Bandler presents in this book.

Some of the vital NLP concepts that Bandler introduces in this book are Submodality shifts (Chapter II), associated versus dissociated perspectives (Chapter III), strategy redesign (Chapter IV), motivation strategies (Chapter V), changing state using submodalities (Chapter VI), removing limiting beliefs (Chapter VII), learning strategies (Chapter VIII), and The Swish process (Chapter IX). If you are interested in the field of NLP and haven’t read this book, get a copy as soon as possible. Even though it was published way back in 1985, I believe that there is still no clearer explanation of submodalities available, and apart from the important ideas in the book, the richness of Bandler’s language is highly useful for any NLP practitioner who aims to produce change in the most rapid elegant ways.


Review: Conversations with Richard Bandler

Conversations with Richard Bandler

by Richard Bandler and Owen Fitzpatrick

The title of this book might be considered to be slightly misleading, or perhaps it was just my own expectations of the entire book being transcripts of conversations with Bandler. The back cover does describe the content of the book more accurately: “Conversations with Richard Bandler recounts Owen Fitzpatrick’s journey to discover the true nature of personal freedom and what is possible for the human spirit.” While the book does feature short extracts of conversations with Bandler on many topics, the majority of the book is written by Owen Fitzpatrick as a contextualization of Bandler’s ideas in terms of his own life.

This personal journey covers many different aspects of Fitzpatrick’s life and he does a good job of showing how Bandler’s NLP techniques have helped him immensely in taking control of his own feelings, working with his own clients, financial success, relationships, and spirituality. The personalized content took a while for me to get into, but by the end of the book I generally appreciated his anecdotes and descriptions of how NLP had helped him to achieve his goals.

The front cover of the book also gives the subtitle: “Two NLP Masters Reveal the Secrets to Successful Living”, and it is clear that Fitzpatrick (or perhaps his publisher) is using his association with Bandler to boost his own status in the NLP world. While I didn’t enjoy all of Fitzpatrick’s long clarifications and reiterations of Bandler’s ideas, it is evident from the book that he has a very strong mastery of the concepts of NLP and has successfully modelled Bandler’s methods of change-work and training. According to the book, Fitzpatrick became the youngest master trainer of NLP in the world at the age of 23 and if he can find his own voice a little more clearly, he is likely to go far beyond Bandler’s ideas and to bring positive change to a huge number of people.

Fitzpatrick frames the book using the metaphor of “chains of the free.” At the beginning of the book, he tells a story of a group of people who were “constantly criticized about what they did …. made to feel horrible each time they made a mistake …. victimized and given so many conflicting messages that they became insecure and unsure of who they were and what they could do.” After further description of these horrible living conditions, he reveals that the group of people are the human race and that their captors are their own minds. It is a powerful metaphor and one that will resound with anyone who has had a critical voice in their own head at some time telling them that something is impossible or wrong, i.e., every one of us. This metaphor underlies the whole book and all the techniques in the book are presented as increasing our personal freedom, taking responsibility for our own freedom, and giving us tools to achieve that freedom. Readers who follow the exercises will certainly achieve much in this direction.

In terms of NLP techniques, there is little new presented in this book for people who are familiar with Bandler’s work, but it is an extremely valuable contribution for NLPers who wish to understand Bandler’s way of thinking and his underlying presuppositions more deeply. For people who are unfamiliar with NLP, the techniques presented can probably best be supplemented by reading another of Bandler’s books such as Using Your Brain for a Change. I wish that the book had featured longer extracts from Bandler’s side of the conversation, but Fitzpatrick has had close access to Bandler for many years and his close modelling of his mentor does certainly allow him to act as a reasonable proxy. One minor criticism of the formatting of the book is that it is not immediately clear when the ‘conversation’ has finished and where Fitzpatrick takes over in commentary. This may have been a publisher decision, but I felt that clearer formatting would have been helpful to separate the conversations from the commentary. Overall, however this book provides a much closer look into the thinking of Bandler than has been available to date.


This book was published in 2005, and since then Fitzpatrick has continued his close collaboration with Bandler, editing some of his talks into books.


Review: Time Line Therapy and the Basis of Personality

Time Line Therapy and the Basis of Personality
by Tad James & Wyatt Woodsmall

I have long been a fan of Time Line Therapy and find it to be one of the most powerful techniques in the field of NLP. In this book from 1988, James and Wyatt give a very clear description of Time Line Therapy including how to elicit the Time Line, release a limiting decision or trauma, remove anxiety, or set a goal in the future Time Line. All of these are explained with clear language and easy-to-follow steps. For this alone, this book is well worth having, but it offers much much more.

In Section I, the authors explain the NLP Communication Model and the filters which we use as we process the world around us. At their best, these filters delete, distort, and generalize experience so that we can function effectively in the world. When they are optimal, they limit our options and cause problems in our lives. These filters are the substance of the NLP expression: The Map is Not the Territory. In other words, the way that we represent the world in our heads is not the same as the world itself.

The filters include: Metaprograms, Values, Beliefs, Attitudes, Memories and Decisions. The authors postulate that these form the basis of our personalities, and after the excellent description of Time Line Therapy in Section II, Section III explores Meta Programs in great detail and Section IV explores the formation, evolution, and changing of values.

The description of meta programs in Section III is divided into simple meta programs and complex meta programs. Simple meta programs are based on Jung’s work into human archetypes and also form the basis of the Myers Briggs personality testing system. These are Introvert/Extravert, Intuitor/Sensor, Thinker/Feeler, and Judger/Perceiver. In another post, I described the complex meta programs discussed in this book. Many different NLP trainers and researchers have explored a variety of Meta Programs, but the description and means of elicitation described in this book are among the best to be found.

Section IV is a very valuable discussion of Values. James and Woodsmall give a nice metaphor for values and beliefs. If beliefs are considered to be cups, then values can be considered to be the cup holders onto which they hook. In other words, beliefs are supported by values. The authors also make the suggestion that beliefs are generally conscious, whereas values are more embedded in the unconscious mind. In particular, core values can be completely invisible to the conscious mind unless we explicitly explore them in some way. Even more unconscious are meta programs which are the unconscious strategies by which we live our lives. This section also includes an excellent exercise for eliciting values and shows how the hierarchy/order of values can be changed by altering the submodalities.

The book finishes with a long transcript of a therapy session with a cocaine addict which illustrates many of the concepts of the book very well and shows how personality can potentially be changed in positive and practical ways in order to help people to live happier lives.

Much of the material in this book has found its way into NLP practitioner courses around the world, but returning to the original source is always valuable and highly recommended for anyone interested in either Time Line therapy or the nature of human personality.

Complex Meta Programs

I have always found Tad James to be one of the clearest writers in the field of NLP and recently I reread his wonderful book, Timeline Therapy and the Basis of Personality. In Chapter 14, he gives a fine description of what he calls complex meta programs. These are in addition to the four basic meta programs which emerged out of Jung’s work on human archetypes and which are used in the Myers Briggs personality testing system. Below, an elicitation question is given for each of the complex meta programs. Just using the questions on yourself or with other people is enough to help you understand how people work in different ways, but for fuller understanding of the ideas presented here, I highly recommend getting a copy of the original book. The questions here are phrased for the workplace, but you can easily tailor them into other areas of life.

Tad James believes that the four most important complex meta programs are:

  • Direction Filter (1)
  • Frame of Reference Sort (3)
  • Relationship Filter (12)
  • Attention Direction (16)

1. Direction Filter

“What do you want in a job?”
This expresses the type of motivation and could be Towards (moving towards desirable things like money), Away (moving away from undesirable things like poverty), or somewhere in between these extremes.

2. Modal Operator Filter (Reason Filter)

“Why did you choose your current job?”
Answers can reflect Possibility (they look for new opportunities), Necessity (they do what needs to be done), or Both.

3. Frame of Reference Filter

“How do you know when you’ve done a good job?”
Possibilities are Internal Frame of Reference, External Frame of Reference, Balanced, Internal with an External Check, and External with an Internal Check.

4. Convincer Representational Filter

“How do you know when someone else is good at what they do?”
Possibilities include See it, Hear it, Deal with them, and Read about it.

5. Convincer Demonstration Filter

“How does someone have to demonstrate competency to you before you’re convinced?”
Possibilities are Automatic, Number of Times, Period of Time, and Consistent.

6. Management Direction Filter

There are three questions which can determine how effective a person would be as a manager. As with all these questions, the original book offers much more information and is highly recommended.
a) Do you know what you need to do to increase your chances for success on a job?
b) Do you know what someone else needs to do to increase his/her chances?
c) Do you find it easy or not to easy to tell him/her?
Possibilities include:
Self & Others (answered yes, yes, yes)
Self Only
(answered yes, no, yes/no)
Others Only
(answered no, yes, yes/no)
Self but not Others (yes, yes, no)

7. Action Filter

“When you come into a situation, do you usually act quickly after sizing it up, or do you a detailed study of all the consequences and then act?” Possibilities for this filter are Active, Reflective, Both, or Inactive.

8. Affiliation Filter

“Tell me about a work situation in which you were the happiest (a one-time event).” The person is likely to be one of: Independent Player, Team Player, or Management Player.

9. The Work Preference Filter

This is best elicited through more general questions about a person’s previous experiences. It indicates a person’s preference for working with Things, Systems, or People.

10. Primary Interest Filter

“Tell me about your favourite restaurant.” People will talk about People, Place, Things, Activity, or Information.

11. Chunk Size Filter

“If we were going to do a project together, would you want to know the big picture first, or would you want to get the details of what we’re going to do first?”
You will generally find that people fall into one of Specific, Global, Specific to Global, or Global to Specific. Of course, people may change from one context of their life to another.

12. Relationship Filter (Matching/Mismatching)

“What is the relationship between what you are doing this year, and what you did last year?” A Matcher will tend to notice similarities. A Mismatcher will tend to notice differences.

13. Emotional Stress Filter

“Tell me about a work situation (a one-time event) that gave you trouble.”
Notice if the person is Dissociated (no access to Kinesthetic), Associated (access to Kinesthetic), or Choice (first accesses Kinesthetic and then comes out of the feelings).

14. Time Filter

This is usually best elicited by observation, but you could potentially use a question like “Do you have your attention on the Past, Present, or Future? Or are you not concerned with time (Atemporal)”

15. Modal Operator Sequence

This is how a person motivates himself/herself. This is best discovered by observing words used over time. Notice which modal operators they use including I can’t, I should, I have to, I mustn’t etc.

16. Attention Direction

There is no specific question – simply observe. Is the person paying more attention to Self or to Others.

17. Goal Filter

There is no specific question. Just look at the person’s goals and see if they are aiming for Perfection or for Optimization.

18. Comparison Filter

“How are you doing on your job? How do you know?”
e.g. Quantitative (numbers) vs. Qualitative (good, bad, etc.) vs. Nature of comparison (comparing to others, to self in past, etc.)

19. Knowledge Filter

“When you decide you can do something, from where do you get that knowledge?”

20. Completion Filter

“If we were going to do a project together, would you be more interested in the startup phase, where you were generating the energy for the BEGINNING of the project, or in the MIDDLE of the project, where you were involved in the maintenance of the project, or in the END, where you were involved in shutting it down?”

“Is there a part of the project that you’d rather not be involved in?”

21. Closure Filter

“Once you have started receiving information that has, for example, four steps, how important is it to you that you receive all four pieces?”


Have fun exploring these questions and meta programs with yourself and other people!

Review: Tools of the Spirit

Tools of the Spirit: Pathways to the Realization of Universal Innocence
by Robert Dilts and Robert McDonald


Like so many books in the field of NLP, this one is written as the transcript of a workshop. Like several other books in this format, much could possibly have been gained by changing at least some of this transcript into simpler prose form. One rather negative review on suggests that the two authors were too lazy to rewrite the transcript and also criticizes them for writing a book on spirituality when neither have any formal spiritual training.

Reading the negative review before reading the book definitely framed the book in the wrong light for me, right from the beginning, and I didn’t enjoy the first few chapters very much which include many details that are more relevant to the participants present at the workshop than the reader who didn’t attend. The use of the song, the Hokey Pokey, was also presumably more effective in the workshop than it appears on the written page!

In Chapter 2, Dilts introduces his Logical Levels model which will be familiar to most people involved in NLP (Environment, Behavior, Capabilities, Beliefs and Values, Identity, and Spirit). I have found this model to be extremely useful in my work with clients and for helping myself to get different perspectives on an issue. For the purposes of this book with its focus on Spirituality, the top level is the most interesting as it gives a rough definition of spirituality as defined by the authors:

Spiritual experiences relate to our perception of being part of a larger system that reaches beyond ourselves as individuals to our family, community, and global systems. Answer to the question who/what else?

This is a much more general definition of spirituality than might be found elsewhere. For example, the World English Dictionary gives the perhaps more traditional meaning of:

the state or quality of being dedicated to God, religion, or spiritual things or values, esp as contrasted with material or temporal ones

However, as is noted on Wikipedia, spirituality has now become much more widely used in secular contexts. Keeping this is mind allows us to push away the criticisms from the Amazon reviewer and to allow the book to present spirituality through its own map of the world, rather than imposing an outside one.

Before I move on from criticisms altogether, however, on page 22 of the book, the Logical Levels are labelled as “Neuro-Logical” Levels and it is claimed that “these various levels of our subjective experience are embodied in the form of neurological circuits. Each level mobilizes successively deeper and broader commitment of neurological ‘circuitry.’ For example, Environment is postulated to employ the peripheral nervous system, and Behaviors are postulated to employ the motor system. Identity is tied to the Immune system and endocrine system. This tying of bodily functions to the levels does not seem justifiable. Our everyday behaviours certainly do engage the immune system in various ways. It is an interesting set of ideas, but one that could perhaps have been researched more deeply and presented in a different book. While not being central at all to the theme of Tools of the Spirit, it does leave the book open to criticism by writers such as Andy Bradbury on his website and John Grinder in Whispering in the Wind.

Later in chapter 2, the Logical Levels are used for the basis of a process called Co-Alignment. This is a powerful process of sharing with another person at all of the levels. For example, at the Behavior level, the two people ask each other the question: “What do I want to do when I am in that time and space (shared enviroment)” and eventually at the Spirit level it leads to the question “What is the larger vision and purpose I am pursuing or representing?” Then, the two people explore the ways in which the two visions fit together and  taking the sharing vision, they walk back down the levels all the way to Environment. I have carried out this process and found it to be very rewarding and can recommend it for two people in a relationship or even for a company (where people can be encouraged to be open-minded for a little while at least!).

Chapter 4 introduces the Presence of Eternity process. This uses the concept of timelines to become present in the Now with another person, and then to extend that sense of time into eternity. It is certainly a useful exercise. The gazing into the other’s eyes and the holding of hands may put off some people, and the book should perhaps have mentioned that it is also a valuable exercise to do alone.

Chapter 5 uses the perceptual positions of NLP in the Spiritual Healing Process. I found Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 much more interesting, where Dilts and MacDonald introduce the  idea of ‘Shadow’ and in particular I liked Chapter 7 where they explain the Releasing Enmeshment with the Shadow process. In essence, it assumes that we are enmeshed with a shadow (e.g. anger, fear etc.) and that by visualizing the nature of that enmeshment, we can deal with it. For example, the shadow could be represented as a dragon with its teeth in our neck. In a slightly complicated process, the dragon is replaced by a more spiritually developed version of ourselves. Although this other version of ourselves starts out enmeshed to us in the same way (with sharp teeth!), these quickly change into a more positive connection. Rather than killing the poor dragon, he is given his own spiritually developed self and starts out with his teeth in that other self. In the same way, those teeth change into a more positive connection. If the process sounds a little crazy, it is … and it also produces powerful change at an unconscious level. Metaphors are very powerful things, indeed.

One thing that I liked in the book was the repeated suggestion that shadows are simply the absence of light – they only exist because light casts a shadow. And shadows can never completely disappear because the bigger the light, the larger the shadow it will throw.

Chapter 8 explains the Self-Parenting process which is probably most useful for people who have issues with one or both of their parents. A parent (or an archetype of a parent) is visualized in each hand. Each has a gift and the other parent is asked to recognize the value of the other’s gift. While expressing gratitude and forgiveness, these gifts are then synthesized and integrated back into the body. I enjoyed this process, and think that some people could find it extremely useful in dealing with parents from whom they feel alienated or distant.

Chapter 10 was my favourite chapter. The authors introduce the extremely versatile tool from Generative NLP and Dilts’ Unified Field Theory. I’ve shown the basic idea in the table below:

Future 3rd Future 1st Future 2nd
Present 3rd Present 1st Present 2nd
Past 3rd Past 1st Past 2nd

A grid of nine squares is used to represent time (past, present, and future on the vertical axis) and NLP perceptual positions (1st, 2nd, and 3rd on the horizontal axis). The center square on the grid represents 1st position present (looking out of your own eyes at the present moment). From this position, you step into all the other squares bringing a growing feeling of spiritual awareness, and from the timeframe and perceptual position of each square, you send a message to the you in the center. Eventually, you end up with 8 messages supporting you from different directions. Like most of the other processes in the book, it sounds crazy, but it works – and this one works very well indeed.


The book concludes with a sampling of readings and poems, all of which are enjoyable. I would recommend this book for people already familiar with NLP who want to extend the tools of NLP into the area of spiritual development.


5 Ways to Listen Better

This post is based on the wonderful TED talk by Julian Treasure. Much of the text below is directly from the video. I heard about this talk on an NLP mailing list, and apart from its value in developing sensory acuity and rapport skills, it is also of interest to me in a university course that I teach called “Sound and Education Media.” For years, I have been teaching students about the value of listening and doing various exercises based on the work of Barry Truax and R Murray Schafer. I am delighted to see that some of this earlier work is being pursued and extended by people like Julian Treasure. Incidentally, Treasure’s use of language is excellent and from his words it sounds like he would be a fine hypnotist!

Treasure starts out by claiming that “We are losing our listening.” People retain just 25% of what we hear. Listening is the extracting of meaning from sound.

Techniques Used by the Brain
1. Pattern Recognition
We recognize patterns (e.g. our names) in order to distinguish noise from a signal.

2. Differencing
In the video, he gives the example of ‘pink noise’, If ‘pink noise’ is on for a few minutes, we literally cease to hear it. Pink noise is a type of artificially created regular noise which covers the entire spectrum of human hearing.


Treasure also talks about the other filters that we use at an unconscious level to listen to sounds. These include:

  • Culture
  • Language
  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Attitudes
  • Expectations
  • Intentions

5 Ways to Listen Better

These are the five simple tools that I will be sharing with my university students in the second semester when it begins in October.

1. Silence
Just three minutes a day is a wonderful way to recalibrate your ears.

2. The Mixer
Identify how many channels of sound you can hear in a place. This improves the quality of listening.

3. Savoring
Listen to a mundane sound and recognize its beauty. For example, a clothes drier can have a waltz rhythm. ‘The hidden choir’ is around us all the time.

4. Listening Positions
Start to play with your listening filters. Here are some examples that you can start to play with:

  • active vs passive
  • reductive vs. expansive
  • critical vs. empathetic

5. An easy mnemonic to remember how to listen more effectively:
Receive (Listen to the person)
Appreciate (Make little backchannel sounds to show you appreciate it
sk questions

Treasure reminds us that every human being needs to “listen consciously in order to live fully, connected in space and in time to the physical world around, connected in understanding to each other, not to mention spiritually connected …”

And I agree strongly with his conclusion that we need to teach listening in our schools as a skill. With the rise of technological background noise, personal music players, shrinking personal space in noisy cities, and a general overload of information, listening is an endangered art and one that needs attention.

Review: TED talk by Richard St. John

This is a wonderful short talk by RIchard St. John on how to achieve success. He interviewed and modelled hundreds of TED speakers, people who had achieved success in their lives. It’s only three minutes long and well worth watching. You may have heard it all before, but he puts it together in a very concise persuasive way. Below, I’ve taken his eight tips for achieving success and showed how they are all inherent in the NLP model of the world.

Have passion in what you do

In NLP, we talk about congruency and values. In the Value Elicitation exercise, we identify what is truly important to a person using questions such as “Is money more important to you than helping people or is helping people more important to you than money?” We then try to support congruency to make sure that the person is congruent in their values throughout their activities.

Work hard!

It’s pretty obvious, but success requires hard work, no matter what field of endeavor you are in. You need to practice your skills and develop your craft to a high level. NLP facilitates this dedication to a goal by allowing people to change their motivation strategies or design more effective work strategies that will achieve results most effectively.


Focus allows us to devote our energy to carrying out specific goals that we have chosen as being important. NLP offers goalsetting activities which promote focus such as Well-Formed Outcomes (SPECIFY process). It also offers powerful language techniques such as the Meta Model which allow us to define clearly what it is that we are looking for.


Related to working hard and having focus, the ability to persist is a powerful tool in achieving success. One useful tool in NLP is future-pacing, asking someone to consider the effect of a change at a future time. For example, questions like “when you imagine yourself achieving those results in one year, and continuing to persist in your practice, how does that feel now?”


Ideas are generated by simply being aware of circumstances, paying close attention, and linking ideas from different domains. NLP helps us to be more aware by training our sensory acuity and helps us to link ideas from different domains through techniques such as metaphor development.


Doing something good or useful is also a key to achieving success. Again, NLP achieves this using exercises like Value Elicitation or Core Transformation to identify the core values that are important to us. NLP also reminds us to check the ecology of the system, for example, “what effect will this change have on the people around you?”


To be successful, you’ve got to push yourself. And NLP is all about pushing the boundaries of what you are currently able to do. One way of defining NLP is as the modelling of excellence. We push our current boundaries by studying the excellent performance of an expert, both consciously and unconsciously. There is no finish line in NLP or in success – we just keep pushing the boundaries to allow people to achieve their highest potential in a way that is congruent with their values – to achieve both success and a happy inner life.

Serve something beyond yourself

This corresponds to the NLP idea of mission. In the Logical Levels model, mission can be seen as the bridge between Identity and Spirit and is elicited by questions such as “What bigger community or system are you part of that your work and being are contributing to?”

Review: Hypnosis for Beginners

There are a large number of books/DVDs etc. available to learn hypnosis, and there are many different schools. Out of the many resources that I have used to gain a deeper understanding of hypnosis, one of the most straightforward and clearest books that I have found is Hypnosis for Beginners by Dylan Morgan. Apart from being very well written, it has the added bonus of being available as a free download from the author’s website:

The website is a huge treasure trove of material about hypnosis and the author comes across as a man of great integrity who wishes to share his knowledge freely with as many people as possible to achieve the greatest benefit. Having read this book and browsed several of the others on the website, I wish that I had the chance to meet Dylan Morgan, but it is sad to see that he passed away in March 2011. His website is still preserved in its entirety and I recommend it highly.

I found this book so useful that I am planning to use it as the core text for a hypnosis workshop that I am starting up with an NLP friend in Nagoya over the next few months. Like the book, the workshop is intended to consist of simple exercises and an exploratory approach to hypnosis. Even though many of the participants will not be beginners, all come from different backgrounds and revisiting the basics in an open-minded and exploratory style will certainly be of benefit to all.

I’ve shown the contents of the book below. It is quite short (147 pages) and so cannot cover many of the elements of other introductory books. For example, Morgan starts out by explicitly stating that the book is not a history of hypnosis and it is not a collection of scripts.

1. Simple Connections.
2. Switching Systems Off.
3. The Visual Imagination.
4. Directing and Controlling the Imagination.
5. Exploring Inductions.
6. Posthypnotic suggestions.
7. Focussing Attention.
8. Resistance and Rapport.
9. Self-hypnosis.
10. Bringing it all Together.

From Chapter 1, Morgan has the reader explore their own mind and gives exercises for exploring the concepts of hypnosis with a friend or a partner. He takes a systems view of hypnosis. In his descriptions, hypnosis is a natural phenomenon that involves connections between systems within the human body. For example, words in the verbal system can stimulate or visual system, or alternatively cause it to relax and become less active. Similarily, other sensory and body systems can be used to affect systems to make them become more or less active.

It is a pleasant change from many other beginner books which simply present inductions and scripts, often wrapped up in a certain amount of mysticism. Morgan’s book takes a very practical, exploratory approach, and I look forward to using it in our workshops over the coming months.


Review: Skinny Bitch

While this isn’t an NLP book, it is a fine example of a book that uses very persuasive language to achieve its main point: think carefully about what you put into your body. In the acknowledgements, the authors thank Anthony Robins and Wayne Dyer, both proponents of NLP, and it is clear that they have used the language of NLP effectively to get their message across.

The book is aimed at women and takes a very light tone, as if a woman were talking to her girlfriends at a cafe or wine bar. It is sprinkled with lots of effective cursing. The authors are also very aware of the power of visual images in persuasion and use some very graphic ones indeed to tell the reader about the horrors of slaughterhouses. Similarly, they use powerful language to reframe meat as rotting carcasses.

I enjoyed the book very much and while I’m not planning to become a vegan (I’m already vegetarian for most of the week) or radically change my eating habits, they have certainly made me think about what I’m putting into my body and how the food industry and overseeing governmental bodies are set up to ensure the financial success of farmers, not the safety of consumers.

Review: Full Facts Book of Cold Reading


I don’t generally watch much television. We don’t actually have a television in the house, but of course, pretty much anything is available online these days for viewing, and recently I began to watch episode after episode of a fun murder investigation drama called The Mentalist. Each episode begins with a murder and the main character, Patrick Jane, uses his powers of sensory acuity, hypnosis and cold reading to solve the crime. Jane used to work as a psychic, but now claims that there are is no such thing as a psychic.

I had never heard the term cold reading until I came across a few books on Amazon related to it. Wikipedia defines it as follows:

Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, illusionists, fortune tellers, psychics, and mediums to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do.

One of the books, How to be a Mentalist, was the one that first caught my attention, but when I looked through the comments, there were some very negative reviews, along with some comments suggesting that the positive reviews were the result of a discount being offered by the author to people who agreed to write positive reviews. The negative reviews did have the positive result of recommending some alternative books, and Full Facts Book of Cold Reading does indeed warrant these recommendations. The author is Ian Rowland. His website is a good indication of his highly amusing, self-deprecating, and extremely honest writing. It says “Ian Rowland – Internationally known as Ian who from where?” There are so many ridiculous and self-important claims made on websites, especially ones trying to sell self-help products, that Rowland’s style is refreshing.

Rowland often poses as a psychic for television shows and uses his cold reading skills to make predictions about the lives and future lives of the volunteers. Afterwards, it is always revealed that he has no psychic power whatsoever. Rowland does not claim directly that there is no such thing as psychic power, but he certainly implies it extremely strongly with his in-depth explanations of how cold reading can be used to create the effect. This debunking of psychics, astrologers, tarot readers, and other spiritualists had me laughing out loud at many points during the book. The author can be very funny.

For me, the most interesting and useful part of the book is the analysis of the elements of a ‘psychic’ reading. I have given some examples below (summarized from the book) that will give you a taste of his ideas.

1. The Rainbow Ruse

The Rainbow Ruse is a statement which credits the client with both a personality trait and its opposite.

“You can be a very considerate person, very quick to provide for others, but there are times, if you are honest, when you recognise a selfish streak in yourself.”

2. Fine Flattery

Fine Flattery statements are designed to flatter the client in a subtle way likely to win agreement. Usually, the formula involves the client being compared to “people in general” or “most of those around you”, and being declared a slight but significant improvement over them.

“…I have your late sister with me now. She tells me she wants you to know that she always admired you, even if she didn’t always express it well. She tells me that you are… wait, it’s coming through… yes, I see, she says you are in many ways more shrewd, or perceptive, than people might think. She says she always thought of you as quite a wise person, not necessarily to do with book-learning and examinations. She’s telling me she means wise in the ways of the world, and in ways that can’t be said of everyone. She’s laughing a little now, because she says this is wisdom that you have sometimes had to learn the hard way! She says you are intelligent enough to see that wisdom comes in many forms.”

3. Sugar Lumps

Sugar Lump statements offer the client a pleasant emotional reward in return for believing in the junk on offer.

“Your heart is good, and you relate to people in a very warm and loving way. The tarot often relates more to feelings and intuition than to cold facts, and your own very strong intuitive sense could be one reason why the tarot seems to work especially well for you. The impressions I get are much stronger with you than with many of my clients.”

4. The Jacques Statement

This element consists of a character statement based on the different phases of life which we all pass through. Jacques Statements are derived from common rites of passage, widely-recognised life patterns, and typical problems which we all encounter on the road to mature adulthood.

“If you are honest about it, you often get to wondering what happened to all those dreams you had when you were younger; all those wonderful ambitions you held dear, and plans which once mattered to you. I suspect that deep down, there is a part of you that sometimes wants to just scrap everything, get out of the rut, and start over again – this time doing things your way.”

5. Barnum Statements

These are artfully generalised character statements which a majority of people, if asked, will consider to be a reasonably accurate description of themselves.

“You have a strong need for people to like and respect you.”

“You tend to feel you have a lot of unused capacity, and that people don’t always give you full credit for your abilities.”

“Some of your hopes and goals tend to be pretty unrealistic.”

6. The Fuzzy Fact

A Fuzzy Fact is an apparently factual statement which is formulated so that (a) it is quite likely to be accepted (b) it leaves plenty of scope to be developed into something more specific.

“I can see a connection with Europe, possibly Britain, or it could be the warmer, Mediterranean part?”

There are lots more in this fascinating book including:

  • The Stat Fact
  • The Trivia Fact
  • The Cultural Trend
  • The Childhood Memory
  • The Seasonal Touch
  • The extended veiled question
  • The jargon blitz
  • The vanishing negative

If you have an interest in cold reading, communication, or just want to have a fun and informative read, Full Facts Book of Cold Reading is a good choice. Have fun. You can purchase it from the author’s website at:


Review: Richard Bandler, Live at the Barbazon

This audio program is an old Richard Bandler session recorded live in New York in the early 1990’s. The image pictured here seems to be the original packaging and the CD package is on sale from Excel Quest.

Bandler was on top form on this occasion as he presents an introduction to DHE (Design Human Engineering). In Bandler’s terminology, NLP is about replication (modeling) while DHE is about creation, and the constantly repeated theme in this program is that “evolution is not over.”

Bandler could probably have made a living as a stand-up comic if he hadn’t gone into the worlds of therapy, self-help and all the other worlds that he has entered. He weaves a series of very tall stories about his own experiences together with his pragmatic philosophy and very effective exercises. One of his stories involves helping a schizophrenic patient by projecting a 150 feet-high image of Jesus on clouds using lasers and accompanying the image with a message from our Good Lord over Marshall amps. While his stories are not altogether believable, Bandler is a larger-than-life character and it is clear that the stories are carrying important messages for people who want change in their life. Bandler is a fine communicator at many levels, simultaneously crafting his stories and commentary to the conscious and unconscious minds, and to people with very different needs.

The practical exercises of DHE can be mainly seen as extensions of his earlier work in submodalities. Notice where a good feeling begins and where it exits the body; Then recycle the feeling from the exit point back into the place where it begins and let it grow. Or explore the effects that a drug had on your body and learn how to replicate those effects without the drug. These are simple concepts, but they work. Unlike Robert Dilts, Michael Hall, and others in NLP who provide valuable analytical frameworks for NLP, Bandler is all about the practical business of getting good feelings right now. Both approaches are definitely useful, but listening to a very funny and charismatic Bandler this evening was certainly a whole lot of fun.