The Trump Addiction

This is not a completely serious post, yet it is a little serious 😉

I have recognised a new addiction within myself – the Trump addiction – and it appears that I am not alone. Donald Trump is not only the top news item in the world. It is also way ahead of any other news item that is read or searched for on Google. Each morning, I find myself almost hoping that there is a new Trump-ism for me to read. An outrageous tweet is best. It can provoke half the country (and delight Trump’s base) or strongly criticize a large section of society (e.g. the Media, the Judiciary).
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The Zeiganik Effect and Stress Management

Bluma Wulfovna Zeigarnik was a Soviet psychologist and involved in the Vygotsky Circle. I’ve always been interested in the social learning theories of Vygotsky, and his work was quite influential on language teaching for a while way back. So I was interested when Zeigarnik’s work arose in the context of a hypnosis training that I was taking under the instructorship of Dr. Richard Harte in the United States. I was reminded of the Zeigarnik effect recently when Dr. Harte sadly passed away.

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A Decision

One night, I was playing guitar and singing in an Irish pub in Japan and a young woman walked in. I knew that I knew her from somewhere, and she clearly recognized me. At the break, she came up and asked me in excellent English that difficult question, “Do you remember me?”
I had to admit that I remembered her face but couldn’t remember where we had met.

She told me that I had been her English teacher 8 years previously in high school, and then it all came back to me. Yes, I remembered her. I remembered her whole class because it was my least favourite class of all my time teaching in high school. I remembered that horrible feeling just walking towards the classroom before either of their two weekly lessons.

And I also remember making a promise to myself at that time that I would try harder in those classes than any other classes. So before every single class, I stood outside for a moment and reminded myself of that decision.  At the end of the year, I was so happy to say goodbye to them. I still didn’t like that group of students, but I had tried.
The young woman in the Irish pub remembered those lessons, too.
“There were some bad students in that class, but you tried so hard in every lesson to teach us that you really made me interested in English. Because of that, I decided to go to the United States to study nursing. Your class really inspired me. It changed my life.”
We never know when our little efforts and little words can change a person’s life and bring happiness in ways that we could never have imagined.

Eyes Up for Better Presentations

As teachers, many of us are helping our students to make presentations. Whether it is a simple show-and-tell in a kids’ class or an advanced presentation of fluid dynamics by an aerodynamics PhD candidate, some of the basic principles are exactly the same. I know very well because I have taught in both of these situations and beneath the very different content and language level is the basic need for good  human interaction.

And besides helping your students make better presentations, it is also useful thinking about how you can make your own presentations better. After all, as a teacher you are actually presentations every single day that you walk into a classroom and stand in front of your students.

When I was doing an NLP course in California at NLPU a few years ago, we had a guest trainer called Michael Colgrass. Michael is a successful composer as well as a trainer, so he knows a few things about dealing with an audience.

Michael Colgrass teaches people how to walk on to a stage using what he calls the “Eyes Up” technique. It’s very simple. Keep your eyes up as you are walking on to the stage and keep looking at the audience.

But it begins before you ever walk onto the stage.

Your presentation begins the moment that your name is called or the moment that you stand up to walk towards the front of the room, or perhaps earlier. That is the moment when people begin to watch you.

After this moment, the space in the room is your space. The time for the presentation is your time. And as you walk to the stage, you need to be aware that people’s eyes are already on you and that they are already judging your performance in the presentation.

So how do you prepare for all this attention. A key factor is to be in a good state, i.e. confident and ready. One good way to do that is simply to take a few deep breaths. Some presenters have a little mantra that they say to themselves to get ready, e.g. “I am ready…they are going to love me, I am ready…they are going to love me.” Some people like to stretch. It doesn’t really matter what your routine is–the point is that it should be a routine, something that you practice and can then reliably do in order to enter that state of confidence and readiness before that magic moment when you stand up.

And after standing up, what’s next? You walk towards that stage or the front of the room, with your body erect and your head held high. Of course, you should be “eyes up”, noticing the people around you and staying in your good state.

If there are steps to the stage, be sure that you have already visualized and figured out how you are going to climb them while still keeping your eyes up.

And then once you are on the stage, walk to the center, and make the space into your space. For the length of the presentation, it is your space!

When you begin, make eye contact with the whole room. Make sure that you look at everyone or at least at each section of the room. Strong eye contact at the beginning can make a connection that can strengthen your whole presentation as well as giving both you and the audience the confidence that you can do a great job.

You will probably use notes or slides or similar throughout  your presentation. That is fine–in that case, you probably won’t have your eyes on the audience the whole time.

But do remember to check back in with them. Words are important, but there are few things that can make a connection in communication as strongly as the human eyes.

The content of your presentation is important, and I’m sure that you spend lots of time preparing it to make sure that it is as good as possible. Language, however, can be regarded as either transactional or interactional. Transactional language is used to communicate information. Interactional language is used to strengthen or change the social relationships between people in a group. A presentation is both transactional and interactional.

So, of course your content is important (transactional language), but it is also vital to remember that you are presenting yourself (interactional language) and your image in front of the audience is extremely important.

Ghandi said “My life is my message.” By this, he meant that his whole life and way of presenting himself to the world was congruent with the content that he was conveying.

In your presentations or when you are helping your students make better presentations, aim for congruence. Think about your use of words, gestures, voice, eyes, use of space, and visuals. They are all important in helping you to really connect to your audience.

And if you want to hear the important message of this article one more time: Eyes Up!

 

Circle of Excellence

The Circle of Excellence is a great way to manage your own state when you are teaching. It is based on the NLP idea of anchoring. You have probably heard of the story of Pavlov’s dogs. When he rang a bell, he would feed the dogs, and the dogs would salivate. When he had trained the dogs, just ringing the bell would cause the dogs to salivate. In NLP terms, he had created an anchor (the bell) which produced the response (salivation).

Now, I’m not suggesting that you start to salivate every time the bell for class goes. Instead, what you want to do is anchor resourceful states in your circle of excellence. When you have practiced this lots of times, then just by imagining stepping into your circle, you can easily enter those resourceful states.

For example, supposing you decide that you want to feel confident in the classroom. Then you can add the state of confidence to your circle. Other useful states for teaching could be openness, energetic, calmness, whatever you believe will help you to be in the best state.

Before you do the Circle of Excellence process, choose three states that you would like to always have in your classroom.

1. _________  2. _________ 3. _________

The Circle of Excellence Process

  1. Imagine a circle in front of you about one meter in diameter.
  2. Remember a time when you felt completely [State].
  3. What did you see, hear, and feel at that time?
  4. When you are sure that you are completely in that state, step into the circle.
  5. Break state.
  6. Repeat with other states that you want to add to the circle.
  7. Test your circle. Make it stronger!
  8. Pick up your circle and put it into your pocket! Use it and keep it well recharged!

Remember that this is not magic – it is simply anchoring resources to an imaginary circle. I promise you that it will work, just in the same way as it worked for Pavlov’s dogs, but you need to practice. If you practice your circle of excellence for a few minutes each day for a week or so, you will soon be able to use it to be in the perfect state for every class! The more you use your circle, the better it will become.

As always, enjoy using NLP, enjoy your teaching, and let us know how you get on.

©Copyright 2012 by Dr. Brian Cullen

Keep the Channel Open

When I was doing the master trainer course at NLPU in California this summer, one of the last things that the amazing Judith DeLozier said to us was “Keep the Channel Open”. And you know, of course, she is totally right. It is so easy to be open for a few days, or for a course, or for a vacation. What unfortunately happens to so many of us is that we slip back into a semi-open or closer-to-closed mode when we return to our normal lives, whatever “normal” may mean.

It’s not actually Judith’s line. I believe that it comes from Martha Graham who says it all beautifully in this quotation.

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urge that motivates you.

Keep the channel open.

The line, “Keep the channel open” kept repeating again and again in my head, at first in a conscious attempt to keep connected to the beautiful feeling of actually being open, and then later unconsciously, going around and around in loops, so that I would wake to the sound of my own internal voice saying, “keep the channel open.”

A bit obsessive of course, and my own unconscious mind had more sense than to keep running that loop, so it wrapped it up in this song instead.

Along the way, Matthew Hegstrom turned up in my house one evening and sang along with me on the demo that has turned into the current recording. Then Erik Imai had a free night away from the business of Toyota Corporation and added some crazy fun percussion. He wanted a crystal sound, so I handed him a fork and our prized Waterford crystal glass. The Waterford survived the ideal, but ironically, it was the cheap glasses that sounded better, and even better sounding were the tarnished silver cups from India that I picked up at a dump in Ireland. He also added in the remarkably difficult-to-spell Cajone and a pair of bongos that came from a second-hand shop called Hard-Off in Japan. Then Phil stepped in from England to add some nutty 1968 jangly guitar that comes straight from psychadelia. The mad guitar at the end is also thanks to Phil who seems to have really let himself off the leash for this paradoxically soothing ending.

And of course, it’s just a demo – like life. The vocals need to be redone, the bass is off-rhythm, the keyboard is a bit  … Anyway …

… we had fun – and we hope you have fun listening to the current incarnation of “Keep the Channel Open.”

Eventually, we’ll make it all sound perfect and wonderful and put it out on CD or vinyl or SD card or smoking banana skin or whatever the new format happens to be when that day arrives. In the meantime, just enjoy the song!

The Bear

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, in a great forest, there lived a bear. Have you heard this story? Good, good. Now I can’t remember the bear’s name, so we’ll just call him … “the bear”.

Now the bear, he had a good life, he had a good job, he worked at a great company. But then you know, he started having problems at his company and things started becoming more difficult for the bear. And he thought, “I really need to do something”, because his boss was not nice to the bear. His boss was so strong and the bear thought “Oh, I’m so weak. I can’t do anything. I want to be strong.”

So that night, the bear prayed to the god of the Bears, and he said “god of the Bears, please please, make me strong.”

And the next morning he woke up, and the most amazing thing had happened because the bear had changed, he was no longer a bear. He had been transformed into a great mountain. A great mountain high, so high he almost touched the sky. And as a great, great mountain, he could really begin to feel his own strength. He was made of strong, strong rock that could stand up to anything. And he looked out upon the land and he felt so good.

You know, he really enjoyed being a mountain because mountains are strong – they are really centered. Nobody messes with a mountain. So he enjoyed being a mountain for a long long time and his life was much easier when he was a mountain. But you know, things began to change at his job and his life, as things always do eventually change. His work and life were changing and there were new things that he had to learn. Now a mountain is very strong, but a mountain is not very open to change. A mountain just stays one way for a long, long time.

So one time, he realized that he had to learn to be more open and to react, to respond to change. So what could he do?

He prayed to the god of the Mountain. Of course, he wouldn’t pray to the god of the Bears because he wasn’t a bear anymore. So he prayed to the god of the Mountain and he said, “god of the Mountain, please please, help me to be more open, to be more creative, to be more flexible.”

And the next morning, when he awoke, it was very strange because he had changed. He was no longer a mountain. What had he become? He had transformed into a wind. Yes, the mountain who used to be a bear had now become a wind. And being a wind is pretty cool, you know. Because when you’re a wind, that means that you can go everywhere. If there is something in your way, if there’s an obstacle, you can just go around it, or under it, or over it. There’s always a way for a wind to go.

And the wind felt wonderful and blew the clouds around the sky and went dancing with the rocks and the fields and so much more. And he came up with amazing new ideas and went to amazing new places – very playful and creative – open to so many new possibilities and ways of navigating the world.

And for a long long time, the wind had a wonderful life. Yet eventually, the wind who used to be a mountain who used to be a bear found that although he was very open and creative and playful, he was perhaps just a little bit … shallow. He felt that he was not really aware of what was going on at a deeper level. He just blew in from one place to another, and then blew out to another without really being able to become aware of things at a deeper level. He felt his existence in each place was too brief, so one night he prayed. He prayed to the god of the Wind, and he said “god of the Wind, please please, help me.”

And the next morning, when he woke up, he was no longer a wind. He had been transformed, completely changed … The wind who used to be a mountain who used to be a bear had now become … the sea … the great sea … the great sea that goes so deep, that goes right down to the heart of the world, the great sea that reaches out to vast continents, being aware of the whole planet … so present … the great sea is aware of everything. The great sea has all the knowledge, can see everything, can hear everything, can feel everything. All through the bright day and dark night, the sea is alert and awake, aware of everything in all senses at such a deep level.

And for a long time, the sea was very content and peaceful, simply being aware of everything around. But as the sea, he slowly began to realize that although he was aware of everything, he wasn’t really connected to everything at all. Sometimes, it was as if he was an acute observer of the whole map of the world, yet he was not really … connected to the parts of that world. In a way, he felt a little isolated – he was the only great sea. So one night, he prayed to the god of the Sea. And he prayed, “god of the Sea, help me.”

And when he awoke next morning, transformed and changed, he awoke not as a sea, but he awoke instead in the state of a being who connected the land to the sea… he awoke as one who dances with the wind… he awoke as one who connects all the way from the strength of the mountain right down to the depths of the sea as he danced with the wind in his journeys through the land. He awoke as one who is truly connected – for he awoke as a river.

And the sea who used to be a wind, who used to be a mountain, who used to be a bear… now he was that river. And the river is a wonderful thing. For the river starts with the strength of the mountain, flows down easily and enjoyably right down to the sea, connecting the mountains and the peace of the sea. And on the way, the river dances with the wind, always playful and open, the wind dancing with the water. Dancing together.

And for a long long time, he was happy as a river because a river could connect all of these things. Everything was really good, but you know, eventually he thought, “it is great being a river, being connected… yet it was also great to be a mountain, to have all that strength and centeredness… and it was also a fine thing to be a wind, to be open and creative and playful… and then it was wonderful to be the great sea, to be aware and alert and deep in knowledge.”

So one night, he prayed to the god of the river, “help me.” And the god of the River replied, “well, this is an interesting situation, and I’m curious to know the solution, aren’t you.” And the god of the River continued, “I can not help you on my own, yet there are other beings in other states who may be able to help us to find the best solution for you, the river who used to be the sea who used to be a wind who used to be a mountain who used to be a bear.”

And then the god of the river called upon the god of the sea and the god of the wind and the god of the mountain and the god of the bear. And they each came from their own states, and the five gods decided to go for a quiet drink in a local bar to find the best solution. And the quiet drink turned into a long night and many drinks as the gods all discussed “what are we going to do to integrate all these beautiful things that have been found.” And what do you think was decided?

After the long discussion of the gods, they said, “what we’re going to do is … we’re going to transform you back into who you really are … you will once more become a bear … and live a bear reality … but with some important differences … for you are indeed a special bear.”

And the god of the Mountain said to the bear, “Because you wanted to have the strength of the mountain, so down in your feet, centering you down to the ground, I will give you the strength of the mountain. And whenever you feel your feet supported by the solid earth below you, you can remember, remember the strength of the mountain and once again feel the centeredness and strength of that mountain within.”

And the god of the Wind said to the bear, “And I will give you the openness and flexibility of the wind, the ability to be open and play, the creativity of the wind. And I will put this all around your center, and whenever you become aware of the center of your body, then again you will be open and playful and creative in so many ways.”

And the god of the Sea said to the bear, “And I will give you the awareness and peace of the sea, inside all around your heart, all around your head. Whenever you focus on this area, you can have that peace, that awareness, that deep deep knowledge and alertness.”

And the god of the River said to the bear, “Well your body is now full – full of centeredness, openness, and awareness! But I will give you the connectedness of the river all around and beyond your body. Above you, below you, all around. Whenever you become aware of the areas around your body, you can again easily feel that connectedness with all living things and all the resources that are available to you.”

And there was one more god, wasn’t there? Do you remember? Yes, of course, there was the god of the Bears.

And then the god of the Bears said to the bear, “Well, I want you to be able to remember all of these things because in everyday life and when problems arise, a bear can bearly remember sometimes what is important, and a bear needs a little help to help you remember, don’t you? Because sometimes, you might not consciously remember that you have the strength of the mountain within you, or that you do indeed have the openness and creativity of the wind, or that the great awareness of the great sea is always within you, or that the connectedness of the river is available all around your body, waiting for you to embrace all those wonderful resources that you are connected to.”

“And so I want you to remember, if not even consciously, that all of those resources are available to you. So what I will do for you, my bear, is that every time you bring your hands (or your paws!) together, yes – that’s right – as you bring your hands together now – all of those things will come back to you and you will feel them all again in your body and around your body… integrating in exactly the ways that are most appropriate for you … growing and spreading in ways that support your excellence … and knowing that you can easily access all of these wonderful learnings in your future by simply bringing those hands together.”

And the next morning, the bear woke up and he was transformed, changed completely, and the god of the Bears spoke to him and said, “yes, indeed you are a bear, a very special bear, yet at a very deep level you will always remember all of these important things that you have learned … and learned to use in ways that are most appropriate for you … the mountain, the wind, the sea, and the river are all part of you now.”

 

© Copyright 2012 by Dr. Brian Cullen www.standinginspirit.com