Around the world, competent and resourceful people share knowledge, experience and wisdom with those who place their trust in a process of discovery called “NLP Certification Training”. Those who teach NLP do so for a variety of reason, not the least of which is a desire to contribute and make a difference. The ensuing dance is one that engages ‘teacher’ and ‘student’ at multiple levels of thinking; in cycles and rhythms of opening, expanding and closing; loops inside loops of learning and evolution. Given the shared depth of commitment and the investment of resources all ’round, this is an invitation to pause, step back and allow ourselves to revisit not what we teach but how we teach it.
As NLP has evolved through the years, so has science evolved to make room for both a Newtonian approach and a quantum perspective. A quantum age not only invites but requires that we revisit who we believe ourselves to be as human beings and reconsider what we believe we can offer to our clients, family, friends …and to ourselves. To leave ourselves out of the growth opportunity would be to deny our own evolution and limit the power we express as living models of what we teach.
For more than 25 years, the science of NLP has been taught within fundamental beliefs about who we are as human beings, and who we are capable of becoming, as defined by the Newtonian science of the day. The science that spawned an allopathic perspective is the same science that created the context within which NLP has unfolded and continues to be expressed – unquestioningly. It may be to our detriment that we continue to do so.
The New Science and the Biological Imperative
With the passage of time and myriad books, we are coming to understand that although true at one level, the accuracy of this science begins to lose its edges and fade at other levels. We discover that what we once held to be ‘true’ and ‘real’ is now up for discussion. We are also discovering that what was once unquestionable, if left so, will continue to impose artificial limitations on us and our potential – whether we know it or not. We are coming to understand the limitations of this science and recognizing that continuing to teach NLP within this historical context brings these same limitations to what we offer.
Quantum biology, an aspect of the New Science of the 21st century, tells us that our bodies are massive, incredible, bio-processors; stunningly brilliant, organically engineered learning machines that process data at the rate of 3 billion bits of information per second. Yet, we live in a world that has allowed these simple facts – and they are facts! – to go unnoticed as we continue our quest for transformation and that ever-elusive paradigm shift.
Quantum biology also tells us that the cells in our bodies (like miniature micro-processors) cannot be in growth (open) and in protection (closed) at the same time. If we are not growing, we are in a moment of bated breath, awaiting imminent decay. We cannot stay the same indefinitely. Think of life as breathing. It is not an inhalation or an exhalation that makes the difference, it is our ability to hold the rhythm of both that allows us to survive and thrive. Cells can only stay in protection for a limited period of time and if they do not open (inhale), they die. Growth is a biological imperative. Physical growth, emotional growth, spiritual growth… all are expressions of the same principle at varying levels of thought. Growth at all levels is not a luxury – it is innate to all living systems. That includes us. The message is clear: grow or die.
A quantum biological perspective invites us to consider that this amazing device that we call the body is in fact, moment to moment, processing information. Our bodies are exquisitely designed to process huge amounts of information at phenomenal speeds (remember… 3 billions bits of info per second; three trillion cellular interactions per second). The processing speed prevents us from ‘calibrating’ for content, i.e. no pictures, no sounds, etc. What we are however, often aware of is the sensation of information moving through tissue… what you and I have been taught to call ‘feelings’ or ’emotions’. In fact, these sensations are the by-product of processing speed.
The Body as Bio-Processor
One way to consider this notion of processing speed is to revisit the NLP structures of representational systems. Traditional NLP offers six rep systems from which to choose : visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, gustatory and auditory digital. Consider that there is a seventh rep system, one that we’ve named “PsychicIntuitive – PsI”. Were you to compare these to, say, color, auditory digital would equate with black, or the absence of all color, and PsI would equate with white, or the presence of all color – i.e. information moving so fast, in such combinations, that eliciting specific content detail becomes impossible. Processing speed… at remarkable rates1.
Consider for a moment the possibility that NLP is a body of knowledge which describes how the quantum biological device (the body) functions or, put another way, what the body goes through to process waves of information or signals. Think of NLP as the equivalent of the owner’s manual for your new car. The owners manual will tell you how the car works, what parts are for what purpose and will even tell you what to do with those parts and how best to engage with them. However, what it won’t tell you is where to take the car, or when, or when NOT to engage with the car (you know how it goes… cars and drugs don’t mix well… ) Like your car manual does not address the PURPOSE of the vehicle, NLP does not offer information on the purpose of who you are, as a human being. And yet, so many look to NLP to help them find meaning in their lives.
Two of the most readily recognized tenets of NLP are:
- all meaning is context dependent; and
- there is no content in content worth knowing
As we shift from a Newtonian world to a Quantum one, the very technique itself that we’ve taught for so long now becomes the very content that has no meaning. If so, then the invitation is for us to move away from content (the technique of NLP) and move toward context (what is the existing larger context within which the technique of NLP currently unfolds? What is the context for NLP larger than NLP itself:?) . The invitation is also for us to step back from what we are currently doing… take a breath… and let ourselves consider that the current context within which NLP unfolds is one based on the notion of the psychology of human behavior. What if there is another one to be explored? In a quantum world, autopoiesis is a far more elegant and expansive way to consider human behavior than is the therapy model, based in an allopathic/Newtonian world view.
A quantum biological perspective offers us the possibility that the body is an amazing device. Let’s consider that the information that it is processing is a complex dance of ‘signals’ (we know that there are at least three) that interact and produce the quality of our experience. NLP helps us understand the way the mechanism works and in so doing, it helps us learn to trust that the mechanism does work; that it can be relied upon and it does know how to get the job done. We begin to establish sustainable rapport with our own bodies… with ourselves. And we discover, all we need to do is get out of the way! We can allow the body to do what it knows how to do and relinquish our need to ‘know’. Without the need to have pictures, sounds and words, the speeds at which the body will metabolize information are astounding! The corresponding change that follows, as the new information literally restructures the topography of the brain, is equally astounding. The impossible becomes accessible and magic happens
Signals and Quantum Leaps
No understanding of the mechanism will help us with the signals. What it will however, do is to facilitate change, at much faster rates and with significantly less effort. Change does not have to be hard; nor does it have to take a long time. We already know that from our experience with NLP. What we may not yet know is that as we make friends with and trust the naturally-occurring abilities of the bio-processor that we are, we become able to move from an experience of ‘change’ to one of ‘transformation’. Quantum leaps beyond where we are! As we become more comfortable with the abilities of the bio-processor that we are; and as we become more able to trust this quantum biological device and allow it to do what it knows best how to do, these tenets of NLP move to an even higher level of expression… faster… deeper… further… as we allow the signals to be engaged directly. NLP can help us get there.
NLP is only part of the equation for rapid, profound and generative change. Far too many become certified in varying levels of NLP only to find that it begins to fade into the background. Tied to a binder of materials or sets of audio tapes, the sense of competence is soon forgotten. Many find the experience of the program itself to be exhilarating and yet, somehow, unsustainable beyond the ‘halo’ effect, often attached to memories of initial ‘highs’ and ultimate disappointment. Far too many have certificates that have made their way into dusty drawers, an indication of the degree to which what was learned has become either inaccessible or unlivable… not enough to make the difference that they seek in their lives.
I invite you to consider the possibility that, for many, the technique of NLP is not enough. As we continue to grow and expand into a quantum experience and discover the boundlessness of our own evolution, we might discover new and higher levels of expression as we apply what we now know to our shared experience in the classroom. Providing leadership by being the first to step into these new possibilities, we become the living expressions of what we teach. The power of modeling takes care of the rest.
Originally published in Anchor Point, January 2003