The following article does not offer tips and techniques. It extends aninvitation to you to direct your attention to much higher levels of thinking whenconsidering the potential of NLP as a body of knowledge. It is not intended to give youanswers but entice you to raise questions that you may never have considered before. It isintended to press up against your model of the world, invite you to consider analternative and, if I’m really lucky, leave you wondering: if this is possible,then what else?
There was a time when it worked well for us to segment and segregateinformation (reductionism), breaking things down into smaller and smaller chunks as a wayof allowing us to better understand our environments – physical and emotional. Tothis day, there are times and places when it continues to be useful. Yet, we live in atime when we are witnessing the effects that are produced by finding ways to bring thingstogether; to create linkages through space/time; and move away from separation towholeness. In other words, we are chunking up … going bigger not smaller … in somany ways. Even so, our years of experience, working with human beings who are brilliant,quantum biological devices and not mechanical instruments, have proven time and again thateven that is not enough.
Despite our knowledge of, amongst other things, NLP, we continue to findpeople for whom the best training, the extensive certifications and their vastaccumulation of knowledge (content) is not helping them to become who they know themselvescapable of becoming – continuing to feel at the mercy of a variety of things outsidethemselves – and, in the process, be the kind of person that others want to spendtime with. For so long, we’ve bumped up against the edges of the ‘box’ and wondered whatwas wrong with us that we could not be happy in the box. Maybe the time has come for us torecognize that it is not us … it is the box. It has become too small for theimmensity of our own potential.
Around the world, NLP continues to be taught pretty much the same as ithas been for almost three decades. Yet all around us, change is not only the essence ofwho we are but the very force required for unfolding who we might become. We scramble tokeep up with the advances in technology and the magical moments that these advances allowand invite us to step into. And yet, when it comes to NLP, we continue to treat this bodyof knowledge as somehow sacred and untouchable – making efforts to retain its’purity’ – when all around us we are moving to connect things, integrate things,enfolding and unfolding into new expressions. The truth is that NLP is, after all, onlyinformation. It is also information that has been structured and labeled, or put together,through the perceptual filters of its creators. Its power is totally dependent on thecontext (the box) within which we consider this information and our courage to step intobigger forms of its expression. NLP will only have the limitations we impose upon it andthese limitations will come from our own certainty, positioning it as an absolute truth… and from our own fear and uncertainty of moving beyond this fabrication.
Two of the most powerful notions offered by NLP are:
All meaning is context dependent. Not just some meaning, or not just sometimes, but all meaning is always context dependent.
In the Cause/Effect equation of life, you choose where you stand and this choice will dictate the quality of your life.
What this boils down to is that quality of life – mine and yours is dependent on and driven by the context we create for interpreting our experienceand, subsequently, our capacity to choose mindfully.
My colleagues and I have now had the privilege of working with thousandsof people, witnessing their evolution as well as our own. More than 10 years ago, my work with clients in a variety of venuesallowed for the unfolding of a non-therapy (or autopoietic) perspective on change that hasbeen deepened and refined over those years. In addition, we have taken this non-therapyperspective and over the last five years molded NLP trainings, at the Practitioner andMaster Practitioner levels, that have allowed for miracles of change, in their speed,their depth and their on-going capacity to generate new life. In this process, we’vediscovered:
There are in fact seven Logical Levels of Thinking and we’ve named that seventh the level of Choice.
There are seven Representational Systems and we’ve named that seventh representational system PsI, or Psychic-Intuitive.
The therapy model is not fact or truth – it is a world view. The WEL-Systems® approach to change is also not fact or truth, it is a world view that invites and encourages rapid, profound and generative change. It is a context for change (and all meaning is context dependent) that is driven by what we now know to be true about the nature of being human, as offered by cutting-edge thinking in quantum biology. It is not enough to just talk about this new science … it is essential that we become living expressions of these scientific revelations, if we are to continue to evolve.
When all of these – and more! – come together, the context for change is massive! We have created The CODE Model (See Chart 1) as an instrument for moving through the complexity, allowing us to chunk bigger and make connections, making sense of what otherwise may frighten us into falling back into what we know … or the ‘default’ position of awareness.
NLP, as a body of knowledge, has been evolving over the last 30 years orso and yet constrained by the context within which it was positioned. That context, ormodel, is a therapy model. Much of its effect has been transparent to the process since,as a context, it has never been identified let alone questioned.
This model, or interpretation, is one that is grounded in the science ofanother era; a science that approaches human beings as mechanical devices; and one that isfocussed on the limitations of being human, driven by an external standard or ‘norm’. Intoday’s world, with its technology and its potential as derived from the new science or our quantum perspective – it would seem that we’ve overlooked that itsmagic can be expressed not only through technology and the implications of that technologyfor observing or acting on human beings, but can be expressed directly through thebehaviors of human beings as quantum biological devices. When we begin to discover this,we begin to access untapped resources that do already and will continue to shape the worldin which we live.
NLP, as a body of knowledge, has been taught around the world in thistherapy model, with this model transparent to the process. Never questioned. Perhaps thetime has come for us to reconsider NLP and its potential as we create a new context forits expression. Same technique, new paradigm. That new paradigm is the WEL-Systems®approach for rapid, profound and generative change; allowing us to recognize, know, claimand engage the full spectrum of possibility from therapy to autopoiesis.
This work, begun in the late 80’s, has come together over the last 15years and is expressed in detail through a number of different vehicles. (For moredetailed information, please refer to the note at the end of this article.) We (Partnersin Renewal Inc. and the WEL-Systems Institute ) have now had several years of witnessing the results of this approach. Wewould like to share with you some of what we have discovered so that you too, can begin toconsider the possibilities for yourselves and for those whose lives you touch. Myintention here is to provide you with an overview … and it is only the tip of theiceberg of potential that is available. At the end of this article will be references thatyou can access via the internet; as well as access points for the more detailed material.Perhaps the easiest place to start is at the end and work back.
Decoding the Messages from the Body: The CODE Model
This model will change the way you perceive yourself, your world and yourability to function effectively within that world. It will also change the way youinterpret, live and teach the body of knowledge that is NLP.
Chart 1: The CODE ( Creation Out of Deep Energy) Model
Levels of Thinking
Structure of Time
The Seventh Representational System
Around the world, NLP training at the Practitioner level includes adiscussion of representational systems. Depending on who you train with, they will includevisual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory, with the last three sometimesrolled into one; and often a sixth, Auditory Digital (Ad), which is language-based andsensory devoid. Our work over the years has led us to introduce a seventh … and onethat has become a critical (and extremely potent) consideration within which we offer NLPtraining generally. That seventh representational system we have called ‘PsI” orPsychic-Intuitive.
Consider this for a moment. We live in a world of dualities orpolarizations: male/female; good/evil; black/white; yin/yang; etc. If you were to take theduality of black/white, for example, you would already know that black is the extreme thatrepresents the absence of all color and white is the extreme that represents the presenceof all color. If we were to stretch out those extremes, and make room between them for acontinuum of color, we would then experience a range of colors that would become availablebetween those poles. What we would also notice is that ‘black’ and ‘white’ are notseparate things but the ends of an unfolding.
So it is with the representational systems in NLP. Along the continuum ofexpression of the senses, we have visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, gustatory and,at one end of the continuum we have the absence of all sensory input, or Auditory Digital.In order for this to make sense, the other extreme must also exist in order to allow thecontinuum to unfold. The opposite end of the spectrum would be the presence of all sensoryinput … or what we have called PsI or Psychic-Intuitive.
Were we to connect these representational systems with notions ofconsciousness, and some of the thinking on how consciousness unfolds and expresses itselfin matter, we would equate the Auditory Digital end with references to fact, data,content, specifics and the Psychic-Intuitive end with references to impressions, notions,impulses, hunches. At the Ad end, as consciousness slows and takes form, details wouldbecome more accessible. At the PsI end, where things move extremely fast, detail would beimpossible to track at the level of conscious awareness.
It is also possible to link these to notions of time and the structure ofmatter (‘reality’), with the Auditory Digital end equating with that which is alreadypresent allowing us to look back on it and observe and describe (the Past), through to thePsI end of the spectrum, which would equate with that which is enfolded, unstructured,undefined, not yet shaped (or the Future).
We now know from science that your body is a bio-processor. It is not analogousto a bio-processor, it is a bio-processor. Its capacity to ‘metabolize’information is beyond our comprehension and can easily manage, amongst other things, 3trillion cellular interactions per minute. What we have called the conscious mind, on theother hand, can only track at a rate of 7, plus or minus 2, items at a time. An Adresponse requires that the conscious mind be involved in expression of the details. Thebody however, can easily process at the speed of thought … and likely beyond.
We offer NLP training that is both expressed and experienced along thecontinuum. It allows for the detail of content/specifics at the Ad end of the spectrum andthen invites our participants to trust the other end of spectrum and allow themselves alsoto engage at the PsI end. To put it in the words of our clients, the results are”Amazing! … Profound … Life-altering … Gave me back my life”. Wedetermined that this was worth paying attention to.
Around the world, NLP continues to be taught in a therapy model/AuditoryDigital context. It is interesting; it is factual; it is driven by an awareness of thepast; and it is no longer enough given who we now know ourselves to be capable ofbecoming. It is also not enough to hold our attention and ignite our passion for creatingand engaging life to the fullest!
The Seventh Logical Level of Thinking
Because there already exist so many other references for detail in thisarea, for purposes of this overview, consider the following.
The first six Levels of Thinking, as developed by Bateson and Dilts, havebeen extremely effective in ordering information. In 1997, we added the seventh LogicalLevel of Choice (between Beliefs/Values/Attitudes and Identity), taking that which hasalways been present and yet transparent to the process and bringing it to consciousawareness. By bringing the act of choosing ‘out of the closet’ so-to-speak, we create aplatform for choosing that also makes it impossible to deny the power of its presence. Weare always choosing, whether we do so consciously or not.
As I worked with people – individually and/or in small groups or intraining programs – I became increasingly aware that even with the information …the knowledge … that the six logical levels allowed us to elicit, this frequently wasnot enough to engage or propel to action. It invited and accommodated conversation,exploration, analysis, consideration and yet, for many, the action required to bring lifeinto full expression was frequently not taken. A disconnect, somehow. A detachment thatallowed for analysis and observation, and yet the ability and the willingness to put the’pedal to the metal’ often eluded us.
In parallel with these activities, over the preceding years, I had alsospent much of my time working with people across the country, introducing a controversialnew model that I had developed for personal, professional and organizational change. TheWEL-Systems® (or Work Environments as Living Systems® ) approach to change hadproven to be one of those things that people just seemed to instinctively know the truthof … inside, where they live. Easily engaged, it became a framework that helped themto put words to what they already knew; invited them to pay attention to what was alreadytaking place and offered a context for choosing differently.
Concurrently, sharing information about this approach also allowed me toexplore interpretations of ‘wellness’ that went beyond the so-called ‘traditional’approaches and included notions from quantum biology as well as references to the’chakras’ or energy centres of the body.
As I moved through these programs and processes with hundreds of people,observing responses as I went, one thing caught my attention and stood out. I was struckby how frequently and easily people were able to overlook – to simply not notice that they were already, always making choices, and that there are no exceptions. Italso became evident that the notion of ‘consequences’ had become skewed … so thatthere was an awareness that new behaviours would have consequences but an inability tonotice the fact that existing behaviors already had consequences, called ‘the quality ofmy life’! All behaviors have consequences whether we notice them or not. Like changebrings consequences, there are also consequences associated with no change; and thesechoices are literally becoming the building blocks of our tomorrows.
It is impossible for us to ‘not choose’, just as it is impossible for usto ‘not communicate’. When we are silent, our absence of speech is a choice. Choosing notto choose is a choice. This underlying process was completely imperceptible to those whowere doing the choosing. Yet, at each of the Logical Levels, a moment of choice had beenrequired to create the experience of what is represented.
Over time, my expression of the six Logical Levels of Thinking wasinfluenced by my awareness and mindfulness of those other things, as well. As I continuedto share this information with my clients, they were quick to capture its logic, slidingeasily and comfortably into the structures of detached observation and analysis that weare all so well trained for. Yet, when it came time to take action, there was oftenhesitation, pulling back and pointing to something outside of themselves as the cause oftheir misery. And then it struck me: I was working with human beings, not machines. Humanbeings are living, biological systems and as such, movement is a sign of life. What wasmissing was a place to stand to choose consciously, moment to moment, and with intent, asa reference point for quality of life for an evolving living system.
The Seventh Logical Level of Choice was born!
Spirituality (Who Else?)
Environment (Where? When?)
Positioned between Beliefs/Value/ Attitudes and Identity, it clearly marksthe point at which the experience of being ‘at cause’ or ‘at effect’ takes place. Itbrings to conscious awareness the line of demarcation between what has always been(Beliefs/Values/Attitudes) and what can become (Identity). And perhaps, most importantly,it drives home the notion that power is not in any particular choice, but in the on-goingability to choose – from one moment to the next – with the experience of’choosing’ producing quality of life.
In a nutshell, the fourth logical level is a reference toculturally-conditioned Self, as expressed through installed beliefs, values and attitudes,while the sixth logical level of Identity is a reference to our own potential: theperpetually unfolding, evolving, possible Authentic Self. With the logical level of Choicepositioned between the two, the question then becomes: do I make choices that are drivenfrom the fourth level, meaning from what I’ve been culturally conditioned to believe istrue, real, valid, authentic? Or do I make choices that are driven from the sixth level,meaning from who I know myself to be capable of becoming? Do I choose from conditioning,which means re-engaging the past? Or do I choose from potential and possibility, whichmeans stepping into the future and inventing my life, one choice at a time?
Without naming, claiming and including that seventh logical level ofChoice; without identifying and legitimizing the level of Choice as the platform on whichto stand while determining our context for choosing, (i.e. do I choose from the past, fromwhat I already know? Or do I choose for the future, stepping into the uncertainty that itcarries?), we go around and around the track, seeking an external point of reference formaking a difference in our own lives.
Without the Logical Level of Choice, and its implication for perpetualmovement (with movement being a sign of life!), Identity easily becomes repetitious,static and lifeless, surrendering our immense potential for growth and evolution. Also,Identity becomes confused with Beliefs/Values/Attitudes. We are easily seduced intothinking that something outside of us is going to make the difference in our lives.Culturally conditioned, we look outside ourselves to others – individuals or systems,be they authority figures, community systems, religious systems, educational systems, etc. to tell us what to do, or to act as our reference points for what constitutes’normal’ or ‘appropriate’. We continue to believe that something other than our owncapacity to decide; our own capacity to reach out, wrap our hands around our own lives,and take what is appropriate and legitimate for us, will direct our lives. As such, wefind ourselves believing to have chosen … and yet feeling like a victim, nonetheless.
Bridging the Gap
The potential that this Logical Level of Choice carries becomes even moreevident when linked to the energy centres in the body. (See The CODE Model 1)These energy centres can easily be linked to direct messages from the body that we havecome to think of as ‘symptoms’ or ‘dis-ease’ and, when bridged with the Levels ofThinking, invite us to consider their meaning with significantly different results.Without going into the full detail, the following is an overview of those areas relatingspecifically to the capacity to choose.
The throat (fifth chakra) is the platform for personal expression. It isalso the gateway to sound; the junction of the internal and the external; the point atwhich information from the Heart (fourth) chakra ‘collides’ with information from theThird Eye (sixth) and its messages of possibility and magnificence. It is at this pointthat I must choose which will direct my life – the past (known, repetition, habit) orthe future (unknown, possibility, potential). It is at the throat that this struggle isplayed out and the resolution is put forward, into physical space and time, for all tohear and know; it is the point at which I either choose to decloak and move toward who Iam capable of becoming, or to stay cloaked, to await the next opportunity for expression with these opportunities never-ending. Life refuses to be subdued.
The first through the fourth chakras carry history (the past); the sixthand the seventh carry possibility (the future). The fifth chakra, at the throat, is thelink between these points in time as well as the platform on which we stand in the”now”. This platform is my connection to what I perceive as the outside world.As I stand on this platform in the present, do I speak from history or do I speak frompossibility? As I choose mindfully, information from the higher chakras moves into thelower ones, disengaging me from multiple dualities and allowing for the integration, inthe full body, of new insights.
The throat is the point at which we choose either to continue to repeatour experience or choose to make different sounds (i.e say ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’) andcreate a new expression of ourselves. Do I continue to express myself from the Heartchakra, which carries history and training, or do I express my Self from the Third Eye,which holds and defines what I am divinely capable of? Do I express in a way that I alwayshave or do I ‘stand tall’ and express something that is much more a reflection of who Iknow my Self to be – and to be capable of becoming.
If there is conflict between the fourth and the sixth chakras, there willlikely be struggle in the throat. If the rules (in the fourth) always bump up against whatI believe is possible (in the sixth) I get tension in the throat: which do I speak myselfto be? When the path clears from the fourth through to the sixth, expression flows easily,smoothly – and is free to change as air moves through the fourth chakra, bringing newinsights and awareness to beliefs, values and attitudes (for example, I have the right tochange my mind.).
The throat is also located at the narrowest, and by extension, mostfragile point in the physical body. Here, the spinal column and major arteries are attheir least protected. In our decision to choose mindfully; to move away from theinfluence of the past, and to allow the uncertainty of the future to guide our selection,we are at our most vulnerable and our most fragile. We risk taking what has been secretand making it public for all to hear, see and judge. To choose is, potentially, to layourselves bare.
Standing at Cause
Naming and claiming the Logical Level of Choice makes visible that whichhas always been transparent to the process. It’s huge in its implications, given that weare choosing at every level. The question then becomes: are we choosing mindfully, or arewe mindlessly dancing to habituated responses? Positioning it at the level of the fifthchakra – a very high level – draws our attention to our vehicle for self-expression (soundand speech), as well as to the profound implications of choice, which are about unfoldingidentity, Self, who I AM in the world.
Until we mindfully, consciously choose to be greater than our experience,our experience will be what defines who we are. And since our experience is limited, wetoo, will fall short of what holds power and possibility for us. To make Choice aconscious, mindful act at all Logical Levels is to bring out of the darkness the very actof power which, by default, is causing us to hold and maintain the status quo. Anything wecan name, we can make real and visible in the universe.
I am deeply grateful to have been taught so well by the lessons learnedthrough the work of Bateson and Dilts. Like all things in life, growth is a naturalprogression through a living system. Logical Levels of Thinking is just that, a livingsystem that allows for the structure of thought to be made visible … and invitechoice. The addition of the seventh logical level of thinking allows us to consider thestructure of ‘choosing’, make it visible … and give us the power to live withattention, intention and an invitation to continue to unfold … forever … .
The WEL-Systems® Model for Change: A non-therapy context
The WEL-Systems® approach to change has helped thousands of peopletake back their lives. It is a context for change that doesn’t just tell people that theyare in charge of their own lives, it helps them to rediscover the natural expression ofthis and become willing to reclaim it. Both willingness and ability must be present if weare to engage life.
The book “Fully Alive: Awakening Health, Humor, Compassion and Truth” introduces the notions, with”Phoenix Rising: The Freeing of Human Potential ” providing a theoretical framework for Quantum TLC™ as anintervention.
In general, consider the following:
The WEL-Systems approach is the context (Intention).
The CODE Model is the roadmap; the framework for enquiry (Attention).
Quantum TLC™ is the experience/intervention, not as technique but as a state of being (Invitation).
In conclusion, NLP as a body of knowledge has given us the language todescribe the results that we have observed. In other words, NLP has allowed us to bringstructure to that which thought has produced and slow it down sufficiently so that we cancalibrate it with the clarity of content. However, what we have overlooked is that what isnow available to us, given what we have discovered in the last 15 years, is to begin toaccess directly the very process that produces the results that NLP has described!
As we move beyond a therapy context, the divisions of ‘conscious’ and’unconscious’ mind disappear and are replaced with an awareness that these are like theback and the front of the same hand, with separation an illusion. There is only one Forceand it is always moving as one Force. It is the therapy model that has demanded that wecreate artificial distinctions and dichotomize that which is most potent when engaged as awhole.
Science now tells us much about the body that was unknown as recently as15 years ago. It is not about good/bad, right/wrong. It is about usefulness. Does it serveus to continue to create these constructs? Do they support our own unfolding andexpressing ourselves with the full magnitude of our own potential?
As we begin to reclaim the territory of the body, and trust the brillianceof the instrument that we already are, we become able to engage that 7th Logical Levelexpression – Spirituality – that we all so desperately seek. It is possible to teachNLP in that 7th Level context and help people learn to trust themselves. Once thishappens, the miracles are only seconds behind the discovery.
For at least 100 years, our perception of what a human being is and whatwe are capable of has been shaped by what has come to be known as the ‘therapy’ model,with all its sub-sets of particular styles of intervention (i.e. Freud, Rogers, Jung,etc.). The therapy model is just that … a model or an opinion … and yet is takenas ‘fact’ and ‘truth’ around the world. Perhaps what we are perceiving as our limitationsas human beings are nothing more than the limitations of the model. Not only may thisworld view no longer serve us, it may actually have become a part of the problem.
1 The WEL-Systems® model or world view is described indetail “Fully Alive: Awakening Health, Humor, Compassion and Truth” . The details of the Seventh Logical Level ofThinking and its implications as a practical, working tool for decoding the messages fromthe body, linked to the chakras or energy centres in the body, can be found in theaudio program called “Pathways to Personal Power”. The combination of thisnew, powerful and ground-breaking context for change (WEL-Systems®) and itsinstrument for practical application (The CODE Model) have become the invitation forchange known as Quantum TLC™ and can be found in detail in “Phoenix Rising: TheFreeing of Human Potential”. (Both books and the CD’s are authored by Louise LeBrun.)
If you enjoyed this article, additional information is provided on the CD sets Pathways to Personal Power and Guided Reflections – Energy and the Chakras and also in the book Phoenix Rising also by Louise LeBrun
Original Copyright © 2001 Louise LeBrun; updated 2008
First published in Rapport, November 2001