by Anita Burns
Minds are amazing things, yet we so often ignore them or take them for granted. Sometimes our minds are scattered, chaotic, rebellious, confused or depressed. At other times minds are sharp, alert, clear, steady. Most of the time our minds are somewhere in between or flipping from one state another like a TV remote-control gone berzerk. We tolerate this because we really don’t know how to be different, or we just ignore our errant mind. Like a dripping faucet or a lamp that must be jiggled before it will work, we become accustomed to the way our mind runs the show and just plod on in the same old ways.
Too often, when we are dissatisfied with our errant mind, we don’t know how to control it or make it better or different. Some people believe that, just like the trees in a forest, some are naturally tall and strong while others are small and scraggly. After all we can’t all be like Mozart or Picasso. Or can we?
The mind is a powerful tool. With it we discovered uses for electricity, invented the wheel, developed computer technology, found ways to cure illness and learned how to land on the Moon and Mars. Why is it that such power is so often out of control? The mind makes us feel bad when we don’t want to. It makes us react in ways we know are unproductive and harmful. It represses feelings we don’t want to face instead of changing them. Parts of it compels us to indulge in habits that other parts want to stop.
Is the mind the brain? Who knows. A doctor might say “yes”while a Swami would say “no”. Mind or brain, it is too powerful a resource to remain helter-skelter, out of sorts with itself. Fears, doubts, confusion and conflicts are all energy-wasting symptoms of a mind beyond our control.
We teach our bodies to behave. We learn to write, dance, walk, eat without slobbering, sit still, practice yoga, or lift weights. What have we taught our mind? Only information, beliefs, reactions to itself and the outside world. We have not taught our mind to behave when we want it to, to change phobic reactions, to be quiet, or examine and then let go of pain.
Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) is the way to do all this and more. NLP is the finishing school of the mind. It is not just more information. It a method for using the vast knowledge we already have for our highest good. It the ability to use our mind rather than our mind using us. NLP is not a philosophy, belief or creed in itself. It is a way to use what you already know in the best possible way.
Some familiar teachings for those on the spiritual path are: give in to love; forgive yourself and others; let go of anger, hatred, selfishness and greed; have faith and never doubt; affirmations bring prosperity; and, be one with your higher self. These are all wonderful things to do, but rarely is the aspirant given specific instructions on how to do them. “Practice” seems to be the best advice many teachers can offer. But internal conflict, struggle, confusion and pain are often the results of trying to do these things without really knowing how our mind is running the show. “To know God, you must first know yourself” is a familiar teaching in many spiritual schools. NLP is a way to know yourself and therefore know
Although NLP is not a package for instant enlightenment and material success, it is a set of tools to use to bring change to yourself and to others who want assistance. If you are going to repair a computer you would not use tools made for unclogging a sink. NLP tools are specialized for specific changes. What you use them for is up to you. A familiar NLP saying is “If the only tool you have in your tool box is a hammer, you tend to treat the world like a nail.”
NLP is a set of tools for working with the mind. If you think you are already the master of your mind just try to focus on one thought, word or picture for ten minutes. Try describing a painful experience to someone without feeling pain or anger. Try suddenly changing a habit, even a little one. Try reacting differently to a phobia.
Will and mind often seem to be at odds. NLP provides you with a set of tools for achieving harmony. NLP allows you to know what tools you already have and how to use them in ways you didn’t know possible, and it allows you to know what tools you still need, how to get them and use them.