If the field of NLP as such involves and encourages a basic mindfulness, the Meta-States Model takes mindfulness to the next level.  It does this by the emphasis in APG (Accessing Personal Genius) where we introduce the Meta-States Model by emphasizing several meta-skills: the ability to step back, to transcend and include, to expand one’s perspective, and to
reflexively move up the psycho-logical levels.

At the essence of mindfulness is an openness to experience.  NLP begins this with a strong emphasis on coming to one’s senses and being open to the moment, to the here-and-now.  Yet experience is not a monolithic thing.Instead it has multiple levels and this is where the Meta-States Model really excels.  By embracing it fully, holding it, including it, you can
then step back from the current moment experience, and transcend it as you embrace the beliefs and understanding and other meta-level perspectives that hold it in place.  Do that and you begin to become mindful not only of the first level of the experience, but its meta-levels.

By including and transcending the experience, you gain a larger-level perspective of it.  Now you begin to become aware and open to the multiple levels of meanings that create the experience, that hold it in place, that enable it to be what it is.  This is the reflective awareness that takes mindfulness to the next level.  It enables you to develop a more expansive
openness to the more hidden but higher levels of your mind-body system. What any experience is- is not fully described or explicated at the primary level.  That’s just the grounding level.

Above and beyond the primary level of any experience are the meta-levels of the mind.  These are the levels that enable the experience to be what it is.These are the levels that create the experience.  Here we have understanding and beliefs and identities and permissions and decisions and dozens upon dozens of other meta-levels.  And given that in the book, Neuro-Semantics (2012), I identified 104 meta-levels, and four dimensions of meta-levels, you won’t run out of possibilities for expanded meta-level mindfulness any time soon.  This means that we can develop mindfulness along both a wide
range of openness to phenomenon at the primary level as well as a height range.

After all, mindfulness is a meta-state:
An awareness of your thinking-and-feeling experience.
“Why be more conscious? So that consciousness may become conscious of itself.”  (Abby Eagle, Sydney Australia)
Valuing and appreciating this present moment and so being fully present to it.
Witnessing the here-and-now with compassion and without judgment.
Maintaining a calm perspective of witnessing of one’s state (even states of pressure).
Being able to see and hold multiple perspectives simultaneously.
Being playfully adventurous in familiar and repetitive contexts.

>From these definitions of mindfulness and the wide-range of different kinds of mindfulness, these leads us in Neuro-Semantics to see mindfulness as directly correlated with choice and creativity.  Choice requires mindfulness.  It requires expanding and being conscious that in every situation you have multiple choices and are not a victim of some fate that
you can’t control.  Then like Viktor Frankl, you will can always recognize choice as your “ultimate power.”  Even in the concentration camp, he fully maintained his power of choice.  He was mindful enough to recognize that he had choices.  So he could then boldly assert that “they can not make me hate them.”  His emotions were his own.  How high a degree of mindfulness did that require?  A lot!  Even so, it is possible.  When a person doesn’t have a sense of choice, the problem isn’t the lack of choice, only his lack of perceiving it- being mindful of it.

Creativity also requires mindfulness.  It is the opposite, being mindless, that prevents one from seeing possibilities, playing around with curious questions, and being open to what is not yet, but could be.  In her book, Mindfulness (1989) Ellen Langer related mindfulness to creativity.  She posited that conditional statements would lead to being mindful and using
absolute statements would lead to operating in a mindless, automatic way. After showing a relationship between being mindful and creativity she noted that at the heart of creativity is the ability to stay open enough to embrace uncertainty.  Conversely it is the need to be certain that closes the door on creativity.

Regarding this Langer sounded a lot like Korzbyski.  “Teaching facts as absolute truth” she says, leads to mindlessness.  “In most educational settings, the ‘facts’ of the world are presented as unconditional truths, when they might better be seen as probability statements that are true in some contexts, but not in others.”  When we shut out conditions and contexts
we shut down creativity.  When we introduce conditionality, probability, “it depends,” “it could be,” etc. creativity thrives.

“If a theoretical model is presented absolutely, it will be thought absolute and the student may thereafter treat it rigidly.”  “The dampening of creativity in students by unconditional teaching is compounded by most textbooks.  Scientific investigations yield only probability statements and no absolute facts.  Yet these … are presented in textbooks as though they were certain and context-free.” (127, 128)

In embracing uncertainty by being mindful of the conditions and factors at play in a situation, people become more creative.  Here is one powerful meta-state that results in one form of mindfulness.  In being mindful in this way, a person details the specifics of the here-and-now in sensory-specific terms.  This makes one more fully aware of the present
moment.  And this is why training in NLP and Neuro-Semantic inherently develops and enhances the state and meta-states of mindfulness.

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

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THE NEURO-SEMANTICS OF MINDFULNESS

It is not uncommon for people who experience the Meta-States Training that we call Accessing Personal Genius (APG) to come away from it telling others that it is a training in mindfulness.  I have heard this many, many times. Others may not describe APG in those words, but will say that in learning the Meta-States Model, they have added so much to their understanding and competency in being mindful.  Recently I have had several people write and ask where I got the information about mindfulness that they were exposed to in APG.  And a few others have asked that I write more about mindfulness. So here we go.

What do we mean by mindfulness?  To be mindful is to be present to your current situation, aware, appreciative, and in sensory-awareness.  It is to be here-and-now in your awareness.  It is to be conscious of what you are experiencing- present, and not lost in thought about some other time and place.  When a person is not mindful, he or she is somewhere else or worse, may be mindlessly responding in an automatic way from old programs that may or may not be appropriate or useful for today.

Mindfulness fulfills the oft-quoted phrase from Fritz Perls when he said, “Lose your mind and come to your senses.”  The “mind” here is the chatter-box mind where we talk and talk and chatter to ourselves about all kinds of things while experiencing something- chatter that all-too-often causes us to miss the moment.  NLP took this phrase as Perls’ call for
coming into sensory-awareness so that a person sees, hears, feels, smells, and tastes one’s present moment.

The opposite is mindlessness.  Mindlessness speaks about a state of mind wherein we are not present, not conscious of the richness of the moment and so we miss out on the present.  Mindlessness occurs when we use our previous learnings in our ongoing experience of the world.  So instead of experiencing the world in a fresh way, we see it through our categories, judgments, and ideologies.  We then  dismiss things with a flip of the mind, “Oh, that’s X.”  “Oh that’s success.”  “That’s failure.”  “That’s old stuff, I already know that.”  Then, using these constructs we become blind to what is actually available to us.  Korzybski would say that this is seeing and experiencing the world intensionally rather than extensionally (note, it is intensionally, not intentionally).

By way of contrast to the automatic, robotic, and unconscious style of mindlessness, being mindful is responding with our full senses (“mind”), fully conscious of the here-and-now.  Instead of the blind and dull repetition of being mindless, in being mindful we see everything as fresh and new.  We see what we have seen a thousand times as if for the first time.  Maslow described self-actualizing people in this way.  He said they are able to see the thousandth sunrise as if it was the first one ever seen.

Another contrast is that in being mindless we use previous cognitive frameworks (judgments, evaluations, conclusions) rather than being open to the moment-that is, being mindful.  The mindless see but do not really see. “Eyes they have and see not; ears they have and hear not.”  Ellen Langer describes their mindset is that of being “motivated-not-knowing.”  Having decided that one already knows, one turns consciousness off and then dismiss whatever is present, paying it no attention.

Numerous problems can arise from that way of orienting oneself in the world. Langer also describes mindless as being trapped in one’s categories.  When a person lives by one’s labels, categories, classifications, etc. one loses the real world and lives solely in a world of constructs. “Just as mindlessness is the rigid reliance on old categories, mindfulness means the continual creation of new ones.” (Langer, 1989, p. 63).

Being mindful means making distinctions.  This is especially what we train in Coaching Mastery -how to make refined distinctions so that a person can listen so actively and intensely, one seems to enter into an entirely new world.  Whereas being mindless turns off one’s sensory awareness of the present, in mindfulness you come to your senses in a heightened way.  This explains why being mindful and living life from a state of continuous appreciation are so highly correlated.

Being mindful also entails continually creating and trying out new categories for things.  This means being able to re-experience situations and contexts in new ways thereby making the world  that is well-known new and fresh.  In other words, playfulness isn’t just for children.  As an adult you take continue to play and to be playful as you move through life.
You can mindfully play with ideas and categories.  Yet to do so requires an openness that reveals a mental receptivity to new possibilities.

In being mindful, your previous frames for understanding and interpreting a situation are not rigid or static.  You can frame things in ever-new ways. As you learn to reframe in playful and unexpected ways new meanings emerge. Maybe this explains why framing and reframing belong to the mindful- to those with an open and active mind.  The mindful can playfully re-interpret things to their benefit and to the benefit of others.

Being mindful means that you can stay aware of the process of making real choices as you move through the world.  This requires a process orientation, that is, an orientation to reality as a dynamic process, and not a static one.  Being mindful means we are alert to the variables within any decision so that we then think-through our decisions rather than deciding in a
reactive mindless way.

In the APG training that presents the Meta-States Model, mindfulness also shows up in terms of the ability to step back, expand one’s perspective, and reflexively move up the psycho-logical levels.  More about that next week.

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.