Category Archives: Conscious Leadership

Conscious Leadership for leading through emboduing excellence

Big Picture Thinking With NLP

Big Picture thinking - FivechangesSTAYING ALIVE: PART FOUR – BIG PICTURE THINKING. Most problems come from getting the wrong end of the stick .. or of getting hold of an altogether wrong stick! Having an appropriate perspective gives maximum flexibility in any situation. Seeing the big picture is the hallmark of leadership. It is also one of the central elements that makes possible the extraordinary transformation that NLP is known for.

For details on special rates for the next NLP certification training follow this link

Here are a few stories about the practicality of Big Picture thinking

 Big Picure thinking

The King framed in a salvaged toilet seat. Tonga in the nineteen h.

Many years ago, a cargo ship with a consignment of toilet seats was washed ashore on the Pacific nation of Tonga. Western toilets were unknown on the island at that time. But these were put to good use. For many years, through the eighteen hundreds and into the early part of the twentieth century, photographs of the Tongan king could be found in houses across the islands, neatly mounted in an oval wooden frames. If you’re resourceful enough you can make good use for just about anything.

The Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki came to stay with friends in California. While Nanao was sitting in a corner of the room translating his poems into English his friends were busy planning a local action to protest the proliferation of nuclear arms. Nanao looked up and said, “Hey guys, you know we don’t have to survive!” He wasn’t questioning the value of what they were doing. He was suggesting that big picture thinking could empower any plan, and usually allows for more choices and more options.

 big picture thinking avocado Once at a retreat at Manzanita Village, someone working in the kitchen threw out a bag of avocados. She explained by saying that there were no lemons for her to make guacamole. It was a breathtakingly clear example of how easy it is get stuck in self-imposed limitations. How many ways can you use avocados? She was so focused on guacamole that she forgot to ask?

A traveler walking through the Amazon forest realized that he was being stalked by a large panther. The huge cat was about to leap. The traveler began meowing like a kitten. The panther turned and darted back into the forest, as though chased by an invisible force. Was it the surprise of hearing a meowing primate? Was it the absence of fear in the eyes of its intended prey? Was the panther wondering how enormous the mother cat must be if the kitten was six feet tall?

If we get into trouble in life it’s often because we lose perspective. We can often get out of trouble best by changing how we think, changing what we think we know. Asking “Why?” and “How?” finding new answers, and removing some of the imagined limitations and beliefs that had been holding us back.

big picture thinkingJust look at any political discussion on Sunday television in the U.S. and it soon becomes clear that most of the arguments are based on unexamined assumptions. It’s like three people arguing about the shape of an elephant, one looking at it head-on, one from the side, and one from the rear. They are all looking at the same animal, but they assume that theirs is the only possible position on which to stand.

I was speaking to someone today about Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), and saying how people get confused by the many brilliant techniques it is known for, and think that’s what NLP is. All those amazing techniques are simply the products of NLP. They come out of NLP. The essence of NLP is much simpler. Part of it has to do with looking for the big picture, looking at what works, how it works, and then finding ways to change your own actions based on that, in order to get more effective results for yourself. For example, a person standing in front of a charging elephant needs to know how to get out of the way. NLP is concerned first with how to move from A to B, how to get out of the way of that charging elephant, and how to stay out of the way. Knowing why the elephant is charging may be useful information, even though it’s not the first question to ask.

elephant-charge-five-changesjpg Big Picure thinking

Get out of your own way!

One of the key principles of NLP is flexibility, knowing what question to ask and when, being willing and able to change your perspective and acting accordingly. Like using a zoom lens, to zoom in or out.  It’s essential to be able to do both and it’s essential to know when to do so. Seeing the big picture is important, and so is filling in the details. The key is to know when to apply what. Confronted with a charging elephant the issue is one of survival. At another time you can ask a question other than the one your body answers automatically when confronted with that charging elephant,

Once you’ve saved yourself from being trampled by the elephant, a good question to ask in order to see a bigger big picture is “For what purpose?”

For what purpose ..
.. do I unconsciously put myself in the path of charging elephants?
.. am I getting into a dysfunctional situation just like others I’ve been in?
.. is that person spending time doing something they detest?

When we take a less than perfect course of action, in any situation, it’s often because we have not yet uncovered some of our hidden motivations and agendas. “For what purpose am I doing what I’m doing?”

We tell our clients that they are doing the best they can according to what they know, or according to what they think is possible. And that our work with them is to help them to know more .. not just knowing intellectually, but tapping into a deeper knowing and trusting. It means learning to look at a bigger picture so that they have more options and choices. Asking the question, “For what purpose?” is a great place to start.

For more information about learning the tools of Neurolinguistics (NLP) follow this link.

Mediation, nlp, spiritual practice, Neuro lingusitic programing, Hypnosis, personal development, unconscious mind, Big Picture Thinking, NLP certification training, lose perspective Gain perspective, Neurolinguistic Programming, Big Picture Thinking, how NLP works, NLP flexibility, look at a bigger picture, How do I see the big picture.

Re-Define Creativity. Life Coaching Tools – Blog and Podcast

Michele Benzamin-Miki Re-Define CreativitySTAYING ALIVE: PART THREE – RE-DEFINE CREATIVITY. We have to be honest, we’re biased in favor of people with a creative sensibility, whether they’re artists, designers, photographers, musicians, writers, performers, or simply people who bring the spirit of creativity and spontaneity into their lives. Here’s five reasons why.

Life coaching tools and resources from Five Changes

1. To be human is to be creative. Creativity is the essence of human experience. It is change and innovation, experimentation, wonder, curiosity, or the simple desire to do something new. We express it as play, travel, conversation, work, day-dreaming, and lovemaking. Everything is enhanced by the quality of creativity we bring to our life. Repetitive tasks can be transformed by changing your thought or intention behind that task, or by simply changing how you do it. Creativity is what gives you choice; to stretch, to challenge yourself, to play, and to grow. Creativity is not just for children and artists, it’s our life-blood. It’s how we stay alive.

2. Play. Let’s play! Creativity is as simple as a child’s laughter, spontaneous and free. How much can you let yourself feel? What is more important than your ability to wonder and respond, or to see with new eyes, hear with new ears  .. another’s face, another’s words, sunset or sunrise, what was called in classical Chinese, “the ten-thousand things” – the whole wide world. Creativity is the pleasure of being present to the world. Why not ask yourself when you wake up in the morning, “How much pleasure can I let myself feel today?”

Re- Define creativity - communication - play

3. Communication. Creativity is communication. Wherever we happen to live, our language is the roof and walls, the windows and doors of our experience. Even in silence, how we speak to ourselves will define how we experience the world. Our words are constantly changing. No two sentences are alike. How we speak is how we make friends and allies, or how we make enemies. It’s how we tell the world who we are. If actions speak louder than words, then actions are the verification of the internal conversation we have with ourselves.

4. Self-care. Creativity is how we care for ourselves. The impulse for innovation and change, the instinct to adapt, or to celebrate, to pause or to move forward. Whether through unrestrained improvisation or a ritual act, through an artist spending a lifetime on a body of work or a spontaneous instant, the confluence of elements that make for a perfect moment. There’s something about living at the edge of your comfort zone, and dancing with the unpredictable and spontaneous creative. True self-care is also cultivating your limitless imagination.

5. Problem Solving. Everyone has challenges, everyone is faced with change. Creativity is an essential element for problem-solving and fluid adaptation. Sometimes just doing what you have never done before to address an old familiar problem is all you need to do to change everything, including your sense of whatever it is being the problem you thought it was.

Re-define creativity exercise play self-care

Exercise, Re- Define Creativity for your self: Here’s a simple strategy you can use – to start a new project, or inspire you when you’re stuck. Take a book, a large book is always best, and open it at random. Point to a word on the page without looking. Then write the word down. Repeat this two more times. Now you have three words selected at random. Use those words, whatever they may mean or signify to you, to come up with a new approach to your problem or project. For more on mentoring, training and coaching follow this link.

Creativity. Life Coaching Tools – Blog and Podcast, Life coaching tools and resources Eating Meditation, Define Creativity, Developing your instinct , Deizing the moment, Walking Meditation, How to fix procrastination, Cultivating Perfect Timing, dreativity, play, communication, self-care, problem solving, creativity definition, Re-Define Creativity, mediation, nlp, spiritual practice, Neuro linguistic programming, Hypnosis, personal development, unconscious mind.


Two Things To Know About Change

 Two Things To Know About Change


What does not change / is the will to change. Charles Olson

I noticed, years ago, that most of the Buddhists I knew turned the notion of change into an absolute principle. “Don’t get too excited about anything, because it will fade away and disappear before you know it.” They had made it into a ‘thing’ called Impermanence with unspoken hints of nihilistic resignation; at least, that’s how it came across.

Then I thought of that well-known George Gershwin song:

“The way you hold your knife,
the way we danced ’til three,
The way you changed my life,
no, no, they can’t take that away from me.”

and remembered that although everything does indeed change, the impressions that each thing leaves can be very different.

Which brings me to the second thing to know about change, that Big, Life-changing, ‘rock you to your foundations’ change can be easy, long-lasting, and truly transformational,

Many people fear that such change is difficult, scary, hard to come by, and probably only effective for other people! But that’s simply not the case.  Faith and doubt bear equal fruits. In other words, we fulfill our own expectations, whether we expect to or not!  So when you set your expectations high and learn to get out of your own way you can’t not achieve them!  .. like the little boy who dreamed of flying and grew up helping Wilbur Wright to invent airplanes.

Things to know about change:

Fast, long-lasting change is within your reach, and two things are necessary to achieve it; Here are the things to know about change:

  1. clarity to know where you want to go
  2. and the means to get you there i.e. the skills you need, and the people to support you, guide you, and hold you accountable to move through the obstacles you encounter on the way.


Two Things To Know About Change, What does not change, the will to change, dont fear change, fearing change, change can be easy, clarity to know where you want to go, Mediation, NLP, spiritual practice, Neuro linguistic programming, Hypnosis, personal development, unconscious mind,


Five changes: NLP Questions and Answers.

We Get to Ask questions!?I

Five changes: NLP Questions and Answers

NLP Questions & AIf you missed the call/webcast  last Friday you can still catch the recording at

We only had time to answer some of your questions. So here are a few more.

Thanks to everyone for your participation and energy. Most of these questions have a relevance beyond NLP, or our Five Changes NLP training. There’s a bigger picture here that has to do with change, transformation, and healing of all kinds.

Q: What are the possible negative outcomes for taking the training and doing this work?

This will apply to any genuinely transformational work that changes you from being the victim of circumstances to living your life at choice. Think of all people who have done amazing things in their life, sometimes against all odds. Some may be iconic heroes, like Mandela, or Oprah, or Cesar Chavez, others may be people you know. You may even be one of them yourself. Think about it! Think of people who have beaten the odds to do something extraordinary.

At some point they refused to put up with excuses for not doing what they knew they could do, what they had to do .. whether it was changing the world or dealing with some personal misfortune.

When you change what you are willing to tolerate in your life, whether it’s a bad situation or negative people, some doors may close. But others will open. When it becomes more important to you to face your challenges, than to continue hanging out with the situations and people who reinforce your excuses for not changing, you may lose some of those friends. But that may not actually be a bad thing, It may not be a negative outcome. You may have to change some of the things you do and places where you hang out. That may not be a bad thing either. But anyway, consider yourself warned ..

Q: Are NLP and hypnosis the same? How are they related?

milton_erickson NLP Questions & A

Milton Erikson

Yes and no. Hypnosis and NLP are certainly related, and share some common ground. But you can practice NLP without any formal reference to hypnosis, and there are numerous styles of hypnotherapy that make no overt use of NLP techniques. Consider hypnosis as simply the means to bypass the rational mind in order to effect deep long-lasting healing and change by accessing unconscious mental and neurological patterns. Based on that, then NLP and hypnosis certainly have a lot in common.

Some people are intrigued by hypnosis. Hypnosis may seem exotic and mysterious. Actually, hypnosis is a daily occurrence for all of us. As the great Milton Erikson said, “Most people walk around in a trance of disempowerment, our work is to change that into a trance of empowerment.” We are using the words hypnosis and trance interchangeably.

You will learn more about the amazing Milton Erikson during our training. His use of Conversational Hypnosis is very much a part of our NLP curriculum.

Q: I’ve heard people speak of ‘NLP magic’ and would love to know what that means.

It used to take weeks, or even months, to get people to overcome a phobia. In the traditional behaviorist methodology curing a phobia is a long process of gradual desensitization.

With NLP we can effectively remove a phobic reaction in just a few minutes, permanently. People find it hard to believe that something that used to take so long can now be done so quickly; but in NLP rapid permanent positive change is commonplace.

Q: What else can NLP change?

If you can quickly and permanently change a phobia, something that used to be considered so hard to change, do you think it might be possible to identify and change a limiting belief? Or a deep-rooted negative emotional pattern? Or compulsive or addictive behaviors and habits? Do you think common fears, like fear of public speaking, might also be something you might be able to change pretty easily?

One of the things we teach students of NLP is the importance of letting go of negative expectations of their clients. Studies have shown that clients and patients tend to fulfill the expectations of those they go to for help. Even completely unexpressed expectations are like self-fulfilling prophesies.

This may be one of the fundamental problems with traditional diagnostic approaches. Diagnoses are valuable, but only as ways to identify problems. If the diagnosis defines the client, or patient, it places them inside a box. But the client is always more than that box. Likewise, the cure, or the transformation, is always more than the conventional prognosis.

You don’t have to believe in miracles. More than fifty percent of remissions from ‘in-curable’ illness is unexplainable by conventional means.  These are already ‘miracle’ cures. In other words, for those fifty percent something changed on an unconscious level to make healing possible.

NLP has always been very curious about how this happens..

Q: How’s is NLP done?

We don’t have time to cover all the details. But the simple answer is that we all create our deepest reality, our inner landscape, our responses to the world, through the words and images that we use for mental access and recall. It is much easier to change those words, images, and the meanings associated with them than anyone realized back in the days when behaviorism and psychoanalysis, and related disciplines, were the only games in town.

NLP uses very specific ways to help people change how they represent and perceive the world they live in. We use a wide range of inductive techniques.In the NLP training we teach you how you can continue to develop ways to do the same for yourself, and others. You may take NLP into a therapeutic situation, a classroom or training room, or you may use it from the stage. The tools and techniques are applicable to almost any situation.

If you are working with clients you will have the tools to effectively change the physical, emotional, behavioral, social, professional, and even spiritual dynamics of their life.

Q: Can I talk to Caitriona or Michele about this training before I register, and will I still get the special price?

If you have worked with either of us privately in past the couple of years we do have a special offer for you if you would like to join us for this. The offer is good through the end of this month. So call us before March 31st

A Story

change NLP Questions & A Once a client came out of desperation – as clients sometimes do – having exhausted all other options. She had chronic back pain from an auto accident years before. She had had several surgeries; had been to neurologists, acupuncturists, and pain doctors. She had been to a psychiatrist at a well-known Los Angeles university hospital who gave her pain medication on condition that she had sex with him. He told her that she would have back pain for the rest of her life. He also told her that if she ever mentioned his sexual abuse he would claim that she was psychotic and delusional.

She came to me for hypnotherapy. After one session her pain was gone. A year later she reported that she had no recurrence of the pain. Such cases help me remember how powerful these tools for change really are. Does that mean her pain was not real? Of course not! It had been very real for her .. for years. Does it mean those other healthcare professionals were incompetent? Aside from the psychiatrist, they were all probably very good at what they did. It is simply that she came to me at a moment when she was truly ready for change. Fortunately the tools I have were able to catalyze that change in an effective and permanent way.

The deepest change is often not about the symptoms. Effecting change is often a matter of helping people to claim their power back, and remember who they are. People may come with ‘incurable’ problems. But those problems are incurable only because the person had learned to believe them to be so.

We do not claim that hypnosis or NLP trumps every other healing or transformational modality. Amazing transformation takes place in many contexts and through many healing modalities.

We do say that there are huge possibilities for the deepest sort of healing outside of the traditional paradigm; and that deep healing often takes place beyond known and familiar territories.


We Get to Ask questions, Do we get questions!?, Do we get questions!?, What are the possible negative outcomes for taking the training and doing this work? victim of circumstances, genuinely transformational work, NLP and hypnosis, What else can NLP change?, questions on deep change,  Mediation, NLP, spiritual practice. Neuro linguistic programming, Hypnosis, personal development, unconscious mind.

NLP Meta States

NLP Meta States:

All things splendid have been achieved by those who dared to believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances. Bruce Barton

NLP Meta StatesIn the 80’s and 90’s I used to go for month-long retreats in Southwestern France to study with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Master, who was our teacher for many years. One of his constant themes, and something he would repeat over and over again, was that whenever strong negative emotions came up in our meditations, we should treat them kindly. He suggested simply being mindful whenever resentment, anxiety, regret, self-judgment or similar emotions came up; and instead of pushing them away, to treat them with the same respect and affection you might treat a good friend in need. Listen to them, be kind to them.

What would happen to your relationship with a friend in need if you were to judge them, show impatience and anger, or try to ignore them when they showed up?

The suggestion was to develop a relationship with those difficult emotions as you would with a friend. When you do. You can be sure that those emotions will cause you less grief in future encounters with them. It’s not that they won’t show up any more, it’s that your relationship to them begins to  change. This is a basic strategy of mindfulness training; simple, though not necessarily easy to do.

Go on, beat yourself up! You do it so well!

Unless you do something different than just fighting and blindly resisting negative emotions you will never learn the valuable information they carry. You never get to truly heal the deep wounds that we all carry. Worse than that, you end up compounding the negatives:
– beating yourself up about beating yourself up
– getting angry at yourselves for getting angry
– shaming yourselves for failures, weaknesses, your lack of confidence
– having anxiety in anticipation of anxiety or fear
in a repeating pattern of neurotic loops.

Those layers of resistance accumulate and compound, creating a tangle so dense that it seems almost impossible to ever extricate yourself.

NLP Meta states   

Those meditation instructions echo the ” NLP meta state ” model of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which I use now, to great effect with clients who have no experience of, and no particular interest in meditation.

The common key, and the starting point, is Awareness. You begin by simply being aware of the negative emotional state. As if you were with a good friend who was in trouble; you listen to it. You accept it as it is. Later you begin to evaluate the emotion. Is this state valid? Is it appropriate? Am I digging up some old reaction that is completely outdated in the present circumstances? Can I learn from this? What is it telling me?

Asking clear questions with awareness is the first step of becoming  master of your emotions. Most people don’t develop even this basic skill; or if they do, it is haphazard at best. But if you could learn to handle the infinite progression of emotional states, as they happen, with alignment and clear focus – imagine what would then become possible! You can transform all the emotional patterns that limit who you are, and what you can do.

What I am describing is a way of handling your emotions so that you can play the game of life in an entirely new way, with resilience, resourcefulness, energy, and creativity! And because treating it as ‘play’, may just be the one of the best ways to embody those qualities!

Welcome to the NLP Meta State -Zone!

In previous blogs I described how to use NLP Meta States. There are many ways of doing so, and after  you become familiar with the process, you will be able to adapt it and create your own unique approach.

I gave you an example of taking a negative emotional state and then gradually accessing  its higher level underlying intention. Grief and loss was the initial negative state, and I moved from there to joy and gratitude as its higher level intention, using four intermediate states to get there. I layered each state one on the other, until I was immersed in the joy and gratitude.

Here is another approach to creating NLP Meta States. You begin in the same way, asking what the underlying highest purpose behind the negative emotion is. Then you go directly to it, and move  backwards to find the sequence that connects it to the original negative emotion. Once again you are layering state upon state, to transform that negative emotion.

Recently I experienced a strange and unfamiliar fear. I was about to stand up at a large gathering of entrepreneurs to publicly acknowledge someone from whom I had learned some life-changing lessons, and for whom I felt profound gratitude. My fear kept me paralyzed in silence. Then I examined it to explore it a little. I began simply with an awareness of the fear, and an acknowledgement that it was there for a reason. I realized that underneath my fear there was a stronger feeling – my gratitude. My gratitude had been buried under old habits, and emotional triggers that had lost their relevance years ago. That awareness alone was enough to shift my focus in such a way that the fear disappeared completely. As I tracked back from gratitude, through layers of love, celebration, energy, I found that I couldn’t even access the fear any more. The fear was now the messenger of profound gratitude.

The use of this powerful process called NLP Meta States are something we use to help our clients learn to live with clarity, focus, and purpose. There are some amazing ways of using them that are impossible to describe fully here, but I hope you get a sense of how it works. NLP Meta States are also something we cover in depth in our NLP Certification training.



NLP Meta States, resisting negative emotions, being aware of the negative emotional state,  emotional patterns, how to reach NLP meta states. Mediation, NLP, spiritual practice, Neuro lingusitic programming, Hypnosis, personal development, unconscious mind.

Your Life: Just Getting By?

It is Your Life

Eeyore and your life

Eeyore – that great archetype for resignation and low expectations gets his tail nailed back on .. coping with a bad situation in the only way he knows.

Someone recently commented how much they appreciated that Five Changes helped so many people to ‘cope.’ I was taken aback until I realized that ‘coping’ may be all that many people have come to expect—that just ‘coping’ is enough. Tell me it’s not true for you!

How much does defeatism and resignation play out in your life? In what ways have you learned to accommodate disappointment? We have all felt and expressed negativity at some time or other, often without realizing it. You might even say that it is completely natural – whatever natural means.

But the truth is that we are wired to feel good, not bad, and that in feeling good we function better, help others more, are more creative, see more options and possibilities .. and live as a celebration of life, rather than as a denial of it .. benefiting the entire universe along the way—because in the end isn’t that our imperative – to celebrate, and make our celebration contagious?

It sounds pretty obvious doesn’t it? But there’s more; and I wouldn’t want you to imagine that I am suggesting we take on a Pollyannaish approach to everything.

Negative emotions are not bad, they are simply misunderstood. As Michele pointed out in another piece she wrote, they are opportunities and gifts.

What does your anger, your impatience, your fear etc. tell you about your love, your values, your desires in your life?

What do negative (difficult) emotions tell you about being, living, responding to life in ways that are different from what you are doing in that moment when the negative emotion comes up?

What does your outrage at political hubris, for example, tell you about your love of honesty and integrity?

What does your rage at violence and injustice tell you about your love?

What does fear or frustration tell you about your own talents and creativity, and your desire to express them and put them out into the world?

Recognizing the creative power buried in the negative emotion/experience is the first step to standing in your own authentic power to impact the world .. not necessarily as a ‘leader’, but more importantly, as the leader of your life !

How you begin to harness it is the next step ..

Your life, Just Getting By? How much does defeatism and resignation play out in your life? What do negative (difficult) emotions tell you about living? leader of your own life. Mediation, NLP, spiritual practice, Neuro lingusitic   programming, Hypnosis, personal development, unconscious mind.

Meta-States and Negative emotions

Meta-States and Negative emotions: When Bad Emotions Turn Good

Cloudy. Chance of Rainbows!

Image: Cloudy. Chance of Rainbows. Meta-States

Watercolor+Ink © Michele Benzamin-Miki

Wouldn’t it be great if negative emotions such as anger, sadness, disappointment, and fear, didn’t drain you, confuse you, overwhelm you, or cloud your thinking? Wouldn’t it be great if you learned to use them to bring you more energy, clarity, resourcefulness, even more happiness? Wouldn’t it be great if they became the very best way for you to solve problems and awaken your creativity?

Emotions occur for a reason. They also occur because of a choice you make; or made in the past. Which means that emotions are often based on long-established patterns and habits.

Anger. Fear. Sadness. Go for it!

Think of negative emotions as signals; information you can use to catalyze change; to regain balance, for example; or to trigger deeper degrees of happiness, confidence, joy, equilibrium, excitement.

Think of negative emotions as friends. When an apparently debilitating emotion pays you a visit, what they are doing is reminding you that something is off-balance. Invite them in, ask yourself, “What can I learn here?” Imagine that your friend is bringing you a gift. Ask yourself “How will this .. anger, sadness, disappointment, fear ..  serve me?”

This is the beginning of learning to become a true artist of your states of mind and emotions.

When you learn to use your self-reflective capacity in a particular way, you create the space around these strong emotions so that they won’t trigger you. Some spiritual practices use an observational approach to  meditation. Yet there is a tendency to simply switch from negative to positive, thereby missing the opportunity to use the momentum behind the negative emotion. Certainly, there are times when we need to switch off and experience calm and peace; but if that’s all we do, we miss huge opportunities for genuine and permanent transformation.

Meta-States. The complete and utter transformation of negative emotions

For a few years I had been caretaking my father who is in the middle stages of dementia. He is living in a Catholic facility where all his needs are attended too. Several years ago, when I visited him there, I felt profound sadness. Once my sadness was so strong that I felt it would be dangerous for me to drive. It was as if I was intoxicated with my sadness! So I went back to the small chapel in the building. I just let the feelings be there. Then I began to use my skills to create Meta-States from the sadness. Using Meta-States begins with the question, ”What is the highest intention of this sadness? What is its greatest purpose?”

The answer I got was, “Get back to the joy!” My natural joy was inside, underneath, and behind the sadness. It was a question of simply taking the time to recognize it. In fact, it was a little more than just recognizing that simple fact. Working with Meta-States is a specific way to change deeply ingrained patterns we sometimes use to limit ourselves with emotions we imagine happen to us. They help us learn that we are doing them, and that with skill we can navigate them to effect a complete transformation.

In simplest terms, when you use a Meta-State, you are moving to a resourceful internal experience from the starting point of a self-limiting experience. Of course, there are specific ways to do this. (which we will cover in a later article).

Meta-States is something that comes out of NLP. Despite much confusion, NLP is actually very simple. It is the ongoing investigation and replication of what works best, for the greatest benefit of all concerned.

If the question is, “How do people who remain unshakably happy maintain their happiness, even in the face of setbacks, disappointments, and even tragedy?” Then the answer is, “By applying the specific Meta-States that those people use. In other words, Meta-States is a strategy, a sequence of inner shifts, that you can learn to use in order to bypass old debilitating emotional downward spirals.

Now when I visit my father, my sadness immediately expands out to joy. It happens so quickly that I hardly recognize it as sadness.

There is a Japanese word that actually translates to ‘happy-sad.’ I learned to appreciate what this word meant from my own experience. Not only did I reap the benefits of transforming my sadness, I have learned to hone my skill in developing Meta-States in just about any situation that comes my way.

Of course, there is the added benefit that when you take responsibility to feel good, others feel good around you. Not only is my old Dad happier to see me, but the staff and the nurses noticeably perk up whenever I show up. They’ve even told me as much.

.. Spread the Joy!

Meta-States is part of our Five Changes NLP Master Certification training, and is also one of the key skills we teach to our clients.


When bad emotions turn good, Meta-States and Bad emotions, Which means that emotions are often based on ,long-established patterns and habits.  negative emotions as signals, turn negative emotions into friends, your states of mind and emotions, transformation of negative emotions, Get back to the joy! Mediation, nlp, spiritual practice, Neuro lingusitic   programming, Hypnosis, personal development, unconscious mind.



After the Storm: I remember that day…

I remember that day .. and a Request

To listen to audio Podcast Click Here

This morning I woke after a night of deep sleep. For a moment I wondered where I was. Then I remember that I am in my own bed, in my own house, in the place in the mountains of Southern California that we call home.

After days of thunderstorms and rain the air is heavy and smells rich and fresh – even more than usual. As I open the front door I startle into flight a Great Horned Owl who recently took up residence in the trees outside the house. The first strenuous beats of her wings are loud in the still air, then she glides in silence to rest in another tree.

At that moment, and for the hours since then (it is now mid-morning) I know with absolute certainty the truth of  .. let’s call it The Big Picture .. that the universe is in order, that everything is perfectly balanced; regardless of our collective behavior and preoccupations, regardless of the circumstances of the world.

I remember that it’s up to me, to each one of us, to get into step with ourselves; to live our lives; to each commit, you could say, to our singular destinies  – whatever we each imagine that to be. I remember that everything we do, that the actions we take, and the results that we get, come out of that – let’s call it balance, alignment, integrity. I am not talking about a sequence here; first we get in touch, then we act. I’m simply saying that taking action without a sense of ‘destiny’ is in vain, depleting, and blind.

People who know me say that I tend towards enthusiasm; some might even say that my enthusiasm can lean towards the fanatical. Perhaps it’s just my certainty (I’m smiling), or perhaps it’s foolishness. So for many years I was a committed  (fanatical) exponent of the power of living in the present moment. As a meditation teacher it is what I did for a living. I shied away from ‘New Age’ versions of spirituality, finding them diluted and unappealing. I despised Affirmations! I imagined that ‘spiritual’ work, and the universe we inhabit, was much more complex, more challenging, than the simplistic mindset I associated with Affirmations.

Then cracks appeared in my internal model of the universe. I was certainly rooted in traditions, beliefs, and a spiritual practice that is inherently fluid. But institutions and human proclivities, including my own, can turn anything bitter.

I realized that unacknowledged disappointment, and my own resignation to it, had colored my world. I realized I had embraced (distorted) certain beliefs as a substitute for my own unresolved sense of sorrow. I also realized that there was nothing for me to do but heed the call, accept complete responsibility, change whatever wasn’t working, and move on.

Clumsily I began. And now, years later, speaking out loud to this morning, I say, “What an amazing and magnificent day it is! What an unlikely and surprising universe I live in! What a blessed life I lead with nothing to do except what I choose to do; and nothing to say except what to the best of my ability expresses the truth of this moment.”

And so I affirm, not a hope for the future, but a reality in the present that drives forward to help me re-imagine the future. And the movement is rooted, as it must always be, in a powerful and positive emotional state.

As we have learned, everything depends on your emotional state, and of course, only you can be responsible for that.

It doesn’t get any simpler!

Request. Can you help please?

Michele and I must hold some sort of record for never really settling on a tag line for Five Changes. If you know us, or if we’ve been on your radar, and you are a little unclear about what we do these days, we can’t blame you. If you are a recent client, or even came to a workshop, or trained with us in NLP, you may have an idea of what we actually do. If not, it’s not a complete surprise!

We’ve been brainstorming tag-lines and currently have these three, none of which quite hit the mark. Or do they? Let us know.

Which works best? Which inspires you most, or conveys best what you think we do? Any alternative suggestions are most welcome? Please let us know. We’d really appreciate your input.

Negative Self-talk Part 3

Be receptive towards the heavens, and active towards the earth.
— Chinese proverb.

Negative Self-talk To listen to this as a Podcast Click Here

The great thing about negative self-talk is that when you really pay attention it can teach you a lot about yourself. Unfortunately, if you’re swamped by negative emotions or if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may not have the perspective necessary to learn everything you might. But if you can get some distance, your inner dialog  can be a gold-mine of information. After all, your self-talk is not really ‘you’, it’s like a radio station you happen to be tuned into. The secret is to find a better station to listen to. Before you change stations however, listen well. Sometimes it may be like listening to a one-sided news broadcast. Even though you know it’s propaganda, you can still hear a lot between the lines. It’s the same with your own negative self-talk. You can find out a lot about yourself behind the drone of self-doubt, or the propagandistic stories you’ve been telling yourself. You’ll always find alternative messages when you listen well.

Like a mirror held at right-angles, negative self-talk can help you look around the corner of your conscious mind to take a peek at your hidden beliefs and negative emotional patterns. When I say negative emotional patterns I also mean those insipid states that may not be acutely negative, but which keep you constantly at half-throttle; as if you have resigned yourself to remain in perpetual discontent, unmotivated, and distracted.

This may sound like a sorry prognosis of the way we conduct the conversation we have with ourselves, but I have found, over years of working with clients and students, that many people, unless they have done serious inner work, tell themselves things that they would never say to their worst enemy. Once we had a student staying at our center who would wake people in the middle of the night with a stream of curses directed at himself. His self-talk had started coming out of his mouth.

Just noticing some of the patterns can be very helpful. Do certain events trigger certain emotions; or do you give meanings to certain events; and the meanings (the story) then triggers emotions? Are there things you tend to do or not do, based on a specific sequence? Does some kind of negative inner dialog kick in at some point? Or is it just the feelings? Sometimes the meanings we attribute to certain events are so consistent it’s hard to identify them as an actual dialog in your head. It’s like the six o’clock news on Groundhog Day, going round and round, over and over again.

You may not be able to track these patterns on your own. The good news is that you can break them, you can change them, and when you do, you can free up immense resources of energy. You gain access to clarity and creativity, and then you start to feel really good again. It’s not just a question of changing the station you are tuned into, though that’s part of it. It’s more like getting a whole new audio system.

Some years ago a friend lend us his little hut above a lagoon in the South Pacific. From the deck, even from the bed, which was just a platform above the single room of the hut, we could watch the fish in the lagoon, the islands inside the reef, and the beyond that, the ocean stretching to the horizon. You can imagine what sort of inner dialog goes on in a place like that.

How to get a new voice


Negative Self-talk

1 Do what you love. At least some of the time, at least for a few minutes every day. Deliberately acknowledge it. Express your appreciation and gratitude.

2 Imagine and remember what you love. Remember the moments that gave you the most pleasure.

3 Be still. I’m not talking about meditation, because people often surround meditation with their notions and expectations. Do less than meditation, preferably in a place where you really like to be. Just stop for a few minutes  and be completely still. Relax and look around. Stay alert for signs and reminders of who you truly are.

4 There are things you can repeat out loud every day, ten times or more, in front of a mirror, or in your car, or in a room which you can fill with the sound of your voice. “I like myself. I really like myself.” Ten times. Different intonations, different volumes, different facial expressions, different postures, different gestures.

Or, in the same way, “Life is a fabulous journey, and I’m travelling it in a way that’s leading me to new discoveries every day.”

Or, “I celebrate my life as a unique expression of human life on planet earth.”

Or .. make up your own. As before, play with the sound, and with your body language. Think of it as sacred performance rather than as Affirmations.

5. Engage all your senses. Stimulate your ears with music you enjoy, make your own music if possible. Stimulate your sense of smell with incense, essential oils, flowers, spices. Engage your sense of taste with food you love, slow down when you eat, so you truly taste the food. The same with touch. Feel the texture of things, touch the people in your life, hold them, hug them, caress them. Treat your eyes to what you love, and really look. Seek out what is beautiful to look at, and then really look at it. Stimulate you mind. Study what interests you. Make it challenging enough to stretch you a little.

6. Walk on the earth everyday remembering that it is round and that always you are under the huge dome of the sky, and that beyond it there are more stars and galaxies than you can even begin to imagine and that you are connected to all of it. Imagine that all of it would prefer that you were really happy within yourself, that when you engage in negative self-talk it all fades a little. Imagine the Milky Way regretting something about itself .. how would you feel? It’s absurd to even think about isn’t it. Be like the Milky Way, because that’s sort of what you are.

To listen to this as a Podcast Click Here


Negative Self-talk Part 3, swamped by negative emotions, secret to overcoming negative thoughts,  Mediation, NLP, spiritual practice, Neuro linguistic programming, Hypnosis, personal development, unconscious mind.

Money, Addiction, and Conflict: NLP Parts Integration

Money, Addiction, and Conflict: NLP Parts Integration

parts Integration

To listen to an audio version of this: Click Here

For a long time I was navigating between two opposing world views. So I spent a significant part of it just drifting. The imperative was to set course for an altogether new world, a world that had nothing to do with a compromise between those other two.

Many people simplify the complications of their life by blame, denial, resignation, anxiety, and greed; or conversely through the opposite of those things. But it may be very much same in the end, one way or the other. They live in the safe harbor of digital simplicity — ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ .

Then they avoid the delight of living, by making up complications and problems. They invent rules, and miss the richness of the exceptions to them; and, of course, forget that it was they who made them up in the first place. No wonder so many of us are fat and greedy.

There’s a process we do in NLP, called a Parts Integration. It is as powerful as anything I know when it comes to rapid personal transformation. It is a process to resolve internal conflict. You get to see that two opposing parts of you, apparently in conflict with each other, actually have the same underlying intention. It only takes a few minutes, and it has nothing at all to do with intellectual-cognitive understanding. It’s the speed of it that is so powerful. It’s as if you are reclaiming something you knew all along, and very, very quickly. Before you have time to get in your own way. When used appropriately it is so astoundingly life-changing that it’s a marvel to behold.

Perhaps there’s a Parts Integration for society? Or for the world? Perhaps there’s a Parts Integration that would integrate the people in your life who are brilliant but cynical, mistrustful of worldly success(and money), and wary of those who hold different values from themselves .. with those who are optimistic, eager to generate wealth, slow to judge ..

Perhaps it’s just a question of perception. Our life is made up of the meaning we give to it. We represent it with words and pictures, then project it onto the world, finding confirmation for the meanings we just made up.

So it’s little wonder we get into fights, just as it’s little wonder so many of us are obese and insatiable. Perhaps I’m talking about countries as much as I’m talking about individuals. How does a country (or a culture) become obese and addicted? A good question. Perhaps, a better one is how do you navigate the world without succumbing to the kind of polarities that press you to come down on one side or the other. How do you integrate yourself to become fully congruent .. smart AND optimistic, holding a global vision AND perfectly delighted in your own success.

The word we like to use is congruent. It’s a whole new continent of being.  A different landfall altogether. You’ll know it from how clear you feel, standing on the shore.

To listen to audio of this post: Click Here

Money, Addiction, and Conflict,  blame, denial, resignation, anxiety, and greed, NLP Parts Integration, how to stay grounded,  holding a global vision, staying optimistic, how to feel clear / enlightened, Mediation, NLP, spiritual practice, Neuro linguistic programming, Hypnosis, personal development, unconscious mind.