[Published in the July 2012 INLPTA Journal 20th Anniversary Special Edition]
A new context for NLP
With the 20th Anniversary of INLPTA upon us, it’s an apt time to pause and reflect on how far we have come as an organization and how far NLP has come as a field. As Richard Bandler so eloquently expressed it all those years ago, “NLP is an attitude and methodology that leaves behind a trail of techniques”. The attitude is one that embodies curiosity and thirst for generative creativity. And the methodology involves the application of the tools and mindset of behavioral modeling to the domain of ‘the structure of human excellence and human subjective experience’. An amazing marriage that has produced a progeny of NLP techniques that continues to flourish throughout the world today.
And as we look back, we note that the world of science and knowledge has come a long, long way since those early days in the mid ‘70’s when Richard, John and a core of adventurers set out to explore the relatively unchartered waters that became NLP. With the advent of powerful and inexpensive computing and electronics, and driven by the exponential and accelerating growth of scientific knowledge, we now have incredible imaging and mapping devices that can peer inside a person’s brain and graphically display neural activity and processes. Numerous medical, biological, psychological and engineering advances have opened up and deepened our knowledge of how our brains, bodies and biochemistry works.
"And the significance to NLP is profound."
We are still (and always will be) learning and
advancing our understandings of human process, but we now have pivotal
distinctions and incredible insights that were previously unavailable to the
early behavioral modelers. And this not only changes our understanding of NLP,
it also opens up entirely new possibilities for a new range of techniques.
A modern approach to behavioral modeling
Over the last 2 years, in the pioneering spirit of the beginnings of NLP, we have commenced a modern approach to behavioral modeling based on the latest findings in neuroscience. With a passionate sense of wide-eyed curiosity, we’ve begun using the latest scientific advances in neuroscience to inform and direct our behavioral modeling research into new areas that were originally hidden to the epistemology of earlier NLP development.
What we have uncovered has been truly astounding and
has created a feast of new and powerful distinctions that significantly advance
what is possible in NLP. In this current anniversary issue, we will introduce
you to the first set of ‘game changing’ findings and distinctions that we have recently
published in our book ‘mBraining – Using
your multiple brains to do cool stuff’, and in subsequent issues of INLPTA NLP
News we will cover more of our work and what we have developed in detail.
We don’t just have one brain!
Over the last decade or so, Neuroscience researchers have uncovered a set of astounding facts … we have complex and functional neural networks in both our heart and our gut. Called the cardiac and enteric nervous systems respectively, they have been shown to exhibit all the hallmarks of a ‘brain’, and like the brain in our head, they have the following characteristics:
These complex neural networks display amazing levels
of functional ‘intelligence’ and
there is a growing array of evidence that these ‘brains’ are deeply involved in the control and processing of
numerous functions and core behavioral competencies.
How can this be?
The heart and gut brains are primal in both an evolutionary sense and a developmental sense. The gut brain for example evolved long before the head brain, and can be found in organisms such as sea slugs, sea cucumbers and spineless helminthes (a type of parasitic worm). Sea cucumbers are echinoderms, a part of the chordate phylum, and have been found to have very sophisticated enteric nervous systems.
When you think about this for a moment, it makes sense. As life developed on our amazing planet, the first organisms were single celled and then multi-cellular creatures that floated around in the ocean, moving towards food and away from danger. As they developed more complexity they needed a neural network - an intelligencing system - to process the information required to:
a) obtain, digest and assimilate food,
b) track for danger and safety, and
c) move within their environment accordingly.
Fascinatingly, the development of our own brains
during gestation mirrors evolutionary sequencing. As the fetus begins to grow,
cells form into what will eventually become the various brains. A neural plate
first forms and then rolls into a neural tube. This tube eventually becomes the
spinal column and goes on to generate the cephalic head brain. However, at the
point where the edges of that neural plate meet and form the tube, an
outpoaching called the neural crest forms. As this develops it begins the
process of generating the gut brain as the crest-derived cells colonize the
developing gut. So before the neural tube has elongated and rolled up to form
the encephalon and ultimately the complete head brain, the gut brain has
already begun forming and populating the visceral region. Along the way, as the
neural tube develops there is another outpoaching of what ultimately becomes
the vagus nerve system, and this forms the cardiac plexus and the innervation
of the heart.
A bit more on the gut brain
While some NLP’ers may be familiar with the heart brain mostly due to the popularity of the work from the Heartmath Institute, the majority are probably not as familiar with the gut brain.
Dr. Michael Gershon is one of the leaders in the newly emerging field of neurogastroenterology, and has published a ground-breaking book entitled, ‘The Second Brain: Your Gut Has a Mind of Its Own’. Dr. Gershon’s book is being hailed as “a quantum leap in medical knowledge” and that it provides “radical new understandings about a wide range of gastrointestinal problems.”
gut brain contains over 500 million neurons and has the equivalent size and
complexity of something like a cat’s brain. It sends and receives nerve signals
throughout the chest and torso and innervates organs as diverse as the
pancreas, lungs, diaphragm and liver. The gut brain is a vast chemical and
neuro-hormonal warehouse and utilizes every class of neurotransmitter found in
the head brain. Major neurotransmitters found in the enteric brain include
serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine and nitric oxide. 70 percent of
your immune system is in the gut, and according to Dr. Gershon over 95 percent
of the serotonin used throughout the body and brain is also made in the gut.
Diseases of the head brain also affect the neurons in the gut and heart brains.
Patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases often suffer from
constipation due to the same damage to their gut brains as is occurring in
their cranial brains.
The ‘So What’ test: Modeling the functions and competencies of our multiple brains
We have learned well from Dr. Wyatt Woodsmall to always apply the ‘so what’ test to any new distinction, model, or piece of content. Science has shown we have three functioning brains, interesting but so what? Well, from a pure medical science viewpoint, it’s useful information that has medical value. However from a behavioral modeling and NLP perspective, the implications and applications for behavioral change are groundbreaking and profound.
Given we have multiple brains and not just a single brain in our head, it was obvious to us that the control and processing of complex emotions and behaviors is unlikely to only be performed in the head brain. And this is exactly what we have found. Each of the three brains is optimized and involved in mediating specific core functions with specific core competencies.
We studied well over 600 scientific research papers, articles
and books regarding the heart and gut brains and used these findings to inform
our behavioral modeling action-research (if you would like a full listing of
these references, visit us at www.mbraining.com). As we modeled and
explored the various behavioral patterns associated with each of the three
neural networks, one of the first sets of distinctions that emerged was what we
call the Prime Functions.
The 9 Prime Functions
It's an important guiding principle for working with your multiple brains to understand that each of the brains has its own prime function. Each brain has a fundamentally different form of intelligence; they utilize different language, have different goals and operate under different criteria. In other words, your head, heart and guts have different ways of processing the world, communicating, operating and addressing their own concerns and domains of expertise.
What we found from all of our modeling research is an
overwhelmingly consistent pattern showing how these different brains have
clearly distinct prime functions and underlying core competencies. In hindsight
they are obvious and intuitive, which you will be able to validate in your own
personal experience. So what are they?
HEARTS BRAIN PRIME FUNCTIONS
· Relational affect
GUT BRAIN PRIME FUNCTIONS
· Core identity
HEAD BRAIN PRIME FUNCTIONS
· Cognitive perception
· Making meaning
[Please note; we are not saying these functions are limited only to the particular brain their associated with. Obviously, the head brain with its approximately 100,000,000,000 neurons is far more complex than is either the heart or gut brains and is involved in all functions at some level. However, the evidence from our behavioral modeling work indicates that each neural network is a key or prime driver for the functions listed above.]
In future issues of INLPTA NLP News, we will explore
in more detail the significance of these Prime Functions and how to work with
them through a suite of tools that we’ve termed ‘multiple brain integration
techniques’, or mBIT for short.
Multiple braining NLP
Working with three brains rather than one adds significantly to how you do NLP. It also adds significantly to what is possible with NLP. The process of communicating with, aligning, and harnessing the intelligences of your three brains is what we call ‘mBraining’, which stands for ‘multiple braining’. True to the NLP distinction of denominalizing when appropriate, we’ve used the constructed verb of ‘braining’ to indicate this process.
Even at first glance, the impact of these findings for NLP quickly becomes apparent. Here is a quick listing of just some of the immediate applications to the existing body of NLP techniques:
Please keep in mind that this list is just a very
small sample of how mBIT and mBraining can enhance how we approach NLP. There
are many more distinctions we have discovered of which the 6 Prime Functions is
only the starting point. And as we have already mentioned, we are excited to
share these distinctions and new models with you in future articles.
An exciting time for NLP
From the filters of mBraining and mBIT, modern neuroscience is proving what ancient wisdom traditions have been saying for over two and a half thousand years. The intuitive harnessing of all three neural networks is embodied in practically all wisdom teachings ranging from the Enneagram which explicitly identifies the head, heart and gut/instinctive/moving centers, to Chinese Taoist philosophy that maintains there are three energy centers known as the Three Tan Tiens, the Upper, Middle and Lower Tan Tiens located in the head, heart and lower abdomen respectively.
These ‘new’ findings in neuroscience, which are old insights in the various wisdom traditions, bring exciting new possibilities to NLP.
Do you remember when you first learned NLP? The excitement of seeing patterns in human communication and human behavior that have been there all your life but that you’d never really noticed or had ever really ‘seen’ before? Like viewing the world afresh for the very first time, there were feelings of amazement and delight from being able to track and utilize patterns that had previously been hidden to you.
This is the excitement of mBIT. Upon learning mBIT and mBraining, we’ve had seasoned NLP trainers comment repeatedly to us that “it’s like learning NLP all over again!” The world of human process is made afresh. New possibilities open up. New patterns emerge. New generative choices become available. The original sense of excitement and adventure returns.
And on the 20th Anniversary of INLPTA, isn’t it apt that new and exciting directions emerge for NLP at this time? With a continued focus on generative change, a passion for curiosity and creativity and a desire to make a positive difference to our world, we can continue to build on the success of the foundational methodology of behavioral modeling by evolving NLP into burgeoning new directions with innovative applications.
For further information on mBIT and mBraining, please check out www.mbraining.com and our source book ‘mBraining – Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff’.
mBIT and NLP >