[Published in the October 2012 INLPTA Journal]
Bringing the Neuroscience of Multiple Brains to NLP
In our previous article we introduced recent neuroscience findings highlighting how we have complex, adaptive and functional neural networks - or ‘brains’ - in our heart and gut, (the cardiac and enteric brains respectively). In conjunction with our head brain, these multiple brains are involved in specific competencies and processes that have significant implications in how we use NLP.
Over the last two years, informed by these neuroscience findings, we have conducted action research using behavioral modeling to unpack the unconscious processes of how we use our head, heart and gut brains to create meaning, enact decisions and construct our subjective reality. We call these unconscious multiple brain processes ‘mBraining’.
And we have subsequently developed a suite of techniques and models for harnessing the innate wisdom of our multiple brains for greater generative consciousness. We’ve called this growing suite of techniques and models ‘mBIT’, for ‘multiple Brain Integration Techniques’. A growing number of mBIT practitioners who have attended our trainings have found mBIT brings a feast of new and powerful distinctions that significantly advance what is possible in NLP.
Following on from our previous article, we’d like to share with you the next set of key mBIT distinctions that you can use to powerfully enhance your core NLP skills and overall effectiveness.
The mBIT Prime Functions
To recap from our previous article, it's important to know whenever working with your or another person’s multiple brains that each of the brains has its own set of Prime Functions. Each brain has a fundamentally different form of intelligence, they utilize different languages for communication, and they have different goals operating under different criteria. In other words, your head, heart and gut have different ways of processing the world with different concerns and domains of competence.
The Prime Functions of each neural network are:
HEART BRAIN PRIME FUNCTIONS
GUT BRAIN PRIME FUNCTIONS
HEAD BRAIN PRIME FUNCTIONS
The Significance of the Autonomic Nervous System
In order to work effectively with your three brains and their Prime Functions, you also need to understand the role of your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). Curiously, traditional NLP completely misses any focus or mention of the ANS. NLP largely works with the head brain and the Central Nervous System (CNS), although it is now expanding into the area of somatics. Even so, the role of the ANS is critical to making sense of what you are calibrating in your client, in diagnosing and designing an intervention/facilitation, and understanding what constitutes a resource state for that client given their current mode of ANS functioning.
Put simply, the mode in which your ANS is operating affects
the quality of the way your multiple brains function. For example, your heart
brain may be attempting to fulfill its Prime Functions in a particular
situation by emotionally expressing either sadness or joy. These are two very
different expressions that are based on the same Prime Function. What accounts
for the difference? And what can we do to shift from a debilitating expression
to a more empowering one? To answer these questions, we need to look to the
details of your ANS.
Understanding the ANS
Your overall nervous system has two major divisions,
the Voluntary and the Autonomic. The Voluntary System is mainly concerned with
movement and sensation. The Autonomic Nervous System on the other hand is
responsible for control of involuntary and visceral bodily functions.
The functions it controls include:
It’s called ‘autonomic’ because it is operates largely automatically and outside of conscious control. It’s divided into two separate branches — the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. These two branches work in a delicately tuned, reciprocal and (usually) opposing fashion. Simplistically, the Sympathetic system can be considered to be the ‘fight or flight’ system. It allows the body to function under stress and danger. The Parasympathetic system is the ‘feeding and fornicating’ and ‘rest and repose’ arm. It controls the vegetative functions of feeding, breeding, rest, recuperation and repose. The Parasympathetic system also typically provides ongoing opposition to the Sympathetic system to bring your total system into balance or homeostasis.
In times of danger or stress, the Sympathetic system,
which has a very fast onset and response, kicks in and gets you moving to
handle or resolve the situation. The slower acting Parasympathetic system
begins to operate after the danger has passed, and brings you back to normalcy.
Without the opposing function of the Parasympathetic system your body would
stay amped up, burning energy and fuel and eventually exhaust itself.
The ANS and Your Multiple Brains
It’s important to know about the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems because they innervate and deeply influence the operating mode of the heart, gut and head brains. There are major connections between the head brain hemispheres, the heart (cardiac) brain, the gut (enteric) brain and these Sympathetic and Parasympathetic arms of the ANS, and since the two ANS components work in opposing ways, the dominance of one or the other leads to very different modes of processing throughout our multiple brains.
For instance, Parasympathetic activity generally slows the heart, whereas Sympathetic activity accelerates it. In the gut, Parasympathetic activity enhances intestinal peristaltic movement promoting healthy digestion and elimination whereas Sympathetic activity inhibits such activity during times when physical exertion requires catabolic (energy) mobilization. The following are some of the main influences of the two systems:
Activation of the Sympathetic nervous system has the following effects:
Activation of the Parasympathetic nervous system has the following effects:
You’ll notice here that a powerful functional
principle is in play. That is, two modes of opponent
processing are operating for autonomic control across your total system. Consequently,
your multiple brains can function in ways that are Sympathetic dominant,
Parasympathetic dominant, or some combination of the two [for more details on how these two systems can combine, see our book
‘mBraining – Using Your Multiple Brains to do Cool Suff’]. The end result
is that your Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems dramatically affect how
each of the Prime Functions of your multiple brains express themselves to create
your subjective world.
Working With Your Client’s Autonomic Mode
Traditionally in NLP, when a client comes to you for help with an issue they can’t resolve for themselves, we often say they are in an ‘unresourceful state’. Depending upon the nature of the issue, we may endeavor to anchor a ‘resource’ state(s) to enable them to work effectively on the issue. But what do these terms mean from a neurological perspective? Understanding how the ANS works brings far greater precision in answering these questions and therefore to your level of NLP mastery.
In terms of your ANS, an ‘unresourceful’ state means being in an overly Sympathetic or overly Parasympathetic mode of functioning in relation to the desired outcome. For instance, let’s say a client comes to you with the issue of a chronic inability to act on their intended outcomes. As a properly trained NLPer, we might calibrate that when the client is talking about their issue they go into an ‘unresourceful state’. But what type of unresourceful state? Are they too apathetic and unmotivated? Or do they go into states of high anxiety and become immobilized by fear? The former relates to an overly Parasympathetic mode of functioning while the latter relates to an overly Sympathetic mode of functioning, and depending upon which it is determines the type of resource state that is required.
From an mBIT perspective, a ‘resourceful state’ can mean one of four things, depending upon the
desired outcome in contrast to the present state of the client’s ANS
Your Client’s Autonomic Mode
Each of your multiple brains has its own set of Prime Functions
with which it is uniquely adapted to fulfill. These Prime Functions can vary
greatly in the way they manifest in behavior, depending upon whether they are
originating from a Sympathetic, Parasympathetic, or balanced/coherent state of
autonomic functioning. Calibrating your client’s mode of autonomic functioning
is essential to knowing what is neurologically possible and not possible for
your client in any given moment. This enables you to know which NLP
interventions/facilitations will and won’t work for your client at any given
point in time. Understanding how the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic arms of
the ANS interact with each other gives you far greater precision and NLP mastery
in how you work with your client’s ‘unresourceful’
states and in establishing autonomically ‘resourceful’
Along these lines, in our next article for INLPTA NLP
News we will cover in more detail how to facilitate your client (and yourself)
into states of autonomic balance/coherence.
For further information on mBIT and mBraining or more details on the Core Competencies of the heart and gut brains, go to www.mbraining.com and read our source book for the new field of mBIT: ‘mBraining – Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff’.
mBIT and NLP >