Before I began to specialise in NLP training I ran stress management workshops for a number of years beginning back in 1983. Often I would be running two to five 2-hour workshops in any week in the Bournemouth-Poole area in Dorset (UK). And I also had a private psychotherapy and counselling practise in which I saw people individually.
During this time I had the privilege of encountering some great people who were making inspiring changes in their lives.
This process continued, albeit in a slightly different way, when I began concentrating on ‘pure’ NLP training programmes from the early 2000’s . I still encountered (and still encounter) many, many people who are making wonderful changes in their lives.
And while NLP is wonderful, some of us who specialise in NLP may be in danger of becoming so enthusiastic for NLP processes and methods that we ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’. That we may be in danger of dumping all of the old in favour of the new.
The new is so fascinating that we forget about the really effective and time-proven traditional.
In order to help a close friend I’ve recently had reason to revisit (and update) some of the mind-body research that I used in my ‘stress-specialist’ days and it has been a useful experience for me. It’s reminded me of things I used to advocate and teach but had almost forgotten about. And one of these is the value and the simplicity of relaxation.
“What?? You mean doing nothing?” Well, yes, because taking time to do nothing but relax, chill, take a break, or just ‘be’ is one of the most pro-active things we can do to feel good. It is a powerful, if quite passive, way of enhancing one’s health.
But is relaxation really useful?
In a word, yes. Very much so.
Back in 1985 Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a renowned researcher at Ohio State University, published a paper with the not-quite-catchy title of “Psychosocial enhancement of immunocompetence in a geriatric population“. The title notwithstanding, it was an illuminating piece of scientific research which proved the value of relaxation training and practise.
(1) They got a group of elderly people to do a one month programme of relaxation practise and found that participants’ immune systems improved noticeably – and that there were significant increases in natural killer cell activity and in lymphocyte responsiveness at the end of the month (yes, that’s right, just one month…)
(2) They also tested a group of medical students approaching an important and stressful examination. Again the groups only practised for a month. However this produced not just a better psychological outlook but an increase in the ‘good’ helper T-Lymphocytes.
NLP is great. And there may be a risk in our thinking that, because many of the NLP processes are so powerful and genuinely transforming, that it’s all we need.
Babies and bathwater
There is no doubt in my mind – and from my experience in using it for over 30 years – that NLP is wonderfully effective in making changes enduring on one’s life. Yes, the NLP methods are valuable. They are powerful. And they are frequently life changing.
But NLP needs to be integrated with many of the traditional ways of feeling good and thinking clearly, too… so, in our enthusiasm for such a wonderful body of knowledge, we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
(Actually… do people still throw out bathwater?)