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Sample Exercises

EXERCISE 1

FEELING GOOD

Recent research (Damasio,1999; Freeman, 1998) has begun to show that memories are not so much stored in our heads as they are reconstructed. Antonio Damasio (1999) points out that the brain has no direct experience of the world. What we experience is our bodies' response to sensory stimulation. So, each experience that enters awareness is a sequence of physical, neuronal and hormonal adjustments and includes things like changes in posture, changes in eye focus, dilation or contraction of the pupils, variations in the tensions of the muscles in the inner ear, flaring of the nostrils, adjustment of facial muscles and remapping of percepts in the original sensory areas (Bechara et al., 2000). Each memory experience is created new from this complex interactions of nerves, hormones, muscles and physical movements as they replicate the physiology of the original perception.

The Brain uses multiple sensory systems to build up memories and present-time experiences, layer-by-layer. As the details from multiple sensory systems come togther, a coherent, present-time experience of the object of attention arises into consciousness. Francisco Varela (et al., 1991) has estimated that only 10% of the neuronal information processed by the brain represents direct sensory input. The remainder is interpretative feedback from the rest of the brain.

If we start with a remembered image, a map of the retinal image (at the back of the eye) is transmitted to the primary visual cortex (in the back of the head). After the image registers, feature detectors combine with inputs from short term memory (where we experience attention) to recognize the basic form of the pattern or thing seen. The brain now starts to amplify the pattern while the rest falls into the background. As the pattern gains clarity, it begins to awaken connections to other sensory systems. These feed back into the original perception, strengthen it, clarify it, and bring in connections to information from other sensory systems. This pattern of activity continues until enough information is added so that context, a function of the hippocampus, is added to the mix. This contextual information feeds back through the entire loop and fosters the addition of still more data until the whole is clear enough to awaken the emotions and feelings that originally accompanied the memory. So, the memory is reconstructed in present time as the brain weaves together multiple layers of sensory information into a recognizable experience.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) has taken this process and developed a way to systematically use sensory information to create present time experiences of remembered events. By carefully mapping, organizing and adjusting the sensory information surrounding a memory and systematically going through each sense with its submodalities, NLP uses the brain's own rules to enhance and recreate remembered experience. In NLP, each sense is described as possessing several submodality features. These include things like location, intensity, distance, and dimension. We will discuss the individual submodalities in depth below. The roots of this exercise are to be found in the works of Richard Bandler (Bandler, 1993, Bandler and Macdonald, 1987)

What makes submodality distinctions important is their ability to change present time experience. Submodalities represent the brain's control system for subjective experience. Just as the zoom button on a camera changes the size of the picture, and the volume knob controls the loudness of a sound recording, changes in the submodality structure of an experience change the meaning and intensity of an experience. By changing submodalities, you can start with the shadow of a memory - the memory that something happened - and end with a real-time felt experience of the memory. Further, submodality manipulations will allow you to separate the emotion from the memory and enhance it separately.

This means that, for the following exercises, it does not matter how well or how poorly you remember an event. We will be teaching you how to use the brain's own control system to create a full experience of several memories.

People differ as to which sense arises first when they access a memory. Some people remember pictures; some, sounds; some begin with feelings. Most people in the West prefer vision. For this reason, we are starting with the visual part of the memory. If you find that sound or feeling comes up first for you, feel free to start there and return to the other senses in the way that works best for you. But please read through the rest of the exercise before starting.

One more thing. All of this is easy. Most of it consists in just noticing how things are. The simple act of turning your attention to the sensory distinction is often enough to change it. In every other case, gentle imagining works fine.

Vision has the following features or submodalities:

Association: Are you experiencing the memory from the perspective of an actor in the scene or as an external observer? Can you see it through your own eyes? Does it seem like you are watching a movie, or are you in the action?

Color: Is the experience in color or black and white?

Brightness: Is the experience brightly or dimly lit?

Focus: Is the image focused or unfocused?

Frame: Is the experience framed or unframed?

Aspect ratio: Is the experience tall or short wide or narrow?

Dimensions: Does it have one dimension or two or more dimensions?

Movement: Is it a movie or a still picture?

Distance: Is it near or far?

Size: How much of the visual field is filled by the image?

Start off with a pleasant memory. A memory that was fun or interesting or positively moving. Go for a memory that stands on its own as something pleasant. Go through the list. Note anything that intensifies your experience of the memory. Fiddle with some of the possibilities and see what feels best. When you find something that dramatically enhances the experience, keep the change.

Association: Make sure that you're experiencing the memory from within. If you seem to be watching from outside, use your imagination and step all of the way into the experience. Notice what changes in your experience.

Color: Notice whether the memory is in color or black and white. If the Memory is black and white, use your imagination to turn on the color. If it is already in color, or if you've just turned the color on, turn up the intensity. Notice the difference.

Brightness: If the image is dim, turn up the brightness -- just enough to reveal more detail. Notice the difference in your experience.

Focus: Where do you focus your attention in the image? Is everything in focus? Can you change the focus? What focus gives the most impact?

Frame: If it is framed, remove the frame and make it panoramic. What changes?

Dimensions: If the experience has two dimensions, imagine three dimensions. Extend them into the plane. Add a sense of time or eternity. What happens to the experience ?

Movement: If the representation is a still picture, make it a movie. Note the change?

Distance: Bring the picture much closer. How does the impact change?

Size: Make the picture much larger. Double it and double it again. What happens?

Auditory submodalities can add significant depth to an experience. Some of the more significant auditory submodality distinctions are as follows:

Volume: How loud is the sound?

Sources: Are there one or more sources of the sound?

Dimension: Are the sounds mono, stereo or holophonic?

Direction: From what directions do the sounds come from?

Type: What kinds of sounds are there? Voices, music, just sound?

Timbre: How rich or complex is the sound?

Rhythm: What rhythms are there in the sounds?

Return to the same memory and make the following adjustments and observations. Again, notice which changes carry the most impact.

Volume: Make the sound louder. Turn up the volume. Adjust the volume for the maximum positive impact.

Sources: Notice where the sounds come from.

Dimension: If the sounds are monophonic add stereo or holophonic sound.

Direction: Notice the directions of the sound sources. Pay special attention to the ones that move with objects that you see.

Type: Notice whether the sounds are voices, music or just sound.

Timbre: Note the richness and complexity of the sound. Does it resonate in your body?

Rhythm: Notice any rhythms in the sounds. Do they resonate in your body or move with any seen objects?.

By now, you should have noticed that the memory that you began with has grown much stronger, much more vivid and more real. Any emotion associated with it should already be growing strong. You may have also realized that when you stepped back into it to manipulate the sound dimension, it was already easier to get into. The more sensory data that is added to the original memory, the stronger and the more detailed it becomes in consciousness. By now, you have already noticed something of the feel of the memory. Feeling -- kinesthesia -- has the following dimensions:

Depth: Do you experience emotion, physical sensation or both?

Location: Where do you feel it? In one place or several?

Movement: Is it moving or still?

Dimension: How does it spread, one dimension, two dimensions, three or more?

Intensity: How strong is the feeling?

Texture: Is it smooth or rough, ragged or even?

Temperature: Cold, warm, hot, changing?

Moisture: Moist or dry?

Now, step back into the same memory. Enter quickly and enjoy the speed with which the experience arrives. Notice the rush of sensory information. As you step into it, make the picture much larger, turn up the volume and pay close attention to how the experience arises in your body. As you enjoy these sensations you may even notice that you remember more detail from within the experience. Play with the following submodality distinctions. Notice how they change your experience of the memory and note which has the most impact. Stay with it for a while and enjoy it.

Depth: Do you experience emotion, physical sensation or both? If you are only feeling one, add in the other.

Location: Notice where in your body you feel the sensations. Where do the emotions start?

Movement: Notice if the feelings move. If they do, note where they start and how they spread. Notice where they are strongest and how they leave the body.

Dimension: When you experience a feeling or emotion and you notice that it spreads, notice how it spreads. Does it spread in one dimension as a line, 2 dimensions like a plane or disk, 3 dimensions like a ball, or more dimensions than you can express?

Intensity: Notice the intensity of the feeling. Double it, and double it again. Adjust the level of intensity so that it becomes most pleasurable.

Texture: Just notice if the texture is smooth, wavy, rough, ragged or even. If one feels better, try it on.

Temperature: Is the feeling cold, warm or hot? Is it changing?

Moisture: Is the feeling moist or dry?

At this point, the intensity of the experience should be surprising. You have been working with the brain's own intensity controls and you may have noticed that you can do some amazing things with your own feelings.

Now, quickly, step back into the memory again. Notice the rush. Do it fast to maximize its intensity. As you enjoy the rush, turn up the sounds, enhance the colors, make the picture bigger and closer. Notice where in your body the emotions begin and how they spread. As you become aware that the feelings are intensifying, notice where and how far they have spread. As you do this, notice that the sensation tends to move in a certain direction. Imagine that you can grab all of that intensity and recycle it though its own pattern of motion. Reach out with imaginary hands and draw that intensity through its own pathway. Notice that as it flows out again, it is stronger, deeper, thicker and it spreads further through your body. Catch it again and bring it back through the same pattern so that it starts to spin through its own circuit and doubles with each loop. Keep it spinning until the memory disappears and the room disappears and you find yourself floating in bliss.

When you come back - you might drift off or just return spontaneously -- come completely out of it and try it again. This time, though, you'll notice that all you have to do is turn your attention to the memory and the feeling should begin to arise. Turn your attention to the feeling. Let it start to spin and notice how quickly you can get someplace very interesting.

At this point you may notice that the memory itself just begins to fade away. Let it happen. As you spend more and more attention on the feeling and your favorite parts of the feeling; as you spend more and more attention on how many levels of depth and peace, enjoyment and glory are wrapped up inside of you; the memory will gently fade from consideration.

When this happens, when the memory itself fades, but the feeling remains, you have crossed a subtle threshold. Emotion has begun to be something that you can do, not just something that happens to you. You have chosen to feel something and you now have subjective tools for doing it again. You can do it with any feeling that you have ever had.

Unfortunately, for humans, most of our practice with these tools has led us to enhance the wrong feelings. We have, in the past, used them to create anger, depression and shame. It is now time to use these tools to grow feelings of Love, Joy, Tranquility, Peace, Hope and Strength.

The following steps summarize the process we have just completed.

Find 5 exquisite experiences and magnify them using the following steps.

Please read each instruction completely before beginning

1. Think of a time when you felt wonderful.

2. Notice whether, in your imagination, you are experiencing the memory from within, or watching it from outside like in a movie.

3. If your memory seems to be just in your head, imagine that you can step all of the way into it. As you experience the memory, you may even notice flashes that feel like really being there, focus on these. Take a few minutes to make sure that you are actually in the experience. Once you have the sense of really being there, even if it was only for flashes, come fully back into the present context.

4. Once you have a sense of what its like to relive the memory from within, step all the way into it and get a feel for it. Notice that you can step right into one of those parts where it all came alive. Step right into it. Notice what you are seeing and feeling and hearing. Notice the patterns of tension in your muscles. Notice who is there and how you feel emotionally. Take a few minutes to get really familiar with the feel of being there. Enjoy it. Come fully back into the present.

5. Step back into the memory. Again notice how you can zoom right into the best part. As you do so, make believe that the memory is 40 feet tall and 40 feet wide. Become aware of the sound and the directions from which the sounds come. Notice how these enhance the experience. Come fully back into the present.

6. Now, return to the memory once more. As you do, notice that you can zoom right to point where you left off the last time; right to the very most intense part. Make it bigger and brighter and closer. Turn up the volume of the sound. Notice the rush of feelings and sensations. Pay attention to the feelings and notice

A. Where in your body does the feeling start?

B. How does it spread through your body to peak intensity?

C. How does it dissipate?

Shake out the feeling and return to the present.

7. Return to the memory and zoom right back to the very best part. Turn up the brightness, bring it closer and turn up the volume on the sound. While you do these things, note the path of the energy through your body. As you notice the feeling getting stronger, loop the feeling back through the starting point so that it doubles up as it moves through you. Notice that it moves further, faster and more powerfully.

8. Continue to recycle the energy in this manner. Do it faster and faster until you lose any sense of the memory and find yourself floating, immersed in the feeling alone.

Further Applications

Beyond laying the groundwork for the other exercises, the submodality resources and techniques found in this exercise can be used for other purposes.

Memory enhancement. Pick something that you would like to recall more clearly. Use the steps from this exercise to enhance it. When the feelings comes on, spin it just enough to enhance the experience, so it feels as if you are really there. Explore the memory and discover something that will surprise you or meet your needs.

Sometimes, just imagining that the visual part of the memory is very big-use imaginary hands to stretch it- can provide extraordinary levels of detail.

Sensory enhancement. Imagine that you have huge ears. Imagine having ears three feet tall that you can turn in any directions. As you hold that image in your mind, notice what happens to your hearing. Do the same thing with your eyes or nose- any sensory organ or body part.

Transforming emotions. Use the submodalities in reverse to reduce the impact of an upsetting or fearful memory. Do the same to present time events. Make the picture small and distant, flatten it out and drain out the color. Turn down or distort the sound. Step out of the picture and watch it from a distance.

If you are upset by the memory of a critical voice, try speeding the voice up so that it sounds like Mickey Mouse. Put circus music behind the voice and discover how it changes. Perhaps you could make it very loud or very soft. Play with it (Bandler and Grinder, 1976).

References for the exercise

Bandler, Richard. (2001). Design Human Engineering. (Audio).

Bandler, Richard. (1993). Time for a Change. Capitola, CA: Meta Publications.

Bandler, Richard and MacDonald, Will. (1987). An Insider's Guide To Submodalities. Moab, UT. : Real People Press.

Bechara , Antoine; Damasio, Hanna and Damasio, Antonio R (2000). Emotion, Decision Making and the Orbitofrontal Cortex. Cerebral Cortex, Vol. 10, No. 3, 295-307

Damasio, A. R. (1999). The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. New York: Harcourt.

Freeman, Walter J. (1998). The Neurobiology of Multimodal Sensory Integration . Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science. Vol. 33, Issue 2.

LeDoux, Joseph. (2002). The Synaptic Brain. New York: Viking Penguin.

LeDoux, Joseph. (1998). The Emotional Brain. New York:.Touchstone.

Varela, F.; Thompson, E. and Rosch, E. (1991). The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Feeling Good is Copyright Richard M. Gray, 2004

EXERCISE 2

ANCHORING RESOURCE STATES

In the previous exercises we have learned something about the nature of memory and the brain's control system. We have explored the possibility of enhancing memory using that control system and we have learned to a powerful meditative state. This is all pretty good, but all in all it amounts to a systematization of things that we all do anyway. We all have daydreams and fantasies that can be very intense. We have all spent enough time with them to change our mood. The intensity of the states may be notable and the meditative states may be new, but they are available in other contexts and with other techniques.

We now come to the first element that truly sets this program apart from the rest. It is simple. It is basic to every living animal in existence. It is something that happens to us everyday on an unconscious level. It is conditioning.

Conditioning is one of the most basic forms of learning. It happens to you everyday. It is the process that connects a meaningless stimulus to a feeling or response that fills it with meaning. It is how the scent of a certain perfume brings a person to mind, how a song brings back romantic memories and how, after food poisoning, you can never stomach crab cakes again.

All of this happens out of consciousness. Conditioning usually works and works best when we are unaware of it. We usually only recognize it after the fact and call it learning or association. Here, we are going to create our own conditioned responses.

In this exercise we are going to learn how to connect the pleasant state that we just worked with to a simple gestures. We will then be able to use this gesture to evoke the associated feeling at any time and in any place. We will also be able to use the state in much more complex ways because of this accessibility.

This step is important because changes that happen in meditation or therapy often don't last long outside of the original experience. It is not uncommon for someone who is meditating or getting acupuncture to have wonderful results for hours or even days after the experience. When it is part of a disciplined practice, these experiences can continue for quite a while. The problem, however, always remains: what happens if you can't make the session? What happens when the world smacks you in the face and there is no opportunity to stop for meditation or to see the massage therapist or the acupuncturist? What happens, if you can't assume the posture or otherwise access the state.

Conditioning allows you to take the state with you. It compresses all of the work of getting there and enfolds it into a word, a gesture or a smell. In this context we have chosen to think of conditioned stimuli as buttons. This is very much like the common expression for conditioned responses - pushing someone's buttons. Conditioned responses are like buttons that can turn on felt states. In this case we will be turning on a positive button, a button that you can use to attain ecstasies of transcendence, a button that can bring you from negative to neutral, a button that can give you the edge you need in any context. If you create multiple buttons, you can use them to construct states of mind that you may have never experienced before.

Buttons also give you a new means of controlling the intensity or quality of a state. Once established, buttons can be used to focus the associated states on facets of the experience that you particularly enjoy.

At the outset, please remember that this is easy. It is a natural process that is best experienced somewhat passively. Straining and struggling and conscious effort only get in the way. During the exercise, just relax and notice how well your body responds.

By this point, you will have practiced accessing at least one positive resource state to the point where you find it easy to access empowered, peaceful experiences of floating ecstasies. If you are starting from here, you can go directly to step three.

If you are working on a new state or one that still needs practice, start as follows:

Creating Anchors

It is very important to notice the difference between being in the memory and watching the memory from outside. If your memory seems to be just in your head, imagine that you can step all of the way into it. As you experience the memory, you may even notice flashes that feel like really being there, focus on these. Take a few minutes to make sure that you are actually in the experience. Once you have the sense of really being there, even if it was only for flashes, come fully back into the present context.

1. Step all the way into the memory, and get a feel for it. Notice that you can step right into one of those parts where it all came alive. Step right into it. Notice what you are seeing and feeling and hearing. Notice the patterns of tension in your muscles. Notice who is there and how you feel emotionally. Take a few minutes to get really familiar with the feel of being there. Enjoy it. Come fully back into the present.

2. Return to the memory. As you do, notice that you can zoom right to point where you left off the last time; right to the very most intense part. Notice the rush of feelings and sensations. Enjoy them for a moment and then, return fully to the present.

3. To anchor the state, pick a gesture (I usually suggest touching the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index finger). Close your eyes and zoom right back to the most intense experience of the state. As you experience rushing into the state, make the gesture. Hold it for about two seconds while the feelings increase. Let the anchor go. Shake out the state (shake your body) and return to the present.

(Here is the basic sequence: close your eyes, access the feeling, make the gesture, release the gesture, shake out the feeling, open your eyes,).

4. Repeat step 3. four or five times or until you begin to notice a dramatic change in the experience whenever you make the gesture. Remember to come fully back into the present before each repetition.

5. Once you have the clear sense that the gesture is adding to the power or depth of the experience, repeat step three with the following difference: As you notice the change that flows out of making the gesture, quickly break and remake the gesture. Hold the gesture again until you become aware of the rush of experience then break and remake the gesture again. Repeat this pumping action until the experience becomes pleasurably intense. Shake out the state (shake your body) and return to the present.

    TIP: Pumping the gesture might mean gently rubbing the fingers together, it may mean gently pulsing the muscles while holding the gesture. I generally find that once the anchor has been created, pulsing the gesture works best. Find a method that works for you.

Notice that the feeling grows fastest as you focus your attention on the very first sensations that enter your body. Make a game of pulsing or pumping the gesture just as the first hint of feeling arises in your body.

Get the rhythm of your own body. Adjust the speed of the pumping so that the intensity steadily increases

6. Test the state. Clear your mind. Sit or lie comfortably and make the gesture. As you notice the first rush of feeling that flows out of making the gesture, pulse your fingers. Catch the first hint of the feeling as it arises. the gesture repeatedly. Do your best to make the gesture at the first hint of a bodily feeling. Repeat this pumping action as you find yourself enjoying the growing intensity of feeling. With each pump, allow your attention to discover something better or deeper in the feelings. As you do this, enjoy more and more aspects of the feeling itself. Notice the temperature of the feeling. Notice how it moves. Notice of it makes a noise or vibration within. Notice if it feels bright or dark. With each discovery, pulse the gesture a little faster. Let your attention move into the feeling and just allow the visual and auditory information to fade away. Keep pumping until you have an intense experience of pure feeling. Shake out the state (shake your body) and return to the present.

Further Applications

Anchoring is the basic way in which organisms learn. There is virtually no end to the ways you can use it. It is a valuable tool for moving deeply felt experiences from one context to another. Once you have mastered the technique with any resource state, there are all kinds of things that you can anchor: clarity, creative inspiration, ecstatic experiences, new ways of perceiving the world. Some participants have anchored the experience of loving so that they could expand the experience to all of creation. Anchoring can be used to enhance an imagined feeling, expand a weak one, or to create an experience of how you think someone must feel.

References for the exercise

Andreas, Steve and Andreas, Connirae. (1987). Change Your Mind-- and Keep the Change. Moab, UT: Real People Press.

Dilts, Robert; Delozier, Judith, A.; Delozier, Judith. (2000). Encyclopedia of Systemic Neuro-Linguistic Programming and NLP New Coding. Scotts Valley, CA: NLP University Press.

Gray, Richard M. (2001). "Addictions and the Self: A Self-Enhancement Model for Drug Treatment in the Criminal Justice System. " The Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions. Vol. 2, No. 1.

Gray, Richard M. (2002). "The Brooklyn Program: Innovative Approaches to Substance Abuse Treatment." Federal Probation Quarterly Vol. 66. no.3. December 2002.

Anchoring Resource States is copyright 2004 by Richard M. Gray