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The Brooklyn Program: Cognitive applications of the physiological correlates of spiritual experience

The Brooklyn Program: Cognitive applications of the physiological correlates of spiritual experience

Richard M. Gray, Ph.D.

Substance Abuse Treatment Coordinator

United States Probation Department

Eastern District of NY 11201

Phone: 347-534-3495

Email richardmgray@comcast.net

Abstract:

The Brooklyn Program is an innovative substance abuse/dependancy program used to treat persons under criminal justice supervision in the U.S. Probation Department, Brooklyn, NY. It is unique in its culturally-neutral, strengths-based approach to the treatment of substance use problems. The author reviews neuro-scientific research into the nature of addiction and spirituality. Insofar as the patterns of addiction and spiritual experience are incompatible, he suggests that patterns of neural activation that parallel spiritual experience can be activated with behavioral techniques and used to counter substance abuse and dependence. Examples of wholeness-based behavioral interventions from the Brooklyn Program are provided.

Keywords: Treatment, Spirituality, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Affect management.

(This paper was originally presented at the Dr. Lonnie E. Mitchell National HBCU Substance Abuse Conference, sponsored by Howard University, on April 2, 2003.)

Addictions have been viewed from multiple perspectives over the years (Morel, 1996; Shattuck,1994; Doweiko,1996; Gray, 1997). As time has gone on, our understanding has progressed from moral failings to the neurophysiological consequences of powerful chemical agents on the functioning of the brain (Schultz, 2002, Wise, 2002, Gray 2001, 2002).

During the entire history of addiction treatment, spiritual emphases have remained a strong predictor of treatment success. Jung viewed addiction as a spiritual problem that needed a spiritual answer (Zoja, 1990). The founders of AA made spirituality a cornerstone of their movement (Laundergan, 1960). Research reported by NIDA and others (Fiorentine, 2000; Koski-Jannes and Turner, 1999) have shown repeatedly that spiritual emphasis is often a reliable predictor of treatment success. Even Peele and Brodsky (1991), invoking personal values as opposed to "spirituality," point in the same direction.

Anecdotally, practices such as yoga and meditation have been of value, as has acupuncture. However, statistical analysis of these results has not been unambiguous(Margolin et al., 2002; Morel, 1996).

In the following paper, the author proposes that the benefits of spiritual practice, as opposed to other kinds of "belonging," may be related to the establishment of certain biochemical states. These states, independent of the existence or non-existence of spiritual agency, provide significant resources for personal growth and change.

More specifically, we will show that 1. The instantiation of the physiology identified by Newberg and D'Aquili (2000, also Austin, 1993) activates a specific set of conditions that relieve stress, provide centered attention, foster the growth of healthy self-esteem and provide a physiology that can compete against the relatively artificial states produced by substances of abuse and aberrant behavior (Glaser, 1970, Gray 2001, 2002). 2. The Brooklyn Program provides tools for the creation of specific physiologies of excellence that we believe replicate the states defined by D'Aquili and Newberg and which are often described as meditative and ecstatic. Through the simple expedients of classical conditioning, imaginative and real-time rehearsal, the Brooklyn Program is designed to foster the generalization of these responses into multiple contexts and to provide a generative program for personal growth rather than a remedial answer in the short term.

Spirituality.

Spirituality has been defined in many ways, both with and without theistic or supernatural elements (Gray, 2001; Maslow, 1970; 1971; Morel, 1998). Jung suggested that it concerns humankind's need for growth towards full individuation, the conscious realization of one's potential. Jung further suggests that the main problem of western civilization is its detachment from spiritual meaning and that addictions in particular constitute his attempt to reconnect with a spiritual level of meaning (Jung, 1965, 1976; Zoja, 1990).

Maslow pointed to spirituality as a likewise universal urge to Self-actualization; the need to become fully human (1968, 1970, 1971). Both men saw spirituality as a growth pattern emerging from experiences of deep significance. In a similar vein, Progoff (1959) saw it as growth towards the fulfillment of biologically defined potentials and Hillman (1996) as growth towards the fulfillment of one's calling in life.

Others have related the spiritual to a sense of place. Cornford (1991) understood Greek spirituality as being rooted in knowing one's place in relation to a larger Kosmon. Eliade (1971, 1976), likewise relates it to the places and times where the temporal and eternal intersect. M. Scott Peck (1998) has defined spirituality as knowing one's place in the universe.

On the way towards the realization of a spiritually meaningful life, both Jung and Maslow indicated that there were specific kinds of experiences that fostered the development of personal spirituality and lifestyles consistent with them. Maslow called them peak experiences, Jung described them as encounters with the numinous. It is our position that the physiology that characterizes these experiences is common to all humans and can be made accessible through simple reflective and conditioning techniques. Moreover, it is our contention that these states provide emotional and cognitive resources that specifically meet the deficits caused by substance abuse

It is a short step from here to the anecdotal evidence linking spiritual renewal, conversion experiences and transcendence to sobriety, The literature of the 12 step movements and a vast spiritual literature from multiple traditions bear it witness (Laundergan,1982; Doweiko, 1996; Maslow, 1970, 1971)

Jungian theory suggests that addiction fills the purpose of initiation -- the transition from childhood to adult status through symbolic death and rebirth -- in an overrationalized, secularized world. Unfortunately the initiatory process stops short of the rebirth to selfhood or adulthood. This leaves the addict trapped in the death phase of initiatic process with no hope of rebirth. As a failed initiation, addiction dooms its victim to an eternal cycle of immature dependence and consumerism (Henderson, 1984; Zoja, 1989). From the Jungian perspective, addiction is framed as a search for transcendence and personal redefinition. It often takes the place of initiation as a transition from one stage of personal life to another. Unfortunately, in the West, where our traditions have allowed initiation to wither on the vine, the person seeking redefinition is all too often pulled down into bondage by the very tool he sought for release. If the early stages of addiction mark the initial outreach in search of personal redefinition, the turn to recovery and the redefinition implied by it represent a further restructuring of meaning. In Jungian parlance these are conceived as reconfigurations of the ego complex after confrontation with archetypal energies that ultimately arise from the Self. Their aim is a reformulation of the ego at a level that is more capable of balanced expression of the needs of the whole. In each stage of development these changes are marked by reformulations; whole-life reframes which mark the progress on the path to individuation (Jung, 1976; Henderson, 1984; Zoja, 1988).

In general, the realm of the Spiritual may be said to divide into two fields of reference, ecstatic experiences- experiences of the numinous and patterns of personal discovery, growth and development. To some extent the two are related as producer and product: The relationship, however, does not always hold (Laski,1961; Maslow, 1970).

Maslow distinguishes between Dionysian and Apollonian spirituality; the one arising through the practice of an ordered life and the other through ecstatic and mystical experiences. He notes, however, that even the most sober of Apollonian has had peak experiences as they are a normal part of the human experience. (Ibid.)

Insofar as they have impact on substance abuse and addiction, the Apollonian pattern would correspond to the values most often viewed as prophylactic (family cohesion, stable values and support systems); while the Dionysian pattern points towards the conversion experience that awakens one to sobriety.

In his later writings, Maslow distinguishes between two kinds of transcendence that equate to these two kinds of spirituality. One is planted in the world and finds its meaning and capacity to overcome through integration with the traditions and mores that he encounters in the course of normative existence. The other is ecstatic and charismatic. It finds meaning in an internal frame of reference that may forsake the world for an alternate reality (Maslow, 1971).

The power of spirituality

Peele and Brodsky (1991) have pointed to the reassertion of personal values as a crucial element in recovery, and while their definition avoids any hint of the mystical or supernatural, it tacitly appeals to the Apollonian model. In their view, persons turn from addictive problems when deeper values assert themselves.

This appeal to something greater echos, on one hand, the appeal of the 12 step movement to a higher power. On the other, It points towards Prochaska's observation (Prochaska et al. 1994), that all of the change in movement from pre-contemplation to action is predicted by the identification of a goal that is more important than the problem behavior.

As we consider the nature of addiction, the problem of incentive salience naturally arises (Damasio, 1999; Goldstein and Volkow, 2002; Gray, 2002, Kapur, 2003). Incentive salience refers to an object's current capacity to incite an organism to action. Addictive substances and behaviors are accorded overwhelming incentive salience to the point that the drive to acquire and use them drowns out less compelling alternatives. Several recent studies of brain function have shown that incentive salience appears to be computed in the Nucleus Accumbens (Kapur, 2003). This computation is then transmitted to ventromedial frontal lobes, a part of the brain where valuative comparisons are made (Damasio, 1999; Bechara, Damasio et al., 1999; Bechara, Damasio and Damasio, 2000; Bechara and Damasio, 2002; Bechara et al., 2002). When stimuli related to addictive problems appear, blood flow to this area increases. It would appear that addiction works in part by affecting the computation of the relative value of available reinforcements.

That the capacity to evaluate rewards is affected by addictive behavior is elegantly illustrated in a series of experiments by Bechara at the University of Iowa (Bechara, Damasio et al., 1999; Bechara, Damasio and Damasio, 2000; Bechara and Damasio, 2002; Bechara et al., 2002). These researchers presented recovering cocaine addicts with two choice conditions in a gambling setting. In one condition, early large rewards were quickly offset by dramatic losses. In the second condition, participants were offered early losses followed by modest but steadily increasing rewards As participants played the games, autonomic arousal was determined by measurement of skin conductance. Responses made by recovering addicts were compared against responses by normal controls and persons suffering from damage to the ventromedial frontal cortex. Recovering addicts divided into three groups. One group responded in the same manner as normal controls. A second group responded identically to the brain damaged controls. A third group showed intense activation whenever the opportunity for reward appeared. Bechara and those who have duplicated the findings, have concluded that these results identify three classes of substance user. 1. Those who use it under normal motivational conditions and are susceptible to rational argument and treatment. 2. Those who use drugs and, like patients with damage to the orbito-frontal cortex, suffer significant impairment of the capacity to choose. These may be less capable of responding to normal treatment modalities. 3. Those who have a heightened sensitivity to reinforcement and present other problems for treatment.

If these kinds of responses reflect the normal range of behavioral change during recovery from substance abuse, we then have several cues to the value of spiritual experience. Those who retain normal levels of frontal lobe functionality and who show no special response to reinforcement most probably correspond to Peale's (1991) large numbers of persons who turn from addictive behaviors based upon an appeal to deeply held personal or traditional values. The Apollonian faiths would probably fulfill their needs for context and meaning. Those with aberrant responses to reward or who respond as if they suffered from ventromedial frontal damage, may respond well to peak experiences offered by the more Dionysian style of spirituality as it happens in more exuberant faith contexts.

The Physiologies of Addiction and Spirituality.

As one considers spiritual experience in the realm of recovery, its benefit may lie-apart from supernatural agency-in the optimal combination of the two conditions described by these authors. Dionysian spirituality accounts for peak experiences, experiences of the numinous. These may correspond to the intense, high reward experiences so valued by addicts. They provide a rush that on some level is capable of competing with the powerful experience of the chemical high. We have already noted observations by Jung (1965, 1976) and Zoja, (1990) to the effect that addiction is a misguided attempt to reach deeper levels of meaning. As the Apollonian life is normally lived out in tandem with unacknowledged ecstatic episodes (Maslow, 1970, 1971), it provides a continuing context that promises more experiences and provides a context for living out a rule-based, sober lifestyle. Maslow held the belief that every human has many peak experience but many do not admit to them (Maslow, 1970, 1971)

In groundbreaking research, reported by D'Aquili and Newberg (1998, 2000; Newberg, D'Aquili and Rause, 2000), neuro-scientists observed Franciscan Nuns and Tibetan Monks as they engaged in spiritual practice. When signaled that they were in state, fMRI scans were made which showed that in both sets of practitioners a similar physiology had been activated. Both groups showed a reduction of blood flow in the posterior superior parietal lobule (the Orientation Association Area) and an increase in blood flow in the Right Orbito-Frontal cortex. The investigators interpreted this to mean that the sensory correlates of mystical experience were reflected in the observed patterns of cortical activity.

According to Newberg and D'Aquili (2000, 2001), the Orientation Association Area keeps track of the position of the body and limits of the skin. It computes physical manipulation data and the sense of place. Decreases of blood flow in that area were signaled subjectively by a sense of floating, loss of boundaries and a felt sense of union that often characterizes the mystical state. The increased blood flow to the orbito-frontal cortex marked out the enjoyment, positive valuation, and incentive salience of the experience. This area has been correlated with positive affect, reward assessment and the assertion of inhibitory action.

Newberg and D'Aquili have hypothesized that mystical experience reflects one point in a range of experiences that are characterized by gradations in the same basic changes in physiology-increased perfusion of the orbito-frontal cortex and decreased perfusion of the Orientation Association Area. Along the continuum are arrayed experiences of aesthetic appreciation, beauty, love, hypnotic trance, mystical union and pure transcendence (D'Aquili and Newberg, 2000).

Besides the fact that spirituality has always been an important factor in overcoming addiction, this new data matches well the specific problems left in the wake of substance abuse and addiction.

In his important 2003 article: "Psychosis as a state of aberrant salience: A framework linking biology, phenomenology, and pharmacology in schizophrenia." Shitij Kapur, observes that psychoses are rooted in defects in the mid-brain dopaminergic tracts that are now so important to current substance abuse research. In his model, dopamine exerts its influence by according excessive incentive salience to meaningless events and so gives rise to aberrant patterns of thought and action. In parallel, we may understand that the excessive production of dopamine stimulated and simulated by substances of abuse and behavioral addictions accords them a similarly excessive salience (Goldstein and Volkow, 2002; Wise, 2002). Kapur then turns to the important distinction between the neurological effects of pharmacological agents and the need to resolve the subjective/behavioral problems that they have produced.

A logical extrapolation of this model is the idea that it is implausible to seek an "overnight" treatment that will lead to instantaneous resolution of psychosis.... Patients who have been psychotic for some time incorporate their psychotic beliefs into their larger cognitive schemas.... In such a situation, blocking the neurochemical abnormality (no matter how quickly and completely) will only take away the driving force but will not demolish the schemas already constructed. Improvement of psychosis, although assisted by drugs, finally involves psychological strategies that have timelines of weeks and months, rather than seconds and minutes (Kapur, p.20).

Substance abuse professionals would do well to take heed. Stopping the craving will not immediately overcome behavioral schemata that have made the problem behaviors part of the fabric of everyday life. Substance abusers have built lives around the specific behaviors and even the cultures of their problem.

The incentive salience of substances of abuse and the problem perceptions and behaviors that it creates and leaves in its wake are dominated by a simple fact: If cocaine is the best thing that you have ever experienced, it becomes the standard against which every other experience will be judged. This level of incentive salience may be the explanation of Bechara's results (ibid.). Cocaine and other drugs dampen the capacity for comparison and anticipation through overwhelmingly disproportionate effect (Wise, 2002). The key to restoring normal function is to provide the addict with an experience that is more powerful or more deeply fulfilling than the addiction. This is one of the important contributions of spirituality.

Similar considerations were made by Glasser (1985) in Positive Addictions when he suggested that other behaviors could fill the space usurped by addictive process. It also resonates with the important observation of James Prochaska (1994) that movement into change requires the identification of a desired goal that is more important than the problem at hand. St. Paul declares Christianity's gift "a better hope."

Generativity and Generalization in Recovery

In considering the role of spiritual experience in recovery, an important passage must be made from remedial conceptions to generative conceptions. While spiritual life has its healing virtues, the central process appears to be generative and not remedial. The central Christian ideas of grace, repentance and conversion imply a fundamental transformation of consciousness that is the prerequisite for the healing, if not its sufficient vehicle. While repentance is often thought of as an action with regard to sin, its most salient linguistic property is the transformation of consciousness. All of the ideas imply a transformation of thinking where some more fundamental reality becomes most salient (Gray, 1997a).

Popular usage has tended to emphasize the idea of turning away in repentance. The Gospel suggests otherwise. In turning to Christ, one necessarily turns away from sin. The change is wrought not by the word of the law, but by the turning of grace (Romans 10). The power of this positive turning is reflected in II Corinthians 3:18 where the believer is described as being transformed through the act of turning towards.

At this point we are faced with some general rules of human behavior. Reinforcement works better than punishment. Behaviors that are reinforced tend to Generalize.

Self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997) is a crucial element in recovery and personal growth. According to Bandura, experiences of efficacy have a tendency to generalize into other contexts. The rate of that generalization can be increased by making specific linkages to other contexts or by ensuring that the impact of the experience of efficacy is sufficiently powerful.

Drug abuse may be viewed as an act of personal agency. It often begins as a response to peer pressure. When one yields to this pressure, the submission to group pressure and the acts of using and enjoying the substance are reinforced further by social rewards. The behavioral and incentive salience of the experiences are magnified by the overstimulation of the dopaminergic systems of the Nucleus accumbens (Wise, 2002). The pleasure derived from social acceptance and from the drug itself further reinforce the behavior. The salience of the drug-related reward is also magnified by the same mechanism. As a result, according to the Banduran model, and the simple mechanics of reinforcement, the drug taking behavior gains significant salience in the behavioral repertoire. As an effective behavior, and one that provides significant levels of reinforcement, it becomes probable in other contexts. As a result, it generalizes. It generates further utility for itself and tends to become the preferred answer to life's problems.

Generative changes to the problems of substance use disorders must follow the same pattern. They must have a connection to deep or primary values. The behavior must provide reinforcement either through the community (group membership) direct physical action (jogging, health promoting activities) or through enhanced efficacy and perception of control. Generative change also has the property of synergy. The change itself or the experience precipitating the change may not be completely obvious from its immediate antecedents. Generative change tends to be the emergent property of the interaction of systemic elements ( Bertalanffy, 1968; Fidler,1982).

The Brooklyn Program

The Brooklyn Program is a cognitive behavioral program for substance users in the Federal Court System. It is founded on the presupposition that addictions and substance abuse issues are chemically enhanced learnings that are substantially no different from other learned patterns of behavior. The single exception to this similarity is that the problems that we classify as addictive are most often illegal or destructive. Evidence for the soundness of this approach is emerging daily from neuro scientific examinations of the dopaminergic systems in the midbrain and more recent studies of the function of the ventromedial frontal cortex . This research reveals that substance abuse problems are connected to basic neural structures involved in the development of hope and normal habit acquisition (Ruden, 1997; Schultz, et al., 1997; Waelti, et al., 2001; Schultz, 2002; Goldstein and Volkow, 2002; Gray, 2001, 2002; Kapur, 2003).

The Brooklyn Program is also rooted in the literature of wholeness, which emphasizes that people generally have the emotional resources needed to solve the problems that they face. This is especially true of addictions and substance abuse (Saleeby 1996, 1997; van Wormer, 1998; Gray, 2001; Cade and O'Hanlon, 1993; Miller and Berg, 1995; Erickson, 1954; Grinder and Bandler. 1979; Rossi, 1986; Gray, 2001, 2002; Andreas S. and Andreas, C., 1987; Andreas C. and Andreas, S., 1989; Bodenhamer and Hall, 1998; Bandler and Grinder, 1975; Dilts et al., 1980; Linden and Perutz, 1997; Robbins, 1983; Sternman,1990).

The wholeness approach does not view addiction as a disease, but as a learned response to the problems of everyday life. Typically it is a response that may have worked in the short term but grew to become a problem in its own right. Addictions are short term solutions that generalize into long-term problems (Bandler and Grinder, 1979; 1982; Andreas, S. and Andreas, C., 1987; Andreas, C. and Andreas, T., 1994; Sternman, 1990).

Recent research (Prochaska et al, 1994; Miller et al. 1995, Gray, 2001) has focused upon three necessary elements in substance abuse treatment: Self-Efficacy, Futurity, and Self-esteem. The term self-efficacy comes directly from the literature of Social Learning Theory, especially as formulated by Albert Bandura (1997). It holds that people need to have experiences of success in order to attempt a task, to find the motivation to continue in a task, and to feel good about themselves in the context of that task. Its entry into the field of addictions comes especially through the work of Miller and Marlat who, with others, have shown that a sense of self-efficacy is crucial to positive treatment outcomes (Miller et. al., 1995; Shattuck 1994; Doweiko, 1996).

In Social Learning Theory, self-esteem refers to feelings of positive self regard that result from experiences of efficacy in multiple activities across multiple contexts. Our approach uses this Banduran Model with one crucial change. Drawing from the models of Jung and Maslow, we focus esteem on an appreciation of and a connection to a deep and continuing sense of Self. This is that Self that points in the direction of the life calling or that unique niche that represents the fullest manifestation of what that life can be for the individual (Bandura, 1997; Gray, 1996; Progoff, 1959; Maslow, 1970; Hillman;1996).

Futurity is a paraphrase of one of the signal insights of James Prochaska, co-author of Changing for Good (1994), and creator of the stages of change model. While reviewing results from various applications of the model, he discovered that a significant amount of the progress from Pre-contemplation to Action was predicted by the degree to which the changer came to positively desire and seek after some future good so that the benefits of change outweighed the costs of the change. This is a crucial transition and one that heralds real readiness for change. Futurity, as applied here, entails the discovery of goals and activities that are inherently meaningful. It is, in many cases, the discovery of a life goal or spiritual mission that provides the appropriate impetus to change (Prochaska, Norcross and DiClemente, 1994; Hillman, 1996; Campbell, 1988, Ruden, 1997).

This approach to futurity works on Jungian and Maslowian assumptions that every individual has a calling, life goal or meaning towards which they are compelled to grow. The same phenomenon has been referred to as finding one's place in the universe (Peck, 1998) and realizing one's call (Hillman, 1996).

All of the program is executed using very basic psychological tools. Most of the techniques used in the Brooklyn Program are rooted in basic Pavlovian conditioning. Other techniques involve visualization, the capacity to decompose memory experience into its component sensory elements, and the ability to project oneself into an imagined future. All of the techniques used come from a discipline known as NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The program may be viewed as an application of the practical tools developed by NLP to the problems of addiction and substance abuse organized around the Depth Psychological and Humanistic perspectives of Jung and Maslow (Andreas, C. and Andreas, S., 1989; Andreas, S. and Andreas, C. 1987; Bandler and Grinder, 1975, 1975b, 1979, 1982; Bodenhammer and Hall, 1998; Dilts, Grinder, Bandler, and Delozier, 1980; Gray, 1997a, 1997b, 2001, 2002; Linden and Perutz, 1998; Robbins, 1986).

In brief, the program consists in a series of exercises designed to create a deepened sense of Self and personal direction by assembling successive layers of positive experience into deeper, more global and more accessible approximations of a core identity with the unique personal direction that is implied thereby.

Spirituality in the Brooklyn Program

The Brooklyn Program is not an explicitly spiritual program. Its link to spiritual experience comes on several levels. 1. It is designed to create intense subjective experiences by manipulating internal states. 2. It teaches psychological techniques closely related to classical patterns of meditation. 3. It fosters experiences of efficacy with regard to emotional presence, valence and intensity. 4. It seeks explicitly to constellate a sense of the deep Self and continuing individual identity.

Spiritual experience is identified with the Numinous- an undifferentiated experience of intense affect or awe. Maslow called them peak experiences. Jung identified them with the awakening of archetypal energies. Laski enumerated multiple varieties in terms of scale, intensity and perceived movement. D'Aquili and Newberg identify them with specific brain states (Jung, 1979a; Maslow, 1970,1971; Laski,1961; Newberg and D'Aquili, 2000).

In the Brooklyn Program our first efforts are to teach participants the specific rules for accessing and enhancing remembered positive experiences. In the course of these early exercises we introduce participants to their own capacity to transform emotion from something that happens to them (external locus of control) to something that they can do (internal locus of control).

Our assumptions about memory coincide with the formulations of Damasio (1999) and articulated by Bechara, Damasio and Damasio (2000). Memories are present time constructs. The memory of the experience is not stored per se but is recreated layer by layer as more and more sensory data is activated. When a certain level of complexity is reached, the amygdala activates the emotion originally associated with the experience (Rolls, 2000)

Damasio notes:

The records we build of the objects and events that we once perceived include the motor adjustments made to obtain the perception in the first place and also include the emotional reactions we had then. They are all co-registered in memory, albeit in separate systems. Consequently, even when we "merely" think about an object , we tend to reconstruct memories not just of a shape or color but also of the perceptual engagement the object required and of the accompanying emotional reactions, regardless of how slight. (Damasio, 1999, p. 148)

Practically speaking, our technique derives from the work of Richard Bandler, co-founder of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Bandler has described specific techniques for taking advantage of this structure. Submodalities are Bandler's descriptive term for the specifics of "perceptual engagement" mentioned by Damasio. By manipulating the structure of the experience, the experience itself is changed. The submodality manipulations include both real movements, sensory adjustments, and Damasio's "as if" adjustments that occur in imagination (Andreas, S. and Andreas, C. 1987; Bandler 1985; Bandler and Grinder 1979; Bandler and MacDonald, 1987; Dilts, 1993; Grinder and Bandler, 1975).

Our first exercise is designed to teach the skills of sensory manipulation, attentional focus and to open the participant to the experience of intense endogenous states. Like meditation it returns the participant to the same focus of attention over and over. In so doing it sharpens attention. With each return to the memory, new sensory details are emphasized. This enhances concentration by preventing boredom and enhances the state by contrast with present external reality. Exercise one follows:

Please read each instruction completely before doing it

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 nearing peak, 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 immersed in the feeling alone.

At the end of this exercise participants are already able to draw the parallel between the endogenous state generated and meditation or spiritual states. When done correctly, the exercise ends with the participant disoriented as to time and place, floating in a mild ecstasy. With practice, the experience deepens and becomes richer.

One of the important parts of this and subsequent exercises is the dissociation of the felt experience from the memory content itself. This results in a generalized state of autonomic arousal that corresponds well with D'Aquili and Newberg's prediction of a deeply serene floating state combined with focused attention and a sense of unity (Newberg and D'Aquili, 2000). It is not uncommon for participants who are committed to some spiritual discipline to recognize the state in terms of their own experience or traditions.

In actual practice, these first experiences are used to teach the rudimentary skills of state enhancement and the dissociation of feeling from memory. Later, these skills are applied to a specific set of experiences which become the root of a set of five conditioned stimuli. The conditioned stimuli form in turn the root affective tones in a progressive constellation of deep-self that more and more closely approximates classical spiritual ecstasy.

The fullest expression of the physiology of spiritual experience comes with the two major constellations of the NOW state. These are complex conditioned stimuli (anchors) which are additively combined to create a felt sense of integration at a deeper level of being.

As the experiences deepen over time we note significant lessening of positive urines and often hear the states compared favorably to drug induced states. As the program continues, participants often spontaneously use the conditioned states to engender choice. Even before they become apt at creating and using the conditioned states, participants regularly report discovering the re-emergence of choice and the capacity to weigh consequences.

Early in one session (the client was no more than three or four weeks into the session), one long-time cocaine addict, on Federal supervision for multiple Armed Bank Robberies, reported going to his "cop spot". He stated, somewhat sheepishly, that he got there and discovered --to his chagrin-- that the transaction did not flow easily and automatically as it always had before. Instead, he found himself becoming confused and left without buying any drugs. Confusion signals the re-emergence of choice. This offender completed his term of parole after serving more than ten years because of repeated drug-related revocations.

All of the skills taught in the Brooklyn Program are behaviorally testable (Gray, 2001, 2002). In order to ensure compliance and to refine the skills, each participant is brought in for several one-on-one sessions to determine whether they have learned the skills or not. The most important of these skills is deemed to be the creation of the several root conditioned resource states. These are affective states drawn from single experiences of: 1. focused attention 2. a carefully made decision rooted in at least five options 3. a moment of discovery when a complex task coalesced into a single, effortless movement 4. a moment of fun 5. an experience of confidence in a task that can be done well, reliably and repeatedly and 6. the synergistic NOW state, integrating the other 5 and constellating the sense of Self.

During one session there was a woman who had been assigned to the group primarily for anger management. She generally did poorly in group sessions but responded well in individual. At the last one-on-one she was asked to demonstrate the five basic states. She claimed that she could not and was advised that she would then have to repeat the program (16 weeks). The woman exploded in anger. Tears ran down her face and she began to rage intensely about the injustice. As she screamed louder, she was reminded how that several weeks before one of the states (NOW) had worked well for her. She was instructed several times to make the gesture that would evoke the conditioned response. After several demands, she did. In less than 30 seconds she quieted, calmed, and relaxed completely. Nonplussed, she agreed to practice the state for the next two weeks and was allowed to graduate.

Needless to say, the program has reaped real benefit as a tool for anger management. The restoration of choice by making powerful, subjective states available at will makes a great deal of difference when dealing with impulse control. As we have often told our clients, it is one thing to dream up a good mood, lying in bed on a Sunday morning. It is quite a different matter when there is someone yelling insults in your face. In these conditions and others where negative affect would normally predominate; access to the button, the conditioned response systems, creates real levels of choice.

Although not specifically religious or even explicitly spiritual, it has become our practice to encourage participants to use the enhanced affective states as an adjunct to their own spiritual practice. Charismatic or Pentecostal Christians regularly report felt enhancement in their prayer and praise lives. A young Chasid reported that he felt no need to drink in order to properly observe the feast of Esther. He already had an appropriate level of joy. A Muslim reported a new depth in his time at prayer. Participants of no particular faith report powerful states of personal peace and transcendence. Nearly every completer reports a sense of centering, enhanced personal value and direction.

Changes in personal style are often dramatic. Recently a young criminal who entered the program angry, resentful and openly antagonistic emerged from the first elicitation of the NOW state to say he had never felt so good in all of his life. With each return from the state he struggled to find appropriate language. At first he said it was like you feel right after good sex. Then, it seemed to him, it was vulnerable, but in a good, strong way. Finally he decided that he felt good about who he was in a way that he never thought possible.

Fully detailed exercises and facilitators notes are available from the author.

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