NLP in a Gesture

I want to share a story of conversational NLP that took place in just a few minutes, and almost no words. For me it was a lovely experience of how simple change can be sometimes…

In 2008 I was up in Winter Park Colorado, taking the Master Practitioner Training with NLP Comprehensive. One afternoon I was meeting with three friends from the training who all had a similar interest in writing and story-telling. We were brainstorming ways that we could support each other.

My friend Paul Tracey was describing his current situation, “People have always said I’m a good story-teller, and that I should write my stories down in a book. I want to do it. The problem is it’s just all fuzzy and dark; I just can’t see how to proceed.” Paul squinted slightly as he gestured with both hands down and in front of him, as if tracing the frame of a short, wide picture. Then he looked up and his face visibly relaxed as he framed a new space above the first. “I just wish it was clear and laid out, so I could see all the steps involved and just exactly how to proceed.” His hands never left the new space as he talked about it.

“Well that’s easy,” I said, leaning forward with a grin. With both hands I bracketed the “unclear space” he had so clearly laid out with his gestures. “Just move this up here.” With the last word I definitively moved my hands (and his internal picture) up to the “clear space” he’d recently been looking at.

He shook his head and blinked. He laughed, then looked again. “Mind melt,” he said. “That’s amazing. I can see the words on the pages now.”

I had the pleasure of co-sponsoring the Advanced Mastery NLP Training a year later, which Paul also attended. When we went out to lunch to catch up, I learned that he has experienced an ongoing shift since that simple, playful move. This is what he wrote about his experience:

“I’ve been very busy with my other projects, so I haven’t written much this year, but ever since our meeting a year ago, what I need to do has been very clear to me. A working title is now firmly in my mind as well as a number of chapter headings. I know this will work for me because I used to work as a part time journalist covering motor cycle road racing. In that job, I couldn’t write an article unless those opening sequences were there – once that was in place, the rest just flowed. Same with letters and e-mails. Once the opening frames are there then the rest just follows.

Many of my personal strategies rely on me having a clear picture in mind – and as a result of your wonderfully simple yet powerful intervention, I feel capable of succeeding at my writing whenever I decide it’s the right time to begin. It really helps to have that picture in the right place. Excellent.”

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