This one learning has probably influenced a large part of my life in every possible sense. To me this has to do with the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious. It is this story about a lady named Mary. This happens about 2000 years ago. Jesus has just received 72 of his disciples from a very successful mission and is going towards Jerusalem. On this journey, Jesus and his huge group of disciples are being invited by a lady named Martha to have dinner. And as all the preparations are being made, Jesus is sharing his wisdom. And seated at his feat is Mary, Martha’s sister. You can imagine the huge burden of responsibility on Martha to successfully organize dinner for such a huge group at home. It is very reasonable of her to want Mary to assist her in all the preparations. So, she goes to Jesus and shares, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” and Jesus replies, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
What I am curious to point out here is the word ‘better‘. Let’s say you want to go to a restaurant. And you are in mood for Chinese cuisine. Then when you compare two Chinese restaurants, you might say Wong is better than Kong. You would rarely use the word ‘better’ when you are comparing Apples and Oranges.
If you read those words again, there is this clue that Jesus is calling both of them as Important. The use of the word ‘better’ implies that. There is nowhere he is commenting that taking care of dinner for him and his disciples is not important. But, there is a very important thing he says. He says it may be important but it is not a necessity! And he won’t stop Mary from doing what is needed.
The word needed means it is of absolute necessity. Obviously, when you have someone extraordinary around you, you better listen, watch and get as much of personal time with him. So, the comment that Jesus made is kind of easy to understand. But how is it useful in today’s context? And what can it teach us today, especially about consciousness?
To me, all of this is about making decisions:
1. You are in an event. Maybe a conference, a meeting. What is your purpose for being there?
2. You want to get married. Or you are married. You want a great family. What does your dream look like?
3. You are a student or you are working. You want to grow in your career. You are doing everything you think is important to get ahead. What are the essentials in your field?
4. You are running a business. And you have a thousand different things to do. You have dozens of ideas but what did you really accomplish today?
5. You are learning something new. Have you got the essence of it?
In all of the examples above, on what are you choosing to spend your energy and time? What are the parameters you consider when you judge? I am sure whatever you are using to evaluate and whatever you focus on is quite important to you. But this is the question I am asking: Is what is important to you coming at the price of what is needed?
Here are some day-to-day examples:
1. Extreme care for the brands your wear (important) with no care for your body (needed)
2. Concerned on the certificate or degree (important) with no respect for the learning (needed)
3. Checking every possible preference when choosing a partner (important) and ignoring shared values (needed)
4. Focusing on the marketing and sales (important) and not perfecting the product (needed)
What I believe is this: If you take care of What is NEEDED, the important things will also happen, eventually.
There are billion bits of useful information around you – the sound in your room, the pressure of your feet, the changing focus of your eyes as you read this and the shift in your body muscles as you breath. They may all be very important, but there is something else that needs your full attention for reading this. And that is exactly where your focus is at this moment.
So what has all this to do with consciousness?
Miller did this interesting experiment called the magical number where he concluded that the conscious can only pay attention to 7 +/- 2 chunks of information, which means you can pay attention to 7 numbers or 7 words or 7 sentences or 7 pages depending on how you chunk information. So, what this means is that your conscious is limited at how much information it can pay attention to, simultaneously at any given moment in time. And you have to make choices on where you want this attention to be.
You can never be NOT CONSCIOUS. Even when you sleep or even when you are in deep hypnotic state, your conscious is just shifted to more internal things. Even when you have dreams you are conscious of it. Hypnosis is actually shift of conscious awareness and not elimination of it. So, what is the unconscious? It is everything that is not in your conscious awareness at that moment!
The consciousness is not a fixed component in the brain. It is actually a combination of your brain, body and the nervous system that connects it. And consciousness is like water: it moves from one point of focus to another. The old school of thought was where people used to believe that the conscious is one part of the brain and the subconscious is another part of the brain. The NLP school of thought is that, your conscious can occupy any part of your brain and body. Consider the example of falling down and hurting your knee. You are conscious of the pain and your full attention is on that. You don’t care of many other things at that moment (consciously), and yet at the same time, if you see a tiger, you will run for your life, and not be conscious of the pain in the knee but rather of other things that are needed at that moment. This is the same technique utilized to perform open heart surgery without anesthesia. They shift the attention of the patient to something else (not to nothing), so that when the knife cuts open the skin, the patient doesn’t shift his or her conscious attention to the kinesthetic sense in that part of the body.
This is the meaning and purpose of consciousness: to pay attention to what you need until it becomes unconscious and automatic.
Ok, so what?
So, if your conscious is limited to 7 chunks of information, what is the purpose of consciousness? Well, the purpose is this: to decide what is needed for you! In the New Code NLP, the term used for this is ‘setting an intention’. When you learned to ride your bicycle, it was a very conscious process. Your attention was focused on the steering, the balance and a variety of other things. However, today, if you are to ride a bicycle again, even if you have not touched a bicycle for many years, you will be able to ride it comfortably without any conscious attention on balance! This is because what starts as an conscious effort can become so innate and so automatic that the mechanics of these become unconscious. It is at this stage things happen as if they are automatic. This is when people use the language ‘it just happens’.
So, my question to you today is as follows: IS WHAT IS NEEDED (by you and for you) in your unconscious processes already? Have you given enough conscious attention for it to become automatic and go deep into your neurology enough to be on an autopilot?
How to sow your needs in the Unconscious?
There are many ways to do it:
1. Obviously, one way is to do what is needed in thought and action for many days, until it becomes an habit.
2. The other is a variation of the above with what is known as ‘infractionation’, which means you can do it in a day, but you repeat the same through action about 100 or 200 times with clean and complete shift of attention in between. I have partly mentioned about this in the article titled ‘Richard Bandler and Repetition‘.
3. Submodality techniques like the Swish which combine some visual representation of Intention (when done properly by eliciting a disassociated picture and using the Meta Model to chunk up enough to get to intention).
4. Anchoring techniques like ReImprinting or Change Personal History (wouldn’t do this unless it is the last choice).
5. If your conscious and unconscious are aligned and there is no incongruence, then just stating the intention must do it. (This is what I think Dr. John Grinder and Carmen Bostic are accomplishing with New Code NLP. And this is my favorite way of doing it.)
Well, if you are an SOE Alumni and you don’t connect the dots yet, this is the heart of uPwithNLP, to plant beliefs, behaviors, skills and capabilities deep at the unconscious of what we believe is a NECESSITY for Personal Artistry and Excellence to unleash the genius in each individual, as well as to nurture them so that the harvest is good and plentiful. We (Harini and I) believe that the set of installation we do comprises of what is necessary for proper application of NLP in addition to succeeding on autopilot.
PS: There are two books I was reading today, that I would led to the writing of this specific article:
1. Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D., Vol. 2 by Dr. John Grinder, Judith Delozier and Dr. Richard Bandler ( My copy of this book contains Judith’s lovely writing that reads ‘May your voice go with others as Milton’s goes with us’. I love Judith’s simplicity and writing and I dedicate this article to her. To those of you who don’t know Judith, she is a developer of NLP and was part of the early New Code NLP with John; some of her work in this direction is documented in one of the must read books of NLP called Turtles All the Way Down )
2. The Book of Luke. Luke is unique in its style of writing and is the only Gospel that focuses on women as playing important roles among Jesus’ followers. This specific book is a great source of inspiration for me from a NLP perspective on the construction and sequencing of Metaphors, although I strongly believe that this book requires better translation. And one day I aspire to translate it myself.