This is a rather strange book, and that is probably to be expected from Richard Bandler. None of his books are what you would exactly call ‘ordinary’. This book is Bandler’s more open foray into the world of fantasy and metaphor. He says that after writing five books in quick succession, he opened up to his unconscious mind and wrote this book.
And it is best to read this with an open unconscious mind and to send your conscious mind off on a well-deserved holiday somewhere. It’s a short read at 110 pages. The story is about a prince who wants to find himself and finds himself in more ways and through more perspectives than he could ever have imagined. It’s a fun read although (probably deliberately) confusing in many places. It could be used as a bedtime story book for children or a nice break for an adult who needs to get a new perspective on the world.
The book is full of embedded metaphors, Ericksonian language patterns, and other NLP techniques. Well worth a read, and very different to most NLP-related books out there.
Among the many accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa, no tribe was considered to have warriors more fearsome or more intelligent than the mighty Masai. It is perhaps surprising then to learn the traditional greeting that passed between Masai warriors. “Kasserian ingera”, one would always say to another. It means “How are the children?”
It is still traditional greeting among Masai, acknowledging the high value that the Masai place on their children’s well-being. Even warriors with no children of their own would always give the traditional answer, “All children are well”.
This meant, of course, that peace and safety prevail; that priorities of protecting the young and the powerless are in place; that the Masai people have not forgotten their reason for being, their proper function, and their responsibilities. “All children are well” denotes that life is good and that the daily struggles of existence, even among a poor people, include the proper care of the young and defenseless.
With a timid voice and idolizing eyes, the little boy greeted his father as he returned from work, “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?” Greatly surprised, but giving his boy a glaring look, the father said: “Look, son, not even your mother knows that. Don’t bother me now, I’m tired.” “But Daddy, just tell me please!? How much do you make an hour,” the boy insisted.
The father finally giving up replied: ” Twenty dollars per hour.” “Okay, Daddy? Could you loan me ten dollars?” the boy asked. Showing restlessness and positively disturbed, the father yelled: “So that was the reason you asked how much I earn, right?? Go to sleep and don’t bother me anymore!”
It was already dark and the father was meditating on what he had said and was feeling guilty. Maybe he thought, his son wanted to buy something. Finally, trying to ease his mind, the father went to his son’s room.
“Are you asleep son?” asked the father. “No, Daddy. Why?” replied the boy partially asleep. “Here’s the money you asked for earlier,” the father said. “Thanks, Daddy!” rejoiced the son, while putting his hand under his pillow and removing some money. “Now I have enough! Now I have twenty dollars!” the boy said to his father, who was gazing at his son, confused at what his son just said. “Daddy could you sell me one hour of your time?”
The Peaceful Country
Once upon a time there was a country, a very young country. It was idealistic, and the people in this country had great dreams about what the country would be like. It would be a country without war. It would be a gentle country. They wanted to live together in cooperation and peace.
Unfortunately, in the early history of this country, there was an unexpected attack from outside. And not just one attack, but several.
The people of this country didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know how to respond, and the whole of the country was thrown into turmoil. They wondered what to do, to deal with the situation in the best way that they could. Someone suggested,
“Lets ask for volunteers, and then we can set up a small group of people inside the country, and this small group can be in charge of defending the border.”
And as they didn’t seem to have very many choices just then, and at least this way most of the people could carry on living their normal peaceful existence, they agreed that this is what they would do. So, they sent the small group out there, to the border, to defend it.
The small group knew that they were there to control the border. That was their job, and they wanted to do it the very best way that they could, and you did… you know.
Now, after a while very disturbing news began to come back from the border, news of what was going on over there. The news was, that the small group over on the border was causing chaos. It was doing things that the people in the centre didn’t approve of at all. Things that were damaging to the community.
Naturally, the people in the centre were really concerned about this. They just hadn’t seemed to be able to find an ecological solution, you know… one that works in all ways.
Time went on… and unfortunately more problems occurred. They started getting messages from the small group, messages saying that to defend the border more territory was needed. The group at the border wanted to control more of the country.
At first the people in the country agreed, but they thought… well, that this could go on and on. And they began to wonder… who is really in charge here.
They had to really consider what to do.
So they organised a meeting with the people out on the border, and they called in a negotiator to assist them. The people from the centre, the small group and the negotiator begin to communicate.
The people from the centre said that some of the things going on out there at the border really concerned them, and they wondered if the small group had a good reason for it. And it was very important the way that they said that, you know, because they really wanted to understand the small groups highest intentions, and they were careful to express it to them in a way that showed that.
So they asked the small group about their intentions, and the group said that of course they were defending the border. They had to get tough they explained, because it was so critical that this was done well.
And then the negotiator asked them what they were wanting to achieve by defending the border in just that way. If the border was defended fully, what would they have through that, that’s even more important than the defence itself.
And they said that the country would be safe, and that’s what they’re trying to achieve.
Then the negotiator asked what would happen, as a result of that safety, that’s even more important than the safety itself.
And the small group thought about it, and explained that then they would be able to live in peace, harmony and cooperation.
The people from the centre said that now they understood what had been happening, and explained
“That’s what we want too.”
So they were able to really begin to cooperate and find ways that they really could begin to have more peace and harmony, because, you know the really important thing about this story?
The most important thing to know is that the attack had been finished years ago.
… it’s been over for years.
A father talks to his daughter who is a bit upset because her desk is untidy.
“What makes it untidy?” he asks.
“Well when things are moved about.” she replies.
“So if I move this pen a bit does that make it untidy?”
“Yes it does” she says “the pen has to be just there.”
“Well the problem is” says her father “there are a lot of ways you can see your desk as untidy but only one way you can see it as tidy!”
There was a girl who loved to blow bubbles. Every morning before she went to school she ran into the garden and blew bubbles. In the winter, she wore a heavy coat. In the summer, she didn’t wear shoes and her hair was cut short. Every afternoon, when school ended, she ran home and blew bubbles again. Her mother was worried. She said, “It’s strange.” The girl’s father said, “What’s wrong with bubbles?” The girl’s father and mother did not understand each other very well.
One day the girl blew a bubble, but there was something different about it. The girl looked at it floating in front of her. It was square. That whole summer, the girl blew square bubbles. As she got older, she learned to blow triangles and half circles. By the time she was in high school, she could put the shapes together and make trees and houses, cars and buses. She could make whole little towns floating through the air.
The girl didn’t join clubs. She didn’t play sports. Her mother was still worried, but the girl studied enough to keep her teachers happy. And she kept her bubbles a secret. She couldn’t say why she kept it a secret. The girl became a woman. She could now blow bubbles of cats, dogs, and horses that ran through the air. She worked as a designer at a small clothing company. Her clothes were simple, clean, and very popular.
Years later, she sat in her own garden, with her own children, and her own husband. Her daughter was holding a small green wand in one hand and a small bottle of soap in the other. The woman reached out and took the bottle and wand from her daughter. It was a late spring day. The sky was darkening. The woman dipped the wand in the soap and held it to her mouth. She whispered something. It sounded like a prayer. One perfect butterfly, purple against the evening sky floated free and up. The butterfly waved its wings slowly. It passed in front of a white moon. It disappeared in an instant. Her son, a boy of three who liked to break things, asked his mother to teach him how to make a butterfly. The woman’s daughter, who was a quiet girl and understood more than her brother, did not ask anything. She already knew. You did not make anything in this world. You worked until you found the right way to call for what you needed. If you were lucky, the call was answered.
After years of searching, the seeker was told to go to a cave, in which he would find a well. ‘Ask the well what is truth’, he was advised, ‘and the well will reveal it to you’. Having found the well, the seeker asked that most fundamental question. And from the depths came the answer, ‘Go to the village crossroad: there you shall find what you are seeking’.
Full of hope and anticipation the man ran to the crossroad to find only three rather uninteresting shops. One shop was selling pieces of metal, another sold wood, and thin wires were for sale in the third. Nothing and no one there seemed to have much to do with the revelation of truth.
Disappointed, the seeker returned to the well to demand an explanation, but he was told only, ‘You will understand in the future.’ When the man protested, all he got in return were the echoes of his own shouts. Indignant for having been made a fool of – or so he thought at the time – the seeker continued his wanderings in search of truth. As years went by, the memory of his experience at the well gradually faded until one night, while he was walking in the moonlight, the sound of sitar music caught his attention. It was wonderful music and it was played with great mastery and inspiration.
Profoundly moved, the truth seeker felt drawn towards the player. He looked at the fingers dancing over the strings. He became aware of the sitar itself. And then suddenly he exploded in a cry of joyous recognition: the sitar was made out of wires and pieces of metal and wood just like those he had once seen in the three stores and had thought it to be without any particular significance.
At last he understood the message of the well: we have already been given everything we need: our task is to assemble and use it in the appropriate way. Nothing is meaningful so long as we perceive only separate fragments. But as soon as the fragments come together into a synthesis, a new entity emerges, whose nature we could not have foreseen by considering the fragments alone.
Clean Language – Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds
by Wendy Sullivan & Judy Rees
This is a beautiful little book which is well-written and full of useful insights. Clean language consists entirely of questions and it is intended to offer a new way of thinking about how people’s minds actually work. It also helps people to explore their internal metaphors and enriching these metaphors in a way that can lead to an enrichment of their external lives. It is also well illustrated with lots of little cartoons which help to explain the text very quickly.
Clean Language was developed by David Grove. It consists of very simple but powerful questions which go further even than NLP in focusing solely on process and leaving the content entirely up to the client. The twelve basic Clean Language questions are shown below in three groups.
- (and) what kind of X (is that X)?
- (and) is there anything else about X?
- (and) where is X? or (and) whereabouts is X?
- (and) is there a relationship between X and Y?
- (and) when X, what happens to Y?
- (and) that’s X like what? [used for eliciting a metaphor]
Sequence and Source Questions
- (and) then what happens? or (and) what happens next?
- (and) what happens just before X?
- (and) where could X come from?
- (and) what would X like to have happen?
- (and) what needs to happen for X?
- (and) can X (happen)?
These questions are all that is used in most Clean Language sessions, often using the same question several times in a row to get the client to explore their internal representations more fully.
It takes a while to get used to the questions and asking them in exactly the form that they are given can be challenging at first. When I thought about using them, I sometimes felt that they were too constraining and that I wanted more freedom. However, when I talked to a friend about a difficult issue that he was working through, I primarily used these questions and despite the strange syntax at times they caused no confusion and were very helpful in getting him to sort out his own internal issues and to enrich his metaphors for how to move forward.
I’ll be coming back to Clean Language and a related topic, Symbolic Modelling, over the next few months as this is such an interesting area that I have signed up for an online course with a British training school. I’m looking forward to that and in the meantime, I’m planning to enjoy using Clean questions when I want to focus entirely on process and leave the content entirely to the client.
This video series by Gerald Kein (Omni Hypnosis Training Center) is an impressive hypnosis training consisting of 18 videos of about two hours each which take the viewer from basics up to a very competent level of hypnosis and its applications. The first 12 videos make up the Beginner-Intermediate section of the course. It starts from the history of hypnosis and moves into induction techniques and utilization of trance for therapeutic purposes. The remaining six videos make up the Advanced section and teach rapid/instant induction techniques, regression, addiction treatment, direct suggestion, recreational regressionand much more in great detail.
Perhaps what will be most useful to many NLP practitioners are the induction techniques which are introduced including the Dave Elman techniques. Ericksonian hypnosis primarily focuses on indirect suggestion, and the more direct techniques in this series will be of great value to many practitioners who want to induce trance more quickly, or who are working with people who are less responsive to indirect techniques.
Some of the other gems in this series are a good section on pendulum use showing how it can not just be a great hypnosis tool, but also a useful marketing tool! There is also an excellent section on self-hypnosis and how to improve your skills at entering a trance quickly.
Kein’s presentation is humourous and entertaining. He engages very well with the people on the course and his methods of creating rapport are another thing that we can learn from. The explanations and demonstrations are extremely practical and Kein is obviously highly experienced. He tells many anecdotes about his own experiences with patients over many years while he ran a large hypnosis practice. He gets to the important points quickly and comes across as genuinely interested in getting hypnosis more widely accepted as a highly effective technique in achieving positive change in people’s lives.
I would recommend this series as a very good addition to the skill set of any NLP practitioner. NLP has been so influenced by Ericksonian hypnosis that practitioners often do not get sufficient exposure to other forms of hypnosis, especially the Dave Ellman techniques which are so powerful. The length of this course may be offputting to some, but this is all highly useful learning material. It is available from Omni Hypnosis Training Center.