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Practical Spirituality*
by Steve & Connirae Andreas

         Over ten years ago my wife Connirae and I modeled people who had resourcefully dealt with the loss of a loved person. Out of this we developed a pattern for helping people resolve grief quickly, and experience a joyful and resourceful re-union with the lost person, so that they no longer experienced a loss.
         We quickly realized that some losses are also accompanied by a phobic response to the shock or trauma of a loss that is sudden, violent, or otherwise very unpleasant. We also realized that a phobic response and a grief response are mirror-image opposites: A phobic response results from associating into an unpleasant experience, while the grief response results from dissociating from a pleasant one. It was a fairly simple matter to learn to say to the client, "Look, the shock and trauma that you suffered is totally different and separate from the love you felt for the person you have lost. They just happened to occur in the same time frame, so you got them mixed together!" After separating these two experiences, we could use the phobia cure on the unpleasantness, and then use the grief resolution process on the loss. As we explored the use of this pattern further, we found that it could also be used for other kinds of losses: location (such as a family home), activity (such as a loved sport), information (such as a special memory) or a thing (such as a ring).
         Many readers will recognize that these are the other four categories of "meta-program content sorting," and many losses involve more than one of them. A badly-injured basketball player who can never play again may lose not only the treasured activity, but also the companionship with others who played the game with him. Someone who leaves a loved location may also lose the things that were present there, etc. Besides losing something in the real world, people often suffer an internal loss of self. Someone who loses a spouse may also lose a sense of themselves as a valued husband or wife, and someone who loses a child may lose a sense of themselves as a special parent.

         The loss of self can be resolved by the same method, but it is helpful and respectful to realize and acknowledge this internal aspect of an external loss. Next we found that the same pattern could be used for experiences that a person had never actually had in reality, but that were vivid and treasured representations of what could be or could have been: an abused child with a representation of what a happy childhood would have been like, a woman with a dream of having children who finds that she can't, a man with a life-long dream of corporate success who finds himself undeniably in a "dead-end" job. Even someone who actually achieves their dream often finds that it is not at all what they expected it to be.
         Since such experiences are often at the core of what are often called a "mid-life crisis," the usefulness of the grief pattern became even broader. Finally, we found that when the grief resolution pattern did not work, there was resentment toward the person who was gone, or resentment toward a God who would permit such a loss to occur to them.
         At first this was a confusing barrier, but a few years later Connirae and I and the participants in an advanced seminar modeled the process that people use spontaneously to comfortably reach a deep and lasting forgiveness. As we traveled this path of development over a period of years, we began to realize that the processes we were exploring were much more than simple interventions to deal with personal obstacles to living.
         We all experience traumas, losses, and anger and resentments throughout our lives. In learning how to resourcefully deal with these universal experiences, we were exploring a whole different attitude toward life, one that some might call "spiritual." There were lots of clues along the way. When people reached the joyful re-union with a lost experience and the tears of greeting melted the hard shell of defense against pain that had kept them in a small and isolated world, they would often speak of feeling more whole and more open to the world and to living. After watching a demonstration of the grief resolution process, a wise person once said, "I see; she lost a part of herself, and you gave it back to her."
         Connirae's development of the Core Transformation process explored the healing power of reexperiencing and reacknowledging core states of loving union with all creation. Gradually, much broader questions emerged, which often echoed the teachings and understandings of a variety of spiritual traditions: the relationship between self and world, and the nature of the boundaries we create that prevent us from opening ourselves to a larger world, that most suffering is based on illusion and clinging doggedly to ideas that limit us, and that judgements can easily impoverish and shrink our worlds to small and uncomfortable prisons. Many very old spiritual traditions have upheld such understandings as a good way to live. The difference now is that we know enough about the processes that we can teach people how to actually do it, and discover how this changes their entire orientation to the inevitable challenges of living.
         These are some of the elements of my ongoing exploration into what I've been calling "practical spirituality," learning how to actually reach states that mystics have pointed to for centuries, not as a preparation for a world to come (the evidence for this has never been very compelling to me), but as a valuable and practical way of living in this world now.    

*Originally published in Anchor Point,(July 1999): http://www.nlpanchorpoint.com

Links:
Forgiveness article:
http://www.nlpco.com/articles/body_forgiveness.html

The Forgiveness Pattern (audiotape)
http://www.enlp.com

Live client video demonstration of the Forgiveness process
(with introduction and follow-up commentary on the session)
available from Zeig/Tucker: sa_inquiry@steveandreas.com (Ask for the 20% workshop flyer discount)

Grief article:
http://www.nlpco.com/articles/Therapy/Grief.htm


©2000-08 Steve Andreas