Sunday, January 17, 2010

Transcending Pain

One of the more important processes that I think is life enhancing is the ability to control the states/feelings/emotings in your mind, heart and body.

And a key paradigmatic skill in this domain is the ability to control pain. I have always planned to blog on this, 'cause I think most people shy away from consciously skilling themselves in this area, or even thinking about it very deeply. Which means that when inevitably they experience a period in their lives in which paining is occurring, they are unable to cope and transcend the experience.

So I've become a 'collector' of strategies and skills for controlling paining and have done a number of ascetic practices to build and consolidate these skillings. I enjoy transcending paining. It's a skill that allows me to know that no matter what happens in life, I'll be able to cope with it, learn from it and transcend. In today's blog I'd like to share some great strategies for overcoming pain and describe what/how specifically to use your thoughts, mind and neurology to do controlling of paining.

I've personally used all these techniques in situations such as surgery without anesthesia, dental surgery without anesthesia or pain relief, meditating naked in the snow, plunging into ice cold water and deliberately burning through the flesh on my arm as a means of indelibly proving to myself that I know how to control my paining circuits and neurology. Thirty years on, the scar on my inner forearm stands as eloquent testimony to how learnable it is to transcend pain, and I am justifiably proud of this skill. (Though let me make it clear, I'm not a proponent of self-harming.)

Pain as a signal

PAIN = Please Acknowledge Information Now

Pain is a signal from one part of your brain/mind/body that there is something not right and needs attending to. This signal can be a message to your immuning processes to do healing, it can be a message from your muscles that you are overdoing an activity and need to slow down or even a message from your heart that one of your relationships needs attending to.

As long as you ignore the message - the signal - the emotional experience of pain will continue and will increase in intensity and salience. However, once you acknowledge the signal, acknowledge the part of your unconscious multi-mind that is attempting to communicate the message of dis-ease or dis-order, then the emotional valence of the signal will disappear. It's quite amazing how this works. Controlling pain is in large measure a process of acknowledging and negotiating between parts of your mind/body.

I always find that there are two key components to any pain experience - the nervous system signal of information and the 'hurt' or emotional/feeling component of the paining. When you can learn to separate these, acknowledging the first, you'll find you can easily dissipate and transcend the second.

De-nominalising Pain

Another key insight into 'how' to do this process is to realise that 'pain' is a disguised verb, it's a nominalisation, a process turned into a noun, a thing. You don't 'have pain' instead, the reality is that you 'do' paining with unconscious competence.

Paining is a skill. And the power of this insight is that the skill has structure and sub-skills. By learning and refining your abilities in paining you can easily learn to transcend the experience and gate on and off both the signal, the outcome of the signal and the emotional valence of the signal.

You have to do this ecologically however, otherwise your powerful unconscious mind/body system will do whatever it can to attempt to get you to shift the behaviours that are causing the issue. Pain communicates that all is not right in your world and you need to make some changes.

Acknowledging the signal and setting the appropriate changes as outcomes typically shifts your phenomenological experience of the paining and allows you to free up your energy and resources to make the required changes.


Based on these insights and distinctions, here are some of the more useful techniques and strategies that I've found to work very powerfully, and along with each one I've provided a link to a reference book in which you can learn more if you choose to do this:

Thong Len – Tibetan technique of breathing in pain from someone else and breathing out healing and wellness. The technique is based in part on the emoting of love and compassion.
"Thong Len is a meditative technique developed by Tibetan Buddhists almost 800 years before the discovery of anesthesia. It's explained in that classic of Tibetan Buddhist thought, the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. It works by imagining someone else's pain, like a burn, and drawing it into oneself. As you take the pain from others, your own hurt disappears."

Mental Ataraxis – Psychiatrist Ainslie Meares' technique of systematic relaxation of mind and body. This is a particularly powerful technique and a delightful experience. It's a life enhancing skill that I think every intelligent person should learn and practice. I can't recommend his book 'Relief Without Drugs' too highly and have bought many many copies over the years for friends, colleagues and family.

Third Position/Dissociation – American Indian technique of floating up above and looking down on your body [From: Education of LittleTree, by Forrest Carter].

NLP Burn Off in the Sun Swish Pattern – Based in part on the NLP Swish Pattern and NLP Submodality shifts. Make an image of the pain and then shoot the image off to the Sun and burn it up in the image of the Sun way in the distance, make a zooming and burning up sound as you zoom that image into the distance, getting smaller and smaller till it disappears in the Sun. Repeat 3 or more times.

Submodality Shifting and Message Acknowledgement of Pain Signals

– “Healing starts when pain is complete. Pain is completed when you look at it in detail.

Examine the submodalities of the colour of the pain signal, the size/bigness/smallness of the pain signal and the weight of the pain signal in order to acknowledge to the unconscious mind the message of the signal. Ask yourself "How big is the pain? What colour is the pain? How much does it weigh?" Make a guess at these.

Once the message has been acknowledged, the pain signal has done its work and is no longer as painful or as necessary. After you have asked and answered the three questions, examine the paining again. Ask the questions a second time. You'll find the colour, size and weight have changed and become less intense and more manageable. Repeat a third or fourth time, till the paining has diminished. [Technique from: Enemy Mine, by Barry Longyear and Edward Khmara, Charter Books, 1985]

Self Hypnosis – Deep Relaxation and talking to the Unconscious Mind to remove pain experience and feel relaxed and at ease.

TENS Technology

Another very useful tool for controlling pain is a TENS device. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation - and is a great technology that can be used to gate off and control pain and help relax and induce healing. These inexpensive devices are life saving if you ever get a pinched nerve or pulled/strained muscle. I would never be without one in my medicine cabinet. They really work! Yes, I could use the other techniques described above to control and transcend the paining of a pulled muscle. However, it is far more effective to combine the mind techniques with the healing massage effects of a TENS.

Why learn these skills?

For me, the larger more encompassing issue of why you would want to learn to control paining, is the life enhancing importance of learning to control the states/feelings/emotings in your mind, heart and body. When you are able to control your own states, you are no longer at the mercy of the contingencies of reinforcement around you. Other people and situations no longer have the power to negatively impact you. When you can calm abide through the vicissitudes of life, you can more easily do compassion for yourself and others. This truly enhances your life.

So I truly do recommend that you start to learn and practice controlling your mind/body state. Pick one of the strategies above and begin to learn about it in detail and practice it. Once you've mastered these skills, you will thank yourself again and again. State control is incredibly life enhancing.

wishing you wellness and love

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Life Enhancing Devices

Ok, thought it was time I listed out my favourite LEDs (Life Enhancing Devices) and why I think they're so good. Some of them I've already specifically blogged about. Some of them I'll blog about in detail in coming entries.

As you read the list, think about the devices in your life that really add value to it and to you. What are they? How do they enhance and augment your life?

Read the list I've shared here and then please leave a comment about what's on your list. What are the most Life Enhancing Devices you own and wouldn't be without? What would you recommend?

Mind Machine - Brainwave Entrainment Device

Number one on my list. This is the most Life Enhancing Device I own. It's fantastic. At the touch of a button you get transported into the selected mind state, drifting off and returning at the programmed time. It's relaxing and revitalising. It feels wonderful. I LOVE it!!! (Read more about it here)

emWave Heartmath Biofeedback Device (and other similar biofeedback devices)

A great LED for controlling your autonomic nervous system and getting in touch with your heart-brain. This technology allows you to access deep meditative states and relax your whole mind/body. I highly highly recommend biofeedback devices such as the emWave.

Sound machine & Delightful Wakeup Device

Ahhhhh, the peaceful sound of the surf, a waterfall, or even the delightful tones of rain on the roof, all at the touch of a button. Such a great way to sleep and to overcome the inevitable ambient noises of living amongst other humans. Combine that with a clock that allows you to wake up to your own choice of CD or MP3 or Nature Sound and you have a wonderful way to start your day, peacefully refreshed and delightfully awoken. I mean, who the hell likes to be alarmed by the rauckus sound of an alarm clock or some radio announcer telling you the terrible news of the day...


Yay! Petrol-sexual devices. I love them! Motorbikes, sportscars... LED's that allow you to move through space, go places and are optimised for fun, acceleration, control and connecting and enhancing yourself through velocity, movement and space.


Watercraft such as kayaks and canoes are such wonderful LEDs for gliding across the liquid medium, enjoying meditative experiences, while getting great exercise and seeing places that are not accessible otherwise. I can't recommend kayaking as a life enhancing sport too highly. Give it a go. You'll likely enjoy it immensely.


Yup, if computers and the web aren't life enhancing, then I don't know what is :-) They have opened out, expanded and automated our lives in ways that were almost unimaginable 50 years ago. We can now connect around the world, cheaply and interactively. The web is like a giant brain, filled with information and knowledge that you can google in a second. Whether its buying stuff you would never have been able to source previously, connecting with people of similar interests that you would never have been able to find previously or finding answers, advice or information that you would never have found before the web, the internetworked mesh of computers and minds is the most incredible Life Enhancing Device we have. My advice is to keep riding the wave of accelerating change and stay up to date with your web technology. Lead the change and reap the benefits.


Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation - a great technology that can be used to gate off and control pain and help relax and induce healing. These inexpensive devices are life saving if you ever get a pinched nerve or pulled/strained muscle. I would never be without one in my medicine cabinet. They really work!

MP3 Player

Wow! The ability to take my whole music collection anywhere I go - to listen to anything I want, whenever I want. Small, light, inexpensive and portable. I can listen to music, personal development talks, academic lectures and historical recordings of famous people. Do I need to say more? The MP3 player is truly a Life Enhancing Device.

Massage Chair

Gotta love a leather reclining swivel chair that has multiple levels and modes of massage. Sit back, set the program and for the next 20 minutes be massaged and relaxed. It's heaven! Combine this with the Mind Machine, and you are transported to another world!

Snowplay Equipment

Snow is the most magical material. It transforms the world into a fairyland. And the ability to ski or board on it... to glide down slopes, x-country through trees and forests. To camp in it. Play in it. It's one of the most wonderful and life enhancing experiences I can think of. If you've never learned to ski or snowboard, do yourself a life enhancing favour, and do it. Book in for a snowplay holiday, take lessons and enjoy the ride of your life!

Musical Instruments

The ability to make music is wonderful. To lose yourself in the sound and the auditory-kinesthetic experience. Combined with modern digital technology and given how inexpensive musical devices and instruments have become, you'd have to be crazy not to add some to your life and learn how to use them. Whether its a traditional acoustic guitar or an electronic drum machine, it's a wonderful life enhancing and expanding experience to be able to create music and melody in your life.

Wilderness Hiking Equipment

I love being out in nature, in the wild. Just me, the equipment I'm carrying on my back and wilderness. I love the immediacey of it. I love how you have to respect it and move intelligently through and with it. Nature can kill you if you don't pay attention. There's no abstractions here. No buffering. It makes me feel so alive and refreshed. And wilderness hiking equipment LED's allow me to control the risk of the experience and to move safely and comfortably through the environment.

Home Theatre

Amazing. A theatre in the comfort of your own home. The BIG screen and surround sound, with Active Sub-Woofer experience, anytime you feel like inserting a DVD and hitting the remote control buttons. Gotta love that! No hopping in the car and driving to a Cinema. No lines. No noisy, feet on the back of your seat, rustling of pop-corn distractions. No waiting for the movie to start. Get yourself a couple of Gold-class leather recliners, a home theatre system with a roll down screen and digital projector. Damn inexpensive these days. And you're in movie heaven. Now that is Life Enhancing! :-)

Breadmaker Machine and Coffee Machine

You wake up to the mouth-watering aroma of fresh baked bread and freshly brewed coffee. All automated and programmed the night before. I mean, can the day start any better than that? Yep, I think I have to add these to the list of totally Life Enhancing Devices.

Spa and Sauna

Lay back in the warm bubbly water. Relax. Let the jets and bubbles soothe those cares away. A home spa and sauna has got to go on the list of LEDs. These days they are quite affordable and definitely worth the investment in pampering yourself and delighting your senses.

Digital Cameras

How cool is it to be able to take photos and videos of pretty much any aspect of life you want! And so damn cheaply. Then to be able to display them immediately. To back them up. Print them out on your own printer. Display them on your home theatre. Or, (and here's another LED) display them on a LCD Picture Frame. I loooooove digital cameras. They've allowed me to capture images of so many of my adventures and life experiences that I would otherwise never have been able to afford to capture in the days of analogue/film cameras.

These days I've got underwater POV digital cameras, that strap on my helmets and can record full audio visual capture of my kayaking, snow boarding and motor bike riding adventures. I've got a watch that's a digital camera. A dental digital camera for looking at and recording my teeth with 40x zoom (go figure, it was so damn cheap I figured I may as well have one, so I can look at what's going on in there). And a myriad of other digital cameras. Combine all these with some good Video editing software and you can create wonderful movie and slide show experiences to capture and share your memories. My helmet cam even has a button that allows me to automatically upload the vids to Youtube. Gotta love that :-) Yup, I truly think digital cameras are life enhancing.

Mobile Phones

Yeah, I know. Everyone has one. But if you are old enough to remember BM (Before Mobiles), you'll know just how life enhancing they are. The ability to connect via phone, txt and email, anywhere, anytime, has to be up there as life enhancing. And with mobiles now becoming full-on entertainment devices and rolling in a lot of the functions of the LEDs described above, means they just get better and better.

Ok, there's my list. So what's on your list? What are the 3 top LED's in your life?

Please click on the comment icon below and share your list. I'd love to hear your thoughts and learn what you and other people think or feel are life enhancing devices.

smiles and cheers

Friday, January 1, 2010

Future Pacing is Life Enhancing

Blu-tacked high on my bedside table, in a position I can easily see every morning when I awake and every evening before I drift off to peaceful slumber, is a delightful sign that my beloved made, that says:

"Future Pace for a life of Excellence!"

The sign is filled with stars and sparkles and beautiful artistic colours, and reminds me to do 'Future Pacing' each morning and every night.

Future Pacing is an NLP technique that is incredibly life enhancing, so it's time I shared it with you. It's also quite germane to the beginning of the New Year - a time when people do a usually ineffectual form of future pacing called the 'New Year Resolution'. Hopefully, by understanding the components and competencies involved in effective future pacing, you will be better placed to do a much more life enhancing version and begin to future pace a wonderful year ahead.

You cannot NOT Future Pace

You know... Future pacing is also an underlying and ongoing process by which we construct and create our reality. You cannot NOT future pace, you are doing it all the time...

So what is Future Pacing? Let's explore that in some detail now.

Future Pacing as Mental Rehearsal

Future Pacing is a technique of mentally rehearsing and guiding your unconscious mind to produce a desired behaviour and intended outcome in a future situation. It's a request that directs your unconscious mind to generate specific patterns, behaviours and results in your life.

As Wikipedia describes it:

"Future pacing can be used to 'embed' change into the contexts of the future. It gives a person the experience of dealing positively with a situation before they get into that situation in reality. This is based on visualization where the mind is assumed not to be able to tell the difference between a scenario which is real and one which has been clearly visualized. The theory is that, having visualized positively, when the subject encounters the situation again in reality the visualized experience will serve as a model for how to behave, even though this experience was imagined. The mind cannot tell the difference between the visualization and reality so it accepts the visualization as reality and makes the change."

"Future Pacing gives your Unconscious mind the roadmap needed to easily accomplishyour goals and dreams."

So how do you do it?

First see a picture of yourself in the context or situation that you want a specific behaviour or outcome to occur. Notice how you look, what you are doing, how you sound, the qualities of your movements and actions that are occurring as you achieve your outcomes. Then step inside yourself and be associated into this experience, see what you'll see in the situation, hear what you'll hear, and feel what it's like to be successfully performing and achieving your desired outcome now.

The idea is to rehearse and associate your new behaviour to the external cues that naturally occur in the situation in which your change is desired. That way the environmental cue serves as a natural and unconscious anchor or trigger for your desired outcome.

It's similar to the NLP New Behaviour Generator technique and is most powerful when enhanced using the NLP model of hypnotic languaging that Bandler and Grinder, the developers of NLP, created through behavioural modelling of Dr. Milton Erickson - The Milton Model.

NLP Milton Model - Hypnotic Languaging

In a sense, every word you use is a hypnotic command to your unconscious mind to re-evoke the experience that is associated with the word. When you hear or say the word 'lemon' your brain re-evokes the full Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic (feelings), Olfactory & Gustatory (VAKOG) associations and experiences that the word represents (re-presents to you).

So you know that the set of phonemes that make up the word or label 'lemon' mean a yellow fruit, that tastes sour, has a tang and a citrus fragrance, can be used in cooking etc. You are likely to remember times when you tasted a lemon or had lemon juice on your tongue. You may also notice that just reading the above has caused you to start salivating, as your brain remembers what the sour taste of a lemon does on your tongue. The word is a powerful anchor that re-evokes the experience.

So whatever you think -- verbally, visually and kinesthetically -- acts like a future pace and embedded command to your unconscious patterning system. In that way, you cannot NOT future pace. Every thought is like a piece of programming to your unconscious mind. If you are about to hit a golf ball, and you say to yourself 'Don't choke, Don't miss, Don't stuff up' then your brain will picture the very thing you are saying you don't want to do, and it will act like an embedded command, a future pace, to produce the requested pattern...

There are a lot of distinctions in the NLP Milton Model on how certain sorts of words and ways of expressing yourself can act much more powerfully with the unconscious mind. Not all words or all ways of expressing yourself are as equally effective at programming the patterning system of the unconscious mind. And in future blog entries I'll talk more about the life enhancing details of this.

For now though, the life enhancing take home message is....

Everything you think acts as a Future Pace. It guides and requests your unconscious mind to produce the requested outcome. This means you have to listen to and watch what you say! And use your languaging carefully, thoughtfully, ecologically and powerfully to guide your life to what and how you want.

As Robert Anton Wilson points out in his wonderfully life enhancing book 'Prometheus Rising', our brains contain two powerful agents - a thinker and a prover - and:

"As the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves!"

There is a part of your unconscious mind that generates and recapitulates your thoughts. You bring forth into your world that which you think about.

Obviously there are physical constraints on this. It's not some mumbo-jumbo magic. You can't future pace an elephant into your living room just by thinking or saying the words. However, when it comes to generating mind/body states, to influencing your Psycho-Neuro-Immunology (the influence of the mind/body loop on health), to guiding the emotions you feel, to altering your moods and perceptions and the myriad other patterns that generate your phenomenological world... Then, as sages have pointed out over the ages, your thoughts are powerful!

So... Future Pace for a life of excellence! Every night and every morning, before sleep and before arising. Think through, plan, project and ask your powerful unconscious mind for what specifically and how specifically you want to generate your ongoing future.

It works!!! Well, it works for me and for those I've taught the technique to. And it really is incredibly life enhancing.

Future pace the quality of your sleeping and dreaming. Future pace your healthing. Future pace the quality of your waking and your day. Future pace your loving and interacting with those you care about. The more you future pace, the more successfully you'll continue to generate a wonderful life.

Future pace!!!! It truly is life enhancing.

Want to learn more, get a copy of my book: Avoiding the Enemies to HAPPINESS!

many smiles and great wishes for the year ahead

I highly, highly recommend reading RAW's wonderful and life enhancing book:

and if you are interested in reading about the powerful NLP Milton Model: