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Showing posts from February, 2011

Following your breath

We have all been told - and told others - to take a deep breath as a way of collecting our thoughts or changing our states. Taking a deep breath is as appropriate in the quiet of private reflection as it is before a performance. It's interesting language: take a breath. We don't take it from anyone else: breathing adds as much to the air as it takes.

What if you changed your language. Instead of taking a breath, what if you followed it. Your attention would have to make choices. Would you imagine your breath as starting at your mouth and moving down (as it does) or would it seem to start at the bottom and move up (as all your muscles shift to accommodate the depth of your breath)?

It's harder than it sounds, this business of following breath and deciding what comes first: the air or the intention? Either way, following your breath will lead you to the space in between breaths, the space where there is nothing to follow. In that moment that hangs between one breath an…

Back to first principles

Let's go back to first principles.

Let's begin with what came into your mind when you saw this phrase. It's one of those deceptively simple phrases: none of the words are unfamiliar, but the meaning of the whole is curiously hard to express.

The meaning of the words would be one example of first principles: any attempt to understand communication through language finally runs back into the correspondence between words and what they mean. It is a first principle of language that to understand an expression you need to understand the words used in that expression.

The way we define a problem becomes the problem. That's also a first principle. If the problem is a battle, we fight to win. If the problem is a sale, we persuade until we get the cheque. If the problem is to understand, we seek more information.

In NLP, we say that all problems are choice points and there is only one way to handle a choice point: step outside it, find new resources, then integrate the resourc…