Is Mindfulness the new NLP?


buddha-in-the-momentIt seems to me that almost every time I open a training journal or website these days I am pointed in the direction of mindfulness. In a matter of not very months, okay perhaps a couple of years, mindfulness seems to have grown from a minority interest rooted in Buddhism to the answer to the maiden’s prayer (and perhaps the prayers of the few who are not maidens as well!).


It reminds me so much of the development of NLP, and I speak as someone who runs an NLP training company and is married to an INLPTA accredited trainer. Some 20 years ago, NLP crept across to our shores and was taken up by a small number of dedicated people who recognised and valued not only the techniques but also the philosophy underpinning NLP. Some of those people trained at, or close to, the source and eventually became trainers themselves, helping spread the mindset as well as the techniques. NLP was once described as “A way of thinking that leaves behind a trail of techniques” – many seem to focus simply on the techniques. Just as many these days have lost the connection between mindfulness as a practice and mindfulness as one of the core practices of Buddhism. To say this is not to devalue the technique, but if all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.

What happened with NLP with that commercial interests, and I include Bandler as well as early followers such as Tony Robbins in this category, realised that there was money to be made by offering training programmes and set about filling their bank accounts. Again, nothing fundamentally wrong with that but we ended up with a marketplace that offered NLP practitioner courses ranging from 4 days to 20 days of participation and which left the participants contractually obliged on the one hand to refrain from using their new-found skills for the benefit of others and on the other actively encourage so to do. Indeed we have had many reports of people who have been on practitioner courses and really don’t remember what happened; essentially they were put into trance at the beginning, some stuff happened over a few days and then they were sent away with their new-found badge proudly displayed on the office wall and ticking the competency profile. Indeed, there was a time (and I use the past participle, because I think the wheel has turned) when if you were in HR or training then ‘doing’ NLP was almost a requirement.


If anyone starting to see parallels with the mindfulness movement yet? A very powerful technique that, if used appropriately can have substantial personal impact on benefits and which is now being touted much more widely and with much less understanding of the real impact. To hear, as I did recently, of someone who had decided that her whole senior management team needed to go on a mindfulness course, is a travesty not only of the point of mindfulness but also of simple training practice.


So can we stop this bandwagon? Probably not.

Does it matter? I’m not sure.

Do you have any thoughts on the subject? Comments below…

Free monthly events for coaches

 Are you a current or aspiring coach?
 If so, you might want to attend the (free) EMCC event in Leeds on Tuesday 3 September, 1730 for 1800 with a 2000 finish at the Leeds Club ( ) on Albion Street.

Every month, on the first Tuesday, we hold a 2 hour session for you to come along and hear more about some topic of relevance to developing your coaching practice.

3 September 2013 details:
Hello everyone . . . trust the summer sunshine has refreshed us all and we’ll be an enthusiastic, engaging and inspiring group when we meet on Tuesday.

We will start with an update from Bernadette Mullen on her work using Mindfulness in coaching and then some learning huddles…

So far we’re looking at a possible three ‘learning huddles’ – ROI; Systemic Coaching; and Ridler Report – and if I listened to an interesting Radio 4 programme recently about a ‘Slow Coach’ method that got me thinking . . .

I suggest that on the night – we’ll list a few topics and depending on interest and number of attendees we’ll flex the huddles to suit.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible.

If you are coming please drop us a note if at all possible. It seems that we get to know when people can’t make it rather than confirmation of who will be attended . . . it’s nice to have a little idea of number before hand – appreciate plans can change at last moment – so just turning up is great too.

See you soon . . .