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…

3 Replies to “Is Mindfulness the new NLP?”

  1. Wow! What timing. I asked this EXACT same question at the weekend with a group of men who operate in and around the world of training, personal development and psychotherapy – it really is an awesome group of minds! The conclusion we reached was, I think, precisely the same as yours. Will the commercial bandwagon roll for Mindfulness – yep, you bet it will. Will there be people who read a book and then offer workshops – yep, there already is in my local town!
    It is a fashion, like NLP was (is?) and will therefore, just like the fashion clothing industry, be ripped off by fraudsters.
    Does this mean Mindfullness is not a good thing – of course not; it just means that as practitioners and/or teachers working in the Mindfullness world we have a choice to collude with this cheating or challenge it – and be squeaky clean with our practices and with our credibility.

  2. Mindfulness is simply meditation. What is clever about how it has spread is the packaging! Well done to whoever thought that one up. I have been teaching and practising meditation for over 40 years. Nothing new here then. NLP is a good parallel; well marketed and promoted. However there is one fundamental difference as I see it: while meditation (currently rebranded as Mindfulness) has many personal benefits, unlike NLP it cannot be manipulated for financial gain in the way NLP was used as a sales technique with very little ethical principles underpinning it.

  3. There are many different kinds of meditation. Mindfulness is one among many and seems the most in public view. I was trained in Vipassana (Mindfulness) in India many years ago. It is a core practice in Buddhism indeed. It is basic ethical training requiring devotion, dedication, and daily practice. What I see now is that Mindfulness is promoted as the answer to just about everything. I do agree that Mindfulness in essence is valuable but short-term courses denuded of deeper significance leave people disenchanted and untouched by what Mindfulness can really bring. While this saddens me the fact that meditation is now “evidenced based” and scientifically accepted is a forward movement I can appreciate. In the end, just as with NLP, I trust the truth of the method will reveal itself to those who do the work.

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