By Stephen R Covey
NLC, adapted from NLP and diverse cathartic exercises and taught by Anand Avinash in Kochi, southern India, helps you shed negativity, ease imbalances in the self, smoothen relationships, and propels you to a higher level of creativity and conscious self-awareness
Nelson Diaz didn’t know his destination. His soul aching from a long search for elusive knowledge, spirit restive with vacuousness, he pondered the impending at the beach at the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, southern India.
‘Suddenly,’ he recalls the evening that changed his life, ‘a sprinkle of particles cascaded before me.’ Then came the voice which had troubled him in his childhood, and for which his parents had taken him to a shrink. ‘This isn’t your life. You have to seek further,’ it said. Nelson, raving like a madman, jumped into the water but an alert Frenchman dragged him out only to see the still-ecstatic youth doubled up on the sand, guffawing his gut out.
Annoyed, the foreigner berated him for attempting suicide. ‘But I wasn’t,’ Nelson protested between hee-hawing. ‘The waves were whispering to me. I couldn’t have sunk and died at that moment!’ Now it was the Frenchman’s turn to explode into laughter and the two walked away to share a few beers.
Diaz continues to make people laugh even a dozen years after that bizarre incident. Now transformed into Anand Avinash (meaning ‘Bliss Immortal’), he no longer has to jump into water to tickle the funny bone. All he does is ask a roomful of men and women to laugh and they oblige. They do so even if he asks them to cry. Without a reason, mind you!
Sitting cross-legged on a floral bed of a synthetic carpet, the dozen-odd men and women lock their hesitant eyes with his pacific gaze. Professionals and busy career people, they are all seekers, like he had been years ago. Like him, they do not know what they are looking for. But they all feel an emptiness.
Over the next two days Avinash will take them on a voyage of discovery. On the way they will make faces and weep. Exult and ruminate. Read out life’s meaning from blank Post-It sized yellow slips. Nod appreciatively at the music created by a Tibetan monk’s discarded bowl long after it has been struck. Even fake their death and grope in a Cimmerian room full of apparitions. In the end they will rise, their hearts cleansed with their tears, their eyes darting off for an inner vision.
It’s funny but participants in this strange ritual confess undergoing a cathartic change. ‘Before this I thought I knew everything about life. Now I know how ignorant I was,’ says Saroj, a veteran of 25-odd such sessions who confesses she was nervous and diffident. Listen to her again: ‘Now I feel I can tackle any situation. NLC is the force behind my creativity.’
NLC? That’s short for neuro linguistic consciousness, which Saroj and the other participants had put into practice for two and a half days in Kochi under the watchful eyes of Avinash. His personal transformation system is an offshoot of neuro linguistic programming (NLP), which studies the structure of how humans think and experience the world. The structure of something so subjective does not lend itself to precise formulae but has led to models. And from these models techniques for quickly and effectively changing behaviors and beliefs that limit people have been developed.
Avinash has adapted from the recipe of NLP, added the spice of life he picked up during his wanderings, liberally sprinkled the formulae of Zen masters and Tibetan monks, Osho , vipassana and even something from the blank notebook a Sufi mystic gave him, to come up with his potion called NLC.
‘It’s like a bee gathering from different flowers and making its own honey. And I’m still gathering,’ says the 44-year-old guru with graying locks. His luscious pickings have been lapped up hungrily. NLC workshops, the die-hards say, have revolutionized their thinking pattern and shown them how false personality had been hindering personal growth. ‘NLC has transformed my life,’ says Syama Menon, a schoolteacher. ‘Leading a mediocre life isn’t my cup of tea. I want to do something outstanding. Such feelings were roused only after attending NLC sessions.’
To get to know NLC one has to understand NLP, which operates at three levels: first, you have to know your brain capacity (that’s the neuro part); then change your language for better results (the linguistic part); and lastly, program in your mind what you have learnt from neuro and linguistics to get things done in a better way.
The proponents of NLC say that things can get done better if they are inspired from the emotional center. ‘You can get things done even otherwise but if you have a feeling for it you can make a difference. And that difference has to come from the consciousness level,’ says Syama.
How would you describe consciousness? Consciousness is an awareness beyond the mind, says Avinash. Over the last few years consciousness has become the new hot topic of discussions and the world’s leading scientists, philosophers and thinkers have tried to figure out this phenomenon. Some say it doesn’t exist, others argue it will soon find a scientific explanation.
Consciousness means increased awareness in our life, explains Avinash. ‘It could be in the way we sit. Sitting can be an act of awareness or it can be mechanical. The moment you become aware of it your consciousness expands. Consciousness here lies beyond your thinking.’ Phew!
The NLC folks say when your awareness increases you know how to do things faster and in a better way. And improve your professional and family relationships as well. ‘It took me a year to understand consciousness,’ admits Syama. She badly wanted to do so. ‘I used to feel frustrated and irritated but suppressed my feelings because I did not want to trouble my family,’ she says. ‘When I started understanding NLC, I realized that suppression is very bad.’
Neuro Linguistic Consciousness too involves three basic stages. In the first, you cathart your negative feelings such as anger and frustration. According to Saroj, consciousness can flash only in the absence of negative emotions. ‘These emotions are hurdles to realizing the higher truth,’ says Avinash. ‘To enter creativity it is absolutely necessary to eliminate negative emotions.’
The second step involves understanding the people in your relationships. Here you are not trying to bring the other person to your point of view but getting to know his or her position. ‘Success depends to a large extent on how we relate with people,’ says Avinash. ‘And for that one has to understand others’ point of view.’ That achieved, you move on to the final stage where you start working in a group. The idea, NLCers say, is to change society in a gradual manner.
Practitioners like Syama vouch for the effectiveness of catharsis. ‘Without catharsis I will find it difficult to talk to the person with whom I have had differences. I may be able to look and smile at him but deep inside I will still carry hard feelings.’
‘1 shut myself up in my room and cathart: hit the pillow maybe,’ says a practitioner. At the NLC workshop, practitioners cathart when they practice dynamic meditation (DM), a technique developed by Osho and adapted by Avinash. DM helps remove negative feelings very fast, besides benefiting the user in many ways. The first 10 minutes of DM involve chaotic breathing. The next step is to cathart through frenzied movements. Jumping, and crying ‘hoo hoo’ are also part of the process that invigorates the system. You are asked to stop when you reach the no-mind state.
According to Avinash, three months of this exercise can change your life. Problem-free life isn’t what the creator of NLC promises. The accent is on getting into a position where one is better prepared to face problems, and take decisions consciously rather than as a mechanical response.
How easy is it to practice NLC? Explains a practitioner: ‘For me it was very difficult. But you have to identify your negative emotions and throw them out through catharsis.’
Negative emotions can be identified by finding your enneagram number. The enneagram, a personality determining system, is derived from the Sufi tradition. It talks of nine types of personality-perfectionist, giver, performer, romantic, observer, questioner, epicure, boss and mediator-to help you spot your dominant characteristics which could be the cause of imbalances in your system.
Negative emotions are not a hot zone for most of us zipping-through-life souls. But ignore that angst, frustration, etceteras and they will make you repent one day, Mind-body experts have, in fact, gathered enough evidence to show that negative feelings encourage the release of hormones that suppress the immune system but healthy attitudes towards life and its challenges contribute to psychological and physical stamina and help you to be in control.
Being in control is something you learn through NLC. For that you must first be willing to loosen your control. So go ahead and cry. You could shed more than just tears.
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