About MNLP & Contemplative Coaching

The field of psychology has known for a very long time that insight alone is not sufficient for change.

And yet, much of talk therapy (and most coaching approaches as well) are designed to generate yet more insight. 

Most of the people I speak with already know a great deal about themselves and their history. So they’re frustrated when all that understanding just allows them to be painfully aware of what’s happening when the old patterns continue to play themselves out anyway. 

One of the primary forces behind this phenomenon is this: the part of you that is responsible for re-enacting the pattern is held in a completely different part of your mind/brain than the part of you that has the insight. There isn’t always communication between the two, and they can operate completely independently. Often, the part that holds the pattern is very hard for the conscious mind to access at all. 

This conundrum is the same for everyone; the process of converting insight into real change is messy and unpredictable at best. Marin-Style Neurolinguistic Programming (MNLP) is a system of tools and processes that work directly with the parts of the mind that actually hold the old patterns and keep them re-playing in our lives, and it’s the most effective system for creating change that I’ve found in the 14 years I’ve been part of this field. 


However, there’s a big “BUT” in all that I’ve just said… 


Sometimes the desire for change is the very thing that keeps us stuck. 


If our first move is to judge our current experience as “bad” or “wrong,” we are rejecting it - and rejection is a subtle form of aggression. It’s an odd thought… “Let me judge and reject and punish myself so that I can heal.” And yet this is exactly what we do much of the time, so something I find myself saying a lot is, “Change does not begin with aggression.”

Change does begin with acceptance, but acceptance doesn’t mean resignation or consenting to things continuing to be this way into the future. It only means that we drop our resistance to what already is. No matter how crazy it may look on the surface, there is always an underlying logic, an underlying intelligence, and only when we’ve properly understood and appreciated it will it allow itself to be changed. Carl Rogers, the father of Humanistic Psychology, said it best, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, only then can I change.” 

This perspective speaks to the heart of Contemplative Coaching, which draws upon the timeless and practical wisdom of the Buddhist teachings. I received both of my degrees in Buddhist Psychology and have been a student and practitioner of meditation since I was 19. This body of ancient human wisdom forms both the foundation and the larger container within which the rest of the work takes place. It rests upon the basic assumption that who and what we are at the core is powerful and good, and that we will find the fullest expression of who we are when we work with ourselves instead of against, when we remember and reclaim the human powers we were born with.

If you’d like to learn more about Buddhist Psychology, you can watch This Talk that I gave this year in San Francisco.