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Reichian Developmental Stages in NLP

Meeting Agenda - November 16 2003



(GENERAL REMINDER: Please show up on time or a few minutes early, so we can start right at 2, giving plenty of time for both the presentation and free practice sessions.)

10 minutes: Open frame. Those in attendance talk briefly about what's up for them, comments about last month's meeting, ideas and suggestions.


Feature Presentation (approx.. 1 hr + 1/2hr skills practice)

John-Erik Omland: Reichian Developmental Organismic Rights.

Imagine being a newborn infant and having to rapidly adapt to the brave new world beyond the womb. Wilhelm Reich observed a series of stages, through which each human, growing organism passes on their way to full body maturation.

John-Erik Omland will review Reichian Organismic Rights and their relation to growing human neurology and the belief structures they support. We will identify the basic patterns Reich distinguished and talk about how they manifest in the body, in body armoring and in structures of hope and contracts of love, fear and belonging. What is the shadow side of each phase of development and what is the "illusion of release" that keeps the belief system stable.

We will have a guest visit by Reichian Body-Therapy and Skan Practitioner Lydia Becker, discussing Skan body-therapy which is "related directly to the body therapy originally developed by Wilhelm Reich. Reich defined bodily and emotional health as the unhindered flow of the body's own energies." Reich named this sensation "streaming". This body/movement thereapy has the potential of reaching into us to the core energetic patterns we may have adopted in earlier stages of our childhood evolution and maturation.

Our bodies and neurology go through stages of physical/biological, sensory-motor, emotional, cognative and perhaps Spiritual growth. Our bodies are a map of how we adapt and grow through those life stages. Like "Chi" or "Prana" from the Eastern traditions, "Skan" from the Lakota means "That which moves". The Chinese healing and martial art traditions speak of a place of stillnes from which arises the thought "to move". This thought turns into an intention, which informs and orchestrates the chi, which then propels the flow of physical body movement (via the blood circulatory system and other chi pathways).

Like kinks in a hose, the natural flow of this lifeforce energy and vitality within and through us can get distorted by life's ups and downs and traumas or tragedies. The muscles of our body become a library of the various ways in which it has supported and given expression to the various moods and emotions of our life experience - the "physiology" we are always looking, hearing and feeling for as NLP practitioners.

We will do a simple floor exercise (bring yoga mat or towel) excurcise with each other to experience the flow of "Reichian streaming energy" in our own bodies. Then we will break into groups and talk briefly about what this means for you as programmer and perhaps about clients with whom you have worked. The exercise is designed to give everyone an experience of the "streaming" energy Reich talks about. You will have the opportunity to notice if energy can stream along the length of your body or just where it might be blocked by bands of holding patterns. Perhaps you may even learn something new about the shape and structure of your own body and how it has become perfectly adapted to supporting and expressing the particular belief systems and patterns of your life.

Reich expanded on Freud's basic psycho-analytical theories and added an interesting wealth of observations about the body and a person's emotional and sexual health. He talks about a series of developmental stages that a human being moves through, during which the individual can work out certain basic human rights - with varying and unique degrees of success. When we are challenged, encouraged, informed and supported through these stages we expand and are biologically, emotionally and cognitively ready and available for the opportunities, challenges and changes of each succeding stage. When we are less than fully sucessful at navigating through a stage, the results get stored in our bodies as "body armoring" and the energy stuck in the pattern and the un-evolved parts of us are not fully available for the next stage. Here are his "Organismic Rights," which we review and discuss:

  1. the right to exist,
  2. the right to need,
  3. the right to be assertive,
  4. the right to be independent and
  5. the right to love and be loved sexually.
  1. If I don't exist, I won't bother them
  2. if I don't need, I can just be loyal and giving
  3. if I'm not allowed to be assertive, ...
  4. If I don't have the right to be independent, ...
  5. If I can't love and be loved sexually, ...

Exercise in smaller groups: what areas of your life reflect some conflict with some organismic right. How might it interfere with your ability to do NLP Programming with a client? How does it add a unique color or twist to your personality that makes you the interesting personality that you are? Accomplish this by having "client" in groups make alternating statements of "I have the right to..." and "I do Not have the right to..." about each right. Each programmer and meta use their calibration skills to assist the client in discovering which statement holds the more juice, and therefore is closer to the client's held belief system and the "truth" about themselves.


Free Practice: (rest of time, approximately 1 1/2 hr)


Break into new (or same) groups of 3, work on your stuff with others. As programmer, incorporate the insights gained from the structured outcome frame exercise, to refine your questions and approach.

Refer to the list of the NLP "outcome frame questions" handed out earlier. The programmer can use these questions to structure their session with the client. The meta person can also use this list to help keep the programmer on track.

Suggest 1 person work for 45 mins, then either switch with meta person or rotate new (programmer, client, meta) positions. Leave 5-10 minutes at end of each round for meta feedback and tea break.


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