Is Synesthesia Good or Bad?

First of all, let's define Synesthesia: An automatic link from one sense to another. (i.e., Visual-->Auditory, etc).

I actually wrote this post back in 1999 on an NLP mailing list. Someone asked the question "Is Synesthesia Good or Bad?" Here's my reply:

*Chuckle* Good or bad in what context?

We know that child prodigies & geniuses are highly synesthetic, meaning that its beyond "automatic" and more into real-time awareness of the connections between the senses... i.e. seeing the notes while feeling a symphony as you hear it, etc.

I'm not a child prodigy and genius isn't a word that makes much sense to me in "identity" terms. I do value the pursuit of increased excellence, increased intelligence, & improved results. Becoming more synesthetic, I believe, can lead to this. My experience of this is connected with the training environment; both as a training attendee and as a trainer. I believe I became dramatically more synesthetic during my own practitioner & master practitioner trainings (as a student) in Summer of 1997. And I directly connect this with more accelerated learning & higher achievement.

Certainly everyone is synesthetic to some degree or other. Some have thorough & rapid access to synesthetic pathways. With some people, if you get them to jump from one rep system into another, they may experience a light or momentarily deep trance state (a TDS). Some people emerge from their transderivational search successfully having acquired the new sensory info, and some people occasionally don't.

It's rare I can't get someone to feel what a tone feels like, or to hear what a given picture sounds like. Sometimes, I choose not to take steps to make it vivid enough and strong enough for people to "jump the synesthesia gap" and get access to it. What is more common is a big difference in the "amount of time" required to translate from one rep system into another. To me, automatic doesn't necessarily mean "fast." Instant access may be "unconsciously automatic" and 10 seconds may be "unconsciously automatic."

Within whatever seminar title I'm training, at a process level, I strive to train behavioral flexibility, more rapid & conscious & unconscious synesthesia, accelerated learning, faster access to great states of fun & pleasure, and a sense of rhythm at multiple levels. I don't necessarily mean musical rhythm here. I mean a sense of flow.

And one of the biggies with "behavioral flexibility" is that a lot of people experience "stuck states" at some time or other in their lives. And with some people, that's most of the time(!). And it can be extremely useful to denominalize their experiences & get them flowing. In a training context, as well as a therapeutic context (I assume), it's useful to start with well-formed outcomes, set positive directions, & then calibrate them to ensure that their breaking of stuck-states is a useful outcome. It usually is, and sometimes brings up a variety of experiences. (and for the therapists reading this, not always positive ones).

On a better note, there are several great by-products of training such as more behavioral flexibility, state-flexibility & increased synesthesia. This helps people, if they ever experience "stuck-states" in life, to break out of those "stuck-states" much more rapidly than they otherwise would have.

It doesn't really matter whether it's conscious or not. If they're in a stuck-state, they'll probably have deep time-distortion for the amount of time they're not aware they're stuck. People who attend trainings often find themselves breaking their own stuck states faster & faster in real life, coming up with more creative solutions on their own, after the training. And they may find themselves being more productive, more content, perhaps "magically" able to close more sales (even if they're not doing anything differently WITHIN each sale, they're unaware they're spending less time "stuck" & more time closing).

Damn! You mean the results of that generalized training transferred to this specific area of my life? *LOL* I wonder why.

Some people chalk this up to "installation." Some to "unconscious learning." Some understand that whatever it is, its the result of the PROCESS of investing oneself into developing greater access to these neurological resources. They're already there ready to be mined. It can be done in a training. And it can be done on your own; but remember, when you're doing it on your own, you're only taking in material within or very close to your own map. You're unlikely to try things that seem completely irrelevant. At a training, sometimes the most irrelevant exercises provide the most expansive experiences!

When you read reviews its quite common to hear things like "I found myself doing things differently or more intuitively afterwards." These are amongst the results that seem to be most desirable & measurable by most attendees who write reviews. How do we know this? Because that's what they were sorting for; that's what they wrote in their review; that's what they thought we ought to hear.

Bottom line: Greater synesthesia can help people to go "meta" at or shortly after the moment they experience stuck-states & find ways of breaking or shifting out of those states. And greater synesthesia can help people to automatically shift their behaviors *generatively* in unanticipated situations (as opposed to *programmatically* as a result of using something like the SWISH pattern in NLP).

And yes, of course, you can learn to increase your synesthesia on your own without acquiring training! My experience simply tells me its faster & more pervasive when we enlist a coach, mentor, or trainer.