February 10, 2021

The Rev. George Yandell, Rector

What passages/poems/speeches did you have to memorize in school? I mentioned in a past piece that my 6th grade confirmation class had to memorize parts of the Offices of Instruction (Catechism) about the nature of a sacrament. I can still recite the Gettysburg Address, mostly. And the Nicene Creed, and of course the Boy Scout Oath and Law.

Some people have much better capacity than I for keeping things they’ve memorized accurate and fresh in their memory. If I’ve sung and performed a piece of music in choirs or the Glee Club (Emory) or in Church, it sticks better in my brain. Why is that?

Ted Hackett and I have talked about Neuro Linguistic Programming- he poo-poos it mostly. But I find value in using some of its techniques. NLP is a “powerful model of human experience and communication” (from the forward of Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming, Bandler and Grinder, 1979). It posits that there are three modalities in humans- visual, audio and kinesthetic. NLP suggests that the modalities are layered in each of us- I am pretty sure I’m a visual/kinesthetic/audio kind of guy. My primary mode for intersecting with the world is by seeing, secondarily by feeling, and third by hearing. If I can see it, I can more readily recall it and better fix it in my memory. Seeing the sheet music in front of me, singing the lines with the texts, helps me to memorize it almost automatically. (Getting my cataracts removed and new lenses implanted last February really opened the world anew to me.) Other people are layered differently.

If I feel the beat of a song, hear the lyrics repeatedly, then often I can recall it, but usually not as precisely as seeing the score.

If someone tells me to remember a phone number, I’ll reach for a pen to write it down. If I don’t have a pen, I’ll likely not remember it. Hearing it doesn’t embed it in my brain. People who are layered audio/visual/kinesthetic can likely recall spoken phone numbers much better than I.

One application of NLP is for listening and responding more intently and caringly to another’s story. If I hear my friend using frequent ‘visual’ language (“I can see that happening” or “I remember vividly the image of our dog playing with our daughters”) I might respond with “I think I see what you mean.” That sort of response can bridge to a deeper level of mutual trust and self-revealing.

If I hear her saying, “When I hear ______ it drives me crazy” or “The sound of his voice still haunts me,” I could reply, “What is he saying when you hear his voice?” But these responses have to be authentic.

In Covid time, listening well to our friends, colleagues and family can be a relief and a gift to them. Each of us needs to be heard and understood especially when we’re stressed and discouraged. I appreciate it when folks seek me out just to catch up and chat. I suspect you do as well. We need to be heard and understood. You validate my feelings (and what I see and hear.) Thank you. G. Yandell