Three Principles (self-help)

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The "Three Principles" of Mind, Consciousness and Thought were first articulated by Sydney Banks, a 9th-grade educated welder, born in Scotland, living in British Columbia, Canada in the early 1970s. The Three Principles approach is also referred to as Health realization.

British Columbia Province of Canada

British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada, located between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. With an estimated population of 5.034 million as of 2019, it is Canada's third-most populous province.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Health realization (HR) is a resiliency approach to personal and community psychology first developed in the 1980s by Roger C. Mills and George Pransky, and based on ideas and insights these psychologists elaborated from attending the lectures of philosopher and author Sydney Banks. HR first became known for its application in economically and socially marginalized communities living in highly stressful circumstances.


"Discovery" of the three principles

According to Banks' verbal accounts, as recorded at lectures, he realised the three principles while attending a marriage seminar held on Cortes Island, in British Columbia, Canada.

Cortes Island island in British Columbia, Canada

Cortes Island is an island in the Discovery Islands archipelago on the coast of British Columbia, Canada. The island is 25 km (15.5 mi) long, 13 km (8.1 mi) wide, and 130 km2 (50 sq mi) in area. It has a population of 1,035 permanent residents. Cortes Island lies within Electoral Area B of the Strathcona Regional District, which provides water and sewerage systems, fire protection, land use planning, parks, recreation, and emergency response.

The seminar encouraged couples to let their feelings out, be honest, and argue with one another. Discouraged with the process, Banks and his wife prepared to leave the seminar. As they were doing so, Banks became engaged in conversation with a therapist also attending the seminar.

Describing himself as an insecure mess at that time, Banks began elaborating on all the ways in which he felt insecure. The therapist's response, I've never heard such nonsense in all my life, was a revelation to Banks:

What I heard was: there’s no such thing as insecurity, it’s only Thought. All my insecurity was only my own thoughts! It was like a bomb going off in my head … It was so enlightening! It was unbelievable … [And after that,] there was such beauty coming into my life. [1]

The three specific terms, Mind, Consciousness and Thought, were not clearly delineated during Banks' initial experience. The three words—and his definitions—would become clear later through his talks and lectures. Referring to them as the psychological trinity [2] Banks does not take credit for finding the Principles, rather the Principles found him., January 2012Missing or empty |title= (help)


Roughly 40 years later, Mr. Banks' "insight" has been introduced in hospitals and hospital systems, correctional institutions, social services, juvenile justice programming, community housing, drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programmes, schools, and multi-national corporations., January 2012Missing or empty |title= (help)

Application of the Three Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought has spread throughout the United States, and into Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Israel, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Spain. [3]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund Strait. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. The capital city is Stockholm. Sweden has a total population of 10.3 million of which 2.5 million have a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi) and the highest urban concentration is in the central and southern half of the country.

Norway Country in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.


According to Banks, the three "formless" principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought explain the entire range of human behaviour and feeling states. They are responsible for the creation of all human experience. [4]

The three principles are defined as:


The energy and intelligence of all life, whether in the form, or formless. The Universal Mind, or the impersonal mind, is constant and unchangeable. The personal mind is in a perpetual state of change. [5]


Consciousness is the gift of awareness. Consciousness allows the recognition of form, form being an expression of Thought. [6]


The power of Thought is not self-created. Thought is a divine gift, which serves you immediately after you are born. Thought is the creative agent we use to direct us through life. [7]

Three Principles Movement

The Three Principles have become the basis of a growing, international psycho-spiritual movement with centers in the United States and Europe. The fundamental premise of the movement is that life is spiritually generated into form from formless energy, and that our experience as human beings is created from the interaction of the Three Principles; including the experience of self-identity.

Practitioners of the Three Principles believe that feeling states (and all mental states) are self-created (through mental activity i.e., thought). Scientific research by Lisa Feldman Barrett supports this notion that mental states (ie. emotions) are indeed constructed from within the human mind. [8] Practitioners believe that beyond each person's limited, conscious, and personal thought system lies a vast reservoir of wisdom, insight and spiritual intelligence. No one person has greater access to spiritual wisdom than any other. Mental health is the resting state, or "default" setting of the mind, which brings with it non-contingent feelings of love, compassion, resilience, creativity and unity; both with others and with life itself. [9] Research by George Bonnano, professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, supports this notion that resilience, not recovery is a common response to difficult life events such as trauma and loss. [10]

It would be difficult to provide a comprehensive list of centers worldwide that are dedicated to sharing the Three Principles. However, some prominent organizations are the Center for Sustainable Change, Three Principles Foundation, Three Principles Movies, and The Cypress Initiative.

Founder and Students

Banks, who died of metastasized cancer on Memorial Day, in May 2009, contradicted many traditional notions and practices of psychotherapy. Specifically, that for mental wellbeing, it was not important to process the past, nor that the content of peoples' personal thought systems had to be "worked with" and analysed.

Everyone in mental institutions is sitting in the middle of mental health and they don't know it. [11]

Banks was also averse to using techniques, or creating concepts, in order to share with others. These, he felt, contradicted the essential formless and original nature of the Three Principles, which emphasises kindness, "sharing, caring" and the simple gift of love. [12]

A number of therapists and psychologists showed an interest in the concepts, and the teachings were spread [13] into various private practices, social services, corporate training and consulting, psychiatry, education, community mental health and development work, and drug and alcohol treatment systems.

Notes on "Other Names" for the Three Principles

The Three Principles have been called by other names, including Health Realization, neo-cognitive psychology, Psychology of Mind, and Innate Health. The form of how the Three Principles has been taught has changed over the decades, with an increasing emphasis on simplicity, formlessness, and speaking from the heart. Some would say that the Three Principles is not a "technique" that can be taught but instead a paradigm that comes to be understood at increasingly deeper levels.


Works by Sydney Banks, currently published by Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada




By other authors

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  1. "The Truth Lies Within," Part 2 of the "Long Beach Lecture Series, Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, Canada
  2. Banks, Sydney, The Missing Link: Reflections on Philosophy and Spirit, International Human Relations Consultants, p. 21
  3. See ""
  4. Banks, Sydney, "The Missing Link: Reflections on Philosophy and Spirit," International Human Relations Consultants, Publishers, 1998. Distributed by Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton. p. 26.
  5. "The Missing Link," p. 31
  6. "The Missing Link," p. 39.
  7. "The Missing Link," p. 47
  8. Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2017-01-01). "The theory of constructed emotion: an active inference account of interoception and categorization". Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 12 (1): 1–23. doi:10.1093/scan/nsw154. ISSN   1749-5016. PMC   5390700 . PMID   27798257.
  9. See books by practitioners, including Elsie Spittle, George Pransky, Roger Mills, Joseph Bailey, Jack Pransky, Richard Carlson, Ami Chen Mills-Naim, Robert Kausen
  10. Bonanno, George A. (January 2004). "Loss, trauma, and human resilience: have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events?". The American Psychologist. 59 (1): 20–28. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.59.1.20. ISSN   0003-066X. PMID   14736317.
  11. "The Hawaii Lectures," DVD Series
  12. From tapes, lectures, etc.
  13. Oral and written testimonies from practitioners; Roger Mills' unpublished memoirs and Mills, R.C. and Spittle, E., "The Wisdom Within" pp. 16-25, Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, Canada, 2001.