It’s human nature to see Focker as bad and the Center as good. At Center, we are working on the traits of acceptance and non-judging. When referring to an experience, we sometimes say, ‘it is what it is.’ That’s another way of saying you can’t change it so accept it and don’t judge it. If your Focker says, “Go ahead and eat a piece of that cake.” Instead of saying to Focker, “Shut up stupid,” you say from Center, “That’s not gonna work. I want us to lose a few pounds and eating a piece of that cake is not gonna help.” I believe you have a much better chance of walking away from the cake if you stay Centered. After all, Focker just wants a piece of cake.

            Your Focker might be thinking right now that tonight we can go to the bar and get drunk. You at Center respond by accepting and not judging Focker, but telling him that getting drunk gets us nowhere fast and it’s not working for us. And he may overpower you, but soon you’ll have the skills to make that decision not to get drunk.

            Each one of you has been to hell and back. The memories of these experiences are traumatic and sickening and abhorrent. I said earlier that since we can’t change our history, there is no point to judging it as good or bad. But what if you go back to that moment, how would you look at those moments in your lives?

            Let’s talk more about these memories of combat. Let’s label these intrusive memories as, “bad and destructive to life.” We are frightened of them and want to get rid of them, suffocate them, erase them, destroy them, escape them, kill them, push them away, control them and be free. That’s what we’ve been taught and its human nature according to our culture. Slay the enemy! That simply means we have a fight on our hands and as I said earlier, “fighting always makes things worse.” This training will show you a more effective path.

            Most of you have done things you are ashamed of and feel guilty about and you are torturing yourself. Some of you believe that you deserve to suffer as punishment for what you’ve done. Hopefully, at some point you wake up to the idea that nothing helpful is gained by continuing to punish yourself.

            I’m going to repeat myself and will continue to do it until you all at least have a clear understanding of what I’m saying. It took me a while too. So if you agree that there is no benefit to punishing yourself, the next step is to accept the fact that there is nothing you can do to change your history. You are left with the choice of how you respond to that history, how you think about it, how you understand it, how you feel about it, how you live with it, and how, in the midst of your life, you find the path, the course that offers you the chance to have a life with some measure of happiness and peace.

            So the response to these memories is to stop labeling and experiencing them as something bad and traumatic. They are not good or bad; they are memories. That helps us stop fighting them and running from them and labeling them as anything other than memories. They are what they are and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Yes, as you learn how to take that first step of acceptance without judgment, something interesting happens. You notice that they, after awhile, begin to fade and lose their intensity.

            So how does that work? You can try to stop saying they’re bad memories and they’re just memories, but that by itself will probably not help you to stop running from them or having this sick feeling inside. Let’s say out of the blue, you have a flashback where you’re riding down a road and take hostile fire and find cover and tend to your buddy who got shot in the leg. You’re yelling for a medic and can’t get the bleeding to stop. You’re in panic mode. The flashback fades. While you were having the flashback, you started to sweat, your heart was racing, and your chest was tight. All of this happens in a matter of seconds.

            At this stage of your training, you’re not sure what to do except take deep breaths. I think most of you would say right now the deep breaths are not helping. What if you decide to continue practicing the deep breathing and become a master in that skill? Can you imagine if you have that much control over your body this would be a huge help? Think about all the physical symptoms related to a flashback. If you relax your body, slow your heart rate, release tension and tightness, get your breathing under control, you will be making huge physical strides in dealing with flashbacks. It’s human to be resistant to something as mundane and simple as deep breathing. I urge you to keep picking up the books and if you continue to do that you will soon be ready to proceed with the training. 

            Later you will discover that at Center there is no fear. That’s a challenge to understand right now, but you will experience it later. With the absence of fear, that acceptance gives you back what you lost along the way and that is your ability to do something different other than freaking out. You now have other choices and later you will find out the nature of those choices. Having choices brings a lot of relief to the situation. And you’ll find those choices at Center where those memories loose their intensity and where there is no fear.

            When you lock your doors at night and keep your .45 in the drawer next to your bed, you must not be Centered. Right? Not true. You do those things not because you’re afraid, but because you’re aware that some people are violent and will harm you if they have the chance.

            One soldier asked about being Centered when you’re ordered to clear the enemy out of that abandoned house. How many would be afraid? Most of us would so how do we look at that fear? Part of being Centered is not to judge the fear as bad or wrong or inappropriate. So in that sense, we are still Centered. Maybe that fear is what keeps us alive or enables us to do our job. So fear can work for us in some situations. War is insane and sometimes to survive we do what we have to do. To judge that as bad or terrible or inexcusable is to stay stuck in it with little hope for recovery.

            At Center, there is compassion and the ability to see the broader picture. When judgment of what happened over there is suspended, you notice that the intensity of the memory begins to fade over a period of time. Focker says we’re screwed up and we should feel like a piece of shit so let’s go get drunk.

            You are training to use your Center as a lens or portal through which you see and experience all parts of your life. Focker already has her lens and portal in place and will not allow you to come in and take over just because someone suggests that Focker’s present lens and portal might not be working. And because you’re choosing to refrain from labeling either Focker or your Center as good or bad, you begin to explore the nature of your Center, your new home, and in the process you will perhaps discover the truth that sets you free from Focker and some of his stuff that’s not working.

            I say perhaps because it’s a challenge and it will require commitment and determination. I hope each one of you will make that choice. When I said you will get free of some of the stuff that’s not working, I mean that we will never get it all worked out. Acceptance of that idea is a key to the healing process.