The Eleven Stepper


The Eleven Stepper

            1. Getting Centered. You go to Center and spend time opening your senses, quieting your mind, and relaxing your body. Later in your training, you will all be able to go to Center and your mind will be automatically quiet and your body will automatically be relaxed. Some situations will be more challenging than others.

            2. A Conversation with Focker. You now talk with Focker about last night. It’s like talking to him across a fence. You are at Center and he is in your mind. Focker recounts the events and how he got so pissed off.

            3. The Physical Symptoms. You say, “It’s helpful to be aware of how anger acts out in our body. I’ve noticed that our heart starts beating faster and we ball up our fists. Did you feel that last night when you got angry?” Focker, “I guess. I’m not sure.”

            4. The ‘Not Working Well’ Thoughts. You ask, ‘”What were you thinking last night?” Focker says, “That those old friends were a bunch of ungrateful pricks and I wanted to beat the shit out of ‘em.” You ask, “Were you also thinking that I’m risking my life for this country and who cares. Everyone is just going on with their lives and I’m over there living in hell to defend their sorry asses. Right?” Focker answers, “Yeah something like that. What’s wrong with that?” You say, “There’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t work for us. Anger and fights don’t lead anywhere. I want to go again tonight and I’m working on being Centered which means I will be creating some different ways to respond to situations like last night.” Focker says, “I don’t know how to make other choices.” You say, “You don’t need to make any choices. I’ll show you how it works. Just don’t fight me on this.”

            5. Invite Focker to Center. You open the gate on the fence and he comes through into Center. Focker asks, “What the hell are we doing on this beach?” You go into detail about Centering and take him through the experience of getting to know the place and working on the deep breathing. You tell him it’s going to take a little while to feel it, just be patient.

            6. The Physical Release. You ask, “How does it feel?” He says, ‘I don’t know how it feels. I’m too busy wondering what you want from me.” You say, “Close your eyes again and see if you can just quiet your mind and feel what that’s like in our body.” Reluctantly Focker says, “It feels good. I notice I don’t feel tense.” You say, “Good. I want you to spend more time here with me so you can see how good it feels to let go of all that tension and stress in our body.”

            7. The Centered Thoughts. You say, “Our next step is to change the way you think.” Focker asks, “How do we do that?” You answer, “We remember that the breathing helps relax the body and quiet the mind which helps us think more clearly. When our mind is quiet and still, we can access a deeper wisdom here at Center. So, we go over the situation and look at what you were thinking and then decide on some different possibilities remembering that on this beach our mind is clear. Help me out. How could we have thought about that situation differently?” Focker answers, “I don’t have a clue.” You say, “Let me give you some examples. While I’m doing that, let’s feel the deep relaxation in our bodies and be aware of the quietness and stillness of our mind. And for now, you pretend that you believe everything I’m saying.”

            I’m going to list possible phrases to give you some ideas. In your actual work, you would probably only pick one or two.

            You say, “We can stay calm regardless of what they say or do.

            We prefer peace over anger, stress, and getting in fights.

            We give them no power over our response to their comments.

            We can create whatever response we choose in this moment.

            They have no clue about war and what it’s like and that’s okay.

            We choose not to blame them for not knowing what we go through in combat.

            We do not judge them.

            We have the power to create our own response.

            We are free to continue talking with them or free to leave.”

            8. Practicing the Skills to stay Centered. Focker says, ‘You’ve got me on this beach and it feels pretty good, but what happens when we get out in the real world and go to that bar tonight and they start mouthing off again?’ You respond, “We decide before we go in there we’re going to stay Centered.”

            He says, “I can’t close my eyes and come here ‘cause I’ll be at the bar.” You say, “Our Center is always with us. It goes wherever we go. It is both our training ground to learn how to go to bars and not get angry and in fights and the place we seek peace and wisdom to help us live our lives.” Focker says, “Those are some fancy words.” You respond, “We come here to practice our skills at being Centered and remind ourselves that we have made the decision to do the best we can to stay Centered and live our life in peace and tranquility with ourselves and with others.” Focker asks, “What does that involve?”

            You say, “It means coming to the beach every day to spend time feeling the energy, practicing the breathing, and training in other ways to help us stay Centered.” Focker asks, “What other ways?” You respond, “There are a lot of other ways. I want to teach you one of them now.”

            9. Mental Rehearsal. “Let’s look around, feel the energy, and take some deep breaths. Stay Centered now with that peaceful mind and relaxed body and remember the scene last night.” Focker says, “You got a point. It’s hard to stir up anger.” You say, “Okay, more deep breaths as we look around and experience the peace and serenity of this place. Let’s look at a couple of our Centered statements and make a commitment to embrace those statements and make them true in our life. Remembering those statements and the spirit behind them and feeling the peace and serenity in our body, let’s close our eyes and staying Centered go through the scene from last night. In what way is it different for you?” Focker answers, “Well, it was different. Again, it was hard to stir up the anger. We just stood there and talked to them and they started mouthing off and I thought to myself. What a bunch of pricks. They don’t have a clue. But it didn’t bother me and we got up and said we’d see them later. But this is us just sitting here. I’m so use to doing it my way and kicking some ass. How will I change?” You say: “You don’t need to change. Just stop fighting me.”

            10. Transformation. You say, “‘Two things are the key. The first is that you believe those statements I listed a few minutes ago and the second is that we behave as if we do actually believe them. So we do a lot of Centering exercises and mental rehearsing. Then we actually go to the bar tonight and they start the same stuff as last night. We repeat to ourselves some of our statements, take a few deep breaths, remain calm and get Centered. Then we finish our beer and tell them we’ll talk to them later. When we take those two steps, we are on the way to creating a new response to those types of situations. With more practice, we no longer have to think about it when we go into a bar. That’s just how we respond to those types of people. It’s a new habit and the old habit just fades away.”

            11. Commitment and Training. You say, “This is not an easy path, but with commitment, determination and training, we can make it happen.” Focker asks, “What if I’m not interested?” You respond, “I have to keep working on you.”

            Okay, that’s the long form. Once you get the hang of it, it’s simple. We’ll spend time training and practicing how to effectively use The Eleven Stepper.

            The Eleven Stepper

            1. Getting Centered.

            2. A Conversation with Focker.

            3. The Physical Symptoms.

            4. The “Not Working Well” Thoughts.

            5. Invite Focker to Center.

            6. The Physical Release.

            7. The Centered Thoughts.

            8. Practicing the Skills to Stay Centered.

            9. Mental Rehearsal.

            10. Transformation.

            11. Commitment and Training.


           I have mentioned several times that Focker will resist because she is afraid of change. Again, she is not a bad person. She is just doing the best she can. As I said earlier, you might even feel sorry for her. In many ways, she’s like a little kid. 

            On The Eleven Stepper, some have asked why I have you first going to Center rather than just going straight to Focker and have that conversation. The purpose is to get grounded at Center before the conversation. Focker will try to throw you off and it’s important to be clear and ready to engage his rationalizations and special pleading for his behavior. As you become more automatically Centered, you can skip that first step.

            Please continue to be patient. Getting out of basic training will happen soon. Let’s keep going. I am going to walk you through the The Eleven Stepper to make sure you know how to do it. I’m going to pick an issue that I hear a lot about from combat veterans. It has to do with family members and friends trying to get you to get help, go to counseling, go to the VA, go to the doctor, stop drinking so much, stop taking so many pills, get out and socialize with your friends, go over and see uncle Judd who was in Vietnam, talk to somebody, you can’t keep bottling this stuff up etc., etc. Then eventually, there is the angry outburst from the veteran. I don’t know if all of you are dealing with this issue, but if you’re not, imagine what it would be like if you were dealing with this issue.

            Take out your notebooks. This is of course an exercise done by the numbers. When doing this exercise by yourself, refer to the list above to keep yourself focused on the step by step process. Now, during this exercise, I will call out the numbers and step and coach you through the process. I will tell you the step to write down. You will close your eyes and go through the step. Then you will open your eyes and record in your notebook as much as you can remember. Again, I will do some coaching and also give you some time to apply the steps to this situation.


             1. Getting Centered. Close your eyes and go to your Center. Over time, you will create your own ways to get Centered. When you get to Center, begin the deep breathing to quiet your mind and relax your body. Every time you exhale count a number. Start at thirty and count backwards to one. Be especially aware of how you feel in your body after doing the breathing. Then look around your Center again and open all your senses to experience fully what it’s like there. Take your time. You are in training. Later, you will be able to get Centered in moments and can then stay as long as you desire. For now, open your eyes and write out the step in your notebook.

            2. A Conversation with Focker. Close your eyes and talk to Focker about the angry episode and how she got to the point of being so angry. (Pause) When you have finished, open your eyes and write what Focker said in your notebook. I would assume Focker is just trying to survive and get through all the trauma. The last thing he needs is someone pushing him to do something he doesn’t want to do. He feels overwhelmed, stress, depressed, anxious, and desperate for some relief.

            3. The Physical Symptoms. Close your eyes and have Focker talk about the physical symptoms when he gets angry. (Pause) Open your eyes and record what he said in your notebook. A short time ago, we talked about how different people respond physically to anger. I’m assuming your Focker talked about some of those symptoms.

            4. The “Not Working Well” Thoughts. Close your eyes and find out what she was thinking. (Pause) Open your eyes and record in your notebook what she said. I would assume it is under the general category of, “Leave me alone. I don’t want your help. You are driving me crazier than I already am!!!!!”

            5. Invite Focker to Center. Close your eyes and introduce him to your Center. Start with a bunch of deep breaths.  Give him a tour of Center just like you were guiding a stranger around your beautiful home. Remember that he will resist at first and it’s gonna take some time for him to feel the benefits of spending time in this place. Open your eyes and record the experience in your notebook.

            6. The Physical Release. Close your eyes and continue working with the deep breathing coaching him to feel it in his (our) body. Help him understand the benefits of spending time at Center. The more you become familiar with your own Center, the more skilled you will be at helping him experience the benefits of being Centered. Open your eyes and write down your experience.

            7. The Centered Thoughts. Close your eyes and talk with him about changing the thinking process when it comes to people who are trying to help. This is one of the most important steps. How you think about something is very powerful so making that change is important. You remind him that when our mind is clear and we are feeling peaceful it is easier to come up with different ways of thinking about this situation. Take some time to do this. Open your eyes and take more time to write down different thoughts in your notebook. Some of the thoughts we used in the first exercise might be relevant here. (Pause) Other thoughts may be under the general category of they love us and are only trying to help.

            8. Practicing the Skills to stay Centered. Close your eyes and let Focker know that hanging out at Center with lots of deep breathing really does help to stay peaceful and calm. This can be a good time to go over with Focker at Center the list of not working well thoughts and respond to that thinking with Centered thoughts remembering to remain calm and peaceful during the experience. Open your eyes and write down Focker’s response.

            9. Mental Rehearsing. Close your eyes. From Center, you and Focker imagine situations where people are trying to get you to get help or…. Respond from Center expressing your appreciation for their concern or some variation of that theme. Following up with you have to make that decision for yourself or it won’t matter. Mention to Focker how much better it will feel in the long run to take that approach. Open your eyes and record anything significant in your notebook.

            10. Transformation. The keys are mentioned in the first exercise. You must believe your Centered thoughts and then you must live them, behave in alignment with those new thoughts. When that happens you begin to experience the truth that sets you free and transformation happens.                     11. Commitment and Training. This is what makes healing possible. Without it, nothing of significance happens. This eleven stepper is not fun and is quite challenging at times, but it is part of this approach to healing. The goal is to have Focker come and live with you at Center. She is too ingrained in your consciousness for that to ever completely happen, but if you are committed to the training, she will be hanging with you at Center quite a bit of the time. It is your call. When he leaves Center for awhile, you can ask him to stay out of trouble.

            You might be happy to know once you have become proficient in The Eleven Stepper, this exercise becomes very simple and easy to use. I’ll show you later. There is, however, no substitute for the training it will take for you to reach that goal.