More Nine Stepper

            Time to do some practical work with The Nine Stepper. Remember, the purpose of this exercise is to reduce the intensity of the imprinted traumatic memories; precisely following the steps of the exercise increases the efficiency of the exercise. We’re going to break down three times in pairs. Each person will take turns doing the exercise. You will have three opportunities to do the exercise. I will give you specific instructions about the memories before we began each segment. I will be going from group to group to observe and answer questions. Do not fight panic or flashbacks or any other emotional response to the experience.


Reducing the Intensity of Past Imprints: The Nine Stepper

1. Pick a Memory Imprint.

2. Be in the experience with Focker (Mind and Body).

3. Take Focker to Center.

4. Observe the Experience from Center.

5. Feel the Emotional and Physical Release.

6. Pick a Still Frame.

7. Repeat Phrases to the Imprint:

          I do not judge you.

          I accept you as part of my history.

          You do not define me.


          I am letting you go.

8. Move it Further Away until it Disappears.

9. Feel the Freedom.


            I want you to work on a combat memory you would describe as moderately intense. It can be one you have been working on this past week. It doesn’t matter. I want each of you to take along your partner and explain the process as you go. I’m going to use an example in the novel to help you understand what I want you to do.

From the novel:

            Jett: “Chad, (Jett’s partner) let’s close our eyes and I’ll do the best I can to describe this experience. We had been sent out on a recon patrol and were climbing up this mountain and had pretty good cover. It was about 0300 and the sky was clear and there was a sliver of moon and the stars were shinning as brightly as I had ever seen them. A beautiful scene, but there was too much light for comfort. Without warning, we heard a shot and my friend Edward fell to the ground about two meters in front of me. He had been hit in the neck and blood was spurting out and when I got to him, I’ll never forget the look in his eyes. Something like terrified. It only lasted a few moments and he was gone. He lay there in my arms; blood everywhere. Ace came up behind me and saw that he was dead and said he was going to check on the rest of the squad. There’s more to the story but that’s the worst part of my memory.”

            Jett: “I’m gonna play the scene several times in my mind doing the best I can to relive it. As I do that I am feeling shocked, terrified, sad, and picturing Ace and me having to tell Edward’s parents that he died in my arms. Tears are running down my cheeks. One more life snuffed out by this insane war. I’m angry. I’m feeling anxious and lost. Tug says, ‘It’s gonna be us next and I can’t believe you signed up for this fucking nightmare experience.’”

            Jett “I’m taking Tug to Center. Chad, come with us and we’ll show you around. We are in the woods walking along one of our favorite trails early in the morning. Our dog Spot is with us and we can see through the trees that the sun will be coming up in a matter of minutes. The birds are singing their songs. Through an opening in the trees, we can see a blanket of fog in the valley. Little dew drops are falling off the leaves of the rhododendron along the path. Tug is yawning and wondering why we couldn’t have slept a little longer.”

            Jett continues: “It is quiet and I am reminding Tug of St Paul’s words that the peace of God is the peace that passes all understanding. I believe God is at the core of our Center. Tug is not religious so he struggles with the God part, but he’s coming along, aren’t you Tug? He answers, ‘If you say so.’ Chad, we are going to sit on this rock and watch the sun come up. Please join us. We are going to focus on breathing and letting the moment bring a new and fresh experience.”

            After a few minutes have passed, Jett continues, “Now we’re going back in the woods and we have a small little space that is our amphitheater. And in front of us about ten feet away is one of those large TV’s and we’re going to watch this memory several times remaining peaceful and calm emotionally and physically. We play it several times and feel the peace and calm. I admit that I’ve used this situation a number of times and early on it was more difficult than it was today.”

            Jett: “Now, we will pick a still frame of me holding Edward with blood all over us. It is a clear and sharp image. And we are repeating our phrases over and over. ‘I do not judge you. You are a part of my history. You do not define me. It’s time to say goodbye. I am letting you go.’”

            Jett: “We are now moving the image further away. It is getting more difficult to make out the image. It is moving further and further away, getting smaller and smaller and now it looks like a speck on the horizon and then it is gone. It is no longer real. It is gone. We are looking around and feeling the peace and freedom. We take a few more minutes to do that and then I say, ‘Thank you Spirit of God within me.’”

            Jett: “We can open our eyes now.” We both smile.

            Chad: “Thank you. That really helped me get a better idea how to experience this exercise.”

            Jett: During the next round, I was with Paul and he had a bad flashback. Doc was right there to help him through it, but he didn’t want his help. He worked through it on his own and also wanted no help from me. Paul was always cutting up. I wondered if he used that as a mask to cover up for some heavy stuff he was holding inside him. I wasn’t sure if we would ever know. To his credit, he asked me if he could go through again the part of the exercise where he would identify with the memory. That part had caused the flashback. He was determined to detach from that memory which had been his most intense memory of the war. He went through each step with a thoroughness that surprised me. At the end, he smiled and said, “A few more times and I’ll be done with that fuckin’ memory.”

            Jett: My next partner was Melinda. She had shared a little about her memory in an earlier group meeting. She had a tough time. Her memory was the mortar hitting their position and crawling on her knees out the tent and seeing her best friend’s body in pieces scattered on the ground. During the first part of the exercise where she was identifying with the memory, she became hysterical and bawled and bawled. She kept repeating, “Joan, I’m so sorry.” Doc came to help but hesitated as she let me take her in my arms and hold her and rock her back and forth. Tears were rolling down my cheeks too. Doc went inside.

            Someone who has never been in combat may wonder why I was crying. There is no way for me to express in words the identification many of us have with our comrades. Many of us saw so much pain and suffering that it stirred within us an agony and helplessness of unspeakable intensity. I believe for a long time to come, tears will always be close to the surface. We can handle the tears and sadness if we can just be free of the intensity of the intrusive nature of the memories, panic attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares. Doc repeatedly encouraged us to be patient and continue to train with commitment and determination. I believed this training was my only path to some semblance of a happy life.

            Melinda started again and was able to get through the nine steps even though she had to stop several times. She let me coach her some through feeling the emotional and physical release at Center. Her phrases were a little different. She said, “Joan, I have to let you go. My tears can’t bring you back. I miss you so much. You will always be with me at my Center. I love you. I’m letting this memory go, but will keep you with me always.” She said. “Jett, I’m not ready to do the still frame part of the exercise. It feels so final and I just can’t do it yet. Joan and I were lovers.”

            I was surprised and then felt this incredible emptiness. She would never see Joan again. I took her in my arms again and whispered, “I can’t imagine what you have been through.” We cried and I just held her.

            After awhile, the crying stopped and she said, “Thank you Jett. Now it’s my time to be with you.”

                        *                      *                      *                      *                      *

            Those examples give you additional ideas on how to do The Nine Stepper. Everyone pick your first partner. We’ll do three rounds and then talk about your different experiences. (After the exercises, group discussion)

            There were some horrifying stories and it’s clear and I hope obvious to everyone that there is a lot of training that needs to be done. We are getting closer to the end of learning the different skills and the challenge is to continue the training.