More Training

           The Nine Stepper is designed to help with the out of the blue panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares. How many of you have noticed these out of the blue experiences are not as frequent as they were five weeks ago? (Group discussion)

From the novel:

            Jett: I told the group about my big panic attack several days ago and how I said to bring it on. “It ‘bout ripped me a new one too. The strange thing was that I felt better after it happened. The only thing I could figure was that I felt more in charge. I wasn’t scared or running away. I said give me your best shot and it did. Don’t get me wrong. I thought I was dying during the attack but overall it was different.”

            Doug: “I’m slow with this stuff, but I liked that Eleven Stepper exercise. My wife and I are having serious problems and Hill (Doug’s Focker) is raising hell. I like that exercise because it helps us work with stuff we’re dealing with right now. I practiced it all week to help me get Centered and let go of Hill’s anger, resentment, and hostility toward my wife. I’m embarrassed to say that Focker almost hit her about ten days ago.” He paused and it looked like he started to cry, but regained his composure. “I’m really trying to stay with the program here, but it’s awkward as hell talking about Focker almost hitting my wife. Hell, I wanted to hit her too.”

            Doc: “Doug, in that moment, you got caught up in Focker’s experience and for that moment, you identified with him. That makes perfect sense. Keep up the good work however with separating yourself from Focker. Please go on.”

            Doug: “I’ve practiced The Eleven Stepper for the last ten days or so and took Hill to Center a bunch of times. I couldn’t believe two nights ago, I was able to sit down and have a good conversation with her.”

            Anna blurted out: “I found out my husband cheated on me while I was deployed.”

            Paul said under his breath, “Fuckin’ Asshole.”

            Anna: Tears started flowing. “I can’t talk about it right now, but I couldn’t hold it in any longer.”

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            Unfortunately, there are a lot of different challenges in life. This training is designed to give you a plan, some ideas and some skills to help you meet those challenges. As I have said many times, this is not a quick fix. It is training.

Listen to CM21




            I want you to pair up and pick something you are currently working on and take turns taking it through The Eleven Stepper exercise. You might have the exercise memorized and if not, refer to your notebook.

            Jett and Anna are in crisis. Jett is losing the “love of his life” and Anna has just discovered that her husband cheated on her while she was in Iraq. Read their dialogue below to get some ideas and then take turns doing the exercise.”

From the novel:

            “Jett, I may not be much good at this today. I’m still in a lot of pain.”

            “I can tell. I’m so sorry. Would you just like to talk or do you want to try the exercise?”

            She responded, “It helps to talk, but I’ve done a lot of that in the past few days. If you don’t mind, I’ll try to fit my situation into this exercise and see what happens.”

            “Would you like for me to talk you through it or do you want to do it on your own?”

            She answered, “Talking me through would help.”

            “Are you ready?”


            “Okay. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing and let me know when you get to Center.”

            After a few minutes, she softly said, “I’m there.”

            “Would you describe what your Center is like and then how you feel.”

            “I’m in a beautiful meadow. There is a nice breeze and it is gently blowing my hair and I can smell the fragrance of the many wild flowers. The sun is shining and the temperature is just right. There are a few fluffy white clouds and they have sharp edges so the contrast of the white and blue is  amazing. There are some mountains in the distance and a few of them have snow at the highest elevations. I’m walking toward a few trees at the edge of the meadow and I hear the sound of a stream that I can’t yet see. Now I can see it and I’m going down to the edge and I kneel down and put my hands in the water. It is cold and refreshing and I cup my hands and drink and I can feel it going down.”

            Pause. She begins to cry. I take her hand and say, “See if you can stay right where you are and remember that tears and sadness are just fine. You can just let then flow as long as you desire.”

            She slides her hand out of mine and reaches into her pocket for a Kleenex and wipes her tears. I say, “Take your time and when you’re ready, tell me how you’re feeling.”

            Pause. “I’m looking around at the beauty of this place and I’m lonely. I feel peaceful, but I also feel empty. I want to share this experience with my husband Brandon. I want us to walk hand in hand and laugh and run and play and make love.” She starts to cry again and opens her eyes and sees that I’m crying. She takes my hand and says, “Jett, we are both in a lot of pain.”

            “Yes. I feel so badly for you, but I guess I’m crying because what you want with Brandon is what I want with the woman I love.”

            She said, “I feel badly for you too. We’re a pair. I guess that’s why Doc put us together. Do you want to try again or would you rather just talk?”

            “We could try again if you want.”

            She continued, “I would like to try too. I need some help. I have an idea. Would you come with me to my Center? Maybe I won’t feel so lonely.”

            “I would like that. I guess we can close our eyes and go there.” I paused and continued, “You have a beautiful place.”

            “Thank you. It is special. It’s my favorite place to get Centered.”

            “So how are you feeling now?”

            “I’m feeling more peaceful now.”

            I asked, “Are you ready to talk with Pee Wee?”

            She laughed, “Do I have too?”

            “Not if you don’t want to.”

            “All right, Pee Wee, you little piece of shit, What have you got to say for yourself?”

            Pee Wee: “I’m pissed off, angry, hurt, devastated, mad as hell, resentful, and ready to bash his fucking head in.”

            Anna: “I’ve been right there with you for the last couple of days, but now I want us to move on.”

           Pee Wee: “I don’t wanna go to Center. You’ve been draggin’ me there everyday. Sometimes it helps with other stuff, but I don’t want any help with that bastard.”

            Anna: “We’re going to find a way to move forward. I don’t want to be stuck in those feelings.”

            Pee Wee: “I guess you mean I don’t have any choice.”

            Anna: “Yes, but first, let’s talk about what it feels like in our body to have these feelings.”

            Pee Wee: “Tense, tight, stressed to name a few.”

            Anna: “So what thoughts keep all this stuff goin’?”

            Pee Wee: “We spent a year of our life in that hell and he couldn’t even keep his pecker in his pants until we got home. That son of a bitch! How dare he treat us like that. He’s a cheating, lying bastard. And I wanna tell the world what he did to us. Will that do?”

            Anna: “I want you to come over here with me at Center and meet a friend.”

            Pee Wee: “Fuck!” She looks at me. “Dude, what’s your name?”

            Me: “Jett.”

            Pee Wee: She looks at Anna. “You already got a new boyfriend? He’s cute. Yes!” She pumps her arm and fist. “Let’s dump Fart Face.”

            Anna: “No, Jett’s a friend.”

            Pee Wee: She looks at me seductively. “After we’re finished here, handsome, let’s ditch Anna. You and I can get it on together.”

            Anna: “Pee Wee, behave yourself. Come over here and sit on the bank with Jett and me.”

            Pee Wee: “I get all soupy and sloppy over here. It does something to my head. I can’t think straight. Over here it’s all about peace and love. All right you win, I’m starting to let go and relax and I’m starting to think that maybe we can give Asshole another chance but maybe not. Maybe we need to listen to what he has to say. Somebody said, ‘If you’ve never done anything horrible, you can throw the first stone.’ Maybe we should remember that. We’ve got some work to do. What the fuck am I saying? I can’t believe those words came out of my mouth.”

            Anna: “For now let’s take some more deep breaths and make sure we have let go of all that tension and tightness in our body.” We did some breathing. “Now, let’s take Jett around and show him more of our Center. Pee Wee, you be the guide and tell him what we see and experience here.”

            They gave me a tour and by the time we got back to the bank of the creek, Pee Wee said she was even more relaxed.

            Anna: “So we’ve got to work on what we’re going to say to Brandon when we get home later today. I think it might be helpful instead of yelling and screaming at him to stay peaceful and let him know how hurt and devastated we are. Let’s close our eyes and imagine doing that.” They took some time to play that out in their mind.

            Anna: “We have to work on believing that we can go forward and find the right path for us. We don’t know what the future holds, but we can work on making clear choices that feel right for us. Staying Centered and being committed to that path will help us find our way.”

            Pee Wee: “Okay, already. Let me outta here. I’ve got other shit to attend to. I don’t have time to hang out here and take deep breaths. Somebody’s got to be takin’ care of business. I’m gone.”

            We opened our eyes and smiled.

                        *                      *                      *                      *                      *


            Notice that Anna took her time getting Centered and going through the exercise. Being grounded at Center in the beginning is a critical part of the experience. Also, notice how much she got Pee Wee involved from both a physical and mental perspective. Finally, she did it by the numbers giving attention to each step. One more time, it will go much faster after you have done more training with each step. We’ll work on the shorter version next session.

            Use your step by step guide if you need it. Take turns practicing. (Group discussion after the exercise is completed)

            On the mental rehearsal part, it can sometimes be challenging to figure out what to rehearse or what it means to be Centered. Spend more time at Center and believe that you will find some answers. I believe it will come to you in the silence. Remember that your Center is about peace and love. So you might say to yourself, “If I stay peaceful and loving, what would I do?” To believe if you would just be quiet, you might find some clarity and direction takes some time getting use to. Keep working on it and keep asking questions related to what it means to be Centered in this or in any other situation. You will get there.