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Section 24
Domineering Resident Technique #9
How to "Center" After Dealing with a Domineering Resident - Part 2 of 2


Table of Contents | NCCAP/NCTRC CE Booklet

The preceding Section contained the first four steps in Centering.
     Centering Step 1: Statement of your intent or highest visualized outcome.
     Centering Step 2: Focus your negative energy outside of your body.
     Centering Step 3: Breathe slowly and focus on your breath. 
     Centering Step 4: Release tension by scanning you body from head to toe.

Centering Step 5:  Find your center. Everyone has a center of gravity. Anyone involved in an activity requiring balance— walking, dancing, climbing stairs, etc.—understands, at some level, that his or her performance stems from this center of gravity.  However, you may need some help locating your center and getting a feel for it.

It’s about two inches lower than your navel and two inches below the surface—what some people would describe as the floor of their stomach. Take a moment to see if you can feel it, inside. It may help to put your hand there.

If you can’t feel it, it’s important to try this exercise: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, so you’re “grounded,” hands hanging by your sides, knees slightly flexed.  Close your eyes. Now move your hips as though you are keeping a hula hoop going around your hips. Picture the hula hoop staying up; with each rotation, picture the hula hoop getting smaller. Move your hips in tighter and tighter rotations, until the hoop is about the circumference of a bracelet, inside your stomach.  What’s keeping it going can be described as your center, the point about an inch below this imaginary hoop.

Now try to remember how that feels, so you can locate it sitting down. In a chair, you might need to rotate your hips again to find it. Sense the contact of your “sitting bone” on the chair; imagine you are trying to attach every bit of your lower back to the seat back. Sink into it. Release those muscles so you get more contact. You may feel rooted to the chair and, by extension, to the floor.  You may be thinking, "This is crazy!  What's the big deal?!  I feel stupid!  Why go to all this trouble?"  Here's why…

The whole idea behind finding your center is to feel rooted, grounded, stabilized—
and in control of your energy.
Stress has a tendency to lift you up and away from this place of balance and control.

When you’re excited or nervous, your shoulders climb, your breathing gets high in your chest, and your belly feels knot­ted. Agree?  But notice what else. You literally tense up like figuratively standing on your tiptoes. How balanced are you then?  Anyone could knock you over with a frown, including your Hester.  Get the point?

Don’t worry, if you can’t find your exact center.  Its exact location is not as important as directing your attention to feeling calm, together, at peace, and disconnected from scattered thoughts of fear, worry, anger, etc.  Breathe mindfully five times once you feel a certain level of "centeredness," i.e. calmness, or relief from stress.

Because you are focusing on a sensation rather than words and instructions, your mind is quieting. That’s because processing sensory input is a right-brain function, one that effectively shuts up the annoying chatter your left brain feels obliged to supply.  Concentration is like a still pond.  Left-brain thoughts are like gravel spraying on that still pond, whereas right-brain sensations smooth out any ripples on the pond.

Finding your center helps you begin to transition from the left to the right hemispheres
of your brain by preempting your thoughts with literally a “gut” feeling.

Centering Step 6: Repeat your trigger. You’ve gotten your left, logical, brain quiet.  Now, it’s time to call the right brain into action.  You now trigger action in your right brain.  Right brain triggers can be single words or short phrases that summon an image, sound, or sensation (non-emotional feelings). Better yet, they are the actual images, sounds, or sensations you associate with performing well, because the best triggers require no left-brain thought.  At this point, it's easy to slip into left brain thoughts if you don't keep your triggering word or short phrase to activate images, sounds, and/or sensations.   Here are some examples…

If you are about to give a volunteer talk or presentation your cue might be the sound of the first couple words — not the actual words so much as the sound of your speaking voice: enthusiastic, inflective, loud, assured. Hear the sound of your voice, or flash before your mind’s eye an image of you mesmerizing an audience. If you’ve actually delivered a volunteer recruiting speech that went so well that people congratu­lated you, and you felt on top of the world—for example, at the "4-H Volunteer Recruiting Speech”—then your process cue might be just that: “4-H Volunteer Recruiting Speech.” An Activity Director I worked with made up an acronym for her process cue,  which was BUGS, out of all the traits she thought were important to her delivery of her message to a Domineering Resident.  BUGS stood for her trigger words of “Believable, Unflappable, Grace, and Sincerity.”

When I was playing tennis, my process cue, before swinging, was either “smooth” or “good tempo.” It locked me into a feeling, a feeling my right brain remembered from every nice tennis stroke I’d ever made when I was relaxed. And it often served me well.

Confused about how a trigger can create a sensation?  Here is one that you can easily relate to, I bet.  One of the most effective triggers is a piece of music. Like no other medium, music can put you in a right-brain mind-set, a mood, a place, a time. Snippets from songs—like the theme from Chariots of Fire or Rocky—don’t just conjure the movie.  You hear the refrain, and you feel caught up in the whole emotional spirit of the picture.  This connection between the music and an emotional feeling is the same type of connection that you are trying to artificially create between a word or short phrase and a feeling or sensation.

In short, a good process cue, used at the right moment, can be the mental equivalent of throwing a switch.
Off with the left-brain chatter, on with the muscle memory
the right brain is retrieving from your subconscious storehouse.

Below, write a few words describing a situation that you didn't handle as well as you wish you would have.

Now, write a few trigger words or short phrases that will evoke a feeling or sensation which would have been your ideal at the time.

Would it be a good idea to spend some time writing in your Journal some triggering words or phrases for a future centering session?

Centering Step 7: Direct your energy  Where would you like to focus the calming energy you have created?  It’s time now to open your eyes and project this energy in a direction you feel would be the most beneficial.  I like to envision a stream of hearts between myself and the other person I have been focusing on.  For example, last week, I had a doctor's appointment in another city, actually, Bloomington, Indiana.  I envisioned a stream of hearts going from me on my meditation bench in Indianapolis to first of all, the building the doctor was in, then the waiting room, then the hallway, and to the examining room, and then to the doctor herself.  As it turned out, my intention of being "heard" by my doctor turned out better than I could have ever expected.  Obviously, you don't have to use a stream of hearts.  Your energy emanates from your center, so gather it up there and let it travel up, up, through your torso and in whatever direction and what ever positive form you choose….  maybe sunbeams or flowers.
 


If you have a person, a place, an object, a pet, etc. to which you would like to direct your energy of calm, write it below.

 

Would it be beneficial for you to keep a log in your Journal regarding times when centering has been beneficial for you? How about a log of times you wish you would have used it, and how you might use calming centering energy in the future to better prepare you for dealing with your Domineering Resident or other stressors?

Centering sometimes takes practice.  You may immediately feel results; alternatively, your left brain may have exerted dominance for so long, it’s unwilling to be unseated from power so easily.

You can also take advantage of stressful opportunities through­out your work day to practice centering. You probably won’t be able to close your eyes, or sit down, or be by yourself, but that’s the point.  Stress rarely overwhelms you when you’re seated and undistracted.  Every spike in blood pressure is an occasion to practice. Are you due for a confrontation?  Expecting a tough encounter at the facility, perhaps with that Domineering Resident?  Need to ask another department head for something?  Is your computer malfunctioning?  Are you stuck in rush-hour traffic?  Is there bad news you’ve got to deliver or digest?  Now that you know the technique, could you think about centering at these times?  Review the steps, and try it.

If you practice centering regularly, I predict within a week you can feel better armed for whatever your day throws at you, whether a Domineering Resident's scorn or a big meeting with your Administrator, or the CMS Survey Team walking through the front door of your facility.

Sometimes, just knowing you have a strategy to revert to, knowing you have
this technique to focus on, accom­plishes the very thing you’re after:
the calm that comes from feel­ing you’re in control, rather than at the mercy of your physiological reflexes.

Centering will get easier and faster. You may find yourself relaxing tension in a breath or two. You may find you can feel your center after one abdominal breath without even searching. You might even take a few mindful breaths and cue your right brain and become calm. Everyone arrives at their own place that is right for them. Give it time to arise through practice, and you won’t have to give the technique much time when you really need it to kick in fast.

Centering Step 1: Statement of your intent or highest visualized for the outcome you desire.
Centering Step 2: Focus your energy, where you’re going to direct the enormous energy that accompanied that stressful situation today
Centering Step 3: Breathe slowly.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly.
Centering Step 4: Release tension.  Now scan your body from head to toe and consciously release the tension.
Centering Step 5:  Find your Center.  Its exact location is not as important as directing your attention to feeling calm, together, at peace, and disconnected from scattered thoughts of fear, worry, anger, etc.  
Centering Step 6: Repeat your trigger or affirmation.  For example, BUGS “Believable, Unflappable, Grace, Sincerity”
Centering Step 7: Direct your energy. Where would you like to focus the calming energy you have created?  

You may duplicate this page.  Consider cutting out the above techniques and posting it in a visible place as a reminder.


NCCAP/NCTRC CE Booklet
Forward to Section 25
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