Instructor: Rainsong (RainTurtle)
Date: May 19, 2007 (Saturday)

<Rainsong> Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

<Aphanas> Good evening, Rain.

<Jael> Good evening

<Ally> Good evening =)

<PrinceSendai> Good evening

<Rainsong> As some of you might be aware, there is a class in here tonight. IF you aren’t looking for a real-world psionics class – as opposed to an RPG – this might be a good time to leave, before you get too weirded out.

<Rock> Good evenign.

<Rainsong> The topic for this evening is “Centering”.

<Rainsong> (I was fairly sure that only experienced/knowledgeable folks and possibly some very new folks who thought that the idea of an online class was novel in itself…

<Rainsong> …would be here, because everyone else seems to think that basics are “beneath them”.)

<Rock> *sighs*

<Aphanas> *nods*

<Rock> I recall my first “online” classes…

<Aphanas> Seems to be the case…

<Jael> indeed

<Rainsong> That said, welcome. I’ll be including some definitions for the benefit of the log, because I expect we’ll be putting this on the website.

<Jael> *nods*

<Rainsong> One of the fundamental sets of skills is known as “centering.”

<Rainsong> It is at least as important as grounding, and it may be more important to a psionicist’s well-being than grounding is. There are people who get along quite nicely without grounding, because they use other means to deal with excess energies.

<Rainsong> In general terms, “centering” refers to the acts of calming your own mind and of being actively aware of what is in your own mind. Focus and concentration are simplified this way.

<Rainsong> More importantly, being able to observe what one is thinking allows one to notice whether the thought patterns are being unduly influenced by other factors, whether those other factors are commercial advertising, imaginings prompted by your own fears and ambitions, the commands uttered by your cat, or hostile activities by assorted enemies.

<Rainsong> More importantly, being able to observe what one is thinking allows one to notice whether the thought patterns are being unduly influenced by other factors, whether those other factors are commercial advertising, imaginings prompted by your own fears and ambitions, the commands uttered by your cat, or hostile activities by assorted enemies.

<Rainsong> Centering is basic and fundamental. Many methods of centering are very simple. However, centering is not necessarily easy. It will be well worth your while to practice it regularly.

<Rainsong> So far so froody?

<Rainsong> Any questions?

<Jael> *nods*

<Ally> I believe we’re clear so far, Cap’n.

<Aphanas> None here.

* Rock raises a hand.

<Rainsong> Rock?

<Rock> Is there a way for someone ELSE to be able to recognize if you are centered or not? Or is only something you can determine yourself?

<Rainsong> Interesting question, that. It is not always obvious to a third party, but it can sometimes be detected.

* Rock nods.

<Rock> Is it effort that is required or something else that allows for this detection?

<Ally> In my own personal experience, it’s sort of rare to come across a centered person, so they ‘smell’ differently. Excuse my lack of proper explanation for telepathic input stuff.

* Rock assumes that when someone appears competent otherwise, folks don’t bother “checking”.

<Rainsong> Typically, someone who is completely “off center” is fairly obvious: their field is in disarray, their logic is faulty, there’s probably debris everywhere, and there are weird ripplings on the surface of their minds.

<Ally> Like Rain said, also.

<Rainsong> It’s harder to determine the relative centred-ness of folks in the middle…not really completely centred, but not completely scattered, either

* Rock nods

<Jael> (no questions here yet)

<Rainsong> You’re right about the “not bothering to check”, Rock. There is very rarely any reason to check, unless the person in question is one of your own students, or a patient (if you are a healer)

* Rock nods

<Rock> Thanks Rain.

* Rock cralls back with the other rocks.

<Rainsong> 🙂

<Rainsong> For calming your mind, just about any form of meditation that appeals to you will work well enough, from contemplating your belly-button to practicing tai chi.

<Rainsong> Meditation per se, however, is not strictly necessary.

<Rainsong> You may find it to your advantage to practice one or more “quick and dirty” methods of calming your mind, for those times when complex and/or time-consuming activities would be inconvenient.

<Rainsong> One common method of calming your mind (and, incidentally, of lowering your heart rate and blood pressure) is to imagine being chilled out in a pleasant, stress-free place.

<Rainsong> For example: Close your eyes, take a nice deep breath, and let it out again. No need to hold it, or count it, or do anything else with it. Eyes still closed, imagine a nice sandy crescent of beach on the landward side of a tropical lagoon.

<Rainsong> There are waves lapping on the sand. The water is clear and sparkling. The air is warm with a bit of a breeze, and the sun is shining overhead. There are some trees providing shelter on part of the beach, back a bit from the water.

<Rainsong> So far so froody?

<Aphanas> *nods*

* Rock nods

<Ally> Yeap.

<Rainsong> Excellent. Now imagine chilling out on the beach, perhaps lying in the sun or maybe leaning up against a tree with a good book in one hand and a cool drink in the other.


<Rainsong> Maybe you prefer a spot deep in the woods, or on a lake. Or perhaps you’re more of a cave person, or a sailor-on-a-yacht type. Other options include gardening or wandering through West Edmonton Mall, if you’re more of a city type.

<Rainsong> Choose something that is relaxing for you, and build it up in your imagination.

<Rainsong> If you do this regularly, you’ll find it becomes easier to calm yourself under stressful circumstances, by briefly closing your eyes, taking a breath and thinking of your imaginary vacation spot. It is also an excellent way to “recharge your batteries” during a coffee break or lunchtime.

<Rainsong> This is pretty much the same concept as the ubiquitous “going to your happy place.”


<Rainsong> A similar idea is “taking a kitten moment.”

* Rock smiles

<Kitsune> isn’t that what I do all the time?

<Rainsong> The idea here is to calm down during a stressful situation by briefly thinking about something unrelated and unthreatening.

<Rainsong> Kit: yup

<Rainsong> It works on the premise that, while you can very quickly hop back and forth between thoughts, you cannot actually think two separate thoughts at the same time.

<Rainsong> . Kittens are generally considered to be cute and furry and non-threatening, so taking a moment to think of some nice happy kittens purring sleepily is a good approach.

<Rainsong> If you do not like cats, perhaps puppies or bunnies or ducklings would be more to your liking. In fact, the topic does not actually need to be a small animal. You could think of a flower garden or a water fountain or something like that, instead.

<Kitsune> cockatiel?

<Rainsong> Sure. He’s cute. He looks a bit more mischievous than kittens appear…looking all sweet an innocent…

<Kitsune> yeah

<Rainsong> Now we get to the “being actively aware of what is in your mind” part. We’re going to look at one approach, for now, in a series of steps.

<Rainsong> Close your eyes again, and breathe slowly and deeply. What we are looking for here is “comfortably deeply”. Don’t strain or hold the breaths. Breathe with your belly if you can, like a singer or a wind-player. If you can’t, just breathe deeply and slowly (but don’t hyperventilate!) in whatever way is most convenient.

<Rainsong> In and out…it kind of repeats….I’m hoping most of you have the breathing part more-or-less figured out….


<Aphanas> 😛

<Rainsong> When you have that first step well in hand, we’ll add the second step: count each exhalation (i.e., the “breathing out” part).

<Rainsong> No need to say anything out loud. You can use your fingers, if you like, or practice counting mentally in another language, if it won’t require too much concentration. If you prefer, you could imagine seeing each number drawn on a blackboard, or in text art, or the 3D muppet numbers from Sesame Street.

<Rainsong> Step 3 is the tricky part.

<Rainsong> Ignore any other thoughts that come through your mind, while counting breaths. Just count.

<Rainsong> It’s okay that the thoughts are coming through, as long as you ignore them and let them pass.

<Rainsong> Whenever you find yourself paying attention to the non-counting thoughts, start over at “1” again. In addition to being one of the steps in this centering exercise, this is a useful exercise in concentration.

<Rainsong> The concept is simple; its execution is not.

* Rock laughs sadly

<Rainsong> mmrrrp?

<Rock> A case where it’s easier to say than do…

<Rainsong> You will be ready for step 4 when you can get to the twentieth breath without being distracted by other thoughts.

<Rainsong> Most people will require daily practice for several weeks. Some take longer, some take less time. It doesn’t matter, one way or the other.

<Rainsong> At that point, observe the thoughts as they pass through. You can count or not, as you like. Don’t bother interpreting or evaluating the thoughts as they go through, for now; just observe. Do step 4 once a day or so, for a week, before continuing to step 5.

<Rainsong> Step 5 is the point at which you start doing some analysis.

<Rainsong> As you look at each thought, consider what you think about the thought and where it is likely to have come from.

<Rainsong> Is it a logical or reasonable extension of your usual worldview? Is it a request from your cat to stop contemplating your navel and give her some attention and/or tuna? Is it a snippet from a music video, a news report, an advertisement?

<Rainsong> Steps 5 and 6 are things to do regularly, as normal day-to-day centering activities.

<Rainsong> That is not to say that they are to be done constantly. Because they require your active attention to do, unlike the continuation of a Shield, these are done periodically, when your attention is not required for driving, writing essays, or annoying your siblings.

<Rainsong> Step 6 is a variation of step 5. When you are doing something, pay attention to how you are doing it and why. Try watching yourself doing things. How does it feel? Why do you do them? Why do you do them that way?

<Rainsong> Questions?

* Rock raises a hand again.

<Rainsong> Rock?

<Rock> How does one “recognize” where thoughts come from?

* Jael raises her hand

<Rainsong> That’s precisely the point. When someone is just starting to do this, s/he _won’t_ recognise where most of the thoughts are coming from. (Possible exception: requests for tuna and catnip)

<Jael> hehe

<Rainsong> Over time, patterns develop. And if something odd shows up, that doesn’t fit the norm, then it would raise a bit of a red flag. It could be nothing more than a phrase from a catchy tune from the radio, which your file clerk dude picked up through the lousy enunciation and worse singing….

<Rainsong> Or it could be a random bit from a half-heard conversation on the subway….or overly loud thoughts from the obnoxious neighbours down the hall…

<Rainsong> Jael?

<Jael> The length of time for step 4… What is the purpose of the time there?

<Rainsong> That’s related to the question of “how do you recognise where they come from?”

* Rock nods

<Rainsong> Just doing the observation without analysis for a week or so gives you a bit of an accumulation of data to work with, when you start analysing the thoughts in the following step.

<Jael> ah, a baseline so to speak.

<Rainsong> Yes, exactly.

<Rainsong> There are a couple of memory exercises which are related to centering, even though they probably don’t belong in this category.

<Jael> I imagine you’d be able to track where your beliefs come from as well, with centering.

<Rainsong> That’s the idea, yes….it isn’t always as easy as it might sound, as you know.

<Jael> *nods*

<Aphanas> *nods* Some similar exercises are used in psychotherapy to reveal deep-rooted “unconscious” beliefs about the world or one’s self-image.

<Rainsong> mmhmm

<Rainsong> Centering exercises are not unique to psionics.

<Rainsong> There are a couple of memory exercises which are related to centering, even though they probably don’t belong in this category.

<Rainsong> The first one is to recall minor trivia. In a book which I would gladly credit if only I could remember which one it was, the author describes the subconscious as being like a file clerk.

<Rainsong> Using this image, picture the subconscious as a fellow sitting in a file room or at a computer, and ask him to pull up a piece of information, such as the name of an elementary-school-chum’s first dog. Then go and do something else for a while.

<Rainsong> Quite often, especially if you give “him” a deadline, the file clerk dude will come back with the information quite forcefully. He’s used to just tossing stuff in there and never doing anything with it again. Periodically requesting random files will make it easier to recall details (“pull files”) when you need to.

<Rainsong> The other one involves actually digging out more difficult stuff.

<Rainsong> Start by imagining part of your mind as being a cluttered room. It could be a basement, an attic, a shed, or a treasure room from a fairy tale. Use whichever image most appeals to you. Got it?

<Jael> *nods*

<Rainsong> Now imagine yourself in there literally digging and rummaging through the mess, looking for something lost or buried in it. If there is something specific you are seeking, you can set other things aside as you rummage. If you’re just doing some “internal spring cleaning”, simply rummage and see what you find in there. You might be surprised.

<Rainsong> Any questions, comments, etc?

<Kitsune> nope

* Rock wonders about the “locked” cabinets.

<Jael> Maybe you can look for the ‘key’ in the centering exercises?

<Rainsong> hmmm….root around for some keys? Pick the lock? Judiscious use of bit of plastique

<Rainsong> ?

<Jael> hehe… Jacques coming out from the story again, eh?

<Rainsong> yep 😀

<Aphanas> 🙂

<Jael> I don’t have any other questions.

<Rainsong> And, actually, I’m serious about that. The locked places are very frustrating, and can be incredibly difficult to get into, but sometimes plastique, chainsaws, and/or jackhammers can make some headway

<Aphanas> *nods* Just a comment here: The mental landscape can actually be quite malleable, and so you can often trick the sub-conscious into allowing access to the information with a bit of effort.

<Rainsong> (sometimes the file clerk dude can be bribed, too…)

<Aphanas> Yup.

* Rock sighs.

<Rock> Mine’s kinda “stubborn”… Can’t figure out where he gets it.

* Jael imagines her fcd asking for cookies in exchange for info…

<Rock> I think he’s already been bribed… And he’s trying to STAY bribed…

<Rainsong> 🙁

<Rainsong> This seems to be the end of the class for the evening….Thanks, all.

<Jael> Nifty class on an important basic. Thanks much

* Jael found it helpful.

<Aphanas> Thanks for the class, Rain. ‘Twas cool.

<Rock> Interesting…

<Rainsong> Tentatively, planning to run through a series of classes on the basics, just one every four or six weeks, to start.

<Kitsune> thanks rain

<Jael> that’d be shiny

<Rainsong> 🙂

<Rainsong> Next class will probably be on Grounding.


<PrinceSendai> Rain do you have time for questions?

<Rainsong> Sure

<PrinceSendai> I have a regular meditation before some psi practices

<PrinceSendai> Can I replace this with centering?

<Rainsong> Probably. However, you might to consider why you want to replace your current practice with something else.

<PrinceSendai> If I want to practice centering, it is more time consuming to practice meditation + centering

<Rainsong> Fair enough. Which sort of meditation do you do currently?

<PrinceSendai> I don’t focus on a particular style, sometimes I focus on my breathing, and other times I open my eyes and concentrate on a spot on the table that relaxes me, or something like that

<Rainsong> In that case, yes, I expect you could substitute the centering exercises, if you want to

<PrinceSendai> Okay. Thanks, Rain!

<Rainsong> No problem. 🙂

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