Guided Walk: Orienting

Movement Technique

Optional:      This practice can be a really beautiful way to start the day, and if you'd like you can bring a warm cup of tea with you to mindfully sip on as you walk.

  1. If you haven’t started walking already, find yourself a stretch of space — whether it’s somewhere outside or an area of your home — anywhere that you can walk along for the next few minutes. I want you to start this guided walk just being curious about how you’re feeling right now, knowing that whatever you’re feeling is okay, and be open to this maybe changing as you walk. This practice is about walking for the sake of walking, and simply noticing what’s around us as we move. 
  2. Take a moment to just notice yourself walking. How one foot lifts and takes a step, and how the other foot follows. Just paying attention to the sensations of the feet as they lift off and then touch back down onto the ground. How the earth is always there to support the feet when they land. 
  3. Notice the sensations — what it feels like for the heel to lift, the toes to press off against the ground, and how the sole of the foot makes contact with the ground once again. Take the next few moments doing nothing but noticing what it's like for your feet to walk.
  4. Now just shift your attention to the outside world, wherever you are. Slowly scan your eyes around the environment and just spend some time noticing what you see around you.
  5. Notice if there’s something that your eyes are drawn to — observing the textures, shapes, colours, or the size of whatever you're looking at. Notice the quality of light as it lands on different things around you as you walk. 
  6. Move your attention inward now and notice your breath for a few moments, without changing anything about it. Just noticing yourself breathing as you walk, the quality of the air around you as you move and what it’s like to take that air in. 
  7. Use your eyes to shift your attention to your outside surroundings again. Scan around the environment again, but this time let your head and neck slowly move with your eyes as you look at your surroundings - looking all the way to the left, and all the way to the right, looking up above and around, and looking down at your feet as they walk. See what it's like to focus on things that are close to you, or things that are further in the distance. Just notice what your eyes pick up on that’s interesting. 
  8. Now move your attention to your body again and this time observe your physical sensations. Notice what feels pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, without having to change anything about it. Notice how your feet move on the ground once again, but also how the rest of the body moves too. Notice if there are any subtle movements that your body wants to make in this moment as you walk, to maybe stretch or relax or lift, or just find what feels good? Take some time to slowly and mindfully let your body move in whatever way feels okay to do right now.
  9. Shift your attention to the outside world again and observe any sounds that you can hear around you. Is there the sound of traffic, the sound of wind blowing or leaves rustling, the sound of birds? Notice the quality of these sounds, if they are loud or soft, pleasant or unpleasant. Just keep paying attention to the sounds you hear around you now as you walk. 
  10. And then notice if there are any emotions present inside you right now, without changing anything about them. Just noticing any emotions that arise, or subside, or that just simply exist in this moment as you walk. 
  11. Now notice any smells or scents in the environment around you. Is there anything familiar, fresh, light, or pleasant in the smells around you? Paying attention to any scents as you breathe it in, and breathe it out. 
  12. And then notice any thoughts that might also be present in your mind right now. No judgement, just noticing the thoughts that come and go in your mind. 
  13. And once you’ve finished, just come back to wherever you are. You can continue walking for however long feels good, or come to stillness for a moment before you go on with the rest of the day. For now, just notice if anything is different from just a few moments ago. Are there any shifts, however tiny or subtle, in how your body feels? See if you can put words to what you notice, always remembering that whatever comes up is okay.

( i )      Orienting is taking in your environment and everything that’s in it – colours, smells, sounds, what you’re touching – while also taking in your internal sensations – physical, emotional, thoughts.

The nervous system is always doing this automatically outside of our awareness, but is often faulty, especially post-trauma. So orienting is doing this detection with awareness in order to recalibrate our faulty neuroception and create a more accurate perception of safety and danger.