Guided Walk: Orienting to the Here and Now

Movement Technique

  1. 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.
  2. Take a second to intentionally pause and be here now, wherever you are. You might be coming into this practice feeling low, with uncomfortable sensations, emotions, or thoughts, or maybe you’re not feeling much at all in this moment. I'm here to remind you that this is okay. This is a nervous system response - and we can maybe even thank our nervous system for trying to protect us, and just spend the next few minutes being curious about trying something new. 
  3. Begin this mindful walk by gently placing your feet on the ground, and standing up tall like a mountain, with your feet at hip’s width apart and your arms beside you at either side. You can look down at your sweet feet, and notice the sensations as all four corners of your feet connect to the ground beneath you.
  4. And beginning now to take one step, and then another. Simple as that. Noticing how your heel lifts off the ground, the foot moves forward, and then places back down on the ground in front of you. Notice how the other foot naturally wants to follow. Just continue noticing the sensations of your feet as they lift off and then touch back down on the ground.
  5. Take a moment to notice how the earth is always there to support the feet when they land. Noticing the sensations — what it feels like for the heel to lift, the toes to press off against the earth, and how the sole of the feet makes contact and is supported by the ground once again. 
  6. 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.
  7. 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 in the space. 
  8. Now bring your attention to how your body feels as it moves through space. How it’s moving to keep you upright. To help yourself stay present as you move you can silently repeat a mantra or mental note to yourself, saying each word as you step — “I”, “Am”, “Here”, “Now”. “I”, “Am”, “Here”, “Now”. Notice if these words resonate with you, or if you need to adjust them. Maybe it’s saying to yourself “I am here with you” or just “I am here”. Or maybe none of these words resonate, and that’s okay too. Find whatever works for you as you just notice yourself walking in this moment. 
  9. Use your eyes to pay 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. Notice if anything you see piques your curiosity — whether it’s a colour, a texture, a shape, or something that reminds you of where you are in this moment.
  10. 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. 
  11. 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. Take some time to slowly and mindfully let your body move in whatever way feels okay to do right now. Maybe you want to wiggle or spread your toes and feel them move more freely, maybe you want to stretch or move your arms in a more open way, maybe you want to just play with a different walking style. Maybe you want to provide yourself some more comfort, holding your hands to your heart or belly, or wrapping your arms around yourself. Coming back to your mantra as you take each step — “I am here now”. 
  12. And then notice if there are any emotions present inside you right now, without having to change anything about them. Maybe you’re not feeling much of anything, and if that’s the case, just observe that too. Remember that whatever you’re experiencing is okay — emotions, sensations, numbness, fogginess, whatever it is — these are all normal and natural human experiences that come and go. And this practice is about simply noticing it and allowing it to just be, as we walk, in this moment. 
  13. Move your attention back to your feet. Where they make contact with the ground as you walk. Notice the sensation of gravity as the soles of your feet land on the ground, and how the earth supports your movement. Notice the different textures you can feel at the soles of your feet — whether that’s the shoes or socks that you’re wearing, or the texture of the ground if your feet are bare. Just feeling your feet as you mindfully walk. 
  14. And then notice any thoughts that might also be present in your mind right now. No judgement, just noticing if your attention wanders, and the thoughts that come and go in your mind. You can mentally note whatever comes up with a word, whether it’s “thinking” or “judging” or “worrying”, just note it with kindness and curiosity and return to your mantra, “I am here now”.
  15. 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.