Orienting: Internal and External

Grounding Technique


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For this exercise we’re gonna spend some time simply noticing the environment around us by engaging our different senses, whilst also noticing our internal environment.

  1.  Sit on the floor or in a chair, or stand with your feet planted on the ground.
  2. Notice where your body is making contact with the ground, where you can feel yourself being supported by the earth. 
  3. Slowly scan your eyes around the environment wherever you are, and just spend some time noticing what you see.
  4. Notice if there’s something that your eyes are drawn to, and spend some time gazing there – observing the shapes, textures, colours, or size of whatever you're looking at.
  5. Move your attention inward now and notice your breath for a few moments, without changing anything about it.
  6. 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 – just notice what your eyes pick up on that’s interesting. 
  7. Now move your attention to your body and observe your physical sensations. Notice what feels pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, without having to change anything about it.
  8. Shift your attention to the outside world again and observe any sounds that you can hear around you. Notice their quality, if they are loud or soft. 
  9. 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.
  10. Now notice any smells or scents in the environment around you. Is there anything familiar, fresh, light, or pleasant in the smells around you?
  11. 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.
  12. Once you’ve finished, notice if anything is different from just a few moments ago. Are there any shifts, however tiny or subtle, in how your body feels? Remember that whatever comes up is okay, and if you can, just check in with yourself and see if there’s anything else you need in this moment.

( 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.