Orienting: Connecting back to Safety

Grounding Technique


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For this exercise we’re just gonna see what we can notice in the environment around us, whilst also noticing where our body is in space.

  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. Take a second to intentionally pause, wherever you are. You might be coming into this practice with some really intense feelings, and I'm here to remind you that this is okay. This is a nervous system response, it will pass — and I want to thank your nervous system for trying protect you the best way it knows how. And let’s just see if we can be curious about trying something different here, just for a few minutes.
  4. Start by feeling the soles of your feet on the ground. Really pressing all four corners of your feet into the floor, and noticing how the feet are supported by the earth. 
  5. Slowly scan your eyes around the environment wherever you are, and just notice what's around you. Let your eyes go wherever they want to go, just scanning what you can see.
  6. Notice if there is anything dangerous in the present moment that needs your attention, or,  if what you can see around you right now is mostly neutral or okay.
  7. Notice if there’s a spot that feels interesting or comforting for you to focus on, or if you can notice anything familiar, that reminds you of who you are or where you are in this present moment. After you’ve found something of interest, spend some time pay attention to just the colour of this thing that you’re looking at, maybe naming the colour out loud. 
  8. Now shift your attention back to where you are standing or sitting in this moment. Notice what it’s like have your whole weight be supported by the earth. How in this moment, you are fully supported by the ground
  9. Scan around 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, in all directions around you, and see if this time you can notice the texture of whatever you’re gazing at — is it smooth, is it rough, is it shiny, is it soft? Again find a word you can use to name the texture out loud. 
  10. Move your attention back to your feet again, and take a moment to attend to the breath. It might feel hard to breathe right now —that’s okay, this is a nervous system response and it will pass — so let’s just check in and see if we can be there with our breath to help it feel just that little bit better. And if this doesn’t feel good you can skip this bit. 
  11. If you can, take in a quick breath through the nose, and then just let out a bit of a sigh like you’re blowing on hot soup. Again take a breath in, and blow the breath back out. And then just let that go.
  12. Shift your attention to the outside world now and observe any sounds that you can hear around you. Notice if there are any sounds that feel neutral or okay to listen to.  
  13. Now move your attention your upper body. Wrap your hands around your upper arms, kind of like you’re hugging yourself, and just give the muscles of your upper arms a light squeeze, starting at the shoulders. Make your way down your arms and forearms, lightly squeezing the muscles, and then lightly massage each hand. Just noticing how our arms and hands support us — how we can hold ourselves and feel our boundaries right here in our arms.
  14. Shift your attention to any smells or scents in the environment. Is there anything familiar, fresh, neutral or pleasant that you can smell in the air around you? If you have some essential oils, citrus or mints that you keep with you, you can bring that out and gently breathe in the scent.
  15. Now notice where your body is in the room again. Noticing the pressure of your sits bones or feet against the ground, noticing the textures of any fabric or surfaces around you, the temperature of the air, and just gazing around at your surroundings one more time, taking in where you are in this moment.
  16. 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.