Orienting: Here and Now

Grounding Technique

  1. Take a moment to get comfortable. Start by feeling your sits bones beneath you, or feeling your feet if they’re touching the ground. Just notice anywhere that your body is making contact with something, and where you can feel yourself being supported by the earth. 
  2. Now just 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 what we can notice around us so that we can check in with our nervous system.  
  3. So with your eyes open, slowly start to 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. 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.
  1. Notice if there’s a spot that feels interesting or comforting for you to gaze on, something that maybe the eyes feel curious about or drawn to. It could be a plant, a picture, a piece of furniture. Maybe it’s something familiar, that reminds you of who you are or where you are in this present moment. And after you’ve found something to gaze on, just spend a moment taking in everything about that object as if it’s the first time you’re seeing it – the shape, the texture, the colour, the size, how far away it is from you in the distance. 
  1. Now shift your attention back to where you are sitting in this moment — the weight of your sits bones against whatever you’re sitting on, or the sensations of your feet if they’re touching the floor. 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. 
  1. And now let’s scan around again, but this time let your head and neck slowly move with your eyes as you look at your surroundings. Slowly check out all directions, looking all the way to the left, and all the way to the right, as you just notice everything around you, and see what your eyes pick up on that’s interesting, until you find some other thing to focus your gaze on. Again paying attention to the colours, textures, shapes and sizes of this thing you’re gazing at. 
  1. 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. You might not feel connected with your body at all, and that’s okay too — just notice it. It sometimes makes sense for our nervous system to tune out or shut us off from feeling our bodies, maybe that’s something you’re used to, or maybe that’s something that you’re not used to. Just know that it is okay, and that all we want to do in this moment is observe the here and now with a little bit of curiosity and kindness. You can maybe experiment and notice if some areas feel more numb, and if some areas feel less numb. Maybe you can connect to the feeling in just the tip of your pinky finger, or your left ear lobe, or the palms of the hands. Just be curious for a few moments about what you can observe.
  1. Shift your attention to the outside world now and observe any sounds that you can hear around you. Maybe you can hear the sound of traffic, the sound of wind blowing, or birds chirping. Notice if any of these sounds remind you of where you are right now in this present moment. See if you can focus on a sound that feels pleasant or neutral to listen to, and really notice the quality of that sound. Is it loud or soft, does it come and go? 
  2. And then notice if there are any emotions present 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, right here in this moment.
  3. 10. And then see if you can pay 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. Just spend some time paying attention to whatever scent feels the most pleasant or familiar to notice. 
  4. 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. You can mentally note whatever comes up with a word, whether it’s “thinking” or “judging”, just note it with kindness and curiosity. And as you notice any thoughts as they come and go, you can return to the present moment and remind yourself, “I am here now”. 
  1. 12. And once you’ve finished, just come back to wherever you are. 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.