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For this exercise we’re gonna spend some time being curious about what we can notice in the environment around us, 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. 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 trying something new.  
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 gazing there – observing the shapes, textures, colours, or size of whatever you're looking at.
  7. Now shift your attention back to where you are sitting in this moment — the weight of your sits bones or feet against 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. 
  8. 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, again paying attention to the colours, textures, shapes and sizes of whatever you notice. 
  9. 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, and see if there are some areas that feel more numb, and some areas that feel less numb.
  10. 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 interesting or comforting to listen to.  
  11. 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 are natural human experiences that come and go.
  12. 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.
  13. 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. And if you’d like, you can maybe return to the present moment by reminding yourself, “I’m here now”. 
  14. 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.

When we're in the red zone sometimes we can feel kind of disconnected from ourself and our surroundings, and it can feel like we’re not really here in the present moment. It’s like our nervous system is on autopilot and has just shut us off without us being able to be a conscious part of that process. So this version of orienting is about connecting ourselves back to the present moment with our conscious awareness, so that we can kind of check in and recalibrate and maybe help ourselves come out of that red zone response, if we want to.