Orienting: External Environment

Grounding Technique


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For this exercise we’re just gonna see what we can notice in the environment around us.

  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. You might be coming into this practice with uncomfortable sensations, emotions, or thoughts, and I'm here to remind you that this is okay. This is a nervous system response - and we can maybe 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, and spend some time gazing there – observing the shapes, textures, colours, or size of whatever you're looking at.
  7. 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. 
  8. Now observe any sounds that you can hear around you. Notice if there are any sounds that feel interesting or comforting to listen to.  
  9. 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?
  10. 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. 
  11. 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 yellow zone sometimes we can be overloaded with only using our internal sensations to guide our perceptions of safety and danger, but as we know sometimes our perceptions of danger can be inaccurate. This version of the orienting practice shifts most of our detection process to focusing on the external environment, so that we can help cultivate more accurate neuroception in the present and learn to turn off that alarm response when it's not needed.