When to use: Anytime you want to settle your system, to break the habit of negativity bias, to move away from thinking, to help resource yourself when you have big emotional experiences, to come to the present moment after you have done some other exploration or after completing the stress cycle
Why: Orienting is the fundamental organic way to bring in the moment awareness and give the brainstem accurate information about what is happening in the present moment. It includes paying attention in a particular way through the five senses, and noticing what happens inside of the body when we notice in that particular way. It’s also a way to bring intentional awareness to the moment, as opposed to using the default network of the brain which does rumination, worry, repetition of negative bias.
Practice: Take a moment and notice the world around you. Write down:
- What you see, what you eyes are drawn to
- What you smell
- What you hear
- What you can touch and experience with your hands
- What you taste
Now take a moment, close your eyes and transport yourself to an imaginary place you know well. Perhaps in nature or a place you love. What do you see, smell, hear, touch and taste in that image. Take it all in and notice how your body might shift now.
Orienting to pleasure:
When: anytime you want to come out of fight flight, anytime you want to relax your shoulders and breath; to help with overwhelming emotions, to create capacity to tolerate uncomfortable sensations
Why: Orienting to the environment is linked to how our eyes and nervous system work together under threat and under conditions of safety and peace. By opening up your peripheral vision you allow your system to sink into the magnocelullar pathway of vision, a part of which is connected to emotional processing, ability to sense yourself in the world and ability to come out of fight or flight into safe ventral engagement.
Practice: Sit in a place where you can lean back or stand against a chair, a wall or tree. Allow your vision to expand, softening your eyes. Let yourself see the environment, but also see yourself as a part of it.
INNER ORIENTING / MOTHER EARTH – FATHER SKY
When: anytime you want to connect to the body or feel a sense of being floaty or dissociated; anytime you are about to start a conversation; during difficult conversations
Why: Your ability to stay connected to your inner experience while also observing what’s happening around you is a HUGE part of being able to self-regulate, and have a conscious connection with what normally goes unnoticed and unregulated.
Practice: Take a moment to ground and feel yourself in your body, pelvis and feet. Go all the way in and down, as much as you can connect to your sense of stable, steady presence in the chair or floor. Rest your back. Feel that you are being supported. Note your breath.
Now find the 8 points we’ve been practicing – pelvis, head, back and front of the body, right and left, inside and out. As you shift your attention between the points, find the rhythm and pace you like. Notice in which direction you prefer to move, or it’s easier to move. If it’s hard, teeter on the edge of it and come back, do not force your attention to go somewhere you don’t want it to go. Gently move 3-5 times between the points and notice the sense of mid space that forms. You can go to that mid space and enjoy it as a resting place while you interact with the world.
Mother Earth Audio:
INNER BODY MAPPING
When: anytime you want to connect to the body and create a sense of safety/containment for emotions and thoughts
When: During a conversation, anytime that there is too much information in the body and you want a little more space from what’s arising; it can both be used to titrate what is too much inside, and to bring attention to what is inside so you don’t get lost in others
Why: Your ability to stay present to yourself, while also being connected to the environment is huge for your emotional regulation and wellbeing. You can do this practice anytime anywhere, which makes it so portable and useful. It combines really well with the skin boundary practice.
When: when feeling energy in the upper body, anxiety, discomfort, or too many disorganizing thoughts; after stressful events; whenever you’ve worked too much and want to come back to the body
Why: Earth is always here to hold you, support you, and help you bring your energy down. Notice what happens when you ground your energy into the ground.
FINDING A RESTING PLACE IN THE BODY:
When: to learn how to connect with parts of the body that are open, available, alive, neutral, or even pleasurable; first thing in the morning or anytime
Why: It’s incredibly helpful to be able to reliably use the body as a resource. If you can rest your attention on a part of you and connect to feelings of well-being, it is a respite in the midst of difficult physical or emotional experiences, helps not feel overwhelmed; helps find space for all that is occurring. It also prepares you for pendulation (another practice).