Take 5: Grounding exercise to tune into your 5 senses

Part of building resiliency is engaging in brief, restorative practices that reverse the sympathetic nervous system, which can be over-activated in individuals who have experienced trauma and/or who are managing toxic stress. There are countless smartphone apps ad You Tube videos that provide guided audio for grounding. Here is a script I invite you to practice to engage in the present moment and to tune in to your mind and body.

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5 Min Tune Into Your Senses

  1. Sit comfortably in your chair with feet flat on the ground.  You may choose to keep your eyes open or closed. Slowly, take in a breath and then exhale.
  2. Bring your attention to the places on your body that have contact with the ground and the chair below you.With each breath, maybe you imagine strengthening your connection--the roots--that bring you in connection to the ground. (WAIT A COUPLE SECONDS)
  3. As you breathe normally, without effort, become aware of the quality of your breathing.You might notice your belly rising as you inhale, and falling as you exhale.  You might imagine the tip of your nose or your lips where the air is going in as you inhale, and out as you exhale.  What does the air feel like at the tip of your nose as you inhale?  Is it cold, warm?  How about when you exhale?     (WAIT A COUPLE SECONDS)
  4. Resist the urge to judge or critique and give yourself permission to notice the physical sensations that come up in your body as you breathe. Name to yourself one physical sensation that is calling your attention; observe if that sensation intensifies, changes and resist the observe to judge while you continue to breath. (WAIT A COUPLE SECONDS)
  5. Allow your breath to fall into the background. And gently scan the room around you. Notice the color of the walls; count to yourself the doors and/or windows. Observe the objects in the room--their shapes, colors, textures. You may even choose to name these objects to yourself as you breath, giving yourself permission to observe and remain here and now in the present moment.   (WAIT A COUPLE SECONDS)
  6. As you continue to breathe, turn your attention to sound. Use your ears to find something you hear and name it to yourself.  (WAIT A COUPLE SECONDS)
  7. Use your hand and touch an object nearby, noticing its shape and texture, and name it to yourself.  (WAIT A COUPLE SECONDS)
  8. Use your nose to find something you smell and name it to yourself.  It might be “no smell” (WAIT A COUPLE SECONDS)
  9. Scan your body from head to toe and notice again the parts of your body that are connected to the chair and floor below. Return to the observation of your breath, noticing again the rise and fall of your chest or the temperature of the air at the tip of your nose. Give yourself permission to stay here, in this moment. 
  10. Allow yourself to observe any thoughts that arise as you tune into this moment. (WAIT A COUPLE SECONDS)
  11. Allow yourself to notice any emotions that surface. Perhaps you label them pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. (WAIT A COUPLE SECONDS)
  12. Finally, tune in to any images that arise as you give yourself permission to remain here, in this chair, breathing. (WAIT A COUPLE SECONDS)
  13. Take three more deep breaths, bringing some movement into your hands and feet. Gently, when you are ready, return to the world.
Ali Jost