Here and now awareness
When we can just gently bring our awareness to our racing heart and sweaty palms or other anxious responses, we’re supporting mindfulness, but we’re also supporting our dual awareness.
I can learn to be anxious, with a racing heart, and still feel this anxiety on my own in a safe place. This allows me to choose to then use a resource, for instance, finding something I like to smell, or another way of engaging the senses, such as using imagery.
One way of doing this is by orientating. Orientating reminds the nervous system that the environment is ordinary, and that there is no threat, that in this moment, everything is okay.
Here’s one way to achieve this:
- Move the chin slowly to the right and take in everything in your surroundings as if you are seeing it for the first time.
- Don’t search; just allow your eyes to notice, to land on different things around you.
- For additional stability, name what you see, e.g. ‘I see a table.’ Encourage a softening in your eyes. And just notice how it feels inside when you do this.
- Pause and look at one object that you find particularly soothing, and then engage your peripheral vision.
By just turning the head, we’re mobilising our systems, and we’re enabling more activity back in, but we’re also sending messages to the brain that it’s just something ordinary. There isn’t a threat here. Everything’s okay. This is the present and not the past. I am safe.