“That’s the biggest gift I can give anybody: “Wake up, be aware of who you are, what you’re doing, and what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming ill.” – Maya Angelou
She is so right!
The audio lessons for Day 1 The Power Of Orienting revolve around self-awareness and awareness.
For me, self-awareness is being present to your inner experiences and being able to “scan” and “track” what is going on inside, whereas awareness is having “an awareness of your surroundings” and being present and “orienting” to that which is around us.
Find out what you can do to bring awareness to your body and your surroundings while listening to these tracks – try to bring all attention to the lesson and resist any urge to multi-task (fold laundry, check emails, etc.).
- Listen to Audio #1 first (13 minutes). This is your introductory lesson to get you prepared for orienting.
- Then do Audio #2, “Basic Orientation” (11 minutes).
- I’ve also included Audio #3, Mini Orientation (5 minutes) so you have a shorter version to play with. Sometimes it’s good to vary our practices, as the “brain” will anticipate the familiarity and think “Oh, I know this already.” In others words, this is to “shake it up a bit.”
Suggestions for this lesson:
Here is a simple script to bring some self-awareness and awareness to your body and how you sense its contact with your environment:
If you are sitting:
Simply notice your butt on the chair. If your back is against the back of the chair, sense the pressure and contact you make with your back and the seat. There is no need to change how you are sitting, unless of course you sense the need to re-adjust to make yourself more comfortable. Just notice.
If your feet are on the ground, simply pay attention to the pressure of each foot. Notice your breath. Don’t change it – just notice it.
If you are standing:
Bring your attention to your feet. Shift your weight a little bit from the left to right foot. Perhaps even move a few steps forward or to the side, or take a few steps back. Move your toes a little bit.
Maybe even try both body positions, sitting, and then standing.
This simple exercise of paying attention to the physical sense of your body and how it contacts your environment is you orienting to your body and surroundings.
Share Your Experiences:
Is scanning and pausing to notice your environment something you do on a daily basis or hourly basis? Or maybe never? (Be honest!)
What do you think would happen if you started to find small subtle ways to scan and pause throughout your day?
Would you be willing to experiment and find more moments throughout the day to orient?
COMMENT BELOW AND SHARE!
- Was this first lesson of orienting and bringing conscious attention to the external environment new to you or is this something you consciously practice already?
- Did you find orienting soothing? Or was it a bit agitating? Know that your response and experience is the right one and we’d love to hear about it!
IMPORTANT: If you have a QUESTION for this lesson, please start your comment below with the word: Question. This way we can easily find the questions ?.
For all other comments, shares, observations, and the like, simply share below!
Thank you in advance, Irene & Team Lyon.
I am a “seasoned” orienter here. Been on this course since last May. I like this new tune-up as I feel freer to do what I need to do yet paying attention to what my body is experiencing. My impulse to change happens more during the exercise and feel a lot calmer here. Thanks! Will be trying out lessons 5 and 8 after Easter!
Hello everybody 🙂 It is my first day here and I am pleased to be on this journey with you all, I am retired and have been mostly housebound for about 10 due to fear of leaving the house so I am well aware of every detail of my house. What I did notice though was how much of my time I spend multitasking and trying to block out my surroundings by dissociating and distracting myself. It was good to have that awareness. I got very judgmental and was thinking “Oh I should clean that” etc” rather than just observing. I will make a point to orient many times throughout the day and am confident I will get better at it. Much blessings beautiful souls 🙂
I’m also overthinking my desire to do the audio again later.. is it okay to just try it again, even if it’s possible that a part of me might be trying really hard to do a “good job”? The impulse to try again later is REALLY strong for me.
A few questions. I found it really hard to be with myself; the whole time I kept getting distracted by other thoughts. I was worrying about whether I truly am traumatized, or just incapable of being present and dissociated for no reason. And distracted by other thoughts. At times, I couldn’t even concentrate on Irene’s voice.
I kept feeling agitated and nervous that there’s something “wrong” with me and my process. I found myself criticizing myself for how I was doing the exercise. I actually do also have days where i CAN appreciate the beauty of my surroundings, or even lean more into the curiosity, but I notice my inner critic coming in really strong about the things I’m noticing, whether I’m TRULY being curious, whether I’m in performance and trying too hard to be a good student, etc.
Could I have reassurance that all of this is “normal”/expected? Is the exercise still “effective” even if I wasn’t fully focused on what Irene was saying?
Thank you for letting me show up as I am. <3
I have practiced orienting in the past (not knowing it’s called orienting) , and in the past I had found it soothing. I have enjoyed the feeling of curiosity and connectedness I have felt when I notice something new about my surroundings, or saw something differently.
However today, I’m finding it really hard to be with myself. I feel agitated, scared and anxious that there’s something wrong with me. I kept getting distracted and I felt shame that I couldn’t enjoy my surroundings. My inner doubting voice kept being like, “really? you find that fascinating? are you sure, or are you just trying to be a good student?” I’m feeling a lot of sensation in my chest, like a sadness and frustration combined. I want to try the exercise again, but I can’t even tell if it’s more like me wanting to prove to myself that I can do it “correctly”.
Today is Day 1 for me. I have been waiting to start this journey for a few weeks now. I did the orient exercise and found myself slowing down a lot. I found myself moving slowly and using my eyes slowly to visually scan my home. I have a floral mural so I focused on that, on all the leaves, flowers, ect. It was peaceful. After I was done, I noticed that I move throughout my hose very fast. As though I am trying to be very efficient, but very robot like. Orienting helped to shift focus and open the feels of my body. I am looking forward to more!
I now remember that there was a time when I was younger, when this exploratory orienting often came very naturally to me. I often noticed things, small details in the external world, that others did not.
When older, after more or less traumatic experiences have built up a lot, I’ve lost this ability and am stuck in my head mostly. Or looking for dangers. But when trying to do this orienting actively there really can be a shift.
The hardest part is to actually do it. My racing mind or foggy brain really doesn’t want to do it. Like Irene mentioned in the intro audio, perhaps those small details in our environment that are “uninteresting” are the ones that are best to focus on. Sometimes there can really be a shift after a while.
I did this orienting exercise at the end of a long and demanding work day. I found it very luxurious to be able to sit quietly and scan my surroundings. Luxurious in the sense that I realized that I seldom allow myself the opportunity to take in my surroundings as fully and actively as I did during this exercise. Usually, while I am at work or in between work, I am always moving fairly quickly, rarely stopping to really take anything in…usually out of fear that I will get too comfortable and not be able to get back to work/focus. Hmmm.
Question- I’ve been doing the orienting exercises and find that I feel impatient while doing it. I’m used to doing yoga nidra or guided meditations but I’m finding myself not feeling much when I do orienting compared to other exercises. I can do the slow glancing around and am aware of sensations in my body but am not sure why I don’t feel any benefit and resist doing it?
Question : I am at day 11 now, but the orienting practise doesn’t do anything for me ? Maybe it is because I am hyperalert to my surroundings all the time? I am allways aware where people are around me ( in the house ) and what they are doing. Is the orienting practise not a good one for me or am I doing something wrong ?
Question…before i was hypervigilant especially walking in the streets not feeling safe,but now im feeling alot safer but my mind is still active n always looking for danger..this upsets me n depresses me that i stil have to go through with this …any advice on how to deal with it?
Hello all, I am excited to be here. However I have found it a bit confusing to get started. I haven’t found the layout easy to navigate.
My question is ‘Is this the community’? (currently 1.4K comments below) I thought there was a private FB page for this course and its participants, have I missed it somewhere?
My observation of the orientating was that I felt boredom and sleepiness.
For all us over thinkers and constant traffic going through the mind and tension in the body these excercises are verrrry hard whch is why i know this is important and has to happen, BUT for me this is how my first practice started. the first 10 seconds i started looking at the kitchen and noticing all the things i should be doing to clean and organize it so i made myself go to the back window and look outside where i started thinking how untidy my yard is so i then looked at the sky where i then thought how much i hate the suburb i live in and wish i had more money to move LOL im going to keep at the program as i know it will get better if i really keep at it and i am desperate to change my life and have been for a long time.
Returned to The exercise. Noticing a strong resistance to The work. Noticing I can hardly notice without judging. If I notice myself doing something, I immediately try to change it /correct it. Somewhere in that millisecond between me noticing and adjusting there’s very strong judgement. ‘You’re doing it wrong. ‘ ‘How can you be so stupid.’ ‘This is so easy and you cannot even do this.’ ‘You’re such a failure as a human being If you feel resistance.’ ‘You’re utterly worthless.’ I’ve known for a few years now that these ‘subtitels’ are always there and they’re getting louder and more viscious. That means that for me ‘just notice’ is something really hard, something I need to pay extra attention.
so for now that’s a goal I would like to work on: noticing that I automatically adjust and correct myself and that there’s this judgement in between
Came back to this exercise after a break of a few days. (Feeling The need to justify myself, but not giving in to it) I started The guided orienting exercise and after the first 33 seconds I stopped (orienting hadn’t even started yet, Irene was talking about sitting or standing) and I went to The kitchen to eat. Not because I was hungry, because I just had dinner. Standing in the kitchen, eating cold left-overs, I tried to notice what happened here. Asking myself why I stopped and turned to eating. Am I lazy? Stupid? Unwilling? And then I noticed that is what I always do: trashing myself with these kind of negative options. Writing this down I realize I always apologize to people when I cannot do something: “Sorry, its not that I’m lazy or stupid or unwilling, its just…”. Still I keep dreading to restart The orienting exercise. Wondering: am I going to fast? When to push through and when to give myself space?
Hi. What I liked about the orienting exercise was that my hyperactive brain needed to slow down. As that slowed down, so did the breath pace and rate. What I found interesting was the part where I had to pay attention to the breath, the environment, and the spaces in between and the physical awareness of my own body at the same time. I’ve always known that hold my breath just below my breastbone and that knottiness gets in the way of spatial awareness in the current moment. I’ve only just started the course a day ago, and whenever I found myself ‘drifting’ into the past or future, I kept saying “let’s orient…orienting NOW!” (that’s going to become my mantra/chant)…and started naming objects and tracing their outlines …if I’m in bed, I’m tempted to close my eyes, but remind myself, the orientation isn’t to the internal world, it’s to the external world so that made me open my eyes.
I’ve noticed that the visual aspect of orienting is much more intense for me than any of the other aspects. I have to filter out most visual info by closing my eyelids most of the way so that all I’m seeing is shadow/silhouettes, in order to not go into overwhelm/shutdown. What is it about visual orienting that makes it so intense (scary), I wonder?
I came back to lesson one after 3 months. After starting with one lesson a day and taking breaks to practice after each week or so, i got overwhelmed a few times and realized that i don’t know what the right pace for me is. During some of the breaks i felt a strong resistance to continue. A mix of danger, sabotage and upcoming trauma energy that i could NOT handle. I think this work is very potent, but the sense for my own pace is something i still have to get to know. I was not able to regulate myself when in these very overwhelmed states. Not with any of the practices here or the suggestions in the comments. My conclusion was to take a longer break. Now i give it another try. Let’s see how it goes 🙂
I felt both calm then would get distracted by thoughts. Then calm and back and forth. Very excited about this!
The basic practice felt relaxing but to be aware of myself AND my environment, simultaneously, felt a little odd and agitating. It took some effort. I’m tired anyway, but I feel more sleepy now.
Feel relaxed but mainly sleepy, exhausted after orienting
My body felt soft but tired during the excersise, I did notice that I was breathing very little and quiet. I did have sudden urge to take a deep breath quite early before Irene mentioned it in audio. My head also moved almost by it self in one point like in waves side to side while noticing my environment.
I noticed that I have been doing this kind of thing since I was kid. I used to have urge to take a close look at my hand or something and just observe it while trying to be very calm and still.
Question. I’ve done similar exercises before, they weren’t called orienting but basically the same concept and something similar always occurs. I just end up noticing how my belly and pelvic muscles are always really tense/clenched and that my breath is always shallow and kind of stuck and it just makes me feel more tense and fearful because by now it’s painfully clear to me how bad this constant stress is for my system because everyone (in this case Irene) is always pointing it out and how you can expect to get ill if you’re always stressed…to be honest, it’s driving me nuts to keep hearing this and I don’t know how it’s gonna help me…
I’ve been orienting first thing in the morning as I wake up in a state of fear everyday. Bedtime & sleep is a huge thing for me as I used to cry for hours as a kid & eventually my Mum would get so angry with me. I completely understand why she did…. Her own trauma….. but it’s had a lasting affect on me.
So two questions:
1- is orienting the best practice when I wake up during the night in fear, knots in my stomach & my thoughts in worst case scenario & again in the morning?
2) when orienting I find it tricky connecting with my feet & really feeling them. It’s much easier to feel my bottom when I’m sitting. I’d it a case of with more practice the sensations will come back?
I’m loving the practice as I’m realising I’ve spent my life on auto pilot, neither in my body, or in my world.
Any wisdom would be appreciated, thank you 🙏
This is a very relaxing exercise. I have done this before by following Irene’s video on youtube and it was very relaxing then too!
I do with we had videos instead of audios because I really struggled to focus with audio only as a very visual person. It’s made me a little nervous about being able to complete the rest of the 21 days but I will give it my best shot! Also, I wish the practise tips on how to follow the content was above the context, it was confusing to read the suggested flow it after having gone through everything already.
Going into this stress level, I can’t hear/pay attention to this person, or even see where he’s pointing, I go into a panic reaction that I’m too used to by now. I keep making mistakes or I’m terrified of making them, my throat starts to close up and I can’t see this person’s face.
I can’t talk to you either, my throat “collapses”,I go into tension throughout my body, I hyperventilate, my breathing becomes short, I feel activation in my forearms and hands. Standing up, I would like to run.
I wish I could grab my arms and throw myself violently against the side of the wall, feel the pressure on my shoulder and throw myself to the other side, to calm down.
When I go into this “stunned” mode and make a mistake, I think that the person I have to respond to is judging me, exasperating me, and that at any moment they are going to verbally attack me, disqualify me, or hit me, which scares the hell out of me.
This happens especially now, but it has happened to me all my life to varying degrees depending on how stable I was at the time.
When this occurs, I assume a slouched position, albeit slightly, with my head and eyes turned to the ground, my field of vision is greatly reduced, and there is a stiffness in my back, shoulders, and neck that prevents me from raising my head or even move it to orient myself more widely. Which makes me make more mistakes and with each one the fear and reaction increases.
I am in a loop until recently unconscious of stimuli, negative thoughts, physiological reactions, negative thoughts, overwhelming interpretation of physiological sensations, behaviors, etc.
In environments that demand a “response” or behavior from me, such as at work, negative thoughts are triggered, “I can’t do this”, “I won’t be able to”, “it will go wrong”, “I’m going to be wrong”.
What generates clumsiness in my movements and clouds my mind. I make mistakes and now feel the need to “fix” the mistakes and do things better than they should, my body tenses up, generates more negative thoughts, and my system gets more groggy
I have continued doing the exercises and paying attention to my reactions, movement, breathing and I have found some patterns, especially in situations that were stressful for me, some very specific doubts have arisen
After making my own mix with the exercises, resources and movements that I feel I need, I reach a point of peace and tranquility, in which my mind seems like a still pond, and I really only enjoy the bodily sensations, without thinking about nothing.
But when I begin to think that I should get out of there, from this safe space, “rocks begin to fall” on this pond: Think about the stressful situations and people I have to deal with.
Already in these environments, intrusive thoughts lead me to stress and generate many “nervous movements”, although I fight not to listen to them.
I was surprised how calming and soothing this exercise felt since I initially underestimated it. I was so calm I could have taken a nap after. By simply bringing awareness to what was around me I noticed so many little details about objects that I never noticed before. I found my mind becoming distracted here and there with my racing thoughts but I was able to bring myself back to the moment. It was a feeling of calm I had never experienced before. Thank you
I never practiced orienting like this before. I’ve done yoga and meditation where I focused on my breathing and body simultaneously, but not where I added the external environment. I do remember when I was younger in elementary school I would look around very slowly when meaning to focus my attention from one thing to the next. I took note of that and for some reason wanted to stop and have “quicker eyes” or something.
I found orienting very soothing because I noticed my body was not in the most comfortable position, so was able to fix it. It also made me tired.
I do a decent amount of body scanning and yoga nidra but this combination was new. I found it very interesting and somewhat difficult to combine the attention to the breath, the external environment, and the ground beneath me. I would find myself able to do two easily but the three all together was new. I would extend my breath when I brought attention to it and it took a few minutes to notice it without changing it. I have done a lot of internal focus work but the external is new and needed
Question: I am no stranger to orienting as a mindfulness student and teacher of it to hgih school students. I have the opposite issue as I’m regularly scanning my body for sensations as I have a host of health issues that cause me a lot of pain. How do we employ this strategy in a way that doesn’t create a focus on the pain of my body. I leave my body so as to tolerate the pain. My belief is the stress cycle of my chronic pain and health issues have created this vicious cycle which is what is keeping me in this stress response. Is there another way to orient without triggering this cycle for me?
I noticed that it was challenging not to change my breath when I brought my awareness to it.
In one environment scan, I experienced a catastrophe-imagining which used to be typical for me and is less so as I focus on inner work. Incredible to me both how calm and soothing this felt and also the sudden interruption of that calmness with a worrying and scary thought scenario.
I’m grateful to be here and practicing awareness in what feels like a very safe way.
I found this practice to be relaxing and calming. At times my thoughts overtook the observing of an external object, but with a sense of self-compassion, I bought myself back into the external landscape and felt experiences to ground me. I noticed that my stomach was gurgling and making noises, which was interesting. Thank you Irene.
This experience was really interesting. I felt calm when doing the internal environment exercise and then I noticed some tightening in the chest doing the external environment exercise. I haven’t previously practiced this. However, found it very interesting. I felt very calm after orienting the internal exercise. the external orienting did create some tension and anxiousness which I found extremely interesting. I just observed both, I also noticed I naturally had quite shallow breathing. a great first exercise. Thank you.
I have done this practice as a regular in my life and for my clients. I enjoy it. I guess what I did notice is that my body has a natural rocking and movement that also takes place for me now. The whole body wants to be involved in this exercise. When looking around my head neck shoulders and even my torso is also moving slowly. My breath also seems to deepen and sigh without and intention to do so which feels really nice and nourishing.
Found this to be a very grounding exercise. Also noticed several patterns of holding in my body whenever I tried to marry my awareness with the outer environment: clenching in my jaw, tightness / holding up my shoulders. When I’ve done this exercise in the past I have sometimes noticed that my hands and feet warmed up some (not today, maybe it’s just too darn cold in this house :-/ ).
QUESTION due to being highly anxious and over sensitised to bodily sensations of a possible panic attack, I am very self aware of how my body is feeling. What is the difference between this and orienting yourself to your body?
I am already super aware of changes in my body – increase heart rate, sweating, nausea, light headedness. Is orienting meant to be done when you are not as anxious and meant to help you not fear the sensations?
It’s the same thing with orienting to your environment. I am always scanning my environment and being hyper vigilant. It feels I am over scanning my body and environment most times.
yesterday i found myself hooked into a conversation that was unproductive. i was able to physically leave the conversation but my oh my there was rehashing and composing and all manner of inner voice arising. i was driving to work, still finding myself lapsing into the conversation, and decided to do the guide 1 orienting practice as i drove. so helpful. i was able to feel the itch — the tug — with some degree of curiosity, in fact, without running inner scripts. that was a fruitful use. thank you for this simple but effective tool.
This orienting… I am a bit flabbergasted… I did not know that I (unconsciously) do ‘not see’. I did not know either, that I freeze myself unto my seat. I did not stand up, in the last part of orienting, to look outside for example, or further. OMG… I find the texts put together very ‘smart’. It is easy to read, but there is a sort of deepness in them. Also the audio’s are nicely composed. I regret now, that I did not sign in for this course 5 years ago. Waste of time somehow. At the same time I feel relief.. is this really true?
Question: While I was doing the orientation #2, one of the things that I was orienting to as I was slowly changing what I was looking at, was a collection of pictures of my animals. I wasn’t consciously thinking anything, but a huge wave of emotion came up. I just let it come and move through me, but I was curious whether I had unconsciously gone into “story”. So my questions is, while we are orienting to things, are we wanting to try and observe them in a neutral manner? I found I had a lot of emotion coming up as I moved and noticed things, should I just notice that and move on?
I have done slight orienting practices during meditation, but not one that focusing so heavily on it. Cant wait for more, this was a nice calming task
I am not new at this breathing scanning exercise but it’s been quite some time that I haven’t paid conscious attention to my environment. Although I did the exercise in the morning and after having coffee, I felt so relaxed to the point I fell asleep while sitting, right after the exercise.
Another thing that I noticed is how my shoulders and jaw were so tense. I had to keep reminding them to relax😊
Question: is it odd that i wasn’t able to focus, i tried to look at one thing but constantly jumped to another , not drifting. sometimes unconciously. i also caught myself not breathing until asked to focus on breath . what does this mean ?
It is something I already do as a practice although I noticed that as soon as the notion of noticing my breath enters my consciousness, I extend my out breath and add texture to it. This is something I have previously taught myself to do as a way of calming my NS. I find orienting hugely soothing and calming…. especially the part where I need to slowly move my attention from one thing to another versus zip there in an instant.
I’ve slightly changed the words to the “mantra” Irene gives us in this lesson! Here are my new rhyming words:
FEEL THE GROUND!
ACT LIKE A HOUND!
I teach breathwork, bodywork, and meditation – when I teach, I am able to be fully present to the exercise. However, when I am a participant like in this exercise, I almost instantly fell asleep! ha! This is also a common occurence for me in savasana. What is the takeaway from this falling asleep? I will do this again tonight and see if there is a difference. 🙂
Scanning is not new to me. Because of my education as a therapist and because of a mindfulness meditation, but since I feel stuck. In my mind and body I dont do it anymore. I can feel my body while scanning, but feel the urge to change something or like Im not really here of the lower body feels like floating a bit. The upper body and head feels to light for what I normally felt I guess. And its not quiet. Doing this daily will hopefully mean that I dont feel the need to change anything.
Orienting isn’t new to me, but it has not been a consistent practice of mine. I enjoyed this session and I do feel relaxed and somehow reminded of something intrinsic within.