Orienting is a simple, accessible practice that can be done anywhere to bring us back to the present when we are hijacked into the past or the future. It can also be especially helpful when bringing awareness to the body feels triggering or challenging, whether from circumstances, past or present trauma, or pain. We are brought into a sense of safety.
Mudras are hand gestures from the practice of yoga: they are like stories your hands tell your body.
When our nervous systems are overwhelmed, meditations involving stillness can feel difficult, and for trauma survivors can even be triggering. At the same time, drawing our minds back to our body systems is crucial for us to be able to regulate into a place where we can find a sense of peace and connection.
These two practices woven together embrace our needs to be mindfully vigilant when our bodies feel threatened by collective and personal stress and trauma, and use movement to create rhythm in the body and breath which helps to then soothe us back into our experience of innate wholenessThe Practice
Check in with yourself about where you want to be in space. This practice can be done in any position: seated, lying down, standing.
Once you are comfortable, notice the support of what is holding you: The chair, floor, bed,etc. Simply take in the ways your body knows it is held: the sensations of being supported.
Allow your eyes to be open. Start to take in what you see. Allow your head to turn, taking in the physical details of your present time and space. Notice colors, shapes, sounds.
To the degree that feels right in this moment, scan through your body, and notice any shifts.
Again, let your head move, taking in what you see.
If you like, notice your breath: how it feels, the way it is moving.
Once again, take in your physical space. Notice the details. You could now choose one focal point if you feel ready, and notice the textures, colors, shapes of this object.
Take in how your system is feeling.
You could now make soft fists with your thumbs inside your hands. This is Adhi Mudra, the gesture of primordial stillness. Notice the way this simple gesture connects you to the earth.
As you inhale, open your hands and draw them to your heart, one on top of the other. This is Hridaya Mudra, the gesture of divine refuge. Notice how the gesture feels.
If you like, continue to move between these gestures with your breath rhythm, inhaling the hands to the heart, exhaling the hands into soft fists, reaching down into the earth.
When it feels right to you, you could join the hands together in front of the heart in a gesture of prayer, reverence, or respect.
Now allow the fingers to open, leaving the thumbs and pinkies touching, creating a flower with your hands. This is Padma Mudra, the gesture of the lotus. The lotus is the flower that grows from the mud. This gesture is the embrace of our as-is experience, which is the gateway of personal and collective healing. It is the acknowledgement of the full spectrum of human being: the suffering, the awakening, and the creative spirit that flowers out of that whole.
Hold for as long as feels right to you, or feel free to continue moving.
When you are ready, release the hands and look around again, orienting in your present space and time.By Deborah King, Vashon yoga teacher