Sight—Look around the room for something (or even someone) that can help remind you that you are in the present, for example, a piece of clothing you are wearing that you like, a particular color or shape or texture, a picture on the wall, a small object, a book. Name the object to yourself out loud.
Notice three objects that you see in the room and pay close attention to their details (shape, color, texture, size, etc.). Make sure you do not hurry over this part of the exercise. Let your eyes linger over each object. Name three characteristics of the object out loud to yourself.
Sound—Use the sounds around you to help you really focus on the here and now. For example, listen to the normal everyday noises around you: the heat or air conditioning running, people talking, doors opening or closing, traffic sounds, birds singing, a fan blowing. You can remind yourself, “These are the sounds of normal life around me. I am safe. I am here.”
Notice three sounds that you hear in the present (inside or outside of the room). Listen to their quality. Are they loud or soft, constant or intermittent, pleasant or unpleasant? Again, name three characteristics of the sound out loud to yourself.
Taste—Carry a small item of food with you taht has a plesant but intense taste, for example, lozenges, mints, hard candy or gum, a piece of fruit such as an orange or banana. If you feel ungrounded, pop it into your mouth and focus on the flavor and the feel of it in your mouth to help you be more here and now.
Smell—Carry something small with you that has a pleasant smell, for example, a favorite hand lotion, perfume, or an aromatic fruit such as an orange. When you start to feel spacey or otherwise not very present, a pleasant smell is a powerful reminder of the present.
Touch—Try one or more of the following touch exercises that feels good to you. Touch the chair or sofa on which you are sitting, or touch your clothes. Feel them with your fingers and be very aware of the textures and weight of the fabric. Try pushing on the floor with your feet, so that you can really feel the floor supporting you. Squeeze your hands together and let the pressure and warmth remind you that you are here and now. Press your tongue hard to the roof of your mouth. Cross your arms over your chest with your fingertips on your collar bones and pat your chest, alternating left and right, reminding yourself that you are in the present and safe.
Touch three objects close to you and describe out loud to yourself how they feel, for example, rough, smooth, cold, warm, hard or soft, and so forth.
Breathing—The way in which we breathe is crucial in helping us to be present. When people dissociate or space out, they are usually breathing very shallowly and rapidly or hold their breath too long. Take time to slow and regulate your breathing. Breathe in through your nose to a slow count of three, hold to the count of three, and then breathe out through your mouth to a slow count of three. Do this several times while being mindful of how you breathe.
Return to the three objects that you have chosen to observe with your eyes. As you notice them, concentrate on the fact that you are here and now with these objects in the present, in this room. Next, notice the sounds and concentrate on the fact that you are here in this room with these sounds. Finally, do the same with the objects you have touched.
(Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training For Patients and Therapists, Suzette Boon, Kathy Steele, Onno Van Der Hart, 2011.)