The body scan meditation intends to help you learn to be fully present and awake to the physical sensations of the body – whatever they may be in each moment.
There are no particular sensations that you are supposed to feel or not feel, but rather it is noticing what is present in each moment that is important.
Please follow along with the instructions as best you can, doing what you need to do to take care of yourself, and doing your best to stay awake, alert and present to each passing moment.
The body scan meditation is often practised lying down, and if this feels right for you, find a place that is warm, comfortable and private, either on a bed or floor, with some blankets or a mat beneath you. If lying down is not comfortable for you, finding a seated posture that you can maintain for the duration of the exercise is always an option.
The position that you are in while doing the body scan meditation is not what is important here. What’s important is your intention to cultivate a sense of mindful awareness and self-compassion.
As best as you are able, try to view the time you set aside for the body scan as meant for you. A time for nourishing your body and mind. A time to give yourself the gift of your attention. Let this be a time in which you open to the sources of strength, wisdom and healing that are already within you.
If you can, bring a gentle, kind and investigative quality to this practice. Some of the sensations you experience may be pleasant, some unpleasant, and in some cases, you may notice there is no sensation present.
As a gentle reminder, there is no “right way” to feel, nothing specific to search for. Simply accepting what is present and permitting yourself to feel it as completely as you are able is enough. There is no need to try and force relaxation, or control the breath. Just allow yourself to be easy, letting go of judgmental or critical thoughts, noticing when you have drifted off into thought and gently coming back into your body.
Related: Learning to Pay Attention
Body Scan Meditation: Step-by-Step Instructions
- As you feel ready, allowing the eyes to close or the gaze to soften, letting the arms lie alongside your body, palms facing upward, and allowing the feet to fall away from each other, becoming aware of the places where the body makes contact with the floor or bed, or mart, aware of the entire body from head to feet, settling in, nothing to do, nowhere to be.
- When you’re ready, slowly bringing attention to the breath, not controlling the breath in any way, just experiencing the sensations as air moves in and out of your body, you’re noticing the rising and falling of the abdomen, feeling sensations as the breath comes into your body and your belly gently expands and noticing it deflate as the breath leaves the body.
- Following the rhythmic movement of each breath, the rising of the belly on the in-breath, and each out-breath, letting go, bringing full attention to all the sensations of the breath.
- This next exhales, allows attention to shift from the breath and brings awareness to the bottoms of both feet.
- Expanding awareness to include all of the feet, letting attention rest in the felt sense.
- Both feet, notice contact with the ground or the touch of a sock.
- Noticing life and aliveness inside both feet.
- Then coming into the ankles, noticing the place where the feet and the legs connect.
- Sensing into the lower legs and the knees.
- Bringing awareness to sensations that are always present.
- Coming into your upper legs, bringing attention to the bones, flesh, and muscles of this region of the body.
- Letting any tightness or tension that you may be held to just flow out of you.
- Then coming into the pelvic region, allowing attention to settle here around the hips and glutes.
- Noticing points of contact with the floor beneath you.
- Bringing gentle awareness to the lower torso.
- Seeing if you can receive this next breath in a softening belly.
- Feel the relaxation throughout the body.
- Continuing the scan and bringing attention up the torso to the area of the heart and lungs.
- Allowing for and making space for whatever is here.
- Allowing attention to settle on the shoulders.
- Seeing if you can let the shoulders soften.
- Feeling any tension that might be present, begin to release and dissolve.
- Feel the full length of both arms.
- Bringing awareness to the hands.
- Inviting the hands to soften, and checking in to see what this does to the body.
- Letting relaxation travel up the arms.
- Simply being present from moment to moment and as much as possible.
- Focusing on the body was curious attention.
- Moving attention to the neck and throat.
- Feeling sensations in the throat as you swallow.
- Noticing tension in the neck.
- Seeing if you can breathe into this space.
- Bringing awareness upwards to the jaw and face.
- Noticing if the jaw is clenched or relaxed.
- Noticing how the 10 feels at this moment.
- Noticing sensations of the lips around the mouth.
- Bringing attention to the eyes, to the entire region around the eyes and eyelids.
- Noticing shadows of dark and light.
- Noticing the forehead.
- Sensing lines of tension, this region or muscles that can be relaxed.
- Just noticing what’s here now.
- Now becoming aware of your ears, the inner and outer ear, possibly noticing sound and the impact of sound on the ear.
- Letting the entire face rest in stillness.
- Letting things be just as they are.
- Bringing attention to the back of the head.
- If you’re lying down, you might notice how it feels when your head makes contact with the floor and is supported by whatever you’re resting on.
- Bringing attention to the top of the head, the crown and scalp, and now the entirety of the head.
- Now bring the whole of your body into awareness from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet, the whole body lying here, taking in the whole of your body lying here, breathing here, being here, being present for each moment, for each breath.
- Not trying to do anything, not trying to get any place, simply being with your whole self.
- As the meditation comes to an end, take a moment to acknowledge your ability to attend consciously to the moment, to moment experience of this body, this mind, and this heart.
Body Scan Meditation: An Audio Guide
I hope you enjoy the body scan meditation practice. Remember, you can do body scan meditation as many times as you like, but try it at least three times per week to get more mindful results.
Also Read: Deepening The Mind/Body Connection