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Body Scan

Overview

          The body scan is a very effective and enjoyable technique that offers many benefits.  It provides an opportunity to:

  • experience deep relaxation

  • exercise your concentration “muscles” 

  • develop a more fine-tuned awareness of your body sensations which will develop the right hemisphere of your brain

  • strengthen your ability to mindfully observe your experience which will strengthen your MPFC.

  • experience a sense of spaciousness that can be helpful if you choose to practice meditation

  • and all of the above will make the core experience of calm, eases, and contentment more accessible

          The technique involves going through the body, part by part.  Explore each part in great detail, becoming aware of the sensations that are there.  As an example, for your head, you could explore the sensations in the back of your head, the top of your head, the left and right side of your head, and your face – the forehead, eyes, cheeks, and jaw.  After exploring it in detail, invite any tension to release, and then imagine that part of the body dissolving into a cloud of gently vibrating energy. 

How to Do It

Preparation

           The body scan is best done lying down with a small pillow under your head for support.  If you like, you can also place a pillow under your knees to support your lower back.  Your feet should be approximately hip width apart, and your arms by your sides a few inches away from your torso.

          Begin by taking a few slow deep ocean breaths, and with each exhalation, gradually let go of your day, and let yourself settle into the present moment.

The Scan

          Now begin to move your attention through the various parts of your body, in the following sequence:

  1. head
  2. arms (from shoulders to fingertips)
  3. upper torso (chest and upper back)
  4. lower torso (belly and lower back)
  5. legs (from hip joint to toes)

and for each part of the body:

  1. Become aware of the sensations there. Simply observe the different qualities of sensation without judging or trying to change them.  See if you can simply allow the sensations to be just as they are.  

    When you notice any tension, gently invite it to soften and release – without making any effort to do so, and without judging the results.  

  2. Take a slow deep ocean breath in, and as you exhale, imagine that you're sending the breath into that part of the body, washing away any tension that’s there. 

  3. Inhale again, and as you exhale, imagine that part of your body is dissolving into a cloud of softly vibrating energy.

  4. Let your breath return to normal and notice the sensations in that area of your body.

  5. Shift your attention to the next part of the body.

Final Step

          After you complete the above process, expand your attention to include your whole body.  Take a couple of slow deep ocean breaths, and with each exhalation, imagine the breath expanding throughout your whole body. Take one more slow ocean breath in, and as you exhale fully, imagine your whole body as a cloud of softly vibrating energy.

Transition

          Before moving on to your next activity, take a moment to experience how your body feels.  Notice any changes in your sensations, your mind, or your emotions.  Don’t think about, analyze or judge what you observe.  Just notice and be present with whatever you're experiencing.  

          Then, very gradually open your eyes and remain quiet for a moment.   As you begin to move, see if you notice any tendency to tense up – in your face, your shoulders, your belly, or anywhere else that tension is not needed. And if you do, invite the tension to release.  As you return to your activities, see if you can maintain some sense of the benefits you’ve experienced.


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          If you would prefer to be guided through this exercise, you can find an audio version of the body in our store.