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Body Scan meditation
 
 
Set aside at least half an hour for the body scan. Find a time and a place where you won’t be disturbed, and where you feel comfortable and secure.
  
Turn off any phones you have.
 
 This is a time totally set aside for yourself, and to be with yourself. A time for renewal, rest and healing. A time to nourish your health and wellbeing. Remember that  mindfulness is about being with things as they are, moment to moment, as they unfold in the present. So, let go of ideas about selfimprovement and personal development. Let go of your tendency for wanting things to be different from how they are, and allow them to be exactly as they are. Give yourself the space to be as you are. You don’t even need to try to relax. Relaxation may happen or it may not. Relaxation isn’t the aim of the body scan. If anything, the aim is to be aware of your experience, whatever it may be. Do whatever feels right for you.
 
 
The body scan practice is very safe. However, if the body scan brings up feelings that you can’t cope with, stop and get advice from a mindfulness teacher or professional therapist. However, if you can, open up to the feelings and sensations and move in close – by giving these feelings the chance to speak to may find that they dissipate in their own time.
 
 

Intructions

1. Loosen any tight clothing, especially around your waist or neck. You
 
 
may like to remove your shoes.

 
 
2. Lie down on your bed or a mat with your arms by your sides, palms
 
 
facing up, and legs gently apart. If you feel uncomfortable, place a pillow
 
 
under your knees, or just raise your knees. Experiment with your position
 
 
– you may even prefer to sit up. You can place a blanket over yourself,
 
 
as your body temperature can drop when still for an extended time.

 
 
3. Begin by feeling the weight of your body on the mat, bed or chair.
 
 
Notice the points of contact between that and your body. Each time you
 
 
breathe out, allow yourself to sink a little deeper into the mat, bed or
 
 
chair.

 
 
4. Become aware of the sensations of your breath. You may feel the breath
 
 
going in and out of your nostrils, or passing through the back of your throat, or feel the chest or belly rising and falling. Be aware of your breath wherever it feels most predominant and comfortable for you.
 
 
Continue for a few minutes.

 
 
5. When you’re ready, move your awareness down the left leg, past the
 
 
knee and ankle and right down into the big toe of your left foot. Notice
 
 
the sensations in your big toe with a sense of curiosity. Is it warm or
 
 
cold? Can you feel the contact of your socks, or the movement of air?
 
 
Now expand your awareness to your little toe, and then all the toes in between. 
 
 
What do they feel like? If you can’t feel any sensation, that’s
 
 
okay. Just be aware of lack of sensation.

 
 
6. As you breathe, imagine the breath going down your body and into your
 
 
toes. As you breathe out, imagine the breath going back up your body
 
 
and out of your nose. Use this strategy of breathing into and out of each
 
 
part to which you’re paying attention.

 
 
7. Expand your awareness to the sole of your foot. Focus on the ball and
 
 
heel of the foot. The weight of the heel. The sides and upper part of
 
 
the foot. The ankle. Breathe into the whole of the left foot. Then, when
 
 
you’re ready, let go of the left foot.

 
 
8. Repeat this process of gentle, kind, curious accepting awareness with
 
 
the lower part of the left leg, the knee and the upper part of the left leg.

 
 
9. Notice how your left leg may now feel different to your right leg.

 
 
10. Gently shift your awareness around and down the right leg, to the toes
 
 
in your right foot. Move your awareness up the right leg in the same way
 
 
as before. Then let it go.

 
 
11. Become aware of your pelvis, hips, buttocks and all the delicate organs
 
 
around here. Breathe into them and imagine you’re filling them with
 
 
nourishing oxygen.

 
 
12. Move up to the lower torso, the lower abdomen and lower back. Notice
 
 
the movement of the lower abdomen as you breathe in and out. Notice
 
 
any emotions you feel here. See if you can explore and accept your feelings as they are.

 
 
13. Bring your attention to your chest and upper back. Feel your rib cage
 
 
rising and falling as you breathe in and out. Be mindful of your heart
 
 
beating if you can. Be grateful that all these vital organs are currently
 
 
functioning to keep you alive and conscious. Be mindful of any emotions
 
 
arising from your heart area. Allow space for your emotions to express
 
 
themselves.

 
 
14. Go to both arms together, beginning with the fingertips and moving up
 
 
to the shoulders. Breathe into and out of each body part before you
 
 
move to the next one, if that feels helpful.

 
 
15. Focus on your neck. Then move your mindful attention to your jaw,
 
 
noticing if it’s clenched. Feel your lips, inside your mouth, your cheeks,
 
 
your nose, your eyelids and eyes, your temples, your forehead and checking if it’s  frowning, your eyes, the back of your head, and finally 
 
 
the top of your head. Take your time to be with each part of your head
 
 
in a mindful way, feeling and opening up to the physical sensations with
 
 
curiosity and warmth.

 
 
16. Imagine a space in the top of your head and soles of your feet. Imagine
 
 
your breath sweeping up and down your body as you breathe in and
 
 
out. Feel the breath sweeping up and down your body, and get a sense
 
 
of each cell in your body being nourished with energy and oxygen.
 
 
Continue this for a few minutes.

 
 
17. Now let go of all effort to practise mindfulness. Get a sense of your
 
 
whole body. Feel yourself as complete, just as you are. At peace, just as
 
 
you are. Remember this sense of being is always available to you when
 
 
you need it. Rest in this stillness.

 
 
18. Acknowledge the time you’ve taken to nourish your body and mind.
 
 
Come out of this meditation gently, being aware of the transition into
 
 
whatever you need to do next. Endeavour to bring this mindful awareness
to whatever activity you engage in next.

 
 
The body scan meditation has many benefits:
✓ Getting in touch with your body. You spend most of your time in your
head, constantly thinking, thinking, thinking. By practising the body
scan, you’re connecting with your own body, and disconnecting from
your mind with all its ideas, opinions, beliefs, judgements, dreams and
desires. Thinking is a wonderful and precious aspect of being human but
by connecting with the sensations in the body, you tune into the intelligence
and wisdom of the body. Hearing what the body has to say is fascinating
if you listen carefully and give it the space to express itself. The
body scan helps you acknowledge that understanding and insight comes
not only from the thinking brain but from the whole body, a supremely
intelligent system from which you can discover so much.
✓ Letting go of doing mode and coming into being mode. As you lie
down to do the body scan you can completely let go physically. Your
mind can follow on from this and also begin to let go of thinking on automatic pilot. Through the body scan you begin to move from the autopilot doing mode of mind into the being mode of mind, which is about
allowing things to be just as they are .
✓ Training your attention. The body scan alternates between a wide and
a narrow focus of attention; from focusing on your little toe all the way
through to the entire body. The body scan trains your mind to be able to  
move from detailed attention to a wider and more spacious awareness from one moment to the next. In other words, you’re more able to zoom in and out of an experience – a skill you can use outside of meditation.
 ✓ Releasing emotions stored in the body. Sressful events experienced 
 
from childhood, such as divorce or extreme discipline, cause great
 
 
fear and can get locked and stored in the body as physical tension, an
 
 
absence of sensation, or as a dysfunctional part of the body, such as
 
 
problems with digestion. The body scan helps to release that stored-up
 
 
emotion and tension. Some clients have had years of physical ailments
 
 
relieved through the regular practice of the body scan meditation.
 
 
✓ Using the body as an emotional gauge. Practising the body scan and becoming increasingly aware of your body enables you to become more
 
 
sensitive to how your body reacts in different situations throughout
 
 
the day. If you become stressed or nervous about something, you may
 
 
be able to notice this earlier through the body, and so be able to make
 
 
an informed choice as to what to do next. Without that awareness, you
 
 
don’t have a choice and face the possibility of unnecessarily spiralling
 
 
down into unhelpful emotions and a tense body. For example, if you
 
 
notice your forehead tightening up or your shoulders tensing in a meeting, you can do something about it, rather than letting it unconsciously build and build.



 
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