Body Scan Meditation
Cultivate your ability to be mindful and tuned in to what you’re feeling with this body scan meditation.
The body scan is one of the most effective ways to begin a mindfulness meditation practice. The purpose is to tune in to your body—to reconnect to your physical self—and notice any sensations you’re feeling without judgement. While many people find the body scan relaxing, relaxation is not the primary goal. The goal is to train the mind to be more open and aware of sensory experiences—and ultimately, more accepting. With time and practice, the body scan will build your ability to focus and be fully present in your life.
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Hello, I’m Chris Saranchock. Welcome to HelpGuide’s Body Scan meditation.
Let’s start by finding a comfortable position. Lying down if you’re able, with your arms at your sides. Or if you prefer, sitting upright with a straight posture. . . your hands to the side or folded in your lap. . .
When you’re ready, close your eyes. Take a moment. . . just checking in with your body. Just scanning and being aware. Feeling the contact of your body with the surface you’re on. Maybe seeing if you’re feeling any emotions or stress anywhere.
Then, without forcing it, turn your attention to your breath. Noticing how it feels as it enters the nostrils and fills the lungs. . . How your belly feels as it rises and falls. . .
Whether you feel your breath more strongly in your nostrils or in your belly, just be present. . . Expand with each inhale. . . and contract as you exhale. . . Moment by moment. . .
If your mind wanders, that’s okay. It’s totally normal, simply bring your attention back to your breath and to your body.
When you’re ready, direct your attention to your feet. . . noticing any sensations you feel. Any moisture, heat, coolness, tightness, or just the feeling of the floor beneath your heels. . . All you need to do is be present and aware.
As you breathe, see if you can relax your toes and feet. Let them fall to the sides if you can. If not, just keep breathing and sensing. If your mind is wandering, give it a friendly nudge to bring it back to the meditation.
Continue to inhale. . . and exhale. . . and when you’re ready, focus your attention on your lower legs. Again, notice any sensations. Any tightness or tingling in your skin. . . Any sensations in your muscles and bones. Soreness . . . throbbing . . . tightness . . . Or maybe nothing at all. Whatever you feel is okay.
Let your lower legs soften with your breath. If you’re lying down, feel your legs sink into the floor or mat or cushion. If there’s any tension, allow it to exit on each exhale. . . If tension remains, don’t worry. Just allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, without any judgment.
Now when you’re ready, move your breath with your mind’s eye to your upper legs. Noticing any sensations you feel there. If there’s any tension, see if you can soften it. If you can’t, that’s okay too. Let yourself feel whatever you feel. You don’t have to change anything. Just accept whatever’s there in this present moment.
Next, move up to the pelvis. Noticing any sensations in your hips, your buttocks, your groin. . . What are you feeling right now in this moment? Whatever it is—whether it’s pleasant, unpleasant, or even if you’re having trouble feeling anything at all—it’s okay. Just be aware. . . Not judging anything.
As you breathe, let yourself relax in the stillness. Letting go of any tension. . . sinking deeper. Not manipulating anything.
Now, with your next breath, move up to your stomach. Paying attention to any anxiousness or queasiness you may feel. . . Any tightness. . . fullness. . . the process of digestion. . . Just taking a moment to sense what’s there. Without fighting it. Being present in a friendly awareness. . .
Focus on how your belly rises with each inhale and falls with each exhale. Imagine letting go. . . sinking deeper into your chair or mat or cushion. If you don’t feel it, that’s okay too. Don’t force it. Just continue to be aware of the rhythmic rising and falling of each breath.
If your mind is wandering, gently direct it back to your breath.
When you’re ready, move your attention up to your chest. Experience the rising and falling as the lungs expand on the inbreath and contract on the outbreath. Feel your heart beating. Appreciate the rhythm and work that it does—sending oxygen to the whole body.
On your next outbreath, shift your focus to your back. Many of us carry stress in this area, so with your breath, scan up the back for any tightness or soreness. If you’re holding any tension, see if you can release it, softening your muscles with your breath. . . If you still feel tense, that’s okay too. With a non-judging awareness, just sense what’s there.
With the next breath, turn your attention to your arms. Noticing any warmth or coolness. Any tightness or looseness. . . Whatever you’re feeling, without analyzing anything, just sense what’s there.
Now move your awareness to your wrists and hands. Notice any tingling or moisture. Maybe how your hands feel gently folded in your lap or how they feel against the mat or cushion. Just sensing whatever they’re feeling.
If your attention drifts, simply bring it back. . . Continuing to breathe and be aware. . . moment by moment.
Now move up to your neck and shoulders. There may be tightness or soreness. You may be holding stress there. So, take a few extra breathes. . . Just sensing . . . Feeling what’s there. . .
Then take a couple more breathes. . . Let your shoulders fall and your neck soften. With each exhale, try and let go of any tension and sink deeper.
With your next breath, shift your awareness to your face. Notice anything you’re feeling in your jaw or facial muscles. Any clenching or tightness. . . Continue to breathe, letting go on each exhale. Allowing your face to soften.
Next, move up to your temples and eyes, experiencing any sensations there. Maybe you feel pressure. . . or throbbing. . . Whatever it is, let yourself feel it—then with each out breath, let it go.
When you’re ready, focus your attention on the top of your head. . . Sensing anything that’s there. . . With each breath, allow yourself to relax.
Imagine there’s a hole on the top of your head, and as you exhale, all your stress and tension is flowing out with your breath. Just keep breathing. . . In. . . and out. . .
Now let your awareness spread throughout your entire body. Sending love and kindness with each breath. . . Take a moment to feel thankful for your body and all that it does for you. . . for the preciousness of life and just how special you are. Then take a moment to appreciate yourself for taking the time to reconnect with your body.
And now it’s time to slowly come back to the room. You can start by wiggling your fingers and toes. Maybe roll your head from side to side, shake out your arms. And when you’re ready, open your eyes.
Last updated: October 24, 2022