The Body Scan
This month’s meditation is a “Classic” mindful meditation taken from the book Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a Frantic world (Williams and Penman). The Body Scan Practice provides a simple means of re-integrating your body and mind, it develops the ability to pay sustained attention characterised by a sense of gentleness and curiosity. Find a place where you will not be disturbed where you can lie on your back and allocate at least 15 minutes for this meditation. Your eyes can be open or closed.
Take a few moments to bring your awareness to the physical sensations within your body. On each out-breath allow yourself to sink a little deeper into the surface.
Be fully aware in this practice, do not allow yourself to fall asleep. Do not attempt to change the way you are feeling, you are simply bringing awareness to any and all sensations as you focus systematically on all parts of the body. If there are no sensations, simply acknowledge this.
Bring your awareness to the sensations in your abdomen. Become aware of the changes as the breath moves in and out of your body. Take a few minutes to feel these sensations.
Focus your attention like a spotlight5 and bring it down your body and into your legs, into your feet and all the way out to your toes. Focus on each of your toes, bringing a gentle interested attention to them. Feel the quality of the sensations. Simply allow to sensations to be.
On an in-breath, feel the breath enter the lungs and pass all the way down the body, into the body and into the toes. On the out-breath feel it flowing out of the toes, feet, legs, torso and out through the nose. Continue for a few breaths.
On an out-breath, let go of toes and bring awareness to bottom of feet: From soles, then in-step of each foot, then the heel. Experiment with breathing into any of the sensations. Allow your awareness to expand to the rest of the feet, the top of the feet, the ankle, the bones and joints. With a deeper, conscious in-breath direct it down into both feet, on out-breath, let go and shift your attention to the lower legs.
Continue scanning the whole body in the same way: lower legs, knees, thighs, pelvic area, lower back, buttocks, abdomen, upper back, chest and shoulders. With the hands, first direct your attention to the tips of the fingers and thumbs, then the palm of the hand and the back. Then the wrists, lower arms, elbows, upper arms, shoulders and armpits. Move your awareness to your neck, face before holding your entire head in full awareness.
Hold each part for approximately 20-30 seconds. If there are any intense sensations, use the in-breath to bring awareness and see if they change when you breathe out of them. If your attention wanders, bring your awareness back to the body part you were focussed on. After you have scanned the whole body, become aware of the body as a whole.