As the name may suggest, this exercise slowly and precisely focuses the attention on different parts of the body, from the feet to the crown of the head. It is designed to help developing a mindful awareness of the body and the sensations in a stillness condition.
Eastern philosophy states that stillness is the greatest movement, and we notice it as soon as we lie down: we immediately feel itching, pain, restlessness.
In the body scan, like in life, we are invited to let go the desire for things being in a certain way, and embracing them as they are. Listening to the bodily sensations allows to be present in that moment, regardless of the circumstances.
The body scan can be performed while lying down or in a comfortable seated position. Take a few deep breaths to clear your mind and close the eyes if it feels comfortable for you. Begin focusing one part of the body at time and notice it, starting from the toes. Try to be neutral and objective, observe without judging.
Take your time, don’t rush the process. Simply feel and passively watch any change happening on its own without any effort on your part. Breathe into it.
Do a complete scan, at your own pace, from the feet to the top of the head, keeping this attitude of passive observation.
Now, mentally scan your body as a whole: you are fully aware of your sensations, and you have completed a body scan. Notice how you are feeling now, overall, mentally and physically. Conclude the practice with three energising breaths.
Compassionate Body Scan – audiobook
by Dr. Kristin Neff, Sounds True
Dr. Kristin Neff presents a simple guided meditation focusing on gratitude and kindness toward every part of the body.
What to expect
Often the mind tells us in advance what we’re going to feel, giving us a precise idea about our body sensations. During the body scan meditation we find out that there is more and you can experiment different reactions: joy, pleasure, vulnerability.
This practice can lead to deep relaxation, or it can be a real surprise. The surprise that comes from discovering that we don’t know much about ourselves and that our awareness is based more on ideas than on a careful exploration of reality.
Benefits of the body scan meditation
- It relieves tension wherever it is found
- It allows to discover a different form of knowledge
- It creates awareness of the present moment
- It connects yourself deeply and more intimately with your body
- Allows to dissociate what you feel from what you think
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