Body Scan Meditation – A Core Mindfulness Practice

 

Steven Rosenzweig, MD

The body scan is one of many mindfulness practices that leads to calm and relaxation. Through this practice, we learn how to bring ourselves back from constant distractions, to be more in touch with immediate experience. We learn how to calm the mind by stabilizing attention, and to relax into our experience.

Practicing the body scan meditation also brings us in greater touch with our body and our feelings with gentleness and kindness toward ourselves.

TIPS FOR DOING THE PRACTICE:

It is best to arrange to practice mindfulness meditation in a quiet and comfortable place where you will not be interrupted by anyone or anything. Make sure your cell phone is off!

Body Scan Meditation is often practiced while lying on the back. However it can be done in any position: lying down, sitting, or even standing. What is most important is that you find the position that is comfortable for you. Feel free to use extra blankets or cushions to be as comfortable as possible: If lying on your back, you may choose to support the knees with a pillow. Or if sitting in a chair you may want to use rolled towel or blanket for extra back support.

The Body Scan Meditation can be done with the eyes closed or open. Allowing the eyes to close may support focused attention of the body. On the other hand, should you find yourself falling asleep, it may be helpful to practice the body scan with eyes open, but softly focused on a spot in the distance. When you are listening to the recording, use the instructions for guidance as best as you can.

During Body Scan Meditation, we pay attention to sensations arising in the body. When the mind naturally wanders or is distracted by thoughts or sounds, just gently bring attention back to the body. There is no need to do the scan “perfectly.”

When practicing mindfulness, we let go of our constant habit of criticizing and judging. As much as possible try not to judge the meditation experience as good or bad, or struggle to change it in some way. Bring an attitude of openness, kindness, and friendliness toward yourself and your practice. Allow your experience to be just as it is, and allow yourself to be just as you are.