Body scan meditations are very good to calm and relax the body and can be used as a basis to investigate why we get stressed in certain areas and onto self-healing, or simply as a method to assist our daily interactions with others.
- Settle into a comfortable & erect posture.
- Bring your awareness to the body, focusing your attention on the sensations of touch and pressure in your body where it makes contact with the floor and any support you are using. Spend a few moments exploring these sensations, and then direct your attention to the posture, paying attention for any tension being caused by poor posture, and uneven balance, straightening and adjusting the posture to ease any discomfort.
- Now bring your awareness to the breath coming in and out of the body at the point where a sensation of breathing is most prominent - be it a sensation within the nasal passages, or the lips & mouth, chest, & abdomen movements, or anywhere else. As the breath moves in and out of your body, take several deep breaths to get fully acquainted with the sensation before allowing your breath to relax into its natural flow, allowing what is to be, especially noticing how the breath is, whether short & shallow; or long & deep.
If there is any discomfort or strain with the breathing this may show a unconscious controlling influence on the breath, so if it persists, breathe deeply a few times again and experiment with the breathing to find a rhythm the body is comfortable with before once again relaxing into the breath
- Move your attention to the other areas where the breath can be observed - be it within the nasal passages, or the lips & mouth, chest, abdomen, or anywhere else - to know the different sensations of the breath within the body. Focus your awareness on the movement of the body during the slight stretching as the abdomen or chest expands with each inhalation, and of gentle deflation as it falls with each Exhalation, or the coolness of the touch sensation at the nasal passages, or lips & mouth on the inhalation and warmth of the exhalation, as best you can, taking several deep breaths to get fully acquainted with the sensations before allowing your breath to relax into its natural flow. Again noticing how the breath is, whether short & shallow; or long & deep, as-well as the slight pauses between the inhalation and exhalation, and between the exhalation and inhalation.
- Starting with the sensations of the breath, bring your focus toward your head, moving your awareness from the back of your neck over your scalp and forehead, then down your face & front of the neck, spending a few moments to scanning each area for tension, relaxing the area and exploring it fully with curiosity. You may find it useful to mentally say “calm,” “relax,” or another calming word to strengthen the intention to calm the area.
- Move your awareness to the neck and throat, and then onto your shoulders, arms and hands, again spending a few moments scanning each area for tension, relaxing the area and exploring it fully with curiosity. Once you have observed each arm, side of the neck, and shoulders compare areas where there were tension and see if there is corresponding tension in the other side.
- Then drawing your focus up onto your arms and onto your shoulders placing your focus on your back then around to your sides and chest paying particular attention to where the shoulder joints meet the chest, again spending a few moment scanning each area for tension, relaxing the area and exploring it fully with curiosity. Once you have observed each side of the back and of the chest, compare areas where there were tension and see if there is corresponding tension in the other.
- Moving your focus from the chest down to the diaphragm & solar plexus and the belly, again spending a few moments scanning each area for tension, relaxing the area and exploring it fully with curiosity.
- Then moving your focus to your legs, focusing on one at a time, directing your attention to your power leg (the one you use to start walking). starting at the hips, outer thigh, inner thigh, and back of legs, down to the knees, calf & shins, then onto the ankle arch, & ball of the foot then onto the toes, before moving back up the leg and onto the next leg, again spending a few moment scanning each area for tension, relaxing the area and exploring it fully with curiosity. Once you have observed each leg compare areas where there were tension and see if there is corresponding tension in the other.
- At each area you place your attention remain with a slight focus upon the breath, and breath with the area of attention, on an inhalation, feel or imagine the breath entering through the nose, into the lungs, and then passing through into the lungs then through the body to the area of attention. Then, on the exhalation, feel or imagine the breath moving back into the lungs and then back out through the mouth. If there are any specific sensations or tension in an area have a sense of healing or massaging & space in the specific point or points on the inhalation, & of their letting go, or releasing, on the exhalation. Continue this for a few breaths, you may find it difficult to practice this "breathing into an area" so practice it as best you can & as you leave each area, "breathe in" to it on the inhalation, and let go of that region on the exhalation.
- At some point the mind will stray away from its object of focus to thoughts, moods, planning, daydreams, or simply drifting along with the sensations in a state similar to sleep. This is just what the mind does daily, simply following its normal routine of trying to find pleasure, not that you are doing anything wrong or proof one cannot meditate. When you notice that your focus has not been on the breath this is being clearly aware & an engaging in the practice of being fully aware of the present moment! You should know what state the mind has been in & bring the focus back to the breath. No-matter how often you notice the mind wandering off keep bringing it back to the last area you were focusing on.
- After you have gone through the whole body in this way, spend a few minutes being aware of the body as a whole, and of the breath flowing freely in and out of the body and in later sessions you can adjust how you spend time in this practice by doing a shorter practice, longer, or the entire time with each part.