Body Scan: A Guided Meditation
Awareness and Equanimity in the Flesh
Here’s a great way to find more energy, release tension, and slip in a quick meditation. You can practice as you read this article—although for many, it is easier with eyes closed. You can go quickly or slowly, depending on your own preferences and how much time you have.
First, place all of your awareness into your toes. Without moving them, can you feel them touching socks, or shoes, or the floor? Can you feel the skin, or the muscle, or the bone? Is there a tingling sensation, an absence of sensation, pain, tightness, or an easy flow of blood? You can imagine focusing your attention to individual toes, scanning through them for differences or similarities, or you can expand your awareness to include all of them.
Now move your attention to your feet, scanning the soles, then the tops, then the heel, then the ankles. What do you notice? Accept whatever you find without judgement, including judgement. If you find your mind wandering, acknowledge that wandering and then return your attention to you body. This is true for any moment in the meditation.
Now shift your attention to your calves, and then to you shins. You can imagine zooming in to the marrow in the bone, and gently moving outward. If specifics speak to you—such as blood vessels—include them in your awareness. If it engages too much of your analytical faculties, then simply let those thoughts enter and pass like any other.
Now consider your knees, and the space behind them; let sensation arise in your awareness. Do you notice anything? Note it without attaching any particular value. Allow yourself to be curious; allow yourself to move on.
You attention now moves up to your quads and thighs. Spend a few moments as if your upper legs were the entirety of your existence.
Now your awareness moves to your pelvis. Feel you butt on the chair if you happen to be sitting, and note any particular sensations. Feel you anus, your hips, your genitals. Spend time investigating these parts with your awareness like any other part of your body, and like any other part of your body try not to linger too much. You are simply focusing your attention on one area of your physical existence, and seeing what happens in you awareness when you do. Then you gently move on.
Now your attention moves to your lower back, your obliques, your stomach. Like your toes, you can allow your attention to focus on specific organs, bones, muscles, or cells in your abdomen if these distinctions are meaningful to you; you can allow your awareness to inclue more as well. You do not dwell too long.
Now pay attention to your chest. Do you feel your heartbeat? Are there any sorenesses, aches, or pains?
As you move around to the upper back, note whatever arises. Accept it and move on. All of your attention now rests in your shoulders, your biceps, your triceps, moving down to your forearms, your hands, fingers, and back up again.
If you find your mind wandering, gently bring your attention back to your body, like a parent stops a young child from crawling out of its line of sight. Now you are feeling what it is like in your neck, your jaw, your lips, teeth, your tongue, your cheeks. Your attention moves up to your nose, out to your ears, pausing if you find anything interesting anywhere along the way, gently investigating it, and moving on. Your forehead, your scalp, and now you’ve scanned your whole body.
Now for just a moment, allow your awareness to grow so that it includes the entirety of your head, now it also includes your neck, now it also includes your arms, chest, belly, pelvis, legs, and feet. You are now feeling the entirety of your body. What do you find?
Your meditation is officially done.
If you want to keep going, you can do it again, slower or faster. You can also try tensing each one of these muscle groups and then releasing them. This variation is amazing for relaxation, and helps if you have trouble sleeping.
I hope your life is just a little bit more enjoyable now.