Guided Body Scan
This guided body scan meditation is intended to help you enter a very deep state of relaxation. It is best if you can manage to stay awake throughout the entire exercise. It’s important to remember to not try to relax. This will just create tension. What you’ll be doing instead is becoming aware of each passing moment and just accepting what is happening within you, seeing it as it is. Let go of the tendency of wanting things to be different from how they are now and allow things to be exactly as you find them. Just watch the activity of your mind, letting go of judgmental and critical thoughts when they arise, and just doing what the exercise guides you to do as best you can.
Lie down in a warm and private place, dressed in loose and comfortable clothing at a time when you will not be interrupted. Closing your eyes, and letting your arms lie alongside your body, your feet falling away from each other and slowly bringing your attention to the fact that you are breathing. Not trying to control your breath in any way but simply experiencing it as the air moves in and out of your body and noticing your abdomen and feeling the sensations there as your breath comes into your body and your abdomen gently expands. Then noticing your belly deflate as the breath comes out of your body. And following the rhythmic movement of each breath…the rising of your belly on the inbreath and on each outbreath just letting go, letting your body become heavy as it sinks a little bit deeper into relaxation. Just bringing full attention to each breath in each moment.
Now bringing your attention to your feet, becoming aware of whatever sensations are there. If you are registering a blank as you tune in, then just experiencing nothing. And as you breathe in, imagine your breath moving all the way down to your feet and then when you reach your feet, begin your outbreath and let it move all the way up your body and out your nose. So that you’re breathing in from your nose and breathing out from your feet. And when you are ready, letting your feet dissolve in your mind’s eye. Become aware of the shins and calf muscles and the sensations in the lower legs, not just on the surface but right down into the bones, experiencing and accepting what you feel here and breathing into it, then breathing out from it. Then letting go of your lower legs as you relax into the bed or mat. And moving now into the thighs and if there’s any tension just noticing that. Breathing into and out from the thighs. Then letting your thighs dissolve and relax.
Shift your attention to your pelvis now. From one hip to the other. Noticing your buttocks in contact with the bed or the mat. And the sensations of contact and of weight. Becoming aware of the region of the genitals. And whatever sensations or lack of sensations you are experiencing. And directing your breath down into your pelvis, breathing with the entirety of your pelvis. And as you breath out, moving the breath back up through your body and out your nose, letting your pelvis soften and release all tension as you sink even deeper into a state of relaxed awareness and stillness. Totally present in each moment. Content to just be, and to just be right here as you are right now. Direct your attention now to your lower back. And just experiencing your back as it is. Letting your breath penetrate and move into every part of your lower back on the in-breath. And on the out-breath, just letting any tension, any tightness, any holding on just flow out as much as it will. And then letting go of your lower back. And moving up into your upper back now. Just feeling the sensations in your upper back. You may even feel your ribcage, in back as well as in front, expand on the in-breath. And any tightness, fatigue or discomfort in this part of your body, just letting them dissolve and move out with the outbreath as you let go and sink even deeper into stillness and relaxation.
And now shifting your attention to your belly again and experiencing the rising and falling of your belly as you breathe. Feeling the movements of your diaphragm, that umbrella-like muscle that separates your belly from your chest. And experiencing the chest as it expands on the in-breath and deflates on the out-breath. And if you can, tune into the rhythmic beating of your heart within your chest. Feeling it if you can. As well as the lungs expanding on either side of your heart. Just experiencing your chest, your belly, as you lie here…the muscles on the chest wall, the breasts, the entirety of the front of your body. And now just letting this region dissolve into relaxation as well.
Moving your attention now to your fingertips and to both hands together, just becoming aware of the sensations now in the tips of your fingers and thumbs where you may feel some pulsations from the blood flow, a dampness or a warmth or whatever you feel. Just feeling your fingers. And expand your awareness to include the palms of your hands and the backs of your hands and your wrists. And here again perhaps picking up the pulsations of the arteries in your wrists as the blood flows to and from your hands. And becoming aware as well of the forearms. And the elbows. Any and all sensations regardless of what they are. Allowing the field of your awareness to include now the upper arms. Right up to your shoulders. Just experiencing your shoulders and if there are any tensions, breathing into your shoulders and arms. And letting that tension dissolve as you breathe out. Letting go of the tension and letting go of your arms. All the way from your fingertips, right through to your shoulders. As you sink even deeper into a state of relaxed awareness. Just being present in each moment. Letting go of whatever thoughts come up or whatever impulses to move and just experiencing yourself in this moment.
And now focus your attention on your neck and throat and feel this part of your body, experiencing what it feels like perhaps when you swallow and when you breathe. And then letting it go. Letting it relax and dissolve in your mind’s eye. Becoming aware of your face now. Focusing on the jaw and the chin, just experiencing them as they are.
Becoming aware of your lips and your mouth. And becoming aware of your cheeks now…and your nose, feeling the breath as it moves in and out at the nostrils. And be aware of your eyes. And the entire region around your eyes and eyelids. And if there’s any tension, letting it leave as the breath leaves. And now the forehead, letting it soften to let go of stored emotions. And the temples. And if you sense any emotion associated with the tension or feelings in your face, just being aware of that. Breathing in and letting the face dissolve into relaxation and stillness. And now become aware of your ears, and back and top of your head. Now letting your whole face and head relax. For now, just letting it be as it is. Letting it be still and neutral. Relaxed and at peace.
Now letting your breath move through your entire body in whatever way feels natural for you. Through the entire length of your body. All of your muscles in a deep state of relaxation. And your mind simply aware of this energy, of this flow of breath. Experiencing your entire body breathing. Sinking deeper and deeper into a state of stillness and deep relaxation. Allow yourself to feel whole. In touch with your essential self in a realm of silence, of stillness, of peace. And seeing that this stillness is in itself healing. And allowing the world to be as it is beyond your personal fears and concerns. Beyond the tendencies of your mind to want everything to be a certain way. Seeing yourself as complete right now as you are. As totally awake right now.
As the exercise ends, bring your awareness back to your body again, feeling the whole of it. You may want to wiggle your toes and fingers. Allow this calmness and this centeredness to remain with you when you move. Congratulate yourself on having taken the time to nourish yourself in this way. And remember that this state of relaxation and clarity is accessible to you by simply paying attention to your breath in any moment, no matter what’s happening in your day. Let your breath be a source of constant strength and energy for you.
Reference: Mindfulness Meditation, CD Series 1, Jon Kabat-Zinn