The Body-Scan mindfulness meditation asks us to pay attention to each part of the body one by one – not to what we think we should feel but to what is already there.
Like the weather, the sensations in the body keep changing. As thoughts and emotions manifest in the body, sensing into our body and reading it helps us understand what is going on inside us. Through the body, we become more “self-literate”. The awareness of what is going on at this very moment is the first step that allows us to respond to a situation authentically and compassionately.

Body-Scan Meditation Preparation

The body-scan is usually done lying on a mat on the floor. You can use a pillow to support your head or a blanket to keep you warm. Choose a place where you will be undisturbed. Ask the people around you to either grant you some privacy or maybe they want to join.
If lying down causes you pain or discomfort or you are tired and fall asleep easily during the body-scan you can also do it sitting on a chair or even standing up.
If you are doing the MBSR course, keep your journal ready to take some notes right after the body-scan.

35min Guided Body-Scan Recording

MBSR Week 1: 35min Guided Body-Scan Recording

Try to make time for at least 40 min each day during the MBSR course.
If for some reason, you are not able to do the 35min body-scan you can find a shorter version here:
15min Guided Mindfulness Meditation: Body-Scan

Did you like this guided mindfulness meditation? You can also find me on InsightTimer or take the MBSR course with me (get in touch for more info: berta [at] herrberta.art).


Mindful Body-Scan Script

As we move through the MBSR course, we will experience how the mind and brain influence the body and vice versa.
In this body-scan practise, we step out of the automatic pilot and come home to the body itself.
In our busy lives, it is easy to become disconnected from what the body feels – where in our body our
emotions show up – or what happens when a thought comes into our heads.
This journey through the body asks – that as best we can – we pay attention to all the different areas of the body – one by one – not to what we think we should feel, but to whatever is already there.

This moving to a part, staying awhile, and then letting go, tolerating or accepting – is a practice.
We might want to linger longer in pleasant areas, but we move on. Or we may find that we do not want
to feel into an area of tension or pain, but with kindness, we stay as best we can.
Knowing that if it is too overwhelming, we can anchor to the awareness of our breath rolling in and rolling out, until
perhaps, we feel able to return to the body-scan.
In this way, we are retraining the nervous system to be curious, observe, accept and appreciate, rather than to focus solely on the area of pain or tension.

SETTLING IN

Let’s begin the body-scan by finding a comfortable position.
Taking a moment to consider what would be appropriate for you today.

For those of you sitting on a chair, perhaps feeling the ground beneath the feet or sitting bones.
Making contact with the seat – spine growing tall – head balanced on top of the spine.
Allowing the hands to rest on the lap or thighs – palms up or down.

If you have chosen to lie on the floor feeling the ground beneath the back.
You can use a pillow for the head and a light blanket to keep you warm.
Stretching the arms and legs out to a distance that feels comfortable.
Which position do the hands prefer?
Maybe having the knees bent and the soles of the feet on the floor.

Choosing to close your eyes or just lower your gaze.
Choosing to allow yourself to be exactly as you are in this moment – which in itself is an act of kindness.
The intention of the body scan is to come back to the body – clearly aware of thoughts and emotions,
but paying particular attention to sensations in the body as we encounter them.
Without wanting anything at all – not even relaxation.
It’s nice to relax, and it’s great if it happens – but letting go of any need for our experience to be anything other than it is – allowing the body scan to simply unfold.

Taking a moment now to become aware of sounds outside the room.
Use the sense of hearing – not trying to identify the sounds – just moving from sound to sound.

Moving to sounds inside the room – (the people around you)
The sound of my voice.
Allowing sounds to come and go as they please.

WHOLE BODY

Now broadening the attention to include the entire body lying or sitting here.
Breathing…
thinking …
feeling …
Practising awareness of the whole body.
Perhaps sensing the rising and falling of the chest – maybe placing our hands on the belly – feeling the movement of the breath – the rhythm.
Breath rolling in …
and rolling out …
Simply riding the waves of the breath from moment to moment.
Practising coming to the breath as an anchor.
And when the mind wanders – which it will – it’s what minds do – just noticing and without judging – gently but firmly bringing the awareness back to the sensations in the body lying or sitting here …
Feeling the chair or floor beneath you.
The breath rolling in …
and rolling out …

LEFT LEG

With the next breath – taking our awareness down the left leg – down into the left foot and into the toes of the left foot.
What do we feel in the toes of the left foot?
Maybe tingling or temperature? – warm or cool? – the touch of socks or blanket? – the spaces between the toes? – where does one toe touch another toe?
Broadening out into the whole of the left foot.
Feeling into the area where the foot is touching the ground.
The arch of the foot – the skin – the bones
Now moving the attention to the ankle and lower leg.
What is here to feel, if anything at all?
Perhaps noticing the pressure of the calves against the matt or the back of the chair?
Perhaps the fabric of clothes against the skin?

Maybe noticing when the attention has wandered off somewhere else …
just gently and without judging, returning the awareness to the leg … it’s not a problem at all …
the mind likes to wander …

When we are ready, shifting the focus into the upper left leg … the thigh …
aware of gravity’s work … the pressing against the floor or chair – the feel of clothing against the skin
the quality of the muscles – tight or loose … is it possible to feel the bone running through? …
gently inhabiting the body …
Broadening out now into both legs …
maybe we notice a difference in the two legs? … Maybe not …
not judging, no particular sensation to feel … A broad awareness …

RIGHT LEG

And when ready, moving into the right leg …
down to the right foot …
into the toes of the right foot …
maybe feeling the toes – but perhaps not …
maybe feeling tingling – or temperature – warm or cold …
the touch of socks … the spaces between the toes – where one toe touches another toe? …
There may be sensation or the absence of sensation
there is no need to elicit a sensation if there is none
instead, we can still pay attention as if sensations were present – just as we can listen for a sound even if there is
none.

The arch of the foot? – the skin – the bones …
The whole of the right foot …
What sensations are there?

Broadening out into the lower leg
Feeling into the ankle, the calve, the shin
What is present there today?
Including the knee into our awareness
What sensations are there? Maybe no sensation.
Broadening the attention out to include the upper leg, the thigh up to the hip joint
Investigating with curiosity
the whole of the right leg – the breath in the right leg …
breathing in …
breathing out …
the whole of the leg laying on the floor – the weight – or lightness …
sensations? … no sensation? …
what part of the legs does the attention want to sit with? … …
are there parts of the legs that the attention does not want to go to? …
as much as possible today
letting go of any resistance …
softening …
allowing …

BOTH LEGS

Broadening out now into both legs …
the weight of both legs …
sensations … no sensation …
no particular sensation to feel …
Maybe feeling a sensation, we do not know a word for
A broad awareness …
With a beginner’s mind exploring what is present in our legs right now … …

LOWER TORSO

When it seems right, moving the attention up into the pelvic region, from hip to hip …
Aware of the effects of gravity – the weight of the lower body …
the buttocks pressed into the floor or chair …
sensation in the hip joints – the groin – the genitals – the lower tummy …
tuning in to the sense of the breath …
breath rolling in …
breath rolling out …

And noticing thoughts and feelings that may arise …
aware of judgments – and, if it’s possible – letting them go …
and returning to the rhythm of the breathing and the sound of my voice guiding you on a
journey through the body …
Practising inhabiting the body …
Bringing attention to the lower back – to the sense of contact or lack of contact with the floor or chair …
the sense of yielding to gravity or resisting…
any tightness or softness …
noticing any tendency to move away from or towards any sensations or thoughts, feelings, judgments that may arise …
remembering that this is simply how it is in the lower back at this moment…

BELLY

Now extending attention into the belly, feeling it from the inside out –
this place where we have our gut feelings – there really are nerves here that sense and feel …
feeling into the motion of the diaphragm …
the sense of the breath in the belly …
Moving the attention into feeling the upper trunk … the chest …
perhaps feeling the sensations of the breath here …
with each inhalation …
and each exhalation …
feeling the breath rolling in and rolling out …

without needing to do anything … perhaps noticing the heartbeat, the rhythm of the heart and the breath
together… being present to these sensations of life
feeling the surface of the chest, the touch of clothing,
any sense of movement …
And experiencing the whole back now – from the shoulders to the base of the spine …
Aware of the subtle and not so subtle motions of the back as you breathe …
Dwelling in the sensations of the back – not watching from your head …
just knowing what the back knows … …

SHOULDERS

Moving now to the shoulders …
noticing any tightness or softness …
recognizing that this is how they are right now …
as best we can, opening up and accepting it …
knowing that it does not need to be some other way …
also, knowing that things change …
is there a sense of the breath in the shoulders? …

ARMS

Now travelling into the arms …
first to the upper arms …
aware of the pull of gravity – the weight of the arms …
feeling the muscles and joints – the touch and texture of clothing …
Moving the attention to the elbows – noticing sensations here …
and if you notice that the mind has wandered off to some past event or jumped into the future –
with kindness – just bringing it back to wherever we are …
just taking a breath and starting again … without judging …
if it feels right, perhaps congratulating yourself for noticing that you had wandered away from the body …
Expanding the attention to include the wrists and hands …
sensations of warmth – or coolness
tingling – moisture – or dryness

how does the breath affect the arms and hands? …
Is it possible to feel the pulse here? …
Just being with what’s here now …
What do the fingers feel like? …
are they relaxed or curled up into the palm? …
perhaps noticing the spaces between the fingers – feeling the position of the hands without looking at them – feeling the hands from the inside out – what is here to feel? …
touch – pressure – warmth? …
maybe something – maybe nothing …
Moving the attention back to the shoulders – what is there to feel in the muscles here …
Maybe tightness – looseness? …
can you feel your shoulders on the floor or the back of the chair …

NECK

Shifting the attention to the neck …
noticing how it is right now in the big muscles in the back of the neck – from the base of the skull to the shoulders … the throat …
aware perhaps of the play of air or touch of clothing …
being present in this experience …
does the neck feel tight or relaxed?
As we move through the Body Scan – there is no need to make sensations happen
if the sensation is subtle – that’s what is there to be noticed
if there is no sensation – that’s what there is to be noticed
simply investigating the experience of a very alive body
how this aliveness is known through sensations
gathering onto our senses – what can be perceived in the neck?
feeling how it is to be sitting or lying down

HEAD

And then into the head
does the head feel heavy or light?
feeling into the scalp – the forehead – the cheeks – the ears – the eyes – the mouth – the lips – the tongue – the teeth
What does the head feel like?
Moving the attention to the top of the head
noticing that sensations may arise when we bring attention to a particular part
maybe tingling – maybe pressure – maybe a feeling of the breath or the pulse affecting this area
or perhaps there’s no sensation – that’s OK – that’s simply the experience of this moment
And when ready, moving the attention to the forehead
observing any sensations
perhaps tension – or tingling – or a sense of relaxation
allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel

FACE

Now moving the attention from the forehead to the eyes and eyelids,
noticing how we are holding them,
how much or how little pressure does it take to keep them closed?
Experiencing the eyes from the inside – from behind the eyelids,
are the eyeballs moving or still? – Is there darkness? – light? – colour?
How does the breath affect this area?
When it feels right, beginning to pay attention to the cheeks
sensing the bones – the muscles – the skin of the cheeks
noticing the play of air – sensations of coolness or warmth
noting perhaps that some sensations stay for a while – while others pass quickly
and that intensity may change one way or the other as we bring attention to them

Maybe the mind has wandered – gently bringing it wat to the body scan – to the practice – to the breath and bringing the attention to the nose

From the bridge to the edges of the nostrils
perhaps feeling the breath in the nostrils as it enters and leaves
noticing temperature – moisture – sensations on the upper lip, perhaps?
Moving the attention to the jaw – being aware of tightness or softness
allowing the lower jaw to drop down slightly – and noticing any changes in sensations in the muscles of the face and neck – or in other parts of the body which that small movement may create
and expanding the focus of attention to include the mouth and lips
– the tongue against the teeth – against the roof of the mouth
feeling the breath in the mouth and nose
allowing the air to play on its way out
observing the sensations of dampness – dryness – warmth – or coolness
Expanding the attention to encompass the entire face …

WHOLE BODY

Expanding the attention to include the entire body from the soles of the feet to the top of the head
being present to the totality of the experience of sitting or lying here at this moment
Noticing how the breath has been a constant companion
how it brings the whole body together
perhaps, imagining a wave of breath flowing from the tips of the toes to the top of the head
and all the way back down again
feeling the back of the body or the feet on the floor
a sense of being grounded – here in the present moment

As we draw this practice to a close
I invite you to take a few moments to reflect on your experience of the body scan
without judging the experience as good or bad
allowing it to be what it was
maybe you have learned some new things along the way
areas of the body to nurture and be kind to
perhaps sensations were not what you expected

Starting to bring some movement back into the body
whatever feels good
maybe wiggling your fingers and toes
stretching the body in any way it wants

And when you are ready
turning your awareness to sounds in the room (the other participants)
starting to move and stretch
gently opening the eyes and coming back into the room
the body scan is now complete.

TIME TO MOVE FROM SENSING TO WRITING
Just taking a few moments to notice what sensations are present in your body right now, observe
the thoughts going through your mind, and check in with the emotions of this moment.
Long pause …
What was your experience of the Body-Scan today?