Mindful Body Scan

Dr. Roxane Chan leads a guided meditation on mindful body scanning.

June 9, 2020

Hello, welcome to this guided Mindful Body Scan practice. During the next 15 minutes or so, I will lead you through an experience of gentle awareness of your body to promote relaxation and stress reduction. Before we begin, settle yourself into a comfortable position. You can sit or lay anywhere that you can remain comfortable for the duration of the meditation. You're using this body scan to help yourself fall asleep at night. Please take your time to get all tucked in before we start.

Let us begin. Without making any effort to change the way you're breathing, check in to the sensation of your inhale and your exhale, letting the outside world fade away, perhaps by lowering your gaze or closing your eyes altogether if you feel comfortable. Sensing into your body might be new for some of us, but let me reassure you that you will be able to find comfort and compassion within yourself through a new expanded awareness of your body at rest. To get to this place of comfort, we will take a journey focusing on each different body part in turn. As we do this, I invite you to investigate these areas for novel sensation, get to know them a little better, or perhaps for the first time.

Starting with your left foot. You have to start somewhere. Bring your attention on the wave of your breath to the toes of your left foot. Let yourself explore this area. How do those toes feel right now? Perhaps they're pretty quiet, but maybe you can focus on the sensation of one toe nestled against the other. Are they in a shoe? A sock? Can you feel the blankets on top of them? Get to know them a little better. When you're ready, expand this nonjudgmental awareness of the toes on your left foot to your whole left foot, the sole of your foot, the top of your foot, the heel of your foot. Can you notice the curve of the arch of your foot? How about all the bones inside that work together that lets you walk and jump and run? What sensations are there in your left foot?

Moving on to your left ankle. So many tiny little bones in there. Can you sense any of them? Perhaps, perhaps not. Is it comfortable? Is it painful? What sensation is there? Moving on to your left calf and shin, what do you feel there? Maybe your calf is resting on the bed or maybe you can feel the drape of your pajamas or your pants over your shin. Just let yourself rest there.

Moving to your left knee, is it bent or straight? How does it feel in this position? Try not to change the position while you ask yourself that question. Just let your knee answer you. How about your left thigh? How do those very strong muscles feel in there? That long bone that supports you as you walk? Does your femur have anything to say to you? Is it comfortable? Is it painful? Is it quiet? No judgment, sensing whatever is there. Now in full appreciation of the sensation of your whole leg, foot, and toes, take a nice inhale and let your breath go all the way down your left leg to your left foot, to the toes on your left foot, and exhale back out again.

Let's go over to the right leg and foot and see how it feels over here. Let your attention ride on your breath all the way to the toes on your right foot. How do these toe feel? Different? Practice feeling each toe in turn. Can you feel your toenails? What sensation awaits you there? Moving to your whole right foot, again, checking in with the sole of your foot, the top of your foot, the heel of your foot. Just resting there, getting to know your right foot and your right ankle. Does it have anything particular to tell you? What sensations are there? Is it comfortable? Is it painful? And your right calf and shin, how is that feeling right now? Can you feel the muscle inside your leg? Can you feel the shinbone? Can you feel the weight of your leg against the bed or chair?

And your right knee, not worrying about any need to change position, but how is your right knee positioned right now? Thinking about your knee cap and all the ligaments behind your knee cap that make bending your knee possible. Can you feel into them? And your right thigh, how are things there? What calls your attention in your right thigh? Something pressuring on your skin, weighing on your right thigh, the feeling of whatever is supporting your right thigh, or something inside your right thigh, muscle, bone. And now in appreciation of the sensation of your whole right leg, all the way down to your right foot and the toes on your right foot, take a nice inhale and let that breath go all the way down, down your right leg to your right foot, to the toes on your right foot, and exhale back out again.

Now bring your awareness on the tide of our breath, to our hips, our sacrament, our buttocks. Allow yourself to feel the sensations there. Perhaps part of this area are tender, perhaps tight. Perhaps this area is relaxed and open and pain-free. We'll linger here for a few breaths to allow yourself to explore the entire area. Can you feel in to your... The width of your hips? Perhaps the weight of your bottom on the chair or the bed, maybe the tilt of your pelvis. What sensations are here for you to notice?

And now we're going to move up into our abdomen and torso. In this area, we find all the organs that sense our state of our emotions. We're going to start with our belly or our gut. Allow your awareness to ride on the tide of your breath to your belly. Can you feel the abdominal muscles that band together to hold and protect your gut? Is there a tension here? Is there flexibility here? Do these muscles move on the tide of your breath easily? Bring your attention to the area below these muscles, to your gut and the spine that supports your gut when you're upright. This area of your body provides a balance between your sense of creativity and your sense of safety. Allow your breath to connect with your awareness to this area and listen to its full message to you in this moment. No worries, no judgment, just awareness.

Now move up to your lungs, focusing on where your hip cage meets the bottom of your sternum. This is a place of your personal power, the strength of your bra. This is the place of your diaphragm, the strong muscle that allows you to work and run and yell and sing. Feel your lungs move within your chest and see how that activates your sense of personal power. What does the sensation tell you today? Now move to your heart center. You may not be able to sense the exact beating of your heart, but you can connect to its rhythmic movement. This is your center of compassionate healing. How do you feel here? This is the area of comfort for your own self and others as it reaches out in compassion. The rhythm of our beating heart is responsible for the flow of the blood through our system, but it also coordinates our emotions, our immune system, and how we think, allowing us to respond to the challenges of life successfully. Sit a while and connect with your heart center. No worries, no judgment, just sensing your heart center.

Now bring your awareness all the way down to your left hand, to the fingers on your left hand. What sensations are awaiting you here? Are the fingers close to each other, or are they open and spread apart? Can you feel where the fingers bend at the knuckles? Perhaps, maybe your thumb is calling your attention, perhaps not. Moving your sensation to your whole left hand. Is it open? Is it closed? Is it curled gently? Is there any tension here? What sensation is there for you? Move out to your wrist and your forearm. Feel, feel the bones in there that allow the movement to occur, perhaps feeling how it's resting on the arm of the chair or next to you on the bed. Do you have your arm resting perhaps on another part of your body, your leg or your belly? How does that connection feel?

Moving your attention to your elbow and your upper arm, how does this area feel? What sensations are there? Is it sore perhaps from working? Is it comfortable? Perhaps it is very quiet today. There's nothing in particular to say. Now we appreciate our awareness of our whole left arm all the way down to our left hand and our fingers. So take a nice inhale, breathe all the way down your left arm, to your hand, to your fingers and then exhale out again.

Now let's focused on the right arm and hand, bringing our awareness all the way down our right arm to our right hand to the fingers. How are they positioned? How are they feeling? Are any of the fingers touching another finger? How does that feel? Bringing our awareness to our whole right hand, again, is it open or curled up or maybe is it tight? What is the palm of our right hand feel like? What is the back of our right hand feel like? Moving up to our right wrist and forearm, how do things feel here? Do we feel that it's supported? Do we feel maybe our pajamas or the sleeve of our shirt covering it? What sensations do we notice here?

Moving to our right elbow and upper arm, how do things feel there? Is our elbow bent or straight? Can we feel into the ligaments that make that happen? Our upper arm, how are the muscles there? The bone, good? Quiet? In having an appreciation of our whole right arm and our hand and the fingers on our right hand, take a nice inhale and flow all the way down that arm, all the way to the fingers and then you exhale out again.

Now moving our awareness to our shoulders and our neck. Sometimes this is a place where we hold our tension, sometimes not. We linger here a little while, allowing ourselves to feel into the backs of our shoulders. Maybe the tightness or not, openness, across the top of our shoulders and our neck. Surprisingly, sometimes our muscles in our neck are tight. Can you feel your throat? Swallow and see if you can sense the movement in your neck. Just linger there for a little while and see how it feels.

Now bring your awareness on the tide of your breath, to your face, your area that holds your sense of taste and smell and vision. What speaks to you here? Do you notice anything about how you're holding your mouth? Are your lips tight or relaxed? Is your tongue soft? Can you sense your nose? Perhaps you can feel your nostrils respond to the ebb and flow of your breathing. What do the muscles of your brow feel like? Is it furrowed? Let your breath rest here for a moment in unconditional acceptance.

Finally, move to your head, your hair, and your ears. Let your breath focus here, this often forgotten area. Perhaps you're sensing into your ears for the first time in a very long time or for maybe the first time ever. How do your ears feel? Can you feel your ear lobes? Can you feel the top of your ear? Can you feel your hair brushing against your ear? Can you feel the hair on the top of your head and your scalp? There are muscles in our scalp we don't really think of that very often. How does it feel there? Connect with that sensation.

Now after a few breaths, bring your attention to your whole body. Allow yourself on an inhale, to breathe fully all the way down to your toes, all the way down to your fingertips, all the way up to the tip of your head. Let your breath be full and unrestricted. Let that wonderful sensation expand to your whole body, this body that you now fully inhabit. Allow your body to be just as it is in this moment, connected on the wave of your calm and compassionate breath and supported by the strength of your own inner knowing. May peace be with you.