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Mindfulness: Body Scan

Brief Description/Purpose

Common exercise particularly for beginners in mindfulness, but also suited to teaching in groups. 

Type

Individual activity

Age Appropriate

All ages

Ideal Group Size

About ten people, OR how ever many the physical space allows. The exercise can be done sitting or, preferably, lying down.

Time For Exercise

Ten minutes

Topic/Subject

Body Awareness, Stress Identification

Detailed Instructions If Needed

If you are practicing on your own, follow these instructions adapted from "Living Well

If you are teaching or facilitating a mindfulness group, adapt them for groups.

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, making sure that you do not have any constriction. Loosen any tight clothing.

Starting with your feet, pay attention to the physical feelings in them: any pain, discomfort, coolness, warmth, tension, tightness, whatever. Simply pay attention to the physical feelings and sensations. Don’t judge them as good or bad, don’t try to change them, just be aware of them.

Slowly allow your awareness to drift up from your feet to your lower legs, again simply paying attention to any physical sensations in that part of your body, including any tightness, pain or discomfort. Then slowly let your awareness drift further up your body, doing the same gentle noticing for all of the parts of your body – your upper legs, hips, buttocks, pelvic region, stomach, chest, your lower back, upper back, fingers and hands, lower arms, upper arms, shoulders, neck, your head, forehead, temples, face – eyes, cheeks, nose, mouth, jaw line.

Then let your awareness drift gently and slowly back down your body, noticing any other places where there is pain, discomfort or tension and simply noticing this, until you awareness settles back at your feet.

Commence doing this exercise just for 5 minutes. It can be done sitting down in a chair or lying in bed. Over time, don’t worry about how long it takes – just allow yourself to pay attention to the sensations in your body. If, while doing this exercise, thoughts intrude, that’s okay – just notice the thoughts, notice yourself noticing the thoughts and gently guide your awareness back to your body.

Debrief:

Here are some possible debriefing questions:

  • What if anything did you find difficult doing the exercise?
  • Were you surprised by anything you noticed?
  • How many times do you think you noticed thoughts other than those tied to your scan, hopping into your awareness?

Cautions/Hints

This exercise requires a quiet space, particularly for beginners. More advanced students can do this in more crowded, loud environments, and incorporate the external intrusions into their mindfulness practice.

MIndfulness Body Scan Free Scripts

If you would like a free audio mp3 file, using a female voice, to walk you through the body scan, click here (courtesy of anxitybc). 

There is also a similar mp3 file using a male voice, and going through the body scan process here.