LIST-Mindfulness Well-being

Body Scan

Background: The purpose of this exercise is simply to notice your body. It is not necessarily about relaxing your body, however this may well occur. Usually, our response to bodily pain or discomfort is to distract ourselves or to numb the pain. In this exercise you will accept and notice with gentle curiosity your body in its comfort and discomfort.

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, making sure that you do not have any constriction and loosen any tight clothing. Starting with your feet pay attention to the physical feelings in your feet – any pain, discomfort, cold, warmth, tension, tightness, whatever. Simply pay attention to the physical feelings and sensations – 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, your hips, your buttocks, your pelvic region, your stomach, your chest, your lower back, your upper back, your fingers and hands, your lower arms, your upper arms, your shoulders, your neck, the back of your head, your forehead, your temples, your face – eyes, cheeks, nose, mouth, jawline.
  • 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 gentle guide your awareness back to your body.

Note: A variation on this is to focus on parts of your body that you don’t like – Do this in front of a mirror, taking time to ‘notice’ your thoughts and feelings as you do this exercise.