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Body Scan Meditation

The body scan has proven to be a powerful form of meditation. It is one used in MBSR and mindfulness meditations and forms the core of the lying down practice. This meditation practice leads you through a focused based sweep of your body, bringing affectionate, openhearted, awareness and attention to specific body areas. You can begin this meditation at the feet or head or just linger your attention in a particular area such as the chest/heart/lungs.

Try this trial run: after becoming relaxed, while laying down, and even breathing - inhale and exhale - follow your breath. We will bring our attention to the toes of the left foot and then move through the entire foot – the sole, the heel, the top of the foot – then up the left leg, including the ankle, the shin and the calf, the knee and the kneecap, the thigh in its entirety, on the surface and deep, the groin and the left hip, then over to the toes of the right foot, the other regions of the foot, then up the right leg in the same manner as the left. From there, the focus moves into, successively, and slowly, the entirety of the pelvic region, including the hips again, the buttocks and the genitals, the lower back, the abdomen, and then the upper torso – the upper back, the chest and the ribs, the breasts, the heart and lungs and great vessels housed within the rib cage, the shoulder blades floating on the rib cage in back, all the way up to the collarbones and shoulders. From the shoulders, we move to the arms, often doing them together, starting from the tips of the fingers and thumbs and moving successively through the fingers, the palms, and backs of the hands, the wrists, forearms, elbows, upper arms, armpits, and shoulders again. Then we move in to the neck and throat, and finally, the face and head.

You can also scan your body much more quickly, depending on your time constraints. You can do a 4 minute or 40-minute body scan. The level of detail will vary on the time you allow in various regions/areas. You may want to give more attention to a certain area. There is no right or wrong way to do this mediation. Focus on yourself is always good (as in self-care).

Depending on how quickly you move through the body, note that each speed has its virtues, and ultimately, it is about being in touch with the whole of your being and your body in any and every way you can, outside of time altogether. You can practice the body scan, long or short, lying in bed or sitting in a chair, at night or in the morning. This meditation practice will bring new life to you. It can bring you new appreciation for your body and how your body serves as a vehicle for embodying the here and now and in being your best self – always, in all ways.

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