The body scan is a mindfulness practice that enhances the mind-body connection. The aim is to intentionally bring awareness to different parts of the body and to be curious and open to what you are noticing while you’re exploring bodily sensations. By repeatedly practicing the body scan—allowing yourself to experience bodily sensations without striving to change them and without labeling them as “good” or “bad”—you can change your relationship to discomfort.
TIME NEEDED FOR BODY SCAN
The body scan practice can vary widely with respect to the length of time devoted to this practice. Plan to devote at least 3-5 minutes to an exploration of your bodily sensations, at minimum. I have included links to a number of fairly brief guided body scan meditations, ranging in length from 3 to 10 minutes, at the end of this blog post. You may want to try out a few to see how the experience differs depending on the length of the practice.
While there are many great options for brief body scan meditations, it is worth noting that research suggests that practicing the body scan for longer periods leads people to experience more benefits from it. So if you are seeking a lengthier practice, you can try the 30-minute guided body scan meditation that I have included at the bottom of this page.
HOW TO PRACTICE THE BODY SCAN
Prepare for the practice by finding a comfortable position. It is often recommended that you lay down to practice a body scan but, alternatively, you can also do a body scan while sitting upright, especially if this will make it easier for you to stay awake during the practice.
If you are new to the body scan, it is typically recommended that you follow a guided meditation (see the links below) to assist you in practicing the body scan.
Remember that it is completely normal for your attention to wander at some point during your mindfulness practice. In fact, it’s very likely that you will become distracted by your thoughts numerous times during the practice. When this happens, try to note that your attention has wandered with an attitude of curiosity rather than judgment, and then try to gently shift your attention back to your practice.
TRY ONE OF THESE GUIDED BODY SCAN PRACTICES:
Remember to check back for more mindfulness exercises on future Mondays!