Body scan

La Trobe Counselling Service

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Body Scan

This exercise in mindfulness is a quick check in to notice what sensations that our body might be carrying at any time of the day and to notice any feelings that we may be holding. The body is always working with the mind so the body scan is a way to check in with our mental and emotional wellbeing. We are aiming to notice the sensations we find in our body, without trying to change them or improve them. For example, you might find tension or an itch or a sore spot. See if you can be willing to let that sensation be as it is and observe it without trying to change it in any way. Of course you still have the option of choosing to do something to relieve a sensation if it is very intense.

You can do this body scan exercise standing up or sitting down as long as you can ground yourself in the moment. That is placing your feet squarely on the ground and feeling the connection between you and the ground.

Let us begin…

Let go of your thoughts and narrow your focus now to the attention of your breath… Bring your attention inwards to your breathing…Notice your breath without changing it or forcing it in any way. Just allow your breath to be what it is…Let this gently rhythmic flow of your ‘in’ and ‘out’ breath come naturally…gently…rhythmically…and if you are comfortable with it, you may close your eyes now as we scan regions of the body…

1. Allow your breathing to settle and recede into the background as you slowly and gradually start to bring your focus and attention now away from your breathing and down to your feet. Noticing the sensations in your feet…notice the temperature…notice your toes…just stay with the physical sensations of your feet and toes, as they are…as you find them…

2. Now gradually bring your attention to your knees…noticing any sensation in your knees…the right and the left knee…whatever sensations you may have, just take a neutral stance and simply observe the physical sensations in your knees…

3. Now slowly and gradually bring your attention to your stomach…notice the sensations in your stomach…notice if your stomach is feeling full or empty…notice if there are any gurgling noises and any tightness…any pain…whatever the physical sensations in your stomach may be, stay neutral and don’t judge anything…simply remain present and aware to whatever there is…

4. Shifting your focus and attention now away from the stomach to your chest…notice the sensations in your chest…be aware of any particular tightness or heaviness in your chest…notice too your breathing around the chest area…notice perhaps the rise and fall of the chest as you track an ‘in’ breath and ‘out’ breath…

5. Now gradually shift your attention from your chest to your shoulders…noticing the left and the right shoulder…being aware of any particular sensation sin our shoulders…just observe whatever there may be…not judging it…not wishing it to be anything other than what is tis…simply accepting wherever sensations may be there….

6. Gradually move your attention from your shoulders, down to your arms…your hands…your fingers…pay close attention to your hands and fingers…noticing the physical sensations that may be present there…noticing the temperature of your hands and fingers…

7. Gradually now shift your attention from your hands and fingers back up to your shoulders and down to your back…the lower and upper back…notice the particular physical sensations in your back…down your spine…just observe and note whatever sensations you find…if there is tension, there is tension, if there is stiffness, there is stiffness, let go of the desire or wish for the back sensation to be different…stay neutral and simply observe the sensations in your back…

8. From the back, let your attention travel up the spine to your neck…rest your attention on the neck…the front and the back of your neck…the muscles in your neck…just breathing in and out and noticing the sensations in your neck…

9. Finally now…bring your attention and awareness to the entirety of your head…see your face…your eyes…your nose…your hair…cheekbones…your mouth…your lips…tongue and your jaws…Notice in particular your jaws and if you are clenching or tightening the jaws…notice whatever particular sensations may be there and let them be…simply observe…

10. Now before we finish, move your attention to your body as a whole, observe the outline of your body…the whole of your body…simply being aware and fully present to your body as a whole…noticing all the sensations in your body and letting them be…

When you feel ready, start to open your eyes, slowly return your attention and awareness back to the room and your surroundings, stretch out if you need to.

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