Mindfulness Exercise: Brief Body Scan
Updated: Feb 5
We continue our discussion of mindfulness and its benefits in this blog by providing a detailed explanation of the body scan, one of my favorite mindfulness exercises. The beauty of the body scan is that you can practice this technique any place and at at any time, regardless of whether you're at home, at work, or on the go or it's early in the morning, midday, or late at night. The body scan is a quick and easy exercise to help you reset and connect with your mind and body and become more aware of your surroundings and current mental state.
The body scan can give us insight into the experiences the body goes through moment to moment. Being more aware of your body's feelings and sensations can give you a better ability to manage pain, stress, tension, and other intense feelings. During a body scan, you may feel a variety of sensations, including warmth, tension, heaviness, lightness, and even nothing at all. Our goal isn't to change anything, but to simply notice it. Oftentimes, your busy mind will take you on a thought train during the body scan. Whenever you become aware that you have become lost in your thoughts, gently bring your attention back to your body.
The body has its own wisdom. It is where we manifest our emotions and where tension and relaxation is felt. It is our antenna to the world. When we pay close attention to it, we realize what we want to cultivate and what we want to let go of.
Let's begin (it takes about 5 minutes to complete this exercise).
• I would like you to close your eyes. Perhaps today is your first opportunity to slow down after a busy day. Give yourself a moment to sit in silence.
• Gently bring your awareness to your breathing. Observe your breath as you inhale and exhale. There is no need to change the breath. Keep your awareness focused on this beautiful life force and ride each individual breath in and out.
• As your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the breath. No matter how many times your mind wanders, it is okay. Refocus your attention on your breath when you notice yourself wondering.
• We will begin the body scan by feeling your feet against the floor and within your shoes. Noticing all sensations, whether they are cold, warm, tingling, heavy, or neutral. Paying close attention to what is.
• Continue with the body scan by noticing each part of your body:
• Lower torso
• Stomach area
• Chest and upper back
• Shoulders and arms
• Neck, head and face
Bring your attention back to your breath, noticing how you are breathing in and out. Then open your eyes and you are finished with this exercise.
For the next seven days, I encourage you to do a 5-minute body scan every day and to document your experience in a journal. You may continue to do five minute body scan exercises every day if you would like. Below please find a video link to a guided 3-minute body scan mindfulness exercise. I have found this video particularly helpful in my own mindfulness practice. I hope this will be useful to you in your own mindfulness journey.