Meditation technique for connection: body scan

Body scan meditation technique wellbeing retreat Europe

Meditation can take many forms and have several different purposes. In this article we are sharing one technique – the body scan – which can be used to help connect us with our body and bring us into the present moment.

The idea of the body scan is to focus on each part of the body in turn, to explore the sensations and feelings in your body, without attachment or judgement. Sometimes, this last part – “without attachment or judgement” – can be very challenging, but it is a central part of this practice I am describing today. A scan is just that – we pause for a few seconds, focusing on one body part, to observe. Then we move our attention on to the next body part. Observe, then move on.

Set up for your body scan

We like to practice a body scan lying down. It is good to do on a yoga mat, rather than a bed, unless your end goal is to fall asleep!

Switch your phone onto airplane mode, so you will not be disturbed. Then you can set your timer to ring after 10 or 15 minutes.

How to do a body scan

Find a quiet space, where you know you will not be disturbed for 10-15 minutes. Check that you feel warm (but not hot), away from drafts.

Lie down on your mat and make yourself comfortable. If you need more support for your back, pop a blanket or cushion beneath the knees so they are slightly bent.

Close your eyes. Take a moment to feel the connection of your body with the mat and floor beneath you. Take a couple of deep breaths in and out, then allow your breathing to return to normal.

Take your awareness into your toes on your right leg. With your awareness on the right big toe. Notice any and all sensations of heat…or cold… aches…. softness. If you do not notice anything, that is fine, simply notice and then move on to the next toe. Stop for a moment (5 seconds) then move your awareness to the third toe. Then the fourth toe and the little toe.

Move your awareness upward, into the sole of the foot. Noticing sensations.

Move the awareness again, to the top of the foot.

Then the ankle.

Lower leg – front. Then back of the lower leg.

Continue scanning upwards into the knee. Thigh. Front and back.

Then back to the big toe on the left foot. Move your awareness to each toe on the left foot in turn. Then move your awareness upwards, pausing for 5 seconds on each body part to observe, notice and let go.

Into the pelvic area and hips.

Moving upwards into the stomach area.

The ribs and lungs.

Heart.

Whole of the back.

Right shoulder area. Then move your awareness down the right arm, pausing for a few seconds to observe. From the thumb on the right hand, to the little finger.

From the little finger on the right hand, move your awareness to the left shoulder area.

Then move your awareness, scanning each part of the left arm down to the hand and each finger in turn.

To the neck. Throat. Jaw. Chin. Mouth. Cheeks. Eyes. Forehead. Ears. Top of the head.

Then return your awareness back to the right big toe. And move upwards again, scanning each body part in turn.

Run the scan three times, from the feet to the head.

Then pause. With your awareness in your whole body. Simply be present for a minute or two.  Aware, present and not attached to any particular sensations.

When the timer rings, bring your knees into your chest for a moment. Then take a lovely long stretch, reaching out and stretching your whole body. Roll to your right side and rest there for a moment.

When you are ready, sit up and open your eyes.

Sit quietly for a few moments until you feel ready to carry on with your day.

Tips for practicing a body scan

This is a body scan, so the important part is to keep your awareness moving.

Observe whether you have any sensations of heat or coolness, tension, relaxation, comfort or discomfort. Notice any areas of pain or soreness. There is no right or wrong, what is there is there, and what is not there, is not there. No judgement, no attachment.

Sometimes, as you focus your awareness on one part of the body, you might become aware of a new sensation. It might be uncomfortable, or a pain, or feeling of cold. It might be pleasant and comfortable. It might happen that on the second or third scan, the sensation has changed, or gone completely. Be curious, but don´t get hung up.

As you practice, sometimes you might come across a “blank” area. There might not be any noticeable sensations, or you might not even really feel like you can connect. That´s okay too. Notice, observe and move on.  It might stay like this for the practice, or next time round it might change. Both are fine.

No matter what the sensation, the body scan technique helps us to learn to let go. It encourages us to learn not to become attached to any one type of sensation.

Meditation at La Crisalida Retreats

Meditation is part of our holistic programme for health and wellbeing. Across a week we offer different meditation techniques that you can practice. Each technique brings different challenges, benefits and learnings. Having a tool bag of different meditation techniques means that you can work out which suits you the most, and which to use in different situations.  Read more about all the activities on offer at La Crisalida on our activities page. 

You might come across this body scan technique in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Using the technique described above, you can add in an extra step – focus on relaxing as you connect with each part of the body in turn. Perhaps consciously say to yourself “relax” at each part.  

Every time I practice this body scan technique, it seems different. Some days I can find it easy to focus and other days it is much harder. That is just part of the reason why meditation is called practice!

About the author

Lisa
Lisa
Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).