Standing body scan

The body scan helps you focus on yourself to stop intruding thoughts and to be aware of your body.

  1. Stand in front of a chair just in case you need to steady yourself, Feet should be the same width apart as your shoulders. Allow your eyes to close gently.
  2. Take a few moments to get in touch with the movement of your breath and the sensations in the body When you are ready, bring your awareness to the physical sensations in your body, especially to the sensations of touch or pressure, where your body makes contact with the floor or chair. Just note any sensations up and down your body as you stand there.
  3. Remind yourself of the intention of this practice. Its aim is not to feel any different, relaxed, or calm; this may happen or it may not. Instead, the intention of the practice is, as best you can, to bring awareness to any sensations you detect, as you focus your attention on each part of the body in turn.
  4. Now shift your weight to your right leg, and slowly raise your left arm sideways, up to above your head, stretching to the ceiling, as you breathe in, hold the breath for 4 and as you breathe out, bring the arm back down to your side, steady yourself again. Repeat to feel the sensations as you breathe in and stretch and as you breathe out and relax.
  5. Repeat for the other side, just become aware of any tension in your body as you stretch upwards and just release it as you relax downwards again.
  6. When you are ready, on an in-breath, feel or imagine the breath entering the lungs, and then passing down into the abdomen, into the right leg, the right foot, and out to the toes of the right foot, as you start to move your weight onto it. Then, move that energy on the in breathe up through your left arm as it stretches, feel or imagine the breath coming all the way back up, out of the hand. Then allow the sensations to reverse as you bring the arm down and you balance again. Approach it playfully.
  7. Repeat the exercise for the other side.
  8. Now allow the awareness to expand into both feet—to the ankle, the top of the foot, and right into the bones and joints.
  9. Continue to bring awareness, and a gentle curiosity, to the physical sensations in each part of the rest of the body in turn – pelvic area, back, abdomen, chest, fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, head, and face. In each area, as best you can, bring the same detailed level of awareness and gentle curiosity to the bodily sensations present. As you leave each major area, “breathe in” to it on the in-breath, and let go of that region on the out breath.
  10. When you become aware of tension, or of other intense sensations in a particular part of the body, you can “breathe in” to them—using the in-breath gently to bring awareness right into the sensations, and, as best you can, have a sense of their letting go, or releasing, on the out breath.
  11. The mind will inevitably wander away from the breath and the body from time to time. That is entirely normal. It is what minds do. When you notice it, gently acknowledge it, noticing where the mind has gone off to, and then gently return your attention to the part of the body you intended to focus on.
  12. After you have “scanned” the whole body in this way, spend a few minutes being aware of a sense of the body as a whole, and of the breath flowing freely in and out of the body.