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The body scan is an extremely powerful and healing form of meditation. It is one of the most popular practices that people connect with.

A body scan supports you to re-connect with the body, identify areas of stress that may be held and cultivate an awareness of what is unfolding in the present moment.

During the body scan, we develop a greater intimacy with bare sensations, often reducing our emotional reactivity to them and the judgment attached to them. In the process, the intensity of unpleasant sensations can often subside.

The body scan is best performed in a quiet environment where there are no time pressures or likelihood of being interrupted. It is a lovely opportunity to offer yourself some self-care and compassion. It supports to create a feeling of calm, balance, clarity of mind and connection.

1. You can do this practice lying down or in the sitting posture.

2. If sitting, place the hands together in the lap or on top of the knees. If lying down, place the arms by your side.

3. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable to do so. A downward gaze is also suitable for those who feel uncomfortable closing their eyes.

4. If you feel tired or sleepy at any point, opening your eyes partially can support you to keep the awareness and focus present.

5. Notice the stillness of the body.

6. Bring an awareness to the breath. Follow the journey of the breath from inhale to exhale. Notice the temperature of the air as it hits the nostrils. Follow the breaths journey into the lungs and back out again.

7. Allow your mind to settle into your breath.

8. Notice the areas of the body that move with each inhale and exhale.

9. Set an intention to allow as much time as you need to explore each area of the body. Be mindful not to rush the meditation.

10. Guide your attention and focus from the breath to the feet. The feet are a good place to start the practice. Notice the temperature of the feet. Notice any sensations. Notice if one foot feels different from the other. Do you feel tingling, itchiness, pain, stiffness, numbness? Can you label the sensations?

11. Work your way from the feet, up the legs, to the pelvis, abdomen, chest, arms, shoulders, neck, back, face and head with the same process of exploration. Thoroughly scan the entire body, one area at a time.

12. With each area, notice the feelings and sensations that arise. Are they pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral? Can you use your breath to further relax that area of the body. The body relaxes on the outbreath.

13. Are there any areas of the body that feel tense or appear to be holding stress? For example, stress is often held in our shoulders. Can you consciously drop the position of your shoulders. This is a simple step to release the effect of tension in the body.

14. Explore all sensations. Notice what arises.

15. Notice any thoughts that arise in the mind during the body scan. Do not judge yourself for wandering thoughts. Simply notice what comes up, letting it pass. If thoughts become repetitive, gently guide your attention back to the body part you are scanning. Do not force it.

16. A full body scan can take around 30-40 minutes or longer. It is important to remember that even the most experienced of meditators experience a wandering mind during this time. It is important not to judge yourself for feeling like you weren’t able to ‘fully concentrate’. This will only add to the pressure and stress in the body and is counterproductive. The more you practice, the longer you can hold the focus.

17. Next, bring an awareness to the body as a whole. Notice the connection you have with your body in its entire form.

18. By bringing awareness to the whole body, you automatically bring awareness to every cell of the body.

19. Gently open your eyes when you are ready to do so.

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