Short on Time? Try This Quick Body Scan Meditation

A do-it-yourself exercise to practice at home when you only have a few minutes to spare.

1. Take a seat on the floor, legs crossed, or on a chair. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your body.

2. Notice your body seated on the floor or the chair; feel the weight of it as it presses down.

3. Notice your breath, flowing up as you inhale, and down as you exhale. Place a hand on your belly to feel it more viscerally.

4. Now, notice your feet on the floor, the sensation of them touching it. Notice your legs against the chair or the floor, and see if you can detect any tension in the muscles, and loosen them.

5. Feel your back against the chair or, if sitting on the floor, the slow rock of your body as you breathe.

6. Bring your attention to your abdomen. Is your breathing slow or fast? Deep or shallow? Don’t attempt to change it, just notice.

7. Move to your hands and notice if they are clenched, and loosen them. Move upwards through your arms, noticing any tension, up to your shoulders and neck. See if you can allow your muscles to soften. Notice your face, and soften any tension there. Then notice your whole body, feeling each breath and even noticing the beating of your heart. Take another breath, and when you’re ready, slowly open your eyes. Notice how you feel, and know that there is no right or wrong way to feel.

Modified from ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/body_scan_meditation

Editor’s note: A version of this story first appeared in a May 2018 cover package on mindfulness and meditation.

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