Let go of your tendency for wanting things to be different from how they are and allow them to be. Give yourself the space to be as you are. Follow the steps below to nourish your body and mind.
Step one – Sit comfortably
With your feet flat on the floor, about a shoulder’s width apart; your back straight and head in line. You don’t even need to try to relax. Relaxation may or may not happen, however, it isn’t the aim of the body scan. If anything, the aim is to be aware of your experience, whatever it may be. Feel the weight of your body on the chair. Notice the points of contact between the chair and your body. Each time you breathe out, allow yourself to sink a little deeper into the chair.
Step two – Become aware of the sensations of your breath
You may feel your breath going in and out of your nostrils; passing through the back of your throat, or feel your chest or belly rising and falling. Be aware of your breath, wherever it feels most predominant and comfortable for you. Continue for a few minutes.
Step three – Move your awareness
When you’re ready, move your awareness down the left leg, past the knee and ankle and right down into the big toe of your left foot. Notice the sensations in your big toe with a sense of curiosity. Is it warm or cold? Now expand your awareness to your little toe, then all the toes in-between. What do they feel like? If you can’t feel any sensation, that’s okay. As you breathe in, imagine the breath going down your body and into your toes. As you breathe out, imagine the breath going back up your body and out of your nose.
Step four – Expand your awareness to the sole of your foot
Focus on the ball and heel of your foot. The weight of your heel. The sides and upper part of your foot. Your ankle. Breathe into the whole of your left foot. Then, when you’re ready, take a deep breath out.
Repeat this process of gentle, kind, curious accepting awareness with the lower part of your left leg, your knee and your upper part of your left leg. Notice how your left leg may now feel different to your right leg.
Step five – Gently shift your awareness
Gently shift your awareness around and down your right leg, to the toes in your right foot. Notice the sensations in your big toe with a sense of curiosity. Is it warm or cold? Now expand your awareness to your little toe, then all the toes in-between. What do they feel like? If you can’t feel any sensation, that’s okay.
As you breathe in, imagine the breath going down your body and into your toes.As you breathe out, imagine the breath going back up your body and out of your nose.
Step six – Expand your awareness to the sole of your foot
Focus on the ball and heel of your foot. The weight of your heel. The sides and upper part of your foot. Your ankle. Breathe into the whole of your right foot. Then, when you’re ready, take a deep breath out.
Move your awareness up your right leg in the same way as before. Then let it go.
Step seven – Become aware
Become aware of your pelvis, hips, buttocks and all the delicate organs around here. Breathe into them and imagine you’re filling them with nourishing oxygen.
Step eight – Move up to the lower torso, the lower abdomen and lower back
Notice the movement of the lower abdomen as you breathe in and out. Are there any emotions you feel here? See if you can explore and accept your feelings as they are.
Step nine – Bring your attention to your chest and upper back
Feel your rib cage rising and falling as you breathe in and out. Be mindful of your heart beating if you can. Be grateful that all these vital organs are currently functioning to keep you alive and conscious. Be mindful of any emotions arising from your heart area. Allow space for your emotions to express themselves.
Step ten – Go to both arms
Go to both arms together, beginning with the fingertips and moving up to the shoulders. Breathe into and out of each body part before you move to the next one, if that feels helpful.
Step eleven – Focus on your neck
Then move your mindful attention to your jaw, noticing if it’s clenched. Feel your lips, the inside of your mouth; your cheeks, your nose, your eyelids and eyes. Feel your temples and forehead, checking if it’s frowning. Feel the back of your head, and finally the top of your head. Take your time to be with each part of your head in a mindful way.
Step twelve – Imagine a space in the top of your head and soles of your feet
Imagine your breath sweeping up and down your body as you breathe in and out. Feel the breath sweeping up and down your body and get a sense of each cell in your body being nourished with energy and oxygen.
Continue this for a few minutes.
Now let go of all effort to practice mindfulness. Get a sense of your whole body. Feel yourself as complete, just as you are. Remember this sense of being is always available to you when you need it. Rest in this stillness.
Acknowledge the time you’ve taken to nourish your body and mind. Come out of this exercise gently. Endeavour to bring this mindful awareness to whatever activity you engage in next.