It is recommended you allow about 30 or 40 minutes to let yourself really investigate this practice. But if you don’t have that much time, utilize whatever time you have. You might want to lay down, but you can also do it sitting up, especially if that makes it easier for you to stay awake.
1. Closing your eyes can be helpful to allow you to focus or, if you’d rather, you can always lower and half-close your eyes.
2. Bring awareness to the body breathing in and out, noticing touch and pressure where it makes contact with the seat or floor. Throughout this practice, allow as much time as you need or want to experience and investigate each area of the body.
3. When you’re ready (no rush), intentionally breathe in, and move your attention to whatever part of the body you want to investigate. You might choose to do a systematic body scan beginning at the head or feet. Or, you might choose to explore sensations randomly. Enjoy!
Sensations might include buzzing, or tingling, pressure, tightness or temperature, or anything else you notice. What if you don’t notice any strong sensations or things feel neutral? You can simply notice that, too. There are no right answers. Just tune in to what’s present, as best you can, without judgement. You’ll notice judgement puts a different spin on things.
The main point is being curious and open to what you are noticing, investigating the sensations as fully as possible, and then intentionally releasing the focus of attention before shifting to the next area to explore.
4. At some point, you’ll notice Elvis and your attention have left the building. Yup. Great noticing! You’ll quickly discover that you can’t stop your attention from wandering. Sorry ’bout that. But over time you can train it to stay for longer periods: train it, not force it, there’s a difference. Each time your attention wanders, simply notice that this is happening, then gently and kindly (it’s really important that you don’t try to force anything) direct your attention back to exploring sensations in the body. Rinse and repeat until you’ve finished your entire body exploration.
5. At the end of this exploration of bodily sensations, spend a few moments to expand your attention to feeling your entire body breathing freely.
6. Open your eyes if they have been closed. Move mindfully into this moment.
Regularly practicing the body scan can help you:
1. Enhance your ability to bring your full attention to real-time experiences happening in the present moment—helpful when emotions or thoughts feel wild.
2. Train to explore and be with pleasant and unpleasant sensations, learning to notice what happens when we simply hang in there and feel what’s going on in “body-land” without trying to fix or change anything.