Mindfulness Made Easy – Practice #2 Body Scan

Here is the second of my 50 Mindful Practices. My book is being published so in the meantime I will blog one of these each week or so.  Please sign up on my website if you want to get them automatically in your email box. I welcome your feedback and please pass along to your friends!


Practice 2: Do a body scan

What it is.

The body scan is a fundamental practice of mindfulness. It is a way to monitor what is going on at a physical level and also a way to relax the body, bit by bit. Also called muscle relaxation, this practice was refined by Edmund Jacobsen in the 1930’s. It is often used to activate the body upon waking and to slow the body down before sleeping.

How to do it.

You need about ten minutes for this practice. Lie down on your back and breathe deeply in and out three times. Prepare to both contract and relax every muscle group in your body. Starting with your toes, tense your toes for five seconds then release them. Next your arches, then your calf muscles and so on. Move up your body to your torso and limbs all the way up to your neck face and scalp. Try to become aware of where you are holding tension and practice actively letting go of it wherever you find it. Breathe deeply throughout and if you wish, breathe into each muscle as you proceed.

The body scan involves either sitting or lying down with your eyes closed and mentally scanning your body from head to toe and back again. Rather than using your eyes, you use your senses to listen to each of your body parts.

“Learn to be calm and you will always be happy.” Paramhansa Yogananda

What to notice.

Did you notice any areas of tightness, tension or pain? Did you feel a tickling sense or release when you focused on that particular area. Some people feel energy emanating through the body. At the end of the scan you should experience a restful awareness of your whole body and may even sense the energy field around your body.

copyright: Maureen F Fitzgerald, PhD

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