A 20-Minute Body Scan to Cultivate Attention

Tuning in to the body gives us a chance to notice where we need to make changes—it's an opportunity to practice responsiveness. Wind down from a busy day with this guided meditation from Mark Bertin, MD.

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When doing this meditation, remember that, as always, there’s no need to strive to make anything happen. Simply observe what you find and practice letting things be for a while. When something uncomfortable grabs your attention, like pain or an itch, observe it first and see if it changes. If you find you need to address it, that’s fine. Noticing that, pause and make an adjustment. In this way, the body scan provides an opportunity to practice responsiveness.

Body Scan Meditation

  • 25:54

1) Begin by lying down or sitting in a comfortable chair. If lying down, let your arms and legs relax and fall to the sides; if seated, find a balanced and stable position.

2) Take a few moments to notice sensations of breathing.

Expect your mind to wander, and when it does, return your attention to your feet without judging yourself or giving yourself a hard time.

3) Draw your attention to your feet. Notice the pressure of your feet against the floor or bed, the temperature, comfort or discomfort, itches, or anything else. Expect your mind to wander, and when it does, return your attention to your feet without judging yourself or giving yourself a hard time. Let your attention rest with your feet in this way for a few minutes.

3) Move attention to your lower legs. You might feel the touch of clothing or a blanket, and you might feel nothing at all. Sustain your attention without rigidly exhausting yourself. Whatever you experience, that’s what you’re supposed to feel right now.

4) After a few minutes, shift attention to your upper legs, observing them in the some way. Notice sensations, or maybe lack of sensation. That’s okay, too.

5) Pacing yourself, turn some kind of attention to your abdomen and then to your chest. Notice physical sensations, such as breathing, internal feelings like hunger or fullness, and the resonance of any emotions—physical manifestations of happiness, sadness, tension, anger, feeling open or closed, and so on.

6) Continue turning attention to the rest of your body in the some way, spending several minutes each on your bock, then your hands, then your arms. Then bring attention to your neck and shoulders, releasing tension when you’re able without fighting what remains.

7) Finally, bring attention to your face and head, noticing expressions and reflections of emotions that occur around your mouth and eyes in particular.

Whether you feel relaxed or tense, restless or invigorated, pause before concluding. Take a moment of stillness, and then, with intention, choose when to move on with your day.

Reprinted with permission: New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Copyright © 2015 by Mark Bertin, from Mindful Parenting for ADHD