Breath Based Body Scan


This body scan will allow you to place particular emphasis on the sensations of breathing as you guide your awareness through the whole body.

Now adopt a comfortable position , perhaps covering yourself with a light blanket, if this will help you feel more warm and relaxed. You can opt for lying down or if uncomfortable to you, you may chose to sit in a chair. This following body scan assumes that you are lying down, but you can adapt it if you are doing it in another position.

Allow now your body to settle down on to the bed or floor as much as you can. Place your arms at the sides of your body with your hands gently resting on your belly.

Allow your shoulders to rest back towards the floor with your face soft and eyes lightly closed and your hands soft. You can chose to have your legs outstretched or slightly bend your knees with feet on the floor. Whatever is most comfortable for you.

As you start to settle, perhaps you can become aware of your body gently sinking down towards the floor and the earth.

Begin by tuning into the movement of the breath beneath your hands. Allow yourself to feel your belly swelling a little on the in-breath, and subsiding a little on the out-breath. Be careful not to alter or force the breath, but rest your awareness within its natural movements.

Now allow your awareness to come to your chest and feel the ribs expanding on the in-breath and retracting on the out-breath. Feel your lungs filling and emptying within the chest with each breath. You can now rest your attention on your diaphragm as it broadens and flattens down inside the body. It broadens and flattens within the body on the in-breath and you can feel it pushing down the internal organs on the out-breath. Perhaps you can get a sense of this movement beneath your hands as they rest on your belly. You can try and follow the movement without forcing the breath in any way.

Now drag your attention to your pelvic floor; Perhaps you are able to feel the echo of the breath down there. It will be very subtle so do not worry if you can’t feel anything at all. Over time, you may be receptive to this whole pelvic floor area becoming a little soft and relaxed.

Now allow your awareness to fall on your buttocks/bottom. If you notice they are tense, then you might also notice how it’s quite natural to relax and soften tension when you become aware of it, allowing the buttocks to be soft against the bed or the floor.

Now allow your awareness to inhabit the lower back…the middle back…and the upper back as they rest on the bed or floor; follow their natural curves and shape.

Now see if you can get any sense of the breath in the whole back of your body. As the diaphragm moves within the body, it involves the back of the body as well as the front. Be curious about what you can feel in your back with the breath. Maybe you can even feel the echo of the breath in the lower back. If you’ve got any pain or discomfort in your lower back, allow it to be massaged by the breath. Respond to your own discomfort as you would naturally respond to a loved one who was hurt, with gentleness and kindness.

You may become aware of the ribs in the back of your body, expanding on the in-breath and retracting on the out-breath. You will find that becoming aware of the movement of the breath in the back of the body is naturally calming. Perhaps you can sense it a little now.

Now allow your awareness to inhabit your shoulders as they drop back towards the bed or floor. And can you allow the arms to gently fall away from the shoulders. Allow your awareness to inhabit your upper arms..the elbows…the lower arms… and the hands. And allow your awareness to flow inside the fingers and thumbs, resting your attention there for a few moments.

Now coming back up the arms, allow your awareness to flow into the throat and back of the neck and the sides of the neck. Allow your awareness to inhabit the whole head and face. Try and let your head be heavy, fully supported by the cushion or pillow it’s resting on.

Now place your attention on your face; If you notice tension, you may find it natural to soften and release it in the light of awareness; now notice how your lips become soft, your tongue soft your cheeks soft, your eyes soft.

Perhaps you can allow the back of the mouth and the top of the throat to be soft, letting the breath flow freely in and out. Perhaps you can let your jaw hang a little loosely, unclenching the teeth. This may help this area feel a bit softer and more receptive to the flow of the breath.

And now, guiding your awareness down through the body to the hips, allow the legs to gently fall away from the hips. Let the legs be fully supported by the bed or floor whatever the position of your legs is. Giving the weight of your legs up to gravity, allow awareness to flow into the front, back and sides of the thighs.

And now, allow your awareness to flow down to inhabit the knees…and the lower legs….the ankles…the soles of the feet….the tops of the feet…inside your toes. Perhaps you can notice how it feels there. Maybe it feels intense or maybe it feels dull or numb. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are aware.

And now broaden out your awareness to inhabit the whole body. The legs…the torso – front, back and sides…the arms, the neck and the head. Perhaps you can get a sense of the breath in the whole body. Very gently expanding on the in-breath, and subsiding on the out-breath. If you’ve got pain or discomfort, perhaps you can let these areas be gently massaged and soothed by the gently rhythm of the natural breath.

As you rest within the natural and continual flow of movement in the body with the natural breath, you may notice how sensations are also continually changing. What you think of as “pain” or “discomfort” is actually changing sensations coming into being and passing away, moment by moment, and you only ever experience this flow of sensations one moment at a time. “Pain” or “discomfort” is not as solid as we often think. Can you get a sense of how sensations are fluid, like the breath, as you rest within the breathing body, resting within a sense of change and flow in our whole body, moment by moment, as you allow the breath to be gentle, tender and kindly.

And now gradually bring this short breath based body scan to a close. Open your eyes and gently and carefully move your body. Perhaps form an intention to take this more fluid and pliable awareness of your body with you as you gradually re-engage with the activities of your day. Allow your experience to be saturated with a kindly, gentle breath no matter what you are engaged in.

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