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Week 6 - Compassionate Body Scan

Let’s begin with a mindful centering practice. Wherever you just came from or whatever you were just doing before this moment, let’s fully settle into this space now.

First, notice your body posture at this moment and begin to make adjustments to sit in an upright position that will allow you to pay attention fully in the next few moments.

You can let go of anything you may be holding onto - worries, stress, concerns. Bring your feet flat on the floor, back straight but not stiff, shoulders relaxed, facial muscles relaxed, and hands resting comfortably on your thighs or in your lap. Let your eyes gently close.

(pause)

Often it happens that our body is here but our mind is wandering somewhere else. The intention of mindful centering is to bring our mind back to the body and to the present moment.

To do that, let’s take a few deep breaths as an invitation for the mind and body to come together. Experience a deep breath through your nose, and let the breath come out through your mouth. Make the exhalation slow and long. Let’s do this two or three more times. Watch the body relax as you exhale slow and long.

(pause)

Now let your breath move at its own relaxed pace and just pay attention to the flow of the breath in and out. Notice the sensations of breathing for a few moments.

(short pause)

As you do this you may notice that your mind starts to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it’s not a problem, but is instead quite natural. Just notice what took your attention away without any judgement. Then simply let it go and redirect your attention back to the breathing.

(short pause)

Now, let’s explore what is happening in our body and mind.

First, bring your attention to your physical body and see what sensations you can notice.

(short pause)

Now, bring your attention to your mind and see what thoughts are there. When you notice a thought, just label it as “thinking”.

(short pause)

Now, begin to notice any emotions in the body. When you notice any emotional sensations, just label them as “feeling”.

Remember that the purpose is not to make any judgements about what or how much can you notice. The purpose is simply to notice what is happening inside of us.

(short pause)

Today’s practice is focused on our body. Often we care for our body only when it’s hurting and we forget to care for our body when we’re feeling well. Caring for our body is not the same as making it look good for others. We forget to appreciate all the work that our bodies do. So, let’s focus our attention on the amazing qualities that our bodies already have. Let’s practice building up our capacity for care and appreciation of our body.

(short pause)

Begin by bringing your awareness to your head. Notice how your head is resting on your shoulders. Our brain manages the whole body, most of it without our conscious effort - breathing, physical coordination, subconscious thought processes, and so much else. For example, if we had to remember to breathe, we would not survive for long. Now experiment with directing a sense of care and appreciation towards your head.  No matter how your head is feeling, relate to it with a sense of care. With each breath, send a sense of gratitude and appreciation for everything your head and brain is doing.

(pause)

With the next inhalation, move your awareness to your face. With curiosity, try to see if it is possible to relax your face a little bit more. Maybe your eyebrows. Maybe your jaw. The different parts of our face enable us to communication with  our voice and expressions, to eat, to see, smell, hear, and taste.

Notice and appreciate all the work the muscles of your face do every day and allow them to relax now.

(pause)

Now try to see how your teeth are feeling now. Do you remember the last time they were hurting? Do you remember how much you wanted the pain to stop? Notice if your teeth are hurting right now. The invitation is to appreciate that your teeth are free of pain. Give yourself the permission to receive that gift. Feel appreciation for your teeth.

(short pause)

Now, gently move your attention to your neck and shoulders. If you feel any tension, let go of it with the next exhale. Our neck and shoulders usually pay the price for all the work we do on the computer, and any lifting that we do. They may also receive and hold the stress from our lives. This is the time to care and appreciate them. With the next few breaths, let your neck and shoulders relax, softening the muscles in this area.

(short pause)

Now, let’s pay attention to the chest. Just notice how the chest moves with each inhale and exhale. See if you can listen to your heart beating. Much of our body’s energy system is managed by the lungs and heart working in tandem with oxygen being taken in and circulated via the blood. This part of your body is also where major emotions like grief, sadness, joy, and happiness are felt the most. Take a moment to send care to this part of your body, listening and taking care of whatever feeling there may be right now.

(short pause)

Now, move your awareness to your stomach. Notice how your abdomen moves every time you breathe. Notice how the breath makes your lower back move. How often do we appreciate our stomach for feeling well? How often do we appreciate all the work our stomach has been doing throughout our life? Take a moment to appreciate all the functions our stomach has and how it supports the rest of the body with its processing of food and extraction of the energy we need to live.

(short pause)

Now, allow yourself to pay attention to your arms and hands. Are they feeling cold? Warm? Tired? Just receive the information from your arms and hands. Try to see if they can relax a little bit more.

Now, consider how many things you are able to do with your arms and hands. Consider how different your life would be without them - writing, operating devices, touching people and things. Appreciate that you can do all the things you do with your arms and hands.

Now, very gently, try to move your fingers very slowly and simply witness that miracle of moving your fingers.

(short pause)

With the next inhale, drop your awareness to your legs. What are they telling you now? What sensations can you perceive?

(short pause)

Once again, appreciate all the things your legs have done for you. All the places they have taken you. Notice and appreciate how the legs work in harmony with the rest of your body.

(short pause)

Now, let’s bring our attention to our feet. Feel the place of contact with the floor. Maybe imagine that the air you are breathing is going straight to your feet. Let your feet relax with each breath.

(short pause)

Now imagine that you are giving your feet a massage.

How does it feel to take care for your own feet? Your feet work together with the rest of your body so let’s appreciate all the work our feet do every day as the ultimate foundation of our body

(short pause)

Finally, take a deep in breath and fill your body as a whole. Let’s do it a few more times. Let the air fill in all the little spaces in your body . Let this breath be like a hug that you can give yourself from the inside.

(pause)

As you go through your day, remember to appreciate your body and all its body parts. Notice when your hands write a note, when your feet feel warm, notice how your whole body works together. Let the sense of gratitude for your body fill your day.

(pause)

Now, slowly begin to bring some movement into your fingers and toes, bring some movement into the whole body, stretching gently, and then allow the eyes to open when you’re ready. Take your time.

 

Week 6 - Compassionate Body Scan
Collection The Art and Science of Human Flourishing - Fall 2017
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users (default)