About Body Awareness in MBSR
Body awareness is traditionally considered to be the first foundation of mindfulness practice*.
MBSR programs emphasize mindful body awareness. During the first 2 weeks of the program, we practice the Body Scan daily, guided by this recording.
* As described in the Satipatthana Sutta.
About this Recording of Body Scan Meditation
This recording guides you in a Body Scan meditation. The Body Scan is described in Chapter 5 of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living.
The Introduction (Tracks 1 through 7) offers simple instructions suitable for beginners. Then the Guided Practice begins at Track 8.
Don’t listen to this recording while driving or doing anything else that requires your full attention.
How to Practice with this Recording
The first time you use the Body Scan recording, listen to the Introduction (Tracks 1 through 7), and then begin the Guided Practice at Track 8.
During subsequent practice sessions, you may want to begin at Track 8 — or choose first to listen to those introductory tracks relevant to you (e.g. Wandering Mind, Physical Limitations, Intense Sensations, Intense Emotions).
Most people prefer to follow the guide of Tracks 8-16 in sequence. However, you may prefer to change the sequence of the Scan — just be sure to begin with Track 8 and conclude with Tracks 15 & 16.
Commonly Asked Questions
During the Body Scan, your body posture is optional. Most people prefer to lie down as described in Track 8 of the recording, but you can equally choose to follow the Body Scan while you’re seated or lying on your side. Position yourself with cushions as needed to help with comfort and stability, and then let yourself settle into gravity.
You’re encouraged to rest in stillness during the Body Scan, but if you have to move from time to time, just be aware of your physical experience while you’re moving, and then notice as you return to stillness.
You can practice with eyes open or closed. To practise with eyes open, rest your gaze on a neutral spot – maybe by looking toward a blank spot on the ceiling or a wall facing you. Find a spot that has no visual appeal, so your attention is with your inner experience, even while light enters your eyes. And just blink naturally from time to time. Your eyes may close partially and even feel a little unfocused.
People often become drowsy and even drift into sleep during the Body Scan. But if insomnia is not your main concern, you may find you’re more wakeful if you practice with your eyes open. You might also practice while seated in a chair.
Don’t worry, however, if you occasionally sleep through even large sections of the Scan. Surprisingly, people often report benefit from the Scan even when they don’t hear too much of it!
TRYING TO HAVE A PARTICULAR EXPERIENCE
The Body Scan is a way to witness your experience as it is. You’re not trying to change anything or trying to get a particular result. Instead, you’re simply paying attention, moment by moment, letting things be as they are.
This can be surprising because many people do report that the Body Scan helps them to relax or experience things differently. But these changes simply happen in response to the practice of mindfulness. No goal is necessary.
In fact, any effort to change things usually just makes the mind busy and distracts from the experience of being here now.
Hint: The attitude of mindfulness is discussed in Chapter 2 of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living.
The Tracks of Body Scan Meditation
- General Introduction 2:34 minutes
- The Wandering Mind 1:45 minutes
- Physical Limitations & Disability 1:02 minutes
- Intense Sensations during the Scan 4:55 minutes
- Intense Emotions during the Scan 1:32 minutes
- Breath Imagery 2:22 minutes
- Brief Introduction 1:06 minutes
- The Scan Begins 4:52 minutes
- Feet & Legs 12:02 minutes
- Pelvis 2:53 minutes
- Lower Back 3:25 minutes
- Chest 7:27 minutes
- Hands & Arms 4:13 minutes
- Neck & Head 9:44 minutes
- Conclusion 4:03 minutes
- Meadow Sounds 7:00 minutes