Why do the body-scan exercise?
By focusing on moving your attention through your body in a structured way, you can improve your ability to be fully present and attentive to the current moment. This is especially helpful when your feelings or thoughts seem out of control and unmanageable. The exercise can also be used to learn how to feel and fully experience both pleasant and unpleasant feelings and bodily sensations.
How to do the exercise
Start out by finding a place where you can sit or lie down comfortably. Set aside about 30 minutes for the exercise. However, if 30 minutes feels like too long, or if it is the first time you are trying out this exercise, you can easily set aside less time and still benefit from it. For some, it works best to close their eyes when doing the exercise, but it is up to you. The main point of the exercise is to be curious and open to what you notice along the way, and consciously shift your attention around your body. If you get distracted during the exercise, try to let the thoughts or feelings that you get slip past you, and then turn your attention back to your body.
Start by focusing your attention on your body. Notice your breathing and how it feels to lie, or sit, in the way you are currently doing.
When you are ready, start shifting your attention towards a specific body part. One option is to start at your feet, and gradually work your way up through your body, but you can also choose to start somewhere else – it is about finding what feels the most natural to you.
Notice what sensations you have in the body part you have shifted your focus to. For example, you may feel that you are cold or hot, that you feel buzzing or spinning, or that you are tense. It may also be that there are no strong sensations. That is also perfectly alright.
After letting your attention rest in the same place for a bit, you move it to a new area of your body.
Keep shifting your attention from body part to body part, until you are done. This could be when you have been through your entire body, or simply when you feel like you do not want to continue.
End the exercise by spending some time spreading your attention to your whole body again.
If you closed your eyes at the beginning of the exercise, or along the way, open them now.