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Guided Body Scan Meditation: How Is It Done?

By: Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

Often many people are intimated by meditation and think that they “can’t do it.” My hope with this blog is to provide you with an approachable and easy way to do a body scan meditation, with the main goal of relieving stress and tension. It can be difficult to self-facilitate this exercise, so there is an audio version of this blog that you can listen to carry out the meditation at home!

Why Should I Do It? 

Body scan meditations direct you to intentionally and systematically focus your attention on different parts of your body, ranging from many different parts such as your feet and the muscles in your face. Doing this will aid you in developing a mindful awareness of your bodily sensations and to relieve tension that manifests itself within the body. Engaging with this mindfulness practice can help reduce stress, improve your well-being and decrease tension, or any pains you may be experiencing within the body.

Time Required? 

Fortunately, this doesn’t take long! You can accomplish this by dedicating 20-45 minutes of your time. It’s beneficial to do this for three to six days a week, for four weeks. Research shows that people who practice the body scan for longer stints of time reap benefits for longer from this practice.

How It’s Done

You will hear this read to you in the audio version of this blog, but try to listen with intentionality and allow your mind to clear and focus on the present moment.

  1. Start by bringing your attention to your environment. Slowly look around and notice that you are safe within this moment.
  2. Bring your attention to your body.
  3. If it’s comfortable for you, feel free to close your eyes, or you can maintain a soft gaze with your eyes partially closed but not focusing in on anything in particular.
  4. Notice your body seated wherever you are placed. Feel the support of the chain on the floor beneath you.
  5. Take a few, deep, long breaths – as many as comfortable for you.
  6. Take in several deeper breaths as you bring in more oxygen to enliven the body. As you exhale, look for a sense of enhanced relaxation within the body.
  7. Notice your feet on the floor and the sensation of them touching the floor. Pay attention to things like weight, pressure, vibration, and heat.
  8. Notice your legs against the chair – the pressure, pulsing, heaviness, and lightness.
  9. Notice your back against the chair supporting you. If you are not able to notice sensations in all areas of the body, that is okay. It’s normal to be more connected to certain parts of our bodies at different times of the day.
  10. Bring your attention and focus to your stomach area. How can you allow your stomach to soften if it is tense or tight?
  11. Notice your hands. Are they tense or tight? Allow them to soften and release.
  12. Notice your arms and the sensations you are feeling. Do your best to allow your shoulders to be soft.
  13. Notice your neck and throat. See if you can invite in a sense of relaxation.
  14. Soften your jaw and allow your facial muscle to follow suit as well.
  15. Notice your whole body present, take in one more breath.
  16. Give it your best effort to be aware of your body. Take a breath, slowly open your eyes, without focusing on anything in particular.

Why Does It Work? 

Sometimes, our body serves as a source of pain and negative emotions, whether they are caused by injury, disease, or difficult life experiences. This body scan gives you the rare opportunity to experience your body as it is, including but not limited to any negative feelings that come up, with the effort to avoid changing them or judging them. Likely, you will notice and release a source of tension you weren’t aware of before – such as a clenched jaw or poor posture. You will likely feel some relief from simply noticing the pain you are experiencing without trying to force yourself to change it. Additionally, it will increase general attunement to your physical and emotional needs and sensations, which will allow you to better take care of yourself, as well as make healthier decisions about eating, sleeping, and exercising.


Winston, D. and Hickman, S. (n.d.). Greater Good Science Center: Science Based Practices of a Meaningful Life. Retrieved from:

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