Body Focus Meditation

For this exercise, you will need at least ten minutes. Find a place where it will be quiet. Sit or lie down and close your eyes. You want to stay awake. It is easy to relax to the point of falling asleep but, if you want results, find ways to stay awake. If you fall asleep while lying down, try sitting in a chair. If you fall asleep while sitting in a chair, try standing. If you want to fall asleep, just relax and let it happen.

If thoughts take you away from your awareness on the body, this is normal. As soon as you realize your awareness has been hijacked, just let go and move your attention back to your body. If whatever pulled you away is strong, let your attention stay on it until it lessens, and then return your awareness back to your body.

Give your attention to your breath, and feel the in-breath and out-breath from beginning to end. Do this for several breaths. Next, give your awareness to the expanding and contracting of your belly, ribs, and chest when you breathe in and out. Feel the belly, ribs, and chest expanding on the in-breath and contracting or shrinking on the out-breath. Once you can truly feel the expanding and contracting sensations, transfer this awareness to other parts of the body.

Start with your shoulders, and feel both of them expanding on the in-breath and contracting on the out-breath. Move down to your upper arms and feel them expanding as you inhale and contracting or shrinking as you exhale. Move into your lower arms and feel them expand and contract with the breath. Next, move into your hands and feel them expand and grow larger on the in-breath and contract and shrink on the out-breath. Move on to your thumbs and fingers, and do them individually or all at once depending on what feels good.

After the fingers, go back to feeling the breath in the belly, ribs, and chest. If you only feel it in the chest, that is fine, too. Next move up into the neck and then the head. Once done with the head, go back to the belly, ribs, and chest, and feel them expanding as you inhale and contracting as you exhale. Now go down into your hips, upper legs, lower legs, feet, and toes.

You can do each part of the body for one in-breath and one out-breath or for many breaths on each part. If a certain area feels good or if it is tight and painful, try giving those parts more time. There is no right or wrong way to do it.

Now allow your whole body to feel the expansions and contractions with the breath, starting at the toes and finishing with the head. Expand your whole body on the in-breath and contract or shrink your entire body on the out-breath. If you can only do part of the body with each inhale and exhale, that is fine. Stop where you end and with the next in-breath move quickly through where you have already been and then continue up through the rest of the body. You could also start with your head and move down to your toes. If this feels good, try doing it more than once.

The reason for doing this is to become aware of your body. If you can develop body awareness, the mind can be in the present moment. This allows you to relax and let your stress and the difficulties of the day go.

There are different ways to practice body awareness. If you want to go into more depth, break your body down into more parts. Feel the expansion on the in-breath and contraction on the out-breath. Start with one foot beginning with your big toe. Feel each toe expand and contract individually and finish with the little toe. Break down the different parts of your foot. After your foot, try feeling your ankle, lower leg, knee, upper leg, hip, and pelvis. Next go to your other leg. Keep this up through all of your body. You could also start with your head and move down the body in this detailed way.

If it is hard to visualize the body becoming bigger on the in-breath and smaller on the out-breath, try this option. Start by giving your attention to each body part. Feel each part without making them expand and contract. Start with your head. Feel the top of the head, forehead, eyes, nose, cheeks, ears, sides of the head, back of the head, mouth, and chin. Continue working your way down to your toes. You could also start with your toes and move up to your head. The reason for doing this is to bring your concentration to your body in any way that works for you. If you can feel the different parts of your body, you are doing it right.

After you become skilled, body awareness can be done anywhere with your eyes open. It can be done while walking from place to place, on a break at work, or while waiting in a line. If you only have a minute, you can visualize the whole body expanding on the in-breath and becoming smaller on the out-breath. Another option is to pay attention to one small part of the body, such as a hand. This keeps it quick but is still helpful. Use body awareness to put yourself back into relaxation mode when you become stressed.