A 12-Minute Body Scan Meditation for Self-Compassion and Presence

This week, leads us through a body scan meditation designed to help you experience greater self-compassion, self-acceptance, and presence.

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Picture yourself settling into a soft, welcoming space where you can let go and just be. As you find a comfortable position and close your eyes, I’ll guide you to gently shift your focus inward, inviting you to embark on a journey of self-discovery and kindness.

Think of your breath as a gentle breeze, soothing and calming, helping to release the tightness and stress you carry. As I lead you through this practice, you’ll move your attention slowly from your toes to the top of your head, much like a warm light gradually illuminating every part of you. You’ll be encouraged to simply notice what you feel, without judgment, accepting yourself as you are in this moment.

This meditation is a chance to reconnect with yourself, to nurture a sense of presence and compassion. It’s like giving yourself a gift of time and care, creating a sanctuary of peace within. As you immerse yourself in this practice, allow it to foster a deeper connection with your body and mind.

A Guided Meditation for Self-Compassion and Presence

  1. To begin, settle the body into as comfortable a position as possible for this meditation. Sitting or lying down is fine.  
  2. When you’re ready, allow your eyes to close if that feels okay for you, or just soften your gaze if you prefer
  3. Begin to draw the focus of your attention into the body. Take a moment to feel the breath moving in the body. Take three deep, slow, full breaths as a way of settling a little bit more fully into the practice of breathing in, really filling the lungs with air on the inhale. 
  4. As you breathe out, see if you can allow the body to let go of any tension or tightness. Take two more breaths in the same way. And with each exhale, continue that softening—relaxing the jaw, scalp, shoulders, belly, and hands. At the end of the next exhale, let go of any control of the breathing, letting the body breathe naturally now.  
  5. Now, gather attention and move it all the way down the body into the feet. Notice any and all sensations in the feet when attention arrives here—in the toes, the soles of the feet, the heels, the top of the feet. Rest attention here in the feet for a few moments, taking it all in. And if you notice any pain or emotional discomfort, just bring a kind and loving attention to that part of the body.
  6. If there are no sensations, it’s not a problem. Simply notice that blankness. Or if they’re very subtle, then simply notice that. We’re not trying to make sensations happen, but rather are allowing our experience to be as it is. 
  7. Now, shift attention to the ankles and the lower legs. Dwell here for a few moments, feeling into the calf muscle, shin, the sides of the legs, and then move attention into the knees. Explore any sensations here with a kindly curiosity. If there’s any sense of tension, it might be possible to soften by bringing a soothing attention into any sense of tightness or discomfort. 
  8. Now, shift the attention into the thighs. What do you notice here? Maybe sensations of contact with clothes, sensations of heaviness or lightness, pulsing or pressure. These sensations may be changing, or perhaps some staying the same. 
  9. If you ever feel overwhelmed by feeling any particular area of the body, you can always bypass that part of the body. You can return to it when you’re ready, or simply feel the breath for a while. 
  10. Next, bring your focus into the hips, pelvis, and lower back. Right hip, left hip, back of the hips against the surface beneath. Keep bringing a gentle and kind attention, noticing any pain or any emotion if that’s present. 
  11. Notice the middle of the back, the upper back, and the shoulder blades, holding the whole back in awareness.  
  12. If difficult feelings arise, or a strong dislike of any particular part of the body, you can try mentally repeating some phrases to yourself. For example, “May I love and accept my body just as it is. May I bring kindness and compassion to this body. May I be peaceful.”
  13. Now, shift awareness to the front of the body and into the belly. Perhaps you’re feeling the gentle rhythm of the breathing, moving attention up into the chest and the whole front of the body. Perhaps you can feel the beating of the heart, the breathing of the lungs as they keep supporting you, moment by moment. 
  14. When you’re ready, move attention to the shoulders, arms and hands, and up into the neck and head, holding them all in an appreciative awareness. 
  15. Now, imagine your awareness flowing down from the head and filling the whole body, your whole body flooded with the light of your awareness. Offer a sense of compassion for your entire body with all its scars, imperfections, discomforts, or illnesses. See if you can appreciate this body, loving it as it is right now, resting here in an accepting and compassionate awareness. See what it might feel like to befriend the body, resting within it, and resting at home in this moment.