Gratitude for Your Body
Gratitude for Your Body. The body scan is a powerful technique, which helps to re-establish contact with the body, effective for developing concentration.
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Loving-Kindness Body Scan Meditation
The body scan is a powerful technique,
which helps us to re-establish contact with the body,
and it is effective for developing both concentration and flexibility of attention.
The intention of the Loving-Kindness Body Scan is to help us be more loving and kind to our bodies.
This includes sickness, physical aches and pains, cancer, arthritis, back pain,
knee pain, old age, all the physical phenomena we experience.
Using the Loving-Kindness Body Scan, we meet each part of our bodies with great respect and gentleness as best we can.
Loving-kindness practice for your body is like taking an internal shower;
it helps to remove some of the inner blockages to the body,
and helps both the mind and body feel more at ease.
Meeting each body part with loving-kindness is a way to reconnect, and make friends, with your body.
To begin this Loving-Kindness Body Scan practice, please prepare yourself
for meditation by turning off your cell phone, and any other device which may disturb your meditation.
Find a space where you can feel safe, and can relax.
A good position to take while doing the Loving-Kindness Body Scan is to lie down.
You might want to roll a towel up, and place it under your knees;
let your head rest on a pillow for support.
You want to be comfortable,
but not so comfortable that you fall asleep.
If you find you are having difficulty staying awake,
it is often helpful to keep your eyes open;
it is also fine to do this meditation sitting in a chair, if you prefer.
It is common to find that your mind is wondering when you are doing the Loving-Kindness Body Scan.
Just notice this:
when it happens, observe where your attention has gone,
and then gently bring it back to the region you are focusing on.
As you move through your body, if you notice pain,
note precisely what the qualities of sensation are;
then treat the sensation with as much kindness as you can,
as you keep going with the meditation.
This practice teaches us how to respond to unpleasant sensations by acknowledging them,
and moving on without getting stuck,
or making up a story about them.
In certain parts of the body,
it is common not to feel any sensation at all;
simply allow your attention to remain in those areas for a few moments,
relax, be at ease, and then move on.
Let's begin the meditation practice.
If you like, let your eyes close;
begin by settling into your body,
and gently noticing the general sense of the position of your body,
and the flowing sensations just as they are, right now.
You can trust that you already have all you need to be present and mindful as you do this Loving-Kindness Body Scan.
Now take three deep breaths.
Bring you attention to the feeling of your body breathing.
As your body is breathing in,
feel the expansion of your chest or abdomen;
you may want to put one of your hands over your abdomen.
Bring your attention to your hand,
and feel it move, as the breath flows in and out.
Then rest in the natural flow of your breath;
no need to control the breath in any way.
Allowing yourself to relax, letting your focus be on the direct, changing sensations; experiencing your body, not getting lost in any judgement about your body.
You're not thinking about the body, but rather connecting directly with sensations, by feeling the body from within.
Take a moment to feel your body, as a whole, from your head to your toes,
noticing the places that are in contact with the floor, the bed, or the chair.
Now transfer your attention to the top of your head, and let everything else go.
Put your full awareness on the top of the head, and without looking for anything in particular, feel any sensation there: pressure, tingling, cold, warmth, or anything else you're aware of.
Notice any feeling associated with your experience;
is it pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral?
Once you acknowledge the feelings that arise in you, turn your mind toward thoughts of loving-kindness.
Repeat a phrase, such as, may the top of my head be at ease.
If you are experiencing any pain, you could say, may my head be free of pain, free of any tightness, or pressure; may my head be relaxed, and at ease.
Visualize your head while you repeat one of the phrases, or just rest with the feeling of kindness toward your head.
Now, shifting attention from your head, slowly move your attention to your eyes;
noticing sensations, movement, being aware of any color, or light.
Do your eyes feel tired or heavy?
If you have eye problems, can you, in this moment, meet that difficulty with kindness?
Perhaps feeling a sense of gratitude for your eyes, even for your eye glasses, for allowing you to see the world, and move around easily
Sending loving-kindness phrases, may I appreciate my eyes, may my eyes be healthy and well, may I accept my eyes in whatever condition they are, in this moment, may I see my life with clarity and balance.
Now, shifting your awareness to your ears, feeling appreciation for being able to hear. Saying, may my hearing be clear, and crisp.
For those wearing hearing aids, may I have gratitude for the technology
that has created the device
that allows me to hear.
Now, shifting kind attention to your nose;
feeling the air coming in and out of the tip of your nose,
being grateful that you are able to breathe.
Perhaps feel air in the back of your throat,
and rest in gratitude.
Bring your attention to your lips, jaw, mouth, and tongue;
appreciate how they all work together, in talking, chewing, smiling.
Noticing if you feel any tightness, or holding, in your jaw, relaxing,
and loosening the tightness as best you can.
What is the position of your tongue, at this moment?
Allowing any tightness in your tongue, to melt away;
feeling your whole face relaxing, sending loving-kindness to yourself.
May my lips, jaw, mouth, and tongue be relaxed and healthy.
Slowly move from your head down to your neck,
noticing any sensation in your neck.
Sending loving-kindness phrases,
may I meet any stiffness in my neck with kind attention; may my neck move with ease.
Now, bring your attention to your shoulders;
noticing the top of your shoulders,
is there any holding, meeting any sensation you feel with kindness.
Take a nice, deep breath, and as you exhale,
letting your shoulders come down, and release, as best you can.
May my shoulders be relaxed, and at ease.
Now, moving from your shoulders, slowly move down your arms,
feeling any sensation and aliveness there.
Bringing your awareness to your hands,
what position are they in, at this moment?
Feel the point of contact, as they rest.
Noticing any sensation, any holding, or tightness.
Feel any vibrating, or pulsating.
Notice any sensations you have in your arms or hands,
noticing any coolness, or warmth, in your hands and fingers.
Sending loving-kindness phrases, may my arms and hands move with ease.
Feeling, perhaps, a sense of gratitude for how your arms,
hands, and fingers all work together,
allowing you to keep your balance, and lift things.
Letting your arms and hands go, and slowly moving down the torso.
Having appreciation for all your internal organs;
to name a few: your heart, lungs, stomach, and intestine.
Bringing kind awareness and gratitude for all their many functions,
having patience for the parts that at times may give you difficulty.
May my heart be strong,
may my breathing be peaceful,
may my stomach be at ease.
During times of unpleasant sensations,
may I remember to send myself kindness,
may I send any fear or worry that I may have, kindness,
and when all is working, may I be grateful.
Now, shifting your attention from the front of your body
to your back, slowly moving from the top of your shoulders,
down your spine, to the lower back;
noticing any sensations in your lower back,
meeting the sensations with kind awareness.
Now, moving your attention to the left side of your back;
notice any pain, or tightness.
See if you can bring kindness to the parts that are uncomfortable,
and try to soften into any pain or discomfort that you might be feeling.
Now, do the same on the right side of your back;
start at the top of your shoulders,
and slowly work your way down to your lower back.
Again, see what you notice.
Do you have a story about your back pain?
Are you holding yourself in a certain way?
Meeting all sensations with kindness, letting the story go,
and focusing on the direct sensations, try as best you can,
with great kindness and patience, allowing, and making space for whatever is happening with your back.
Imagine all the muscles, relaxing, and any holding melting away
as you put your attention on your back with kind awareness.
Direct the following phrases, and receive them.
May I bring kind attention to my back.
May my back pain be released.
May the holding in my back soften, and open.
Now, letting your back go, shifting attention, slowly moving through the hips, pelvis, and buttocks area;
noticing any sensation of solidness at the point of contact with the chair, floor, or bed.
May my hips, pelvis, and buttocks be healthy and relaxed.
Opening to any sensation arising in your thighs, knees, or ankles.
Feeling the muscles, the skin, the bones;
bringing your kind awareness, and having gratitude for your legs.
May my legs be healthy, and well;
showing kindness toward your legs even if you are having difficulty with them.
Now, moving your attention to the tops of the feet, and the soles of the feet;
noticing the sensations.
May my feet be healthy and well, and carry me with ease.
Noticing any tightness, pain, or discomfort, in any of your joints or body parts;
feeling the sensation, and offering kindness to your body,
and allowing yourself to receive your kind attention.
As best you can, soften, and allow, any tightness to release.
It may help to imagine your breath travelling down through the body,
practicing gently, sending loving-kindness to your painful area,
and allowing the body to release.
May this area of my body be at ease;
may the pain be released;
may this part of my body be healed.
Now, you can simply let your whole body rest,
noticing if you are holding on in any particular place in the body.
If you can, feel the breath moving through the body.
Bring your kind attention to that area of holding,
not judging it, or trying to fix it, just wishing it well, allowing it to be.
As best you can, meeting the holding or gripping,
with a heart full of compassion for whatever your body may be experiencing at this time,
try as best you can to bring kindness to any body part that might not be well or is hurting right now.
Bring kindness to yourself, and your whole body, as you repeat these phrases.
May I be free of pain.
May I be free of pain.
May I be free of fear.
May I be free of fear.
May I appreciate my body in this moment.
May I appreciate my body in this moment.
Practicing with kind-attention on the bod can allow you to relax in such a way that you can begin to drop into a space deeper than your pain, or discomfort; deeper than your personality, or your story.
Staying present, from moment to moment, aware,
resting in the very nature of your being, your wholeness.
You can include your entire body in a vast awareness, permeated,
and saturated, with compassion and kindness.
End your meditation by opening your eyes,
and shifting your focus back to your surroundings.