Body Scan Meditation Recordings

Body scans are usually done lying down, but can be enjoyed anywhere at any time ~ just let the words flow over you as you rest. They are called body scans because we gently scan our body with mindful awareness, noticing anywhere that needs our care ~ for example if our shoulders are tense, we release the tension there.

Traditionally body scans are enjoyed lying on our back, head in line with our spine (ie.not on a deep pillow). Arms can rest by our sides, slightly away from our body, with palms facing upwards. You may wish to put a pillow under the backs of your knees to release any pressure on your lower back, and of course a blanket ensures that you stay warm. However the most important thing is that you are comfortable, so if you prefer to lie or sit in a different position, please do that!

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This peaceful body scan helps you to settle your thoughts and calm your nervous system.

It includes an invitation to gently open and close your hands with each breath for a while, which for some people provides a peaceful image for their mind to rest upon. I first came across this idea in the book ‘Flowers in the Dark‘ by Sister Dang Nghiem of Plum Village, France.
In this peaceful body scan we use mindful awareness like a gentle light, warming and relaxing us. When we notice painful areas, we become aware of other parts of our body that are well, and ask them to send comfort and strength to those parts that need extra support.
Building a friendly, supportive relationship with our body may be something that we have never really put time or thought into. This relaxing meditation helps you take a few minutes to look back on your day and appreciate all that your body has done for you. Even if it has been feeling painful, tired or lacking in vitality you can still appreciate what it has been able to help you to achieve, and hence release any tension that you may be holding.
This meditation relaxes you from your toes up to your eyes, and can be particularly useful to enjoy in the morning if you have a tendency to wake up feeling anxious. By taking time to settle that anxiety and release any tensions in your body, your can take that calm, happy and centred feeling out with you into your day.

An important part of this meditation is the smiling, as it helps us to build a friendly, kind and compassionate relationship with our body and hence with ourselves.

This meditation is inspired by the wonderful teachings and meditations of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. You can discover more on the Plum Village website.
00:00 – Introduction
03:04 – Story Reading
12:28 – ‘Aware, Smiling’ Body Scan Guided Meditation
36:30 – Questions & Answers

How can our practice support us during a health crisis?
When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 I found solace, wisdom, support and practical guidance in the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh (affectionately known as ‘Thay’, which means ‘Teacher’ in Vietnamese) and the presence of my Sangha (mindfulness practice group). 

My account of those first few moments of diagnosis now forms one of 32 short stories of healing and transformation inspired by Thay in the book, ‘Tears Become Rain’ published by Parallax Press, with all proceeds going to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation.

Here you can find a recording of the Plum Village UK Mindful Morning on 2nd October 2023, in which I read my short story from ‘Tears Become Rain’, and then share one of the key Plum Village meditations that supported my throughout my cancer treatment and recovery. Afterwards I take questions from some Plum Village UK friends who were part of this Zoom meeting.

The morning is kindly facilitated by Miles Dunmore of the Heart of London Sangha and Wake Up Schools. We sit together with the Being Peace Sangha, who are raising funds to establish a Plum Village Practice Centre here in the UK.