Monday, July 7, 2014

Body Scan Meditation Script

Mindfulness meditation is an evidence-based tool that therapists can bring into the individual or group therapy room simply by reading a script.  The following meditation is by Robyn Walser, Ph.D, and can be downloaded as an audio file in Utila's Clinical Tool Library for free.  The following script should take at least 20 minutes to read--the script can also be downloaded as a word document.  At the bottom, I've included a brief rationale for mindfulness meditation, articulated by Jon Kabat-Zinn at a presentation to Google employees.

Body Scan Script
Let's begin with the body scan.  But first, let's take a moment to appreciate that you have taken this time to be aware and in the moment.

And now very gently bring your awareness to your breath in the belly.  As you breathe in, be aware that you are breathing in.  And as you breathe out, be aware that you are breathing out.  This is a moment to moment awareness of your breathing.  Feel your belly expand on an inhalation and contract and on an exhalation.  Just notice this breathing in and breathing out, being mindful of the belly's expansion and contraction one breath at a time.

If you notice that your mind begins to wander, going into the future or the past, or following thoughts, memories or dreams, just gently acknowledge to yourself that your mind has wandered.  Notice where your mind has wandered to, and then gently bring yourself back to the breath.  And again following the breathe in and out, noticing the expansion and contraction of the belly.

Now let us begin to draw our attention away from the breathe and to the body scan.  In doing this practice, please pay attention to what it is that you are experiencing sensationally.  Sensations can be variable, ranging from aches and pains, to itchiness, to deep feelings of relaxation.  From heat to coolness, wet to dryness, heaviness to lightness.  These can all be sensations that you experience as you begin the body scan.  Whatever it is that you are feeling, just simply acknowledge what's there.  Be aware from moment to moment.  There's no need to make it come, or go away.  All this is is a simple noticing of your experience.  If you notice tension as you do the body scan, see if you can release that tension.  However, if you are unable to relax, just allow yourself to settle into the experience of tension, noticing what your muscles feel like when they're tense.  Just being aware of the sensation of tension.  There's no need to either make it come or go.

Now gently bring your awareness to your left foot.  Be aware of the sensations in your sole and your arch, the top of your foot, and your ankle joint, as you focus your attention on your left foot.

And of course, as we're going through the body, if emotions arise as well, just let yourself experience those emotions and acknowledge them too for what they are, an emotion that you're having at this point in time.

And now shift your awareness gently from your foot, to the lower part of your left leg.  Noticing the calf, the shin, and your knee joint, simply be aware of what it is that you experience in that area.  Allow yourself the simple sensations of skin and muscle.  And now allow your awareness to shift to your upper left leg, noticing your thigh, and the back of your upper leg.  Paying attention to the sensations that you feel in this area of your body.

Now gently shifting your attention to your lower right leg, first starting with your foot.  Noticing the arch, and the heal, and the top of the foot, and the ankle joint, just take a moment, to notice these sensations.  And now gently shift your attention to your lower right leg, noticing your calf, and your shin, and your knee joints, paying attention to the sensations that you experience in this area of your body.  Now I'd like you to gently shift your awareness to your upper right leg, noticing the muscles in your thigh, and in your hamstring, pay attention to the sensations that you experience, moment to moment.

And now I'd like you to gently let go of your awareness of your right leg, on the in-breath letting go, and on the out-breath, gently shifting your attention to your hips, buttocks, and groin area.  Noticing the sensations, paying attention and being mindful, allow yourself to be aware of what you experience in this area of your body.

And now gently leave the area of your buttocks, hips, and groin, and focus your attention, and place your awareness on your lower back.  Starting with your tail bone, gently move upward, noticing the muscles of your back, being aware of your spine, and the area between your chest and your buttocks on the lower back.

Follow your spine up to the area between the tops of your shoulders, paying attention as you scan your back.  Notice any sensations that arise, or any tensions you might have, and again if you can let that tension go, do so.  And if not, just be aware of the sensation of tension.

And now I'd like you to gently shift your attention from your back, and on the in-breath, place your attention to your abdomen, your stomach area, and on the out-breath, just let your attention settle there.  And notice any sensations that arise as you focus your attention on your belly.

If you find your mind wandering away from the body part you are focusing on, just again remind yourself to return, acknowledging that your mind can go off to different places, like the future and the past, and then just gently bring your mind back.  And in this moment notice that you are focusing on the area of your body--the belly, the abdomen.

And now I'd like you to, on the in-breath, let go of the abdomen, and on the out-breath, gently focus your attention on the chest.  Being aware of the space between your shoulders, your neck, and your belly, noticing the muscles of your chest area.  Just gently scan across this area, as you become aware of this part of your body, and the sensations that are present there.

Now I'd like you to gently shift your attention to your left arm, starting at the tips of your fingers on your hand, gently begin to scan your hand, being aware of the sensations that you experience, around and in your fingers, on the back of your hand, and your palm.  Notice what you feel as you become aware of this part of your body.

Gently move up to the experience of your wrist, noticing your wrist joint.  And then to the lower part of your left arm.  Paying attention also to your elbow joint, and then shifting your attention to your upper left arm, the area of the biceps and triceps.  Simply notice the sensations that you experience there, as you become aware of your upper left arm.

Now gently on the in-breath, letting go of your upper left arm, and on the out-breath shifting your attention to the tips of your fingers in your right arm, noticing the sensations of your fingers, the back of your hand and your palm, as you become aware of your right hand.  Gently scan upward to your wrist, noticing your wrist, and the lower part of your right arm, simply be aware of the sensations that are present there.  Gently scan to your elbow, and then up to the upper part of your arm, so that you are aware of your biceps and triceps.  Take a moment to notice the sensations that you experience there.

And now I'd like you to leave the area of your right arm, and on the in-breath letting go, and on the out-breath, shifting your attention to the back of your neck.  Noticing what it is that you experience there, being aware of the skin, and the muscles.  And then scan upwards, allowing yourself to feel the sensations of the back of your head.

Begin to scan around to the front of your head, paying attention as you scan the ears, the chin, your lips, your nose, your eyes, and your forehead.  Be aware of the facial structure that your bones create.  Notice your face.

And now gently scan upward from this place to the very top of your head.  Noticing your head and the sensations that you experience right at the top of your scalp.

And now I'd like you to gently leave your awareness of your scalp, and shifting your attention back to your breathing, being aware of the rise and fall of your belly, and the expansion on the in-breath, and contraction on the out-breath, of your abdomen.  Take just a moment or two now and follow your breathing, being aware, paying attention to the in and out of the breath.

And now, allowing yourself to be in this aware state, gently come back to the room.  Again taking the time to appreciate yourself, and allowing yourself to be present to this time and this day.

Attribution
I'd like to thank Robyn Walser, Ph.D., for allowing me to share the recording of this meditation in Utila's Clinical Tool Library.  Please feel free to download the audio.

Rationale
The following  excerpt is from a workshop by Jon Kabat-Zinn at Google in 2007.  You can watch the entirety on YouTube.

"We are saddled with a stone-age mind in a digital-age world.  And that stone-age mind, unless it engages in a kind of self-education, can wind up getting stuck in some realms of serious confusion, suffering, being lost.  And in fact maybe even impeding creativity, imagination, real thoughtfulness, real break-through type leadership sensibilities because we're not running on all cylinders.

If we are not in touch with the multiple dimensions of our own being, then in fact we are trying to get somewhere and get all this doing done, without tuning the apparatus.  It would be like the Philadelphia Philharmonic playing Beethoven without tuning first.  The greatest musicians with the greatest instruments still tune first, to themselves and to each other, before playing.

Meditation is like tuning your instrument before you take it out on the road.  And tuning it in the morning can make a big difference in how the whole day goes."

Additional Learning
A great place to start is with Jon Kabat-Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living.

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