Body scan is a popular practice in itself and as a preliminary for meditation.
There is quite a lot of description below and it might be a bit much until you have been led in a body scan a few times, preferable by two or more different people.
How is my attending mind?
I start by bringing my attention to the fact that there is attention to bring it too, Then I ask myself ‘how is my attention right now?’. If it was a sky or a sea how would it look?. Is it distracted by ideas and planning, or restlessness or anxiety, or is it just ok, able to just attend to the object of attention. So whats the weather like in your mind and how does that influence your attention right now.
Body and Mind in resonance?
In body scan I have an agenda. I aim to gently bring my mind into a kind of aware resonance withour the sensations and feelings in my body. If you think about it , we know we are in a body because of the sensations the eyes, ear , nose , tongue, and body ; and the feelings, emotions , thoughts and spacial awareness from the mind. Most of the time we are not very aware of all this input into the mind as our minds are focused on one thing or another. or just distracted, sleepy , or anxious as discussed above. I’m aiming to have my body and mind to be like milk mixed with water.
A path from the starting mind to body-mind mind.
Also in body scan I have a bit of a ritual, a method for proceeding. After some time you will probably develop your own approaches , stepping into your meditation through your body scanning practice.
Awareness of space and the body in it.
OK, I start by considering my awareness of the space around me and it seems my imagination is involved in feeling that space. I imagine my mind is big, and within that space there is the ground , my body, space around me, and heavens above me. I reflect I have the faculty to perceive these. Although that has always been our experience, in looking at it more directly , that in itself can feel remarkable.
Breath in the belly
Then I bring my attention onto my breath and bring it to be with the breath down in my belly. I let my attention gather around there following about fifteen breaths.
Then as I breath in, I bring my attention down through my body to the ground and on the out breaths I let whatever there is sort of ‘offered’ for the mind to perceive, be perceived and if possible appreciated. Some of what is perceived is likely to be unpleasant or possibly strange. When was the last time you gave the middle toe on your right foot full attention?. Maybe you were two years old?
The ground and the past.
When my attention in the ground, I get feelings of the past of that ground, its history of people trodding it, being witnessed. Its quite grounding. Continuing with directing my attention on the ‘in breath’, I let my attention come into a foot and explore, letting the sensations and resulting feelings etc be perceived on the ‘out breath’. Its quite relaxing when you get into it.
Scanning my legs
I work up through the leg, to ankle , knee, thigh and hip , just touching with attention on the in breath and just perceiving gently on the out breath. A rhythm develops with the perceptions arising from the attention and less distraction as the body scan proceeds. I then work up through the other leg. And then with attention with the ground and both legs , the perception of my legs takes on a coherence which includes the ground and the lower part of my body feels a bit like a mountain.
Attention softening as it explores the back.
Still attending with the ‘in-breath’, and perceiving with ‘out breath’ , I patiently proceed with exploring my pelvis and lower back and then the back proper , rib cage , spine , shoulder blades, and shoulders. As my attention explores with the ‘in breath’, on the ‘out breath’ I just let the perceptions in. My attention quietens and softens towards being gentle , witnessing with appreciation and direct experience and still energetic.
Attention in arms
Still attending with the in-breath , I let attention flow down an arm, being with perceptions on the out-breath as attention proceeds into the wrist and hand patiently perceiving. I then let attention explore up the other arm proceeding in harmony with the perceptions up to the shoulder. Then for fun, I let my attention cycle a few times. around my shoulders arms and hand and back up the other arm. This gently concentrates the attention.
Arms and Belly
Proceeding I bring attention into the hands and then gently explore the space between hands and belly. With attention back in the belly, I let it explore up through my heart, chest , throat, upper spine, to the base of the skull. By now you might find while your attention is very much with the breath, and attention and perception more synchronized.
Exploring and being with the head
As attention with the breath comes up the spine into the skull the perceptions become more complex but we can proceed as before, gentle attending and gently perceiving. We explore the space behind skull, space in skull, crown of head, forehead, temples, brow, eyes, eye sockets, nasal passages, nose, sinuses, cheeks, ears, upper jaw, pallet,lower jaw , teeth, tongue. Having explored the head we then open up our attention to the whole of the body and let the attention , breath and perceptions reside together.
The calmed mind and clear attention and perceptions.
The result can be quite relaxing with a sense of resonance and real presence. How is your attention now compared with the beginning. How is the breath and perceptions too. If you are so minded , you might reflect that the attention and perception of breath and body are all of the mind.
The mind offering the body its attention and the body offering the mind its perceptions as these become one.