Body Scan


The body scan is one of the best-known meditation exercises in mindfulness. Have you never done mindfulness before? This is an ideal exercise to start with.

What is a body scan?

The body scan is a mindfulness exercise. The body scan meditation takes you out of your head and puts you more in touch with your body. What are you feeling and experiencing in this moment? The exercise makes you aware of the here and now again.


Many people are often in their heads. Maybe you recognize this. You think about the past or about things that may happen in the future. This can be helpful. For example, when you prepare a presentation for work and you try to predict the questions that may be asked afterwards. It becomes annoying when you start to overthink and you can’t let it go even after work. This can result in worrying, which sometimes also lead to sadness or anxiety.


By practicing mindfulness, you become more aware of the present moment. Life takes place in the here and now. It is very nice to be there with your attention. Mindfulness teaches you to shift your attention to this moment. Out of your mind and into your body.


Anyone can learn mindfulness. The body scan mindfulness exercise is a great first assignment for this.


How does the body scan work?

You can perform the body scan lying on your couch, your bed or on a yoga mat. Some people like to cover themselves with a blanket so they don’t get cold during the body scan meditation. That’s all you need.


  1. Lie down comfortably
    Make sure you are lying comfortably. Place your arms along your body and lie down your legs. Let your feet and hands relax.
  2. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing
    You don’t have to adjust or force anything. Just notice your breathing without judgment.
  3. Now first notice where you feel your breath in your body
    Feel your chest and abdomen rise on inhalation and feel how the air leaves your body through your nose or mouth.
  4. Do you notice your thoughts wandering away from your breathing?
    It is quite normal when this happens. Don’t condemn yourself. Compliment yourself for noticing You may quietly bring your attention back to the rhythm of your breathing.
  5. Bring your attention to your body
    Feel how you are lying here now; how your body makes contact with the surface you are lying on.
  6. Start the body scan
    Explore all your body parts with your attention. You start at your toes. How do they feel? Do you have cold toes or are they nice and warm? Do you feel the socks you have on or do you have bare feet? You don’t have to adjust anything, just observe.
  7. Slowly proceed to the next body part
    Go up with your awareness step by step. Through your foot to your calf, knee and thighs. Through the groin to the lower abdomen, lower back and chest. You go past all parts of your body to the tip of your crown. Don’t forget the muscles in your face. Take the time to feel if there is tension somewhere. When you notice tension, try to stay with the tension for a moment with your attention. Without judgment. You don’t have to do anything. Give it space with your attention.
  8. Notice how this body scan has made you feel
    Do you feel different now, than you did before the exercise? What do you notice? There is no right or wrong. It’s all about your own experience.
  9. Slowy start moving your body again
    Before you stand up and complete the exercise, first move your toes and fingers. Then your hands and feet, legs and arms.
  10. Slowly sit up straight
    Complete the exercise.


Guided body scan video

The body scan mindfulness exercise in text is a lot to memorize and reading during the exercise is not possible. It may be nice to listen to a guided body scan several times.

An example of a body scan of OpenUp.


More Information

Want to see if Mindfulness is right for you? OpenUp offers very approachable and free mindfulness sessions.

publish-icon Published - 29 Jan 2024
Lotte has experience with treatments such as ACT, CBT and mindfulness. She uses mindfulness to be more in the here and now. To help clients connect with themselves, she uses the body scan.
Psychologist Lotte Hendriks

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