Compassionate body awareness meditation
In daily life, our attention is often so focused on the mind’s activities, that we are hardly aware of our bodies. In this meditation we are bringing warm-hearted compassionate attention to all parts of our body, working gently with each part in turn. This helps us to let go of tension, allowing the body to relax and enhancing our sense of well-being.
As we encounter the sensations in each part of our body, pleasant or unpleasant, we are bringing kindness, appreciation and gratitude. This meditation can be particularly beneficial at bed-time. A brief version for everyday life involves simply pausing in what we are doing and becoming aware of any sensations in the body.
See meditation guide
Prepare by making yourself very comfortable wherever you choose to do this meditation. Many people enjoy lying down but sitting is fine too. You may like to cover yourself with a light blanket. Notice the support from the area where you are lying or sitting…being aware of the points of contact with the bed or chair or sofa … and just allow the weight of the body to sink down into this support.
1. Bring your attention to the in-breath for a few moments… feeling that each breath is looking after you… imagine it bringing you kindness and tenderness and compassion.
2. Starting with the head …gradually move your awareness downwards to different parts of the area in turn…paying attention to each part in detail…e.g. paying attention first to the crown of the head…then the forehead…eyes …ears…nose…cheeks…mouth, chin and jaw…neck etc.
3. Taking your time…for each area notice any feeling or sensation that is present…you may notice whether this feels pleasant or unpleasant or neutral…and then draw in a kind compassionate breath to care for that area…perhaps then sensing it relaxing…
4. From time to time you can choose to offer gratitude to the area of the body you are focussed on …e.g. to your eyes for all that they do for you … allowing yourself to sense how thankful you are.
5. In this way gradually work your way through the whole body…e.g. head, neck, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, lower arms, hands, upper back, lower back etc. …through all the different parts of the body… finishing with the feet and toes… bringing care…compassion…gratitude…kindness…warmth. If for some reason you wish to avoid focussing on a particular area of the body, simply bypass it… and take your attention to another area of the body… or back to your breath… with the aim of keeping the meditation as comfortable as possible.
6. As you end the meditation, take all the time you need to slowly start to move the body…perhaps starting by wiggling the toes and fingers…gently stretching… taking a sense of warm compassionate care for your body into your day… (or into your sleep if doing as a bed-time practice).
As with any meditation, it is likely that the mind will become distracted at times…there is nothing wrong when this happens…it is a normal part of the meditation… when you notice just gently and kindly bring your awareness back to the area of the body you had reached.