Here’s How To Do Full Body Scan Meditation Like Jon Kabat Zinn

Published by Paul Martin Harrison on

body scan meditation
  • The full body scan meditation is a powerful and unique meditation technique that you can use to increase your mind body connection.
  • Both Zen monks and professional athletes use body scan meditation to make themselves more conscious of their bodies.
  • In this guide to body scan meditation I’ll show you everything you need to know, including the technique of body scan, the benefits of it, and the best guided meditation video.


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Introduction to Body Scan Meditation (Jon Kabat Zinn Method)

If you’ve looked at our guide to the more than 700 different meditation techniques, you might have noticed that body scan meditation is quite unique.

In most other meditation techniques we keep our focus on one thing. For instance, when you are practicing beginners breathing meditations you will focus on your breathing and your focus will stay locked on that one thing. Same with crystal meditations. You keep your focus on just one thing: the crystal. Body scan meditations are different.

When you do a body scan meditation you focus on your body, but you gradually pass your focus around your body. One minute you’re focusing on your head, the next your foot.

So why would body scan meditations be different?

When you do a body scan meditation you are bringing your whole being into one. You’re locking your mind on your body, and you’re becoming aware of how all the parts of your body form one being. (We’ll discuss this more when we look at the actual process, below).

So why would you want to do this “Body scan meditation”


A minor rant about the benefits of body scan meditatio


There are lots of different benefits of body scan meditation (which you can read about below). Most doctors go on about how body scan meditations help with pain (there are other meditations for pain that are arguably better though).

Well, let me tell you, body scan meditations are not just for people in pain. Zen monks and other super-hero-type people use body scan meditations for other reasons. (Okay so Zen monks are not super heroes but they are pretty awesome).

For instance, one of the reasons why a monk will use body scan meditation is to heighten their mind body connection. This helps them to live in the moment and also boosts mindfulness. (Take a look at that link if you have never tried mindfulness).

Body scans also make you more appreciative of your own body. They make you aware of how complex and beautiful your body is. And when you’re aware of the beauty and intricacy of your own body you’re more likely to respect it and to make healthy choices.

Then there’s the fact that body scan meditations stop your thoughts. Obviously a lot of people think too much. But when you practice this meditation you’ll silence your mind so you can actually enjoy this moment (you know, this moment right now, this infinite and yet infinitesimal thing called now).

And just like a Zen Walking Meditation, body scan meditations happen to be one of the best ways to increase your consciousness of your own body.

But why do I mention this?

I bring this up because 99% of people are learning the medical side of meditation at the moment. And there is also the spiritual side. And on top of that there’s the “enjoying life” side. Meditation is not only about healing, it’s all about joy, happiness, love, living in the moment. And when you practice body scan meditation you don’t just heal your body, you also boost your happiness and spiritual self too.



How to do full body scan meditation (Jon kabat Zinn style)

When practicing full body scan meditation you pass your focus around your whole body one part at a time.

  1. If you are new to meditation begin by reading our guide to the basics of meditation, as well the risks of meditation.
  2. Before you begin the actual “body scan” you’ll want to make sure you’re relaxed and that your mind is focused. You might find it helpful to practice the breathing meditations we discussed earlier. Alternately simply lie down, close your eyes, and take five minutes to relax, unwind, and prepare your mind.
  3. Once you’ve relaxed, take a moment to check your posture. Good posture is essential to the flow of energy in your body and to the balance and focus of your mind. Make sure you are comfortable and that your spine is in proper alignment.
  4. With your eyes closed, focus on the sensations throughout your entire body. Simply observe the way your body feels. It has a vibration and an energy. Get in contact with that energy. Feel it. Investigate it. Is it soft or hard? Warm or cool? Is the vibration fast or slow? Focus the mind on those sensations.
  5. Now direct your mind to the crown of your head. Notice the sensations there. Meditate on the way the crown of your head feels. Take a moment to connect the mind to that part of your body before continuing.
  6. Now gradually begin to move your focus down your body, through your face. When you get to your eyes, notice if you are crying. If so, you might like to read about why you cry when you meditate.
  7. Continue to pass your consciousness down your neck, your shoulders, your arms, all the way to your fingers. Then proceed back up your arms to your shoulders, and then down to your feet and toes. Meditate on each part of the body before moving on.
  8. Once you’ve reached your toes, reverse the procedure until you are once again focusing on the crown of your head.
  9. Now take five minutes to meditate on the sensations throughout your entire body.
  10. Once you have finished, take a few moments to relax before returning to normal. This allows for a time ot transition between the body scan meditation and your normal state.


Benefits Of Body Scan Meditation

The first thing you’ll notice about body scan meditation is that there’s a lot more going on in your body than you may have realised.

There are a million vibrations taking place throughout your body. There are also varying degrees of tension and strain. Some areas will be more relaxed than others. Some areas may be quite painful. This is truly fantastic information to know. The more you know about your own body the more control you’ll have over it. Just by being aware of the complexity of your body you begin to take control.

You will also notice that different emotions create different kinds of sensations in the body.

For instance, worry is almost always matched with a tightness in the chest. (if you had this symptom, and if you worry quite a bit, take a look at my guide to stopping stress. It’ll do you wonders).

When you are aware of the early physical signs of oncoming emotions, you can begin to take control of those emotions.

When you feel tension in your fist, for example, you will have an early warning sign of approaching anger. You can then take countermeasures to address the situation (which in the case of anger would mean taking a deep breath or perhaps going for a walk).
Those same physical sensations are also early signs of cravings.

If you struggle with any kind of addiction you will notice that cravings begin with a certain physical sensation. If you smoke you might find that your fingers itch because they want to be holding a cigarette (and if you do smoke, be sure to read my guide to quitting smoking for good).

By being aware of your craving in its early stages, you can take preventative measure before it’s too late, you can do something different instead of giving in to your craving and doing the unhealthy thing.

The best way to understand the benefits of body scan meditation is this:

Imagine that your body is an antenna. Your body is always giving and receiving signals. Those signals are valuable. They tell you that in a moment you’ll be craving a smoke or feeling angry, or that you have tension in your body that could indicate an onset of some condition. Listen to those early signals. Then you can do what you need to do in order to prevent the situation from escalating. Prevention is everything. And body scan meditations give you the “flag-up” warning that somethings about to happen, so you can take preventative action.

Oh, plus it stops pain, which you can read about in Toni Bernhard’s article on Psychology Today.


Guided Body Scan Meditation


Free guided meditation from UCLA







best meditation book

Paul Martin Harrison

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book Journey To The Buddha Within You.