Ask Andy - Community Q&A

January 28, 2014

Ask Andy - Community Q&A

Headspacer Question:

I sometimes feel that I don't have enough time to complete a full body scan during my daily meditation.  I then feel a little rushed and focus more on getting to my toes!  Do you have any helpful tips?

Andy's Answer:

I've deliberately recorded the body scan at a swift pace.  Needless to say, the scan can be (and indeed is in many traditions) done as an entire meditation in itself, often lasting up to an hour. So it is possible to do it both very quickly or very slowly.

The way we do it at Headspace encourages a more general approach to scanning the body.  It is simply part of the process of bringing the mind in to the body, rather than using the body as the primary object of meditation.  So if you are following the timing I've recorded, then all you need to do is adapt your scan and make it as detailed as you can in the time I've provided.

If given too long, many people find themselves getting easily distract for thinking about the aches or pains or pleasurable feelings in the body, quickly losing focus.  But if we know we only have a certain amount of time (approx 30 seconds each day), then there is no time for the mind to wander off.  So it is very targeted, encouraging the mind to follow a defined route.  The most important thing to remember is that the technique here is no the body scan.  The body scan is a way of preparing for the technique.  It doesn't require too much analysis... it is just touching base with the body and feeling more grounded.  It is enough to scan down with 5 seconds for the head, 5 seconds for the chest, 5 for the stomach, the pelvis, the mid leg and on to the feet.  In fact, 5 seconds for each of these is quite generous.  That is the level of awareness we need at that stage in the technique.  Any more detail than that and it becomes a different technique altogether.

The truth is, very often we don't realise how the different parts are feeling.  We may have a general idea, but it is fuzzy.  That's why we might not realise we have a sore neck until we get home from work, or even a painful leg until someone points out we have a funny walk!

I guess it's a bit like looking for a new place to live.  The first time you just scan the place, getting an overall impression.  But then you go back for a second visit and really take the time to be curious, to notice the details.  The body scan is like the second visit to the house.  I suspect that the more often yo do it, the more you will begin to notice, but  this happens quite naturally and there is no need for any special effort.


You can read more about the benefits of meditation here.


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