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Stress Reduction: Body Scan Meditation

I recommend doing this exercise at the end of the day and dedicating 20-30 minutes to complete it. If you perform this exercise in a lying down position with your legs raised on a chair or ottoman you will reduce mental stress as well as decompress physically from the day. This simple lying down chair position is a favorite of chiropractors for decompressing your spine, hips, and legs from the natural gravitational pressure of the day. This position is a perfect way to decompress while completing the body scan and reducing daily stress. You can also complete a shortened version of the body scan anytime throughout the day to reduce moments of stress. See the end of this post for tips to shorten the practice. See our Christ Centered version of this exercise here.



  1. Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position. Preferably lying down with legs raised (see the photo above). You can also lay down in a prone position or perform the exercise while seated. Consider closing your eyes to enter deeper into the meditation.

  2. Begin by take some deep, slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on allowing your breaths to slowly enter your abdomen. Imagine a balloon in your abdomen inflating and then deflating. If you feel your shoulders and chest rising re-focus on breathing deep into your abdomen. Slowly in and out.

  3. Bring attention to your feet. Start with your toes and move to each part of your feet. Consciously relax each part of your foot. Pay attention to any tension or pain. If you feel tension or pain acknowledge it and imagine this pain and tension washing away from your feet. Continue deep breathing through this process.

  4. When you are ready move up your body to your ankles, calves, shins, knees, thighs, hips, groin, abdomen, chest, fingers, hands, wrists, arms, elbows, shoulders, neck, back of your head, mouth, cheeks, nose, eyes, and forehead. Take time in each place of your body focusing on relaxing each and every muscle. Continue to notice tension and pain as you come across it. Each time imagine the tension and pain washing away from each area as you discover it.

  5. Once you have completed a full body scan each part of your body should be relaxed. Continue in your relaxed position and focus on a peaceful image (such as a beach or quiet meadow). Bring to mind any struggles you are feeling. Acknowledge the struggle and your inability to address it at this moment. Allow your stress to wash out of you.   Shortened Body scan If you begin feeling stress and tension throughout the day take a moment wherever you are and take a few deep breaths into your abdomen. Close your eyes (if possible) and focus on any part of your body that is feeling pain or tension. Try to relax the muscles in the location of the pain and tension while imaging the pain washing away. Take a few more deep breaths and continue with your day.

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