sitting meditationHere is one of our scripts for a guided body scan with the goal of muscle relaxation and stress relief. Please feel free to use it (proper attribution is always appreciated) or record your own voice reading it to have a personal guided relaxation session.

Progressive Relaxation Body Scan

Shift into a comfortable position- one that allows your back to be straight and supports all of your limbs. Move around until you settle into the right spot, perhaps finding something to lean against to support your back. Feel free to lie down if that is most comfortable, or if your objective is to prepare for sleep. If you would like to set an intention, go ahead and do so now. You are free to adjust your position at any time during the body scan to become more comfortable and relaxed.

Become present and aware of your body and your surroundings. Let your eyes close gently if they are not already closed. Take in a deep breath through your nose, noticing how your chest and belly feel as they fill up. Let your breath out through your nose, and at the bottom of your exhale, gently push just a little more air out. Welcome your breath back in through your nose, and again, out through your nose. Let your breath become smooth, even, and equally proportioned. Take a few more breaths this way. Allow your pattern of breathing to arrive at its natural pattern, in and out. Any way this occurs is fine.

Create with your mind a beautiful, bright ball of light floating in the air above your head. See it in your mind or just sense that it is there. Notice what color it is. Feel a gentle warmth emanating from it and know that the light has special properties of comfort, healing, relaxation, and cleansing. Allow this ball of light to slowly move downward through your body and permeate each part of your body, acting as a catalyst for releasing tension and stress.

As the light moves down through the crown of your head, allow your scalp to relax. As it continues to descend, allow the muscles in your forehead, eyes, cheeks, jaw, and neck relax and become still. Pay attention to the muscles around your mouth and your throat as well. Let all tension melt away as the ball of light shines its light into each body part.

Allow the light to sink downward, radiating warm, healing light into your shoulders. Spend a moment here. Let your shoulders be heavy and loose before you move on. Watch the light move through your left bicep, elbow, forearm, hand, and each individual finger on your left hand. Allow the light to linger in any areas of soreness, tension, or strain. Notice how soft and relaxed all of your muscles are becoming. Now bring the ball back up to your right shoulder, and allow the ball to follow its same progression down through your right arm, hand, and fingers.

Imagine the light continuing to drift slowly down, through your chest and back. Again, if any tension remains, keep the ball of light hovering over that area until it loosens. Allow the light to shine into your stomach, liver, and all your internal organs. Notice the light sinking into your hips, lower digestive tract, and pelvic bowl until they are completely saturated with beautiful, bright healing light, and there is no longer any tension or residual stress.

Watch the light to continue down through your gluteal muscles. Then direct it to your left lower hip and thigh. Don’t hurry this. Take your time and allow the light to move as slowly as it must to release tension from every muscle and tendon. Allow the light to sink down through your left calf, ankle, foot, and each individual toe, warming, softening, and relaxing them from the inside, all the way out. Now bring the ball of light back up to your right lower hip and thigh, and allow it to follow it’s trajectory down through your right knee, calf, foot and toes.

If any tension returns, take a slow breath in through your nose, imagining your ball of beautiful healing light coming in with your breath and smoothing and soothing any stress you are still holding. Now release that tension from your body with your breath as it passes back out through your nose. Notice your body feeling warm, relaxed, and light. You are now ready to {meditate, sleep, re-engage with your day, etc}.

Come back to an awareness of your breath, and of the feeling of your eyelids if they become lighter, and slowly blink them open. Stretch and move your body around. Any time you feel tension returning, you can take a few deep breaths and mentally pass your healing light through your body to return to this relaxed state.

How did you respond to the body scan? Were you able to detect tension lingering in your muscles? Were you able to release it and return to a state of calm awareness? We’d love to hear from you.

Photo- Meredith Carlson Photography