Once you have mastered the fundamentals of basic meditation it is time to take your practice to the next level. This time we are going to perform body scanning. This meditation will help you to familiarize yourself with how your body “feels” on a day to day basis.
Get into whatever position that you are comfortable with and settle into normal meditation. Now, start the scanning by focusing your attention on different areas of your body, one area at a time. Begin with your toes and slowly work all the way up to the crown of your head. Pay close attention to anything that feels out of place. Pain and stiffness are very common sensations during meditation, but take note of them nonetheless. Pay special attention to the areas that feel empty or full, cold or hot or sensations that seem to want to move in a certain direction but can’t because they are trapped. Once you discover one of these sensations, try to associate an emotion with it. How does it make you feel to discover heat in one of your toes? Does it make you feel mad or maybe even a little anxious? What about the emptiness that seems to be spinning around that area near your elbow? Does that make you feel sad or upset about something? Every sensation has an emotion attached to it. When you discover the connection between the two take note of them and then move on to the next area of your body.
Keep track of the status of each sensation from day to day as well. Do they change or stay the same? Does a hot spot always feel hot or does it get cold sometimes? If it changes, does the emotion change with it? Most sensations will stay in the same place all the time, but some will move all around the body like a restless wind. These are harder to track in the beginning, but as your focus develops you will be able to recognize these sensations as they move. It is important that you do not try to change any of these sensations right now. Just familiarize yourself with them, where they are and how they feel. We will learn more about what to do with them in another article.
The more you practice this meditation the more you will become familiar with the nature of these sensations and how they influence you as a whole person. Practice for at least twenty minutes a day for the first two weeks, then try to increase your meditation time by five or ten minutes every week afterward. Your ultimate goal is to reach one hour of undisturbed meditation every day. By then, you will understand your body in ways that you never did before. Monks of old were able to use this meditation to completely map their internal organs. After studying their drawings, western doctors were amazed to discover that they didn’t use any form of dissection to produce these charts. They simply “looked” into their own bodies for the answers.