Directed Body Scan

I recently conducted research on myself while experiencing a guided visualization directed body scan.  Based on my results, I constructed a paper which I am presenting at the inaugural gathering of the Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists on May 8-9.

I am excited to hear what my peers think of this approach, as I continue to explore how to incorporate embodiment practices into research method.  Please try it out with your self and your clients.

Let me know what you think.

Directed Body Scan © Luann D. Fortune, September 30, 2008

Find a place that is safe and comfortable. Position yourself in that space. (Pause.) Shift or adjust your body so you are comfortable and supported. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, allow your eyes to close. Notice how it feels to stop the flow of real-time visual signals. (Pause.) Take several more deep breaths. Allow yourself to put away thoughts and distractions from daily life, and give yourself permission to focus on yourself and your physical body in this moment.

Now, focus your awareness on the space outside your body. Notice what you hear. (Pause.)  Notice what you smell. (Pause.) Notice temperature or air flow against your skin. Notice how your clothes feel. Notice how the floor or furniture that support you feel against your body. Note what else you are aware of in the outside world.

Notice your breath as you draw air from outside your body to inside your lungs. Notice your exhalation sends air from inside you to the space outside you. Continue to breathe, focusing on the in-flow and out-flow of air. Notice that your breath connects the external world to your internal self. Notice how this feels.

As you exhale, shift your focus to your internal physical body. Follow your breath as it enters your lungs, filling your chest, expanding your abdomen. Notice your sensations inside your torso.  Notice any feelings of pressure, movement, pain, temperature, or other sensations that are there. Note any words that describe your internal experience in this area of your body.

With your arms positioned at your sides, and your elbows along your rib cage, raise your forearms so that you are suspending them unsupported in the air. Open your hands, spreading your fingers and extending your palms upwards. Focus on your hands. Notice what they weigh: are they heavy or light. What else do you notice about your hands? Rotate your hands so that the palms are facing downward; weigh them now.  What do you notice about their weight? What other sensations do you notice?

Expand your awareness to your whole body.  Notice where your attention goes next. Notice any feelings of pressure, movement, pain, temperature, or other sensations that are there. Note any words that describe your internal experience in this area of your body. Note any discomfort that you feel.  Note any words that describe this feeling in detail. Focus your attention on this place in your body.  Notice if it changes.

Allow your attention to move through your body from the inside. Notice which body parts you can feel easily. Notice which body parts express little or no sensation. Name the sensations as you continue to move your attention through the inside of your body. Notice any feelings of pressure, movement, pain, temperature, or other sensations that are there. Note any words that describe your internal experience in each area of your body.

Continue moving your focus through the inside of your body. When you have explored all of your parts, notice if any places call back your attention. If so, move your awareness there. Notice any feelings of pressure, movement, pain, temperature, or other sensations that are there. Note any words that describe your internal experience in this area of your body. Describe them in detail.

Now, shift your focus back to your breath. As you inhale and exhale, notice any feelings of pressure, movement, pain, temperature, or other sensations that are there. Note any words that describe your internal experience in this area of your body.

Gradually, bring your attention to the external world, the space outside your body. When you are ready, open your eyes.


Directions to close eyes reflects neuroscience thinking that real-time visual input can interfere with internally focused awareness due to hierarchical prioritization established by the visual cortex

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