wikiHow to Practice Body Mindfulness Meditation

Three Methods:PreparationMeditation PracticeDeveloping the Meditation

Body mindfulness is one of the forty Buddhist meditations. It is a meditation designed both for investigation of the body and its nature, as well as being a basis for concentration building. This meditation is excellent for people who have an anatomical, medical or health interest in the body––familiarity with the body helps in building concentration.

On the other hand, it's often hardest for people who are the most sensitive towards the body, either in regards to its appearance, or because they are uneasy with the body's biological processes. In spite of this dislike, it's recommended that such persons try this style of meditation because they're likely to get the greatest rewards from it. Of course, starting gently and building up experience will help ease newcomers into it. Here's how to start the meditation and develop it further.

Method 1

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    Select a quiet, comfortable place to meditate. Choose an appropriate time when you feel able to meditate, free from distractions. Select a posture comfortable for you––for this meditation, all postures are suitable. (The How to do mindful meditation page describes the four main postures in a little more detail to help you choose one that is practical for you.) Ensure your head and torso are positioned to allow for ease of breathing and awareness. Having a stiff posture will cause discomfort and a too-soft posture will encourage sleepiness.
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    Relax any tension. Spend a few moments developing awareness of what you are doing, such as sitting, breathing and relaxing. Spending a few minutes this way allows the mind to build more focus and awareness as it examines the body for tension. Allowing the body to relax also lets your mind become calm and quietened.
    • Give yourself a few minutes for this to occur and let go of distractions, agendas and other subjects of thought.

Method 2
Meditation Practice

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    Mentally divide the body into its component parts. Start generally with arms, legs, torso and head. As you mentally note the location of each component, start to divide it up further to become more aware of smaller details. For example, the arm may become shoulder, upper arm, elbow, lower arm, wrist, palm, fingers, etc.
    • Spend a minute being both aware of each part, but also how they feel, such as tense or relaxed, hot or cold and so on. The purpose is to be aware of not only where they are, but what they are, how they feel and so on, building to a complete body awareness.
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    Start to mentally note individual parts of the body in more detail. There is a typical repetition worth learning, that runs along the lines of: 1. Head hair, body hair, teeth, skin, nails. 2. Muscles, sinews, bones, bone marrow, kidneys. 3. Heart, liver, stomach, spleen, lungs. 4. Bowel, intestines, feces, undigested food, brain. 5. Bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, body fat. 6. Tears, skin grease, snot, saliva, bone lubricant and urine.
    • The traditional order of this list seems unusual but the list divides the body components into two classes - solid matter and liquid matter. It starts with some of the most easily recognizable external parts (head, hair, skin, etc.), then moves on to more internal parts increasing in complexity as you go.
    • What you are doing more or less, is a kind of mental CT scan of your body. If you have seen scans before, you see bones, muscles, organs, etc. This is what you are looking for in situ and in action. It may or may not appear visually to you like a CT scan, but you may feel a sensation, or another form of awareness of that body part.
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    Now spend a moment being aware of each part in turn. There is a host of things recommended as a point of study so you may choose any that feel relevant to you at the beginning and then work on to the more complex aspects. Give each part some time to be studied to gain an understanding, familiarity and insight while at the same time, direct a calm and relaxed focus towards its nature.
    • 1. Examine its location in the body, how it feels, what it is, how it is, how it came to be, what it needs to continue to be, etc.
    • 2. Examine your experiences of how your mind interacts with the body component, such as how the heart changes when there is tension in the mind and how the muscles react when there is discomfort.
    • 3. Examine your experiences of how the body interacts with mental states. When there is tension, unease, fear, how does the body feel? When there is gradual relaxation in the mind, is there gradual relaxation in the body? There are many other questions you may ask in this theme.
    • 4. Is there attachment or any wishes that occur to you in relation to that part of the body? The more sensitive practitioner may find the meditation somewhat unnerving and feel squeamish, or maybe even think it's gross and weird. This method can be used to break down any such squeamishness and other barriers, allowing for a tolerance and acceptance to be built on increased understanding of and familiarity with the body.
    • 5. Consider how fragile the ecosystem of your body is. One example is to examine how the blood needs pumping to oxygenate it, prevent it from clotting and becoming fatal. The blood being pumped helps the immune and healing system and since it helps regulate body temperature, we feel cold or hot when the circulation is not free.
    • 6. Consider how co-dependent it is on other aspects of the body and external facts such as food and water, air, temperature and so on. Consider how enduring each part is, or how much it changes.
    • 7. Consider how many of the bodily processes and parts run and are maintained on their own, independent of us or on autopilot, if you will. The identity has no involvement in running the liver for example, it just works away, even when we are deeply asleep.
    • If you wish, you can spend the entire meditation on just one part, or one group. However, if you wish to do the entire body, move on to the next group: Muscles, sinews, bones, bone marrow, kidneys. Again, be aware of each part as above.

Method 3
Developing the Meditation

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    Examine the body again and relax any parts that you can should you be aware that they are tense, or in an uncomfortable position.
    • This meditation essentially works to break down denial, fear and "squeamishness", while building familiarity with, as well as awareness and understanding of, the body you feed to keep alive. By examining its conditional nature, as well as its fragility and unavoidable exposure to chances of injury, illness, pain and organ failure, and the inevitability of aging, you can learn to accept the body as it is. By becoming disenchanted but at the same time compassionate and at peace with the body, it's not a shock or distressing should it get injured, grow old, feel hungry or become ill. By using the body as a means of study, you can learn to live with the body and its warning signs. You will no longer feel unnerved about it generally.

      Many people have found this meditation very helpful for directed relaxation, pain management, increased immune responsiveness and, in more rare cases, to see which parts of the body are injured or out of alignment. You can also focus a compassionate, healing energy onto various parts, or simply allow the part of the body in question some space to relax and repair itself to aid recovery in some cases - instead of fighting it, worrying about it and causing other stress related problems. This is more advanced for people who have practiced for a long time, but it's a very useful tool to develop for those who wish to go further on this subject-method.
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    Let go of any distractions that may arise and keep examining and studying the part your body, or continue through the list. This is another place where mindfulness and concentration comes in and is excellent to develop the mind to focus.
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    To develop this meditation further for deeper concentration, start to drop away the repetition of words to develop wordless awareness. Fix your awareness on the component part of the body that is most evident to you.

    Should a particular part simply become visible, or more noticeable by feeling or some image, focus and develop that awareness, letting it become the sole object of your focus and awareness. Examine it more simply, but in whole, so if a color arises, it is recommended to not pay too much attention on the color but instead to focus on what part of the body the color refers to.

    Mastering this does take time and indeed it can take many years before it becomes a powerfully insightful tool. Beginners should not be concerned if nothing happens at all in regards to increased awareness. For some, it might just appear on focus, for others they might need to look at some strands of head hair collected from a brush and put in the hand. You examine those (as per Kasina meditation) until an image arises. For some it will never happen, as this is not the right type of meditation for them. Regularly measure against your own experiences how or where this meditation has bought you any benefit. It might have been an increase in general concentration, or a deeper understanding of the body to allow you to live more happily and healthy.
    • The analogy of the Lotus applies here too. The lotus grows in mud and dirty water but rises above it to stand free. Mentally, we can rise above the aspects of the body that we would otherwise find disgusting, stressful or frightening and so stand free from shock or fear.


  • As always, take it a step at a time. Don't rush yourself or try to make things happen. The more you want, the more difficult it gets (see The Four Noble Truths for expansion on this).
  • While for those experienced with relaxation, or mindfulness type meditations, this meditation does feel very different in concept. This is because in many meditations, mindfulness of the body is usually left as a minor aspect. Many of the other meditations specialize in action, physical feelings and mental state mindfulness, so this one creates the balance. As a meditation, it is rich in benefits and develops skills that can be used in day to day life.


  • Don't be afraid. If you see anything that does make you nervous, the image is little more than imagination - it can't hurt you. If you really become unnerved, practice loving kindness or compassion meditation and discuss your feelings with a more experience meditator. You might end up being told what you are seeing was always there anyway, all you are doing is seeing it for the first time. Be kind to yourself.

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