Body Centered Meditations

Body Scanning
Progressive Relaxation
Inner Presence
Deep Breathing

Body Scanning

Body Scanning

Body scanning is a quick mental exercise to help you increase body awareness. Body Scanning is a good way to learn how to speak to your body. It is the beginning steps to many more complicated exercises like progressive relaxation, autogenics, inner presence, and applied relaxation. You can see my list of sensing words that will help you identify the sensations sensed and learn the language of sensation.

  1. Begin by becoming aware of your breath. Ride the waves of your breath and let it anchor you to the present moment.
  2. Bring your attention to the soles of your feet. Notice any sensation there. Without judging them or trying to make them different, simply be present with the sensations.
  3. Bring your attention to your ankles. Scan for sensations without judgment.
  4. Proceed up your body to each body part: calves, thighs, pelvis, hips, buttocks, lower back, belly, mid back, upper back, shoulders, chest, upper arms, lower arms, wrists, hands, neck, face. Jaw, head.
  5. You may wish to breathe into each part as you focus on them. This helps you focus and to relax each part as you go.

For this whole exercise you are simply noticing your body as a whole and each body part. You are not trying change anything sensed or felt, but just to notice and learn to pay attention. Once you can listen then you can proceed to change, understand or transform them.

Progressive Relaxation

This is a really great exercise to learn to distinguish between tensed and relaxed muscles. It has been around since 1929, founded by Edmund Jacobson, a Chicago physician. It is based on the premise that psychological stress tenses up the musculature, and therefore can be reduced by muscular release. This is probably my favorite of all my exercises and the one I find most useful.

The exercise focuses you on the sensations of tension in each muscle, and then releasing that tension, focuses you on the sensations of relaxation in that muscle. You move progressively through the body one muscle, or muscle group, at a time.

There are three main methods. I recommend that you pick one of these methods and stick to it throughout the whole exercise.  

  • You can tense as much as possible without hurting yourself (called active tensing),
  • or you can tense just enough to feel it (called threshold tensing). Threshold tensing is barely noticeable to the human eye.
  • You may also passively focus your awareness on the sensations (called passive tensing). This is simply noticing any tension without trying to change it.

You may also reverse the following procedure and start with your head working towards your toes. If you need to feel grounded, work crown to toe. If you enjoy floating work toe to crown. 

I also recommend that you audio record the instructions for yourself and listen to it as you relax. It is more effective then reading it. I haven't found any audio recordings online that are quite as thorough as these instructions are, so I made my own. Contact me if you would like a copy.


It is best to lay down flat for this exercise. Do not cross your legs and leave your arms down by your side. I recommend you do the breathing preparation to begin. See breathing exercises.


Follow this pattern as you go along

  1. Notice sensations
  2. Flex, Extend, Rotate
  3. Clench the muscles
  4. Hold for a count of 3
  5. Breathe in 
  6. Breathe out and unclench the muscles
  7. Relax and notice the sensations
  8. Breathe in and out

1. Toe. Notice any sensations in your right big toe. Feel any sensations of tension. Now notice and feel the tension in all of your toes on your right foot. Clench your toes of your right foot. Scrunch them up and feel the sensations of tension. Scrunch them tighter. Hold for count of three. Now breathe in and as you breathe out uncurl you toes. Breathe out all the way. Relax your toes. Notice the contrast between what was tense and what is now relaxed in your toes. Feel the sensations of relaxation in the toes of your right foot. Take another breath and relax again.

2. Ankle. Now notice the tension in your right arch and ankle. Flex and extend your ankle. Tighten your ankle and arch. Feel the sensations of tension. Hold for a count of three. Now breathe in and out. As you breathe out unclench your arch and ankle. Breathe out all the way. Relax your foot. Notice the contrast between what was tense and what is now relaxed in your right foot. Take another breath and relax again.

3. Calf. Move your awareness to you right calf. Notice any sensations there. Feel any tension. Flex and extend your ankles a couple of times feeling the stretch and pull to your calf muscles and your shin. Decide which direction gives you the greatest amount of tension (flexed or extended). Move in that direction and clinch your lower leg. Tighter still. Hold for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out and release you calf. Release all that tension. Feel the tension melting and dissolving away. Relax your whole calf. Notice how heavy your calf feels in its relaxation. Feel how it settles. Take another breath and relax again.

4. Thigh. Move your awareness to your right knee. Notice any tension or pain in your knee. Notice any tension in your upper leg. Feel into your right Hamstring (the back of your upper leg). Press your right leg into the ground. Now feel into your right Quadrates Femoris (the front of your upper leg) as you lift the leg off the ground slightly. Let your leg down again. Continue to feel the tension. Feel into your outer thigh as your abduct your leg moving it slightly away from you. Feel your inner thigh as you press your thighs together. Release and feel the contrast. Feel the tension in your whole thigh. Clinch and tighten your thigh into whatever direction gives you the most tension. Clinch even tighter. Hold for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out. As you breathe out release the tension in your thigh. Feel the tension dissolve away. Notice the sensations of relaxation. Feel your leg become heavy and relax into the ground. Feel it settle. Take another breath and relax your thigh again. Even more relaxed. Feel relaxation filling your whole leg from thigh to toe. Relax.

5. Repeat 1-4 on the left leg.

6. Hips. Now move your awareness to your hips. Feel the tension in the right side of your hips where your right hip joint is. Rotate your hip in your hip socket. Rotate in a circle, reverse the circle and rotate the other way. Find the direction of greatest tension and press your leg into it. Notice your gluts. Feel any tension in the right gluteus. Find the greatest tension and press into it. Tense your right hip and right glut. Hold for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out and release the tension from your hip. Relax and feel the tension dissolve away. Feel your hip heavy on the ground. Notice the sensations of relaxation and heaviness. Take another breath and relax again. Relax even more.

7. Repeat step 6 for the left hip and glut. Then notice the sensations of relaxation in both hips, both legs, both calves, both shins, both feet, all ten toes. Feel your legs relaxed and heavy.

8. Abdomen. Bring your awareness up to your abdomen. Notice any sensations in your digestive tract and abdominal organs. Feel into your stomach (on the left), your liver (on the right), your duodenum (down the middle). Feel your small intestines. Feel your colon. Notice any clinching in your anus. Now notice the muscles. Notice your Rectus Abdominus. Notice any tension in your oblique muscles (sides). Do a couple of small side bends and notice the tension in each side. Tense up your abdomen. Push out or pull in. Feel the sensations of tension. Hold for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out and relax your abdomen. Take another deep breath and breathe all the way out. Relax. Feel the tension melting from your core. Notice the sensations of relaxation. Notice the relaxation in you organs. Notice the relaxation in your muscles. Feel relaxed. Breathe again and relax your core even more.

9. Back. Bring your awareness to your back. Feel your lower back. Feel your mid back. Feel your upper back. Feel the tension in your whole back. Breathe a deep breath in and notice the tension to your rib cage and middle back. Hold your breath and feel the tension fill you. Lengthen and elongate your core. Then scrunch up your core becoming compressed and small. Feel the contrast. Find the directions of greatest tensions. This is called “muscle loading”. Move front back, side to side, up down, in & out, rotate left and right. Pick all directions that cause you the greatest amount of tension and hold. Let the tension fill you. Tense even more. Hold the tension and notice the sensations for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out and release all the tension in your back. Repeat tensing your back. This time just tense any way you want to. Feel the tension. Let it fill you. 1-2-3. Breathe in. Breathe out and release. Breathe again. Feel the tension drain all the way through your upper, middle and lower back. Feel your torso become heavy and sink into the ground. Feel it relax. Notice the sensations of relaxation as you continue to breathe and melt into the ground.

10. Upper Arm. Move you awareness to your shoulders. Feel the tension in your shoulder blades. Feel the tension in your right upper arm. Bend and straighten your right elbow. Feel the contrast to your right upper arm muscles. Feel the brachialis as your flex. Tense your brachialis, biceps and frontal arm muscles. Let the tension fill your arm. Hold for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out. As you breathe out release the tension in your arm. Feel the tension dissolve away. Now feel the tension in your right triceps and back of your arm. Press your right arm into the ground. Tense your tricep muscle all the way into your shoulder and arm pit. Hold for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out and relax your upper arm. Feel the release in your whole upper arm, front and back. Feel the release in your shoulder. Notice the sensations of relaxation as you continue to breathe. Feel your arm become heavy and settle into the ground. Relax.

11. Lower arm. Move your awareness into your lower right arm. Flex and extend your right wrist. Feel the contrast in your muscles as you do so. Rotate your wrist in a circle and feel all the muscles of your lower arm. Tense your right lower arm. Feel brachioradialis tighten. Tighten it even more. Hold for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out and relax your lower arm. Feel the sensations of relaxation fill your whole arm. Relax and let it feel heavy and settle into the ground. Breathe again and relax your whole arm.

12. Hand. Move to your right wrist, hand, and fingers. Feel the tension in your right hand. Clinch and unclench each finger. Notice the contrast. Clinch all your fingers and the palm of your right hand. Make a fist and clinch even tighter. Let the tension fill up your right hand. Hold 1-2-3. Breathe in. Breathe out and release your hand. Relax your hand into a natural position. Let the tension drain from your hand and dissolve away. Notice the sensations of relaxation in your right hand. Feel it release and relax.

13. Repeat steps 10-12 on your left arm and hand.

14. Chest. Bring your awareness to your chest. Feel any tightness around your heart space. Feel any tension in your pectoral muscles. Feel any tension in your anterior neck muscles. For this next part, don’t actively tense your chest if you have high blood pressure or other heart conditions. Just passive tense, where you notice the sensations without increasing the tension. For those with no heart problems you may continue to active tense. Tense your chest. Hold your breath and tense even tighter. Breathe again and after you exhale hold your breath. Let that tension fill you up. Release. Tense your chest cavity again. Hold for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out. Relax your chest, pecs, and heart space. Breathe again. Notice the sensations of relaxation in your chest. Take another deep breath and release any more tension still lingering there. Let it all drain from your chest and wash away.

15. Throat &Jaw. Bring your awareness to your jaw. Feel the tightness there. Clinch you teeth. Now open your jaw. Forcefully open your mouth as wide as it will go. Feel the contrast between the two extremes. Find the greatest direction of tension and tighten your jaw. Let the tension fill your jaw. Hold the tension for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out and relax your jaw. Let the tension drain and dissolve away. Relax your jaw. Relax your cheeks. Breathe again and relax even more.

16. Nose & Lips. Now tighten your nose and lips. Purse your lips. Scrunch up your nose as tight as you can. Now stretch your nose and upper lip, opening your mouth and eyes and stretch all your face muscles. Notice the contrast. Move into the direction of greatest tension. Tense up. Feel the tension for a count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out and release your face. Feel the sensations of relaxation as the tension drains away. Relax again and let the tension dissolve.

17. Eyes & Forehead. Now notice your eyes. Open your eyes wide and lift your eyebrows as high as they will go. Elongate your whole face. Feel the sensations of elongation. Hold for a count of three then release. Breathe and relax. Now squeeze your eyes shut. Scrunch up your forehead. Feel the tension in your whole face and as you compress your face as tight as you can. Hold this tension for the count of three. Breathe in and out and relax your eyes and forehead. Feel the tension drain away in your whole face. Feel your face settle into relaxation. Breathe again and relax your face even more.

18. Neck & Skull. Bring your awareness now to the back of your neck. Feel the tension there in your neck muscles from shoulders to skull. Side bend your head to the right, now to left. Rotate right. Rotate Left. Nod and then extend your neck. Feel the contrast in the muscles. Feel the sensations of tension there. Clinch your neck into the directions of greatest tension, muscle loading your neck. Hold this tension for the count of three. Breathe in. Breathe out. As you breathe out release all the tension in your neck. If you need to tense again into another position, do so. Hold then release. Notice the sensations of relaxation fill your neck all the way to the crown of your head. Feel your skull settle and relax. Feel your skull grow heavy on the ground. Breathe again and relax even more. Let all remaining tension drain out of your neck and skull. Feel relaxed.

19. Take a couple more deep cleansing breaths and let your whole body fill with heavy relaxation.


Sensations. Identify what you are sensing with this list of sensation words.

A: accelerated, achy, active, airy, alive, armored, attached, awake

B: balanced, big, bloated, blocked, bony, breathless, bubbly, bulging, buoyant, burning, burst, buzzing

C: calm, cellular, centered, ceramic, chaotic, charged, chilly, choked, choppy, circular, clammy, clingy, closed, cold, collapsed, comatose, comfortable, conscious, consolidated, condensed, constant, constricted, cool, crackly

D: dead, decelerated, deep, deflated, dense, dilated, disconnected, dizzy, dry, dull

E: effervescent, elastic, electric, elevated, empty, entwined, exploded

F: faint, fidgety, fired, flat, flexible, floating, flowing, fluid, fluttery, forced, fragile, freezing, frozen, full, fuzzy

G: gaseous, granular, greasy, grounded

H: hard, heavy, hollow, homeostatic, hot, huge

I: idle, ill, immersed, impacted, impassive, impenetrable, imploded, incongruous, indefatigable, indestructible, inflamed, inflated, inflexible, integrated, invigorated, itchy

J: jagged, jammed, jumpy

K: knotted, kinked

L: laggard, languid, large, leaky, lengthened, lethargic, light, limp, little, loll, long, loose, loud

M: malleable, mellow, melting, moist, moving, mushy

N: narrow, nauseated, neutral, nimble, numb, nurturing

O: on, opaque, open, organic

P: painful, pale, paralyzed, pasty, patterned, peaceful, pierced, pinched, pliant, poking, poignant, polar, porous, present, pressured, prickly, probing, prodding, puffy, pulled, pulsating, pushed

Q: queasy, quiet, quivery

R: radiating, raspy, relaxed, relieved, restless, rigid, risen, rocky, rotated, rough

S: safe, scratchy, secure, sensitive, settled, shallow, shivery, shooting, short, shriveled, sick, sinking, slimy, slippery, slow, sluggish, smooth, soft, solid, soothing, sore, spacious, sparse, spastic, spiraling, spontaneous, sporadic, squishy, static, sticky, streaming, strong, stuck, sweaty, swollen

T: taut, tender, thick, thin, throbbing, tickly, tight, tilted, tingly, tired, tonic, trapped, trembling, truncated, turbulent, twirling, twisted

U: unconscious, uncontrolled, undeveloped

V: vacant, vast, velvety, vibrant, vibrating, viscid

W: warbling, warm, weak, weary, wet, whole, wide, wilted, windy, wiry, woozy, wound, wounded, wrapped, wrinkled, wrung

Y: yawing, yielding

Inner Presence

Inner Presence is a way to explore your sensations and what they tell you about your emotions. You listen to your body and then try to find the right words and pictures to express what it is you are sensing in your body about your problems. This is not the same as explaining or analyzing what you feel, which is done in your head. Inner Presence is body- centered. It is the ability to keep company with yourself and listen without judgment to your own emotions and sensations.

First ask yourself, “What characteristics are embodied by a compassionate listener?” Most people answer: patience, attention, interest, empathy, love, warmth, acceptance, open, spacious, stillness, etc. These are the qualities that you want to embody when you are listening to yourself.

1. Center. Begin by centering yourself and trying to embody compassion. 

2. Body Scan. Take a few moments to scan your body. Any area in your body is welcome to come to awareness but especially notice your sensations along your chakra points (pelvis, belly, chest, throat, head).

  • Chakra points are pools or “store houses” of physical and emotional energy within our bodies. They are good places to find something to listen to. When you become aware of any sensations notice them without judgment.

3. Acknowledge. Acknowledge your sensations by saying, “Hello” to them, or “Yes, I know you are there”. Allow these sensations to exist in you without trying to change them, dismiss them, analyze them, or let them overwhelm you. You are merely compassionately observing these sensations.

  • When you acknowledge the sensation, notice how the sensation responds. Does it get stronger? Weaker? Dissipate? Transform? Be curious and open to it. Then let go of your thoughts about the sensations. Allow the sensations to be.

4. Describe. Then allow a description to come of what it feels like. This description could be in words, images, gestures, or sounds. Begin an inner dialog with your body. Every time a description emerges, check back with the sense to confirm whether your description is accurate or not. For example, you feel “something” in your chest. Stay with it. Soon you may sense that this “something” has a quality of “heaviness” to it. Take the word “heavy” and check back, “is the word heavy correct?” If not, let the word go and try again. Not heavy, but “drained”. “Is drained correct?” Drained may be partly correct. Maybe it’s “drained and empty”. Is “drained and empty correct?” Keep checking back with the felt sense until you find a description that fits with a satisfying sense of rightness. Be present with the sensation. 

  • Don’t know what you are sensing? see above for a list of sensations.

 5. Define. You may then want to ask what the “emotional” quality of the sensation is. Is it a “sad” drained and empty? Or a “satisfied” drained and empty? etc. Again keep checking back with the sense to make sure your description fits.

6. Prompt. Once you have explored the sense, you may want to give it prompts to reveal itself more fully, or ask it what it has to teach you. Avoid asking “why?” “Why” questions invite intellectual explanations and take you out of your body. Instead ask “what?” The goal is to observe how this whole thing feels in your body right now.

7. End. When you are ready, end your session with gratitude.


Applied Inner Presence

Applied Inner Presence is using the inner presence dialog to explore specific issues such as strong feelings that overwhelm you, habits, decisions that need made, physical symptoms, feeling stuck, interpersonal problems, etc.

  1. Choose an issue to work on.
  2. Bring your attention into your body.
  3. Wait for a felt sense to form: take the time to feel how your issue feels in your body.
  4. Get to know your felt sense by finding a description.
  5. Explore the emotional quality of the felt sense.
  6. Be present with the felt sense.
  7. Ask if the felt sense has any more to teach you and receive whatever emerges.
  8. End session by thanking yourself for listening and thank your body for talking.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises have been found to be effective in reducing generalized anxiety, stress, muscle tension and mood disorders.


Prepare for breath exercises by laying down flat on the floor. Don’t cross your legs or arms. Either have your feet straight down shoulder width apart, or bent in a comfortable position with feet flat on the floor. Observe your breath without judgment. Notice how it feels to breathe in and out.


Diaphragmatic Breathing. Use this to slow and deepen your breaths.

  1. Breathe into your diaphragm, noticing how you’re your abdomen rises and falls with each breath. Forcefully exhale all the air from your lungs. This will create a vacuum that will pull a deep breath into your abdomen.
  2. Push down on your abdomen and allow your belly to push back.
  3. Place one hand on your belly and the other underneath your back. Imagine your belly is a balloon that you are filling with air. Expand front to back.
  4. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Expand bottom to top of your lungs. Feel the breath down into your toes and up into your head. Expand again bottom to top.
  5. Place one hand on each side. Expand left and right.
  6. Special considerations if you have asthma or other breathing difficulties. If you start to feel nausea, blurry, dizzy, pain, or other ill effects, stop and return to a normal breathing pattern.


Breathing for Tension Relief

  1. Preparation
  2. Breathe in saying to yourself “breathe in”. Notice the parts of your body that tense up as you inhale.
  3. Hold your breath for a moment. Feel the tension rising. You may feel a jittery, tingling, pounding, energetic, or uncomfortable sensation as the tension increases.
  4. Breathe out saying “relax”. Notice how the tension releases as you exhale.
  5. Repeat 3x. Return to a normal breathing pattern for at least 5 breaths to avoid hypoventilation. Breathe deeply again. Continue this pattern until you feel at ease.
  6. If thoughts, feelings, or sensations catch your attention, observe them without judgment, but don’t engage in them. Return your focus to your breathing.
  7. To increase the tension release: breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth creating a hiss as you exhale. Or, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth as if you are exhaling through a straw. Focus on the sound.
  8. Inhale deeply and exhale even deeper, expelling all the air from your lungs. It is the exhale that brings you into a more relaxed state, not the inhale.


Mindful Breath Counting

  1. Preparation
  2. Count each exhalation to yourself. When you reach the fifth count- start over.
  3. If thoughts, feelings, or sensations catch your attention, observe them without judgment, but don’t engage in them. Return your focus to your breathing. If you want, you can label each as they come up “thought”, “sensation”, “feeling”. The purpose of labeling is to increase your objectivity and emotional distance from potentially charged material.
  4. If your mind goes blank. Notice and return your focus to your breath.
  5. Practice counting breaths for 10 minutes or until you feel relaxed.


Lung Capacity Training

  1. Preparation.
  2. Breathe in slowly while counting to 5.
  3. Hold your breath for 5 counts.
  4. Exhale for 5 counts. Keep the air exhaling. Don’t expel all your air in a burst and then hold empty lungs while you keep counting. Exhale slowly.
  5. Hold empty lungs for 5 counts.
  6. Pause if you need to. Let your breathing return to a normal pattern to prevent hyper or hypo -ventilation.
  7. When ready, repeat deep breathing. Increase the count from 5 to 10.
  8. If you have trouble, try keeping the “full lung holding”, and “empty lung holding” to a low count (2-5 beats) while you increase the inhale and exhale count.
  9. With practice, you can increase the count up to 60 or more.


Alternate Breathing. This is particular useful for people with sinus and tension headaches.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with good posture.
  2. Rest the index and second finger of your right hand on your forehead
  3. Close your right nostril with your thumb.
  4. Breathe in through the left nostril
  5. Remove thumb, and close left nostril with ring finger.
  6. Breathe out through right nostril.
  7. Breathe in through right nostril
  8. Remove ring finger. Close right with thumb.
  9. Breathe out through left.
  10. Keep alternating through five cycles. Raise the number of cycles as you practice.


Autogenics is a method type of bio-feedback meditation that will help you relax and regulate your body. You can use each theme separately or together as one longer meditation. Once you have mastered how to regulate with the six themes, then you can apply the themes for specific conditions or needs. 

Contraindicated for mental disorders. Also have doctor supervision for medical diseases involving heart & blood sugar regulation.

Preparation: Keep external stimuli to minimum, get into a comfortable well supported position, take some deep breaths, keep a light eye focus or close your eyes.

1. Normalize Body - six themes

a. Fill your body with Heaviness- progressively scan body and fill each part with heaviness, repeat mantra “my… is heavy” as you go along, e.g. “my right leg is heavy…”. Repeat mantra often. Go slowly passively focusing on each part until it feels heavy and relaxed before moving on. 

If mind wanders- notice without judgment and return to your mantra. You may experience autogenic discharge (change in temp & weight, electricity, nausea, emotional spikes, pain, stiffness, illusions). These are transitory and will pass with practice. Once you feel relaxed move on the next theme or end your session by saying “When I open my eyes I will feel refreshed and alert.” Flex and stretch. Make sure you are alert before returning to normal activities.

b. Fill your body with Warmth- progressively scan body and fill each part with warmth, repeat the mantra “my…is warm” as you go along. Repeat mantra often. Go slowly passively focusing on each part until it feels warm and relaxed.

c. Normalize cardiac activity with the mantra “my heartbeat is calm and regular”. Feel your heartbeat steady and calm with a healthy resting beat. If it feels fast and furious, take a couple of soothing breaths and focus on calm and steady until your heart rate decreases to a calm beat. Repeat the mantra, “my heartbeat is calm and regular”.

d. Regulate respiratory system with the mantra “I breathe”. Passively notice your breathing rate. Try for a regular relaxed inhale and exhale. You are not deep breathing or trying to manipulate your breath. Let it be natural and filling. Say the mantra, “I breathe” and let the air flow in and out of your lungs, and circulate around your body making you relaxed and healthy.

e. Warm your abdomen with the mantra “my belly is warm”. Relax all the muscles in your core. Relax all your organs. Let them be calm and smooth. Digestion is flowing. The organs are moving with their own motility, ebbing and flowing from midline. They are gliding past each other as you breathe. Imagine the muscles and viscera are warm. Repeat the mantra, “my belly is warm,” as you fill your abdomen with warmth.

f. Reduce blood flow to head with the mantra “my forehead is cool”. Imagine the blood draining from your face and head leaving it cool and refreshed. Imagine the blood going into your limbs and core giving them warmth.

2. Combined themes

You can do all six themes in order as one full session, or you may wish to combine them together for each body part working progressively through the body. For example, “My right foot feels heavy. My right foot feels warm. My heartbeat is calm and relaxed. I breathe. My belly is warm. My forehead is cool. My left foot feels heavy. My left foot feels warm. My heartbeat is calm and relaxed. I breathe. My belly…. My right and left foot feel heavy and warm. My right leg feels heavy…” etc. 

3. Calm Mind

a. At the end of each section above, add mind calming mantras. These are intended to reinforce the effects of the body normalizing mantras. Clear your mind as you focus on the mind calming mantras. Feel waves of peace and quiet wash over you. It is important to keep these mantras simple, positive, and realistic. 

b. Intersperse these mind calming mantras within the body normalizing exercises.

c. Examples of mind calming mantras- “I am calm and relaxed,” “I feel quiet and at peace,” “my whole body feels calm, comfortable, relaxed,” “My mind is clear,” “I withdraw my thoughts from the surroundings and feel serene and still,” “I am at ease,” “deep within my mind I can visualize and experience myself as relaxed and still.”

4. Address specific problems

After you master the six autogenic themes, you can use the formulas to address specific pains or problems. You can focus on specific painful body parts to relax them and ease tension. If you have headache you can use “my forehead feels cool” to redirect the blood flow, and use my shoulders, neck, etc feel "warm and relaxed" to decrease the tension causing the headache. If you have a cough you can warm your chest and cool your throat.

When you are relaxed, you can also give yourself post hypnotic suggestions and repeat mantras centered on your goals, such as to lose weight or stop smoking, etc. These suggestions and mantras should be brief, believable, persuasive, and positive. For example, “I have control over what I eat,” or “I can survive without a cigarette.”


  • If you have trouble experiencing the physical sensations suggested by the formulas try using imagery. Visualize a nice warm bath, or sitting in the hot sun, or under a warm blanket.
  • Actually feeling the sensations is not necessary. Focusing on the themes brings about a functional change in the body.
  • If you experience discomfort with any of the themes, you may want to skip them. For example, if you have ulcers skip the warm abdomen theme, or if you feel dizzy skip the cool forehead theme.
  • Some people find it easier to use a set verbal formula, either audio recording it or memorizing it, adding each new theme as you progress. This provides consistency each time you practice and may make it easier to relax. Examples of formulas: for theme A- heaviness, “my right arm is heavy, my left arm is heavy, both my arms are heavy. My right leg is heavy, my left leg is heavy, both legs are heavy. My arms and legs are heavy…” For theme B it would be the same only substitute warm for heavy. 


Boundaries are not always about closing off completely. Healthy boundaries are flexible and adaptable. Healthy boundaries are similar to a semi-permeable membrane; we can decide who/what comes in and who/what stays out. Boundaries are as much about saying yes as saying no. They give us opportunities to practice discrimination. Boundaries provide ground for real intimacy and trust to be developed. They allow us space to acknowledge and respect our individual experiences.

Setting boundaries requires you to first know where your boundaries are, to practice having safe boundaries, and to intentionally explore and push your boundaries safely into new dimensions. 

I honor and respect my own boundaries when I stay true to my values, when I stand up for myself, when I ask for what I need. I do not feel ashamed when I say no. I stay safe. I stay healthy. I practice moral discrimination. I practice self compassion.

I honor your boundaries through my compassion towards you. I ask you what you need and listen to you. I acknowledge you and stay present with you without judgment. I stand up for you. I respect our differences. I respect your limitations without shaming you. I honor your vulnerability and encourage and inspire you to risk and grow. I agree to move forward, stop, and away as you ask me to.



For these exercises you will need a partner. These exercises explore the limits of our personal boundaries, and are a good way to learn safety and trust. It can provide valuable information regarding each other’s needs, quality of contact, personal space, and ability to discriminate between safe and unsafe boundaries.


Drawing Boundaries

  1. Partner A: Close your eyes and imagine the edges of your personal safety zone. This is the space you feel comfortable and at ease within. Your partner should not influence this space at this point. Open your eyes and draw the zone around you. You can use your mind’s eye to draw this zone, or you can physically draw this zone with masking tape on the floor, or string, or pillows, or whatever you have handy. Make sure it is complete, back to front, side to side, and above you.
  2. Partner A sit within your safety zone. Notice your feelings as you sit there. Notice your breath and body posture.
  3. Partner B sit across from partner A outside of the safety zone. Notice how it feels to acknowledge the boundaries of this zone.
  4. Partner A: try easing your boundaries as you feel comfortable, drawing partner B into your zone. Both partners notice how the boundary changes, and how interaction changes between you. Notice breath, posture, eye contact, energy, resonance, presence and feelings of safety and trust.
  5. Partner A: try expanding your boundaries pushing partner B further away. Again both partners notice how this feels.
  6. Switch places. Partner B imagine and draw your personal safety zone. Repeat steps 1-5.
  7. Now both partners: draw your safety zone simultaneously. What happens to the quality of relationship when both partners are sitting within their safety zones?


Feeling Boundaries

  1. Partners stand facing each other from opposite sides of the room.
  2. Partner A: close your eyes and imagine the outermost limit to which you can feel or sense partner B’s presence. Hold your hands out in front of you, palms outward. Keep your eyes open or closed as you feel comfortable.
  3. Partner B slowly move towards Partner A. Breathe and notice how you both feel as partner B moves in. Notice breath, posture, eye contact, energy, resonance, presence, and feelings of safety and trust.
  4. Partner A tell partner B to stop moving closer when you feel partner B has reached a boundary. This may be a slight feeling of discomfort, or feel like a physical wall. Breathe and notice how you feel as partner B stops.
  5. Partner A may tell partner B to move in, move out, & stop as you explore partner A’s boundaries. There may be many layers. You may feel safe for a while and then feel the need to push back out. You may need to stop at every step. This is ok. The key is to go slowly and explore without judgment.
  6. Try also moving in from the back or sides. Notice how the boundary length may differ from side to side or from front to back.
  7. Partner B exit to the other side of the room.
  8. Switch places and repeat step 1-7.
  9. Face each other again from opposite sides of the room.
  10. Try roll- playing different emotions to see how this changes your boundaries. For example, if partner B is angry and walks angrily into partner A’s zone, does this change where partner A starts to feel unsafe? or how much resistance there is to partner B coming closer? Try anger, joy, sadness, fear, trust, compassion, judgment, openness. Partner A hold your hands out in front of you palms out. Palms out generally allows for greater sensation. Partner A how do you feel in response to partner B’s emotion? Partner A: if your eyes are closed can you guess which emotion partner B is acting out?
  11. Switch places and repeat step j.
  12. Try exploring when both partners roll-play emotions - the same ones or different ones. How does this change and confuse your boundaries?

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