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Read Time 8 min

Beginning a Mindfulness Practice

Stress is common in Parkinson’s. Mindfulness practice has been shown to help reduce stress and support mental health for people with Parkinson’s.

If you’re new to mindfulness, a body scan practice is a great place to start. A body scan practice helps you connect your mind, body and breath. “Body Scan Meditation” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is available online and guides you through the practice, which invites you to bring awareness to the feelings and sensations of your body as you mentally scan it from head to toe.

Before you get started, make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothing. Find a comfortable place to lay down with few distractions. You may also need a pillow under your back or legs.

As you do the practice, if your mind starts to wander, that’s totally normal! When you recognize that your mind has wandered, gently bring it back to your breath.

Once you’re comfortable, the practice is a guided script following these same steps each time:

  1. Bring your attention to the fact that you are breathing. Directing your focus on your belly as you inhale and exhale. Notice the rhythmic movement of your belly and sink deeper into the floor or mat. Stay attentive to your breathing in each moment.
  2. Take your mind away from your belly down your leg, out to your toes. Starting with your left toes, foot and leg, become aware of any feelings and sensation. With each breath, experience what’s there. Image your breath, following it from your nose to your belly, to your toes and back up, out your mouth.
  3. Dissolve this part of your body and move your attention to the right side starting with your toes, foot and leg. Breathe, feel and experience each sensation, whatever it may be.
  4. Follow the pattern of slowly breathing, feeling, and paying close attention to sensations, gradually move up through the legs to the lower back and pelvis, mid and upper back, stomach, chest and heart region, hand and fingertips, arms, shoulder and throat, and end with your scalp, head and face.
  5. As you move your attention from each region, breath into the feeling, and as you breath out, let it all go. And then move on.
  6. In the end, let your attention expand to include the entire body as one. Feel the gentle rhythmic breathing, take one full breath in and exhale completely. Wiggles your toes and fingers and slowly open your eyes. Reorient your attention to the present moment.

Once you’ve tried the body scan, if you’re interested in learning more, check out the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course that we’re offering in 2022. The course is based on the national model developed by Dr. Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The first course will be held every Tuesday from 9-11am PT from January 4, 2022 through March 1, 2022. To register, visit briangrant.org/events.

Upcoming mindfulness-based programming starting January 4, 2023:

8-Week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course Tuesdays | 9-11 am PT | Zoom

Weekly “Breath by Breath” Sessions Tuesday | 11:30 am-12:30 pm PT | Zoom

Learn more and register at briangrant.org/events.

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