By now, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about meditation and it’s variety of benefits. Since there are so many different ways to meditate, it can often feel overwhelming with what to do or where to start! That’s where Body Scan meditations come into play. They are a great beginner’s mindfulness-based meditation technique. During this practice, you are essentially scanning through each part of your body while acknowledging any areas of tightness, tension, pain, discomfort. The goal of this isn’t to relieve pain necessarily, but to help you develop a great awareness of those sensations. This increased awareness fosters a deeper connection between mind and body and with consistent practice could help you manage and learn from your body’s areas of tension/pain.
Experts say that one of the main benefits of the body scan meditation is stress reduction. We all know how important it is to continually be managing our life’s stressors, but it is easy to go on autopilot and neglect some of our feelings (whether that be mental or physical.) Below are some other ways meditation can benefit our mental and physical well-being:
- Physical Benefits:
- Reduced inflammation/pain
- Improved Sleep
- Increased awareness of body sensations
- Mental Benefits:
- Greater Self-awareness and compassion
- Induces Relaxed State of Mind
- Decreased Stress and Anxiety
- Improved focus
Before we walk through how to do a body scan on your own, there are a few things you should know first. First off, you can run through this scan as fast or as slow as you want or have time to do. When I first started, it was a quick 5-10 minutes, but now I enjoy longer sessions of about 30-40 minutes. Another key component to body scan meditations is awareness without judgement/criticism. As you scan through each area, if you do notice areas of tension/pain- try to acknowledge/accept not only the physical sensations but also any emotions/feelings that arise as well. Imagine these sensations/feelings as clouds in the sky; recognize and acknowledge them as they come then intentionally release them or let them pass.
How to do a body scan meditation:
- Make yourself comfortable. This can be done while laying down especially if you’re doing it right before bed, but you can also be in a seated position if that makes it easier for you to stay awake.
- Close your eyes or lower your gaze, whichever makes you the most comfortable.
- Become aware of your breathing. Slow your breath as you are mindful of the sensation of each inhale and exhale.
- When you’re ready, continue breathing slowly and deeply, and direct your attention to a specific point on your body. Right finger tips, left toes, top of the head- you can start wherever you’d like. Continue to breathe slowly as you observe the thoughts/sensations you feel in this area- linger here, without judgement as you acknowledge and accept whatever comes.
- Continue to breathe as you notice any areas of tension or discomfort- acknowledge these feelings and any thoughts that arise. If you do notice tension, breathe into these areas. Visualize the tension dissipating more with each breath.
- When you are ready, take a deep breath as you intentionally direct your attention to a new area of focus. Repeat these steps as you progressively move through other areas of your body.
A few final points/tips, if you notice your mind wandering during your practice – this is totally normal! When you do catch your mind wandering, simply acknowledge that thought/feeling that comes up, and refocus into your breathing. It does get easier with practice! You can do a body scan anywhere/anytime. It doesn’t have to be a super long practice, especially if you’re just dipping your toes into the water. You can also look into Youtube and meditation apps, like headspace, simple habit, calm, for guided body scan meditations too!
To your Health and Wellness!
Health Coach, EPIC FMC