It is very common for our daily lives to cause tension or pain in our bodies. Many of us are familiar with the tension or discomfort that can be the result of repetitive movements or stress. Body scan meditation is a very useful tool in creating awareness of these sensations and how they affect your life.
What Are The Benefits of Body Scan Meditation?
The goal of this practice is to explore and tune into the physical sensations of the body. Your thoughts and emotions can seriously affect the way you feel physically; adversely, the discomfort you feel in your body can be a good indication of your mental or emotional state. The two are irrevocably intertwined.
The intention is not to change or fix anything, but simply to be present and listen to what your body has to say. Sometimes noticing physical impressions and giving them consideration is all it takes to lessen their intensity and the effect they have on your daily life. Body scan meditation can literally change your relationship with pain and discomfort!
As you become more experienced and comfortable with body scan meditation, you’ll become more in tune with what your body needs. If you’re feeling pain or tension from a repetitive motion or tight shoulders are telling you you’re stressed, you’ll be able to spot these problems before they become more serious afflictions and take action to lessen or even prevent them.
Body scan meditation is an important part of any mindfulness practice, as it contributes to a wholeness of awareness of being. If you can learn to be an observer of your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, you will start down a path to self-awareness and confidence that is every person’s right.
Basic Body Scan Meditation Practice
Set aside anywhere from 20-45 uninterrupted minutes. 45 minutes is ideal, but a body scan meditation can be done in as little as 10-15 minutes if you’re well-practiced and crunched for time.
Find the space you will practice in. Body scan meditation is best done lying down, but you can do it sitting or standing as well. Just make sure you are comfortable. The room you’re in should be quiet and at a comfortable temperature, with soft light and privacy so you can maintain focus.
To begin your body scan meditation, close your eyes or bring them into soft focus. Acknowledge the noises around you, then gently allow them to fade into the background.
Bring your attention to the breath. Without analyzing or trying to manipulate your breath, just focus on the quality of it. Is it moving deep into your belly, or is it more shallow? Is it coming quickly or slowly? The goal here isn’t to change the breath, but just to observe it objectively.
Next, move awareness to the points where your body is making contact with whatever surface you’re resting on. If you’re lying down, start from your feet and feel the sensation of your heels making contact with the floor. Then move focus to the calves, thighs and upward all the way to the back of your head. Notice the weight of each body part, the pressure it puts on the floor, and how gravity makes each point of contact feel heavy.
Body Scan Meditation
As you move your awareness through each body part, as you did with the breath, the goal is to observe objectively and without judgment and just notice sensations. You may feel:
- neutral or no sensation
Inhale deeply, and exhale as you bring focus to your right foot. Your focus can be as precise as thinking about just the toes, or you can think about the whole foot. When you are ready to move on, inhale and exhale slowly as you intentionally release your attention from the foot and move up to the calf.
Systematically proceed through the body by going up the right leg, up the left leg, then hips, torso, each arm, neck and finally into your head and face.
When your scan is complete, take a few moments to focus on your body as a physical whole. Think about the way everything is connected and how it works together even though each part is singular and unique.
To finish your body scan meditation, bring your focus back to the breath and see if anything has changed here- again, without analysis. When you feel ready, open your eyes and take your time becoming aware of your surroundings again.
- Spend as much time as you like in each area. There is no right or wrong way to feel while moving through your body scan meditation. Just try to feel sensations as fully as possible. Give them your full attention before progressing to the next spot.
- Your focus will waiver, and your mind will wander. This is totally normal. Try not to become frustrated. Simply breathe and gently bring your mind’s eye back to the task at hand. Don’t force anything.
- Remember to be gentle and kind with yourself. This is not a forum for self-criticism or negative self-talk. Accept what is, and know that pain, tension and discomfort are impermanent. There is joy in the fact that you are taking this time to strengthen your relationship with yourself!
- The most important thing here is being open to what your body has to tell you. It can be helpful to keep a journal of your body scan meditation, making a small entry each time you practice. Jotting down what you experienced or how you felt before and after can provide helpful insight.
We hope this guide helps give you a glimpse into how body scan meditation can help you overcome physical pain and the effects of stress. We’d love to have you come learn more stress-relieving techniques with our mindfulness classes in Rancho Mirage. There’s no day like today to begin your path to freedom from stress!