There are as many ways to relax and meditate as there are benefits of meditation. So how do you choose? A good one to try if you’re just starting out is body scan meditation. A 2019 research review found that body scan meditation techniques can better your relationship with your body by increasing bodily awareness and positivity.
The following guide is a deep and full exploration of body scan, which is a meditative exercise that calls your awareness to each part of your body for total relaxation and rejuvenation. The body scan meditation is incredible for stress and anxiety relief, and wonderful to do in conjunction with a regular yoga practice or exercise routine.
For most, this is best to practice while lying down so you have full access to your body, although some people prefer to do it sitting down – it’s really what suits and is most comfortable for you. It’s recommended to do when you’ve completed the active part of your day when you’re winding down an active and frazzled mind.
Today I will be sharing with you an easy to follow how guide for practicing a meditation body scan. I hope you find this guide helpful.
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Meditation Body Scan – Ultimate Guide!
What is a body scan meditation?
It’s when you focus on how each body part feels, from the crown of your head to your toes, so that you learn your body’s physical distress signals. Body scan meditations are a very popular method of mindfulness. You practice by returning your awareness to yourself through focusing on different parts of the body.
There are infinite ways to start since there isn’t a single body scan meditation script. A lot of people find this relaxing and this helps to reduce anxiety (though the focus is to simply be present and aware of sensations). It is a very simple technique that anyone can practice. By directing your attention to how each part of your body feels, this type of meditation can help you better manage pain, stress and anxiety.
What are the benefits of body scan meditation?
Better Mind-Body Connection
Yoga and meditation teacher Jennifer Robinson, helps her students connect their mental and physical health with guided body scan meditation. The practice enables you to focus on the moment by what’s happening inside your body that you might’ve previously ignored.
“Body scan meditation introduces you to the three major categories of bodily experience: neutral, pleasant, and unpleasant,” Robinson says. “Regularly practicing body scan meditation, you’ll learn to support your mind calming down with less effort and focus,”
Research supports that having a mindfulness practice, like body scan meditation, increases self-compassion by rewriting negative thought patterns. Robinson suggests two to five minutes of body scan meditation to silence your inner critic. Since the brain can’t focus on multiple things at once, Robinson says body scan meditation “gets you out of mental loops.”
A Good Night’s Sleep
You can use body scan meditation to promote healthier sleep, as seen in this 2020 study of teens. The study reported that combining body scan meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy positively affects sleep more than CBT treatments alone.
Zen meditation teacher Taiun M. Elliston Abbot from the Atlanta Soto Zen Center says that his body scan meditation students report better sleep following the practice because the technique aims to ease tension and clear mental confusion.
When we experience stress, our bodies tense, and that’s where body scan meditation comes in. Participants in this 2019 psychological stress study had reduced cortisol (the stress hormone) levels following an eight-week body scan meditation stint.
5 tips for a body scan meditation
Body scanning takes practice and patience. Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, here are a few tips to help you improve your body scan practice:
- Find a quiet place: It’s easier to focus when there are fewer distractions. Find a safe, quiet place to do your body scan.
- Practice regularly: Regular practice of this meditation can help with stress management, tightness, and help ease (or prevent) pain or other unpleasant sensations, leading to improved physical and mental wellness. Try body scanning multiple times a day, whenever you feel stress or pain.
- Start small: Forcing your mind to focus on one thing at a time can be challenging. If it’s too difficult to stay focused when scanning your body, try concentrating on one area at a time per meditation (for instance, if you have pain in your elbow, try only scanning your arm).
- Try a guided meditation: There are apps, videos, and classes that can support your meditation sessions. Pre-recorded guided meditations usually feature a soft, soothing voice-over narration that can help practitioners stay on track. Below is an excellent guided body scan meditation that I use regularly.
- Avoid judgment: Try not to judge yourself too harshly if you’re unable to have a successful body scan or if you feel like it didn’t work for you. Getting to know the parts of your body better takes time and patience. You can always try again tomorrow.
Body scan meditation script
You should set aside at least ten minutes to do this practice. You can do it either lying down or sitting up.
Take a few full breaths to help your body and mind begin to relax. Feel the sensations where your body connects with the floor or surface under you. Feel your body getting heavy.
Starting by sensing your head. Sense your forehead and the area around your eyes. This is an area lots of us hold tension. There’s no right or wrong thing to feel. Just notice and gently name any sensations silently like warmth, tingling or pressure.
Let your attention move to the top of your head, to your scalp, and down the sides and back of your head. And feel your neck, the muscles along the back and sides, and even sense inside your neck and throat.
Now sense your shoulders, the large heavy muscles of your shoulders and shoulder blades. If you notice any tension or discomfort here, it’s not anything you need to change, just be aware of it. If you like, you can breathe into any area that feels some discomfort. This just means that you imagine your breath is moving in and out of the area, instead of your nose.
Let your attention move slowly down your arms, sensing your upper arms, elbows and lower arms. Sense the muscles and bones here. Feel the bones of your wrist and the softness of your palms. Our hands are a centre of so much activity and expression. Feel all the sensations in your palms, fingers and fingertips.
Now shift your attention to your chest around your heart and solar plexus. What do you notice there? Breathe and feel it. It may be different in the next moment. You’re just tuning in right now to your body to these precise physical sensations. And remember: be patient. Your body moves at a slower pace than your mind.
Now allow your attention to move into your stomach and hips. Let your attention rest here for a few breaths. Continue down your upper legs, knees and lower legs, taking as much time as you need to feel the sensations and awareness there. Remember that there’s no right or wrong experience, only to be as present and caring as you can.
Then move down into your feet, ankles, the soles of your feet and all ten toes. Your feet work so hard all day long: really feel all the muscles and tendons and tissues there.
Now, take a big breath and see if you can feel your whole body all at once sitting or lying here, breathing. From the tips of your toes, up through your legs, your torso, your arms, into your head and face. Feel your body as one, whole field of sensation and energy. Keep breathing and finish the practice. And when you’re ready, slowly open your eyes.
How to end your practice
How did it go? When you’ve finished the body scan meditation, take a moment to notice any sense of freshness, relaxation or grounding. Take a moment to observe and feel your body and mind, before you return to your day.
Once you have used this body scan meditation script a few times, try doing the practice in your own way. Move your attention through your body at your own pace, in any way you like, following the tips in this article and, most important, being curious and kind. You may find that going solo allows you to be even more attentive to what is going on for you, and to connect more deeply with your inner world.
Meditation body scan – Final thoughts
This simple practice can be done as much as you like. Studies have shown that regular practice of the body scan can reduce stress and have a positive effect on emotional and physical well being.
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