Does meditation just mean concentrating on breathing? Well, not exactly, considering there are a number of ways to meditate. One such way is by performing body scan meditation which is recommended for people who have just started building a meditation practice.
Researchers have found that body scan meditations can help you become more self-aware and feel more relaxed and less anxious. It also helps to induce better sleep and teaches to be self-critical.
So, how does body scan meditation work? According to some studies, it can help enhance awareness of sensations occurring in the body, offering understanding into deeper feelings without judging or trying to modify them.
What is Body Scan Meditation?
A body scan meditation is a type of meditation practice that requires you to focus on the sensations in your body. During such meditation, you will notice how each body part feels from your toes to your head. Sensations are anything you feel or notice in your body, such as cramping, tingling, heat, tightness, buzzing, itching, coolness, pulsing, throbbing, or numbness.
This meditation helps people bring their attention to the present moment since you can only feel what is happening in the here and now.
The idea behind this meditation is that physical sensations are associated with emotional states. You may not even realize that stress, anger, sadness, or any other emotions trigger physical symptoms like tightness in the chest, heartburn, and headache.
Here we will briefly discuss how you can do a body scan meditation and why you should do it. So, continue reading.
How to Do Body Scan Meditation?
Below are some instructions to get you started with the meditation process.
Get Comfortable – If you are doing body scan meditation before going to sleep, you may lay down. If that is not possible or comfortable for you, sitting comfortably is also a good option.
Close Your Eyes – After sitting or laying down comfortably, close your eyes or at least lower your eyelids. And let your eyes relax.
Take Deep Breaths – Let your breathing be slow, and start inhaling from your belly instead of from your chest, allowing your abdomen to expand and contract with every breath. If you notice your shoulders rising and falling with every breath, focus more on your breathing from the belly as though a balloon is expanding and deflating in your abdomen with each breath.
Bring Awareness to Your Feet–Now,gently bring your attention down to your feet. Start observing sensations in your feet. If you are sensing pain, acknowledge it and any thoughts or emotions that come with it, and slowly breathe through it.
Breathe Into Your Tension–If you are feeling any uncomfortable sensations, focus your attention on them. Breathe into them and see what happens. Visualize the stress leaving your body through your breath and fading away into the air. Move on when you feel ready.
- Scan your Full Body – Continue this process with every part of your body, slowly moving up through your feet until you reach the peak of your head. Now notice how you feel and where you are holding your tension or stress. If there is any tightness, pressure, or pain, continue to breathe into any tightness, pressure, or pain you are sensing. This will help you release tension from your body and be more aware of it in the future so that you can release it then, too.
- A body scan meditation can be performed while sitting, laying down, or in any other posture. Sitting may be best if it helps you to stay awake. On the other hand, laying down is best if it helps you to sleep.
- Make sure you are in a comfortable and relaxing position as well as a location that is not distracting.
- You may want to place a pillow under your knees to help eliminate stress off of your back. You can also use a pillow or folded blanket under your head if that makes you comfortable.
- You should lay or sit down in a place where the lights are dimmed instead of shining in your face.
- Practice this meditation whenever you feel stress or several times in a day as a regular practice.
Why Should You Practice Body Scan Meditation?
What is a body scan meditation good for? Below are some of the benefits associated with this meditation –
Increases Self-Awareness – Several studies have revealed that people who practice body scan meditation regularly experience greater self-awareness levels, mindfulness (they can observe their thoughts and emotions without reacting), and improved psychological health.
One of the key reasons to practice this meditation is to tune in to what you are feeling instead of ignoring how your emotions affect your body. This meditation can also help you notice what is going on in your mind or body without having to hold on to emotions, allowing you to let them go and run their course.
Has Relaxing Effect–This is one of the most commonly recommended meditations for people dealing with chronic stress and anxiety symptoms. It can help to reduce muscular tension and tightness in the body and other symptoms associated with stress like pain, inflammation, digestive problems, insomnia, and headache.
With lots of practice, you will get better at observing stressful thoughts and emotions without overreacting or ignoring them.
Beneficial for Sleep–A body scan exercise can be very relaxing if you practice it before sleeping. Studies have shown that this meditation helps to induce sleep in people who face sleep disturbances.
While laying in your bed comfortably, try listening to a body scan with soothing music while gradually focusing on relaxing your body from toe to head. This can help to stop the noise in your head and set your mind to rest, making it easier to fall asleep.
- May Enhance Focus–A quick body scan exercise for less than 10 minutes is a great way to reset during a chaotic day by giving your mind a short break. By allowing your thoughts to go and your mind to relax as you focus on your body, you may find that you gain more energy and increased attentiveness afterward, especially if your environment is hectic.
How Long Should A Body Scan Exercise Take?
It depends on how much time you can invest and your preferences. There is no strict time limit, but experts recommend practicing this meditation for at least 20 to 40 minutes to let yourself relax. If you are short on time, even a 5 minutes body scan exercise can be beneficial.
However, if you want to get the most benefits from this meditation, then you need to be consistent.
The Bottom Line
A body scan meditation is a practice that involves mindfully scanning your entire body by paying attention to every sensation. If you perform this exercise daily, you may notice some improvement immediately. It helps to get relief from pain, reduce stress, improve awareness and focus, enhances self-compassion and gratitude, and more.
You can practice this meditation for 30-40 minutes. However, if you are new, begin with shorter sessions.
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Authored By: Ankita Agarwal
About Author: Ankita Agarwal is a Health & Wellness Coach from Siliguri, India