Boost Body Awareness With This 3-min Practice
Feeling like you’ve been run over by a car by the time you get home every night? The Mindfulness Body Scan Meditation may just be the self-care tool you need
Practicing mindfully reminds us to be aware of what’s going on in the present, while body scanning teaches us to tune in and listen to our bodies. By consciously observing each part of our physical being, we can identify where subconsciously held patterns reside and release them with awareness.
A great technique for focus and release
The Mindfulness Body Scan Meditation is particularly effective for quieting the mind, strengthening concentration, letting go of strain, and relaxing the breath.
It’s a good way for people to release tension
that they don’t even realise they’re experiencing.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School
Our physical experiences are often tied to our emotional experiences. We don’t realise it, but our negative feelings towards pain actually increases that very sensation. Anger and resistance to discomfort, only serves to heighten the distress associated with it. The good news is, research suggests that a mindfulness body scan practice can help to reduce stress, improve well-being, and decrease bodily aches and pains – studies indicate that we may find some relief by learning to experience our body without judgement.
Learning to let go of expectations…
“Non-judging” and “non-striving” are pillars of a mindful meditation practice. In this manner, the Mindfulness Body Scan Meditation provides the ideal setup for us to experience our body as it is, without judging or trying to change it. A body scan meditation is simply a way to understand our body better – there is no need to judge what we find during the scanning process, or to feel frustrated when our mind wanders. Just keep checking in with your body and notice what it’s experiencing. Learning to embrace whatever surfaces during meditation, be it good or bad, is exactly what mindfulness is all about.
A thorough body scan meditation usually takes 30 to 45 minutes of uninterrupted relaxation and focus, but all you need is three minutes a day to start a daily guided practice. Your journey into better body awareness comes with another plus: as you get to know yourself better in the process, you may find yourself entering a deep state of relaxation. The Mindfulness Body Scan Meditation is also easy to do while lying in bed, prepping you for more restful sleep.
First, find a comfortable seat or lie down. Begin by focusing your attention on your toes, and then your feet. Take slow, deep breaths as you zoom in on those areas of your body and notice any tension or pain. Systematically working upwards, continue to shift your focus onto different parts of your body and tune in to the tiny tingles or throbbing that you often don’t even notice. Take inventory of the sensations you feel in each body part – such as tight shoulders, clenched jaw muscles or furrowed brows, and let go of the tension as you continue to breathe deeply and slowly, moving upwards along your shins, knees, thighs and hips; abdomen and lower back; upper back and chest; neck and shoulders, and finally your face and head.
New to body scan meditation?
You may find this three-minute guided meditation produced by UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Centre (MARC) helpful. You can also refer to the script below for self-guidance, or if you’re leading this practice for others:
Begin by bringing your attention into your body.
You can close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you.
You can notice your body seated wherever you’re seated, feeling the weight of your body on the chair, on the floor.
Take a few deep breaths.
And as you take a deep breath, bring in more oxygen enlivening the body. And as you exhale, have a sense of relaxing more deeply.
You can notice your feet on the floor, notice the sensations of your feet touching the floor. The weight and pressure, vibration, heat.
You can notice your legs against the chair, pressure, pulsing, heaviness, lightness.
Notice your back against the chair.
Bring your attention into your stomach area. If your stomach is tense or tight, let it soften. Take a breath.
Notice your hands. Are your hands tense or tight. See if you can allow them to soften.
Notice your arms. Feel any sensation in your arms. Let your shoulders be soft.
Notice your neck and throat. Let them be soft. Relax.
Soften your jaw. Let your face and facial muscles be soft.
Then notice your whole body present. Take one more breath.
Be aware of your whole body as best you can. Take a breath. And then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.