At this point, you’ve probably heard all about the benefits of meditation. But with so many types of meditation to choose from, it can be overwhelming to start.
Enter a body scan, a meditative practice that involves mentally scanning your body for pain, tension, or anything out of the ordinary.
Developing a greater awareness of bodily sensations can help you feel more connected to your physical self and learn more about potential causes of unwanted feelings.
This knowledge can make it easier to sort out what’s wrong, leading to a better body and mind.
Benefits of a regular practice
Experts have found evidence that meditation can improve physical and emotional health in a variety of ways, such as:
- improved sleep
- relief from anxiety and stress
- more self-awareness
- increased self-compassion
- reduced pain
- reduces cravings when quitting smoking. Trusted Source
We spoke to renowned yoga expert and trainer Samiksha Shetty, who suggested a simple body scan meditation technique to relieve stress and tension.
Shetty says, “A simple body scan meditation is a good way to release physical tension stored in the body. By mentally scanning yourself, you gradually bring awareness to body parts and bodily sensations, starting with the feet and moving up to the head.”
If you practice regularly, you will reap these incredible benefits of meditation:
- Body scan meditation can help increase your ability to bring your full attention to present experiences as they occur in real-time.
- It helps train your mind and body to explore, feel, and deal with pleasant and unpleasant sensations. It helps us learn to notice what’s happening when we hang in there and feel what’s happening in our bodies. All this without trying to fix, change or judge anything.
- Body scan meditation is a beneficial and effective meditation that can help you return to and maintain a relaxed state when you feel stressed.
- It can help you relax, get rid of anxious thoughts, and feel calmer. In general, regular exercise can often relieve stress that keeps you awake.
- It can promote physical and emotional health in many ways, such as better sleep, relief from anxiety and stress, greater self-awareness, increased self-compassion, reduced pain, and reduced cravings.
How to do a body scan meditation?
As with all forms of meditation, the body scan should be simple. You can think of a body scan as a mental X-ray slowly traveling through your body.
1. Be comfortable
Start by lying down and allow your limbs to stretch fully. Sitting upright is also an option if this is not possible or comfortable.
Focus on deep breathing
Close your eyes and begin by focusing on your breath. Slowly slow down your breathing and start breathing from your belly. Inhale – let the belly expand or inflate like a balloon. Breathe – squeeze/empty the stomach.
2. Bring awareness
Now slowly bring your full attention to your feet. Start by noticing any sensations you feel there. If you feel pain, acknowledge it and any accompanying thoughts or feelings and breathe gently.
“If you start to feel pain and discomfort, accept whatever emotions these feelings bring up and sit. Accept them without judgment or criticism. For example, don’t judge yourself for feeling these feelings if you feel frustrated or angry. Silently and quietly notice them and let them pass. Make yourself aware, but be discreet,” says Shetty, co-founder of Moon Village Cafe.
One of the most significant benefits of meditation is that you will become more accepting and love yourself and others more.
3. Scan your entire body
Continue this exercise with each area of your body, slowly moving from your feet to the top of your head. Pay attention to how you feel and where you hold stress.
If you feel discomfort in any body part during the scan, focus on that part only. Notice any tightness, pain, or pressure you feel along the way. Breathe into that part of the body.
4. Go slow
Spend 20 seconds to 1 minute observing these sensations in each section. To reap the benefits of meditation, Shetty recommends continuing to breathe, imagining that pain and tension are easing with each breath. With each inhalation and exhalation, feel or visualize the stress leaving your body with your exhalation.
Stress management will become easier if you try this body scan meditation.
5. Let it go
Slowly release your mental awareness of that particular body part and direct it to the next area of focus.
6. Keep a traveler’s mind
As you continue to scan your body, notice when your thoughts drift, and your mind wanders. This will likely happen a few times, so don’t stress about it. You have not failed; you can quickly get your thoughts back on track. Gently bring your awareness back to where you stopped scanning.
Focusing during meditation is not as difficult as you might think.
After scanning the entire body, say “Om” three times. This is optional, but if you know the benefits of chanting Om, you can do it! When you’re done, gently wiggle your toes and fingers. Put your feet together, raise both hands above your head and stretch in opposite directions. Place your palms gently in front of your chest, rubbing your palms together to create some warmth. Place your palms slowly over your eyes. Close your eyes and then slowly open your eyes.
Shetty shares, “If you don’t have a lot of time, you can do a short version of this body scan meditation by just sitting and noticing where you are carrying tension in your body, rather than moving from part to part of your body. . It will be easier if you practice body scan meditation.”
Make it a habit
You may notice some improvements right away. Still, a body scan may have no effect. It can also make your anxiety worse by raising your awareness of it.
This may put you off meditating altogether, but try a few to see if things improve.
Many people don’t enjoy meditation or see no benefit the first few times they try it. But experts suggest that it’s worth meditating regularly even if you don’t like it.
Regular meditation can lead to positive changes in your brain, including:
- improved focus
- an increase in compassion and other positive emotions
- more extraordinary ability to cope with unwanted emotions
If it helps, you can think of meditation as an exercise for your brain. Maybe you don’t want to sweat all the time, especially if you’ve already had a tough day. But your training is generally more accessible once you get going, right?
You can feel pretty good when you’re done working out, and maintaining an exercise routine usually makes it more accessible over time.