I’m often asked, WTF is a body scan? You hear the term here and there in the meditation and wellness world. It is a really simple tool – it just sounds more complicated and scientific than it actually is. A body scan is a mental technique you can use that, surprisingly, has physical results – that’s what makes it so cool.
Gravity is all around us, and being a human in gravity is hard work. There are all kinds of effects that this force has on our bodies, including tiring out our muscles, causing them to get stressed and tense. When we’re stressed in any way, the muscles can tighten, causing all kinds of issues in the body. It can be both painful and irritating.
So what is a body scan? It’s a simple exercise where you mentally shift focus from one part of your body, to another, and then another. I love this exercise because it helps me relax, notice and release tension, and prioritize my focus.
A simple body scan exercise:
1. Start by focusing your awareness on the top of your head, moving down to your feet; shift that focus from the front of your body to the back of your body.
2. Notice any tension in the muscles. Get as detailed as you wish, honing in on spots like your biceps, jaw, eyelids, and so on.
3. Be aware of seeing if there is tension in muscle or not. When you focus mentally on a body part, inwardly say to that muscle “Relax; let go; soften.” Whatever wording works best for you.
Use this method to relax when you are feeling stressed, tight, having trouble sleeping, waiting for your plane to take off, or anytime you need some TLC.
A body scan exercise can be as short as 15-seconds or can span multiple minutes – whatever works for you. Feel free to do as many scans as you need. It usually takes more than 1 scan to fully relax and truly reap the benefits. Practice makes perfect.