Yoga is the practice of unifying the mind, body, and spirit through breath work, posture, and awareness. Unfortunately, if you’re starting from a state where you’re pretty out of touch with your physical body, getting anywhere close to this state of oneness can seem a lot more difficult than it probably should be.
One of the best ways you can become more aware of your body is by doing a body scan meditation. The whole goal of this type of meditation is to focus on one part of the body at a time and tune into how it feels without trying to change it.
Doing a body scan can help you identify any physical pain or sensations you may be feeling and any links between those physical feelings and your emotions. It may serve as a valuable regular practice that can help you discover ways to work through any stress, anxiety, tension or other physical pain in the body.
The Step-By-Step Process
Like all forms of meditation, doing a body scan is meant to be simple. Here are the steps you need to take to successfully complete a full body scan meditation.
- Lie down or sit comfortably in a place where you won’t be interrupted.
- Start by bringing your awareness to your breathing. Take three deep breaths as you mindfully tune into your thoughts and emotions, observing them as they flow freely.
- Choose to start your body scan either at the top of your head or the tip of your toes. You’ll work down or up from there.
- As you place your awareness on that body part, tune into what you feel there. You may feel pain, aching, itchiness, tingling, firmness, lightness, heaviness, warmth, coldness, or possibly even nothing.
- Once you’re aware of what you physically feel in that area, expand your awareness to see if it also triggers your emotional state (a positive feeling, a negative feeling, or a neutral feeling).
- Now bring your awareness back your breath and feel it reach down through your entire body as you breathe in, then exhale as you let go of any tension in the body part you just focused on.
- Remember not to try and control anything — just let those physical and emotional feelings be as they are.
- Move up or down to the next body part. If you started from your toes, you’d move to the soles of your feet. If you started from the top of your head, you’d move to your ears or your forehead.
- Repeat steps 4 to 7 as you move through each individual body part.
- Take as little as five minutes or as long as 45 minutes to go through each part of your body.
- When finished, take a minute or so to just be aware and feel your entire body as whole, relaxed, and loved — even if you still feel any discomfort in some areas.
This is the perfect meditation practice when you’re just waking up in the morning or lying down at night to go to bed. A morning body scan will help you feel more present and in tune with your body throughout the day while a nighttime body scan will help you relax more effectively so you can drift off to sleep.
Try it for yourself! You might be surprised just how healing such a simple practice can truly be.
Photo (edited) via Amy