Three Ways A Body Scan Improves Your Wellbeing
A body scan is a technique used in meditation and mindfulness to help you become aware of sensations in your body. It's a technique I teach frequently, and practice daily, because it is so simple and effective. It can be done in a long luxurious meditation, or in a quick any-time-of-day check-in.
Here are three ways a body scan can improve your whole wellbeing.
1. Get Out Of Your Head
Ever get so wrapped up in your own thoughts that it becomes difficult to focus on anything else? Thoughts tend to swirl around in our minds, building off one another. When we think the same thoughts over and over it turns in to rumination. When our mind is so wrapped up in what it's thinking, it leaves less brainpower to detect physical sensations or to handle the business of daily life. Enter the body scan.
A body scan helps you get out of your head and into your body. When you start to focus on the physical sensations in your body it helps your mind focus. In turn, the thoughts slowly dissipate and, perhaps, disappear altogether. You start to focus on what's real. Your heart beating. The temperature of your skin and surroundings. Your muscles relaxing.
When I find myself gettin too wrapped up in the goings on in my own mind, a body scan is the first tool I reach for in my mindfulness toolbelt.
2. Relax The Body
Tension and stress can build up in the physical body. I find myself clenching my jaw or hunching my shoulders in response to negative thoughts or emotions. Most of the time I don't realize I'm doing it until the tension has built up and it manifests as pain or strain.
We all have ingrained habits and ways of holding our body that may or may not be ultimately beneficial to our whole wellbeing. It is difficult to know what these habits are unless you take the time to look. A body scan is a great way to pause and observe yourself.
Try it now. Don't move a muscle. Observe how you're sitting in space. Are your legs crossed? Are your shoulders hunched? Perhaps this is the position you sit in for hours a day at your desk. Are you comfortable? A quick body scan can illuminate the answers to these questions, and more. When you become aware of your habits, you can then choose to work on changing them. It takes time. But, observation is the first step and a body scan can really help you out.
3. Unite Body and Mind
Many meditation and yoga practices aid in boosting the mind-body connection. When the mind-body connection is out of whack, we feel uneasy, stressed, agitated. We aim to create balance between the mind and body so neither is taking precedence in your daily life.
A body scan helps us to balance the physical and mental forces in our body. We can tap in to what feels off or unbalanced and bring our attention there. A great way to do that is to focus on the breath while you scan your body. Feeling yourself breathe helps you dive deeper into the subtle changes that happen in your body with each breath. You feel your lungs expand, of course, but can you also feel the spaces between each rib expand? Can you feel your collarbones widen? Can you feel your belly expand? Your spine lengthen? These are all fascinating changes that happen all day, every day, but we barely stop to notice them.
The breath is the great connector between the body and the mind. A big breath with a big sigh can equally be felt in the lungs and in the brain. It's a necessary part of life and is a joy to observe via a body scan.
A body scan is so simple. Now you just have to do it. Practice with me above and hopefully you'll make it part of your own mindfulness toolbox!
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Nicole Elipas Doherty
Co-Founder + CEO