Are you so caught up in your day-to-day life that you don’t realize that the physical discomfort you’re experiencing is actually connected to your emotional state? Stress, anxiety and depression can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain, shoulder pain and tense muscles. You’ve probably heard all about the benefits of meditation. But with so many types of meditation to choose from, getting started can feel overwhelming.
Health Shots spoke to Samiksha Shetty, a celebrity yoga expert and yoga trainer, who suggested a simple body scan meditation technique to ward off 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 bring awareness to parts of the body and bodily sensations in a gradual order, Starting from the feet and moving up towards the head.”
You will reap these awesome benefits of meditation if you do a regular practice:
- A body scan meditation can help enhance your ability to bring your full attention to the present experiences happening in real time.
- It helps train your mind and body to explore, feel and deal with pleasant as well as unpleasant sensations. It aids in learning to notice what happens when we simply hang in there and feel what’s going on within our body. All that without trying to fix, change or judge anything.
- The body scan meditation is a very useful and effective meditation that can help you return to and maintain a relaxed state when you feel stressed out.
- It can help you relax, let go of troubling thoughts, and feel calmer. Overall, regular practice can often ease distress that’s keeping you awake.
- It can promote physical and emotional wellness in multiple ways, such as, improved sleep, anxiety and stress relief, greater self-awareness, increased self-compassion, reduced pain, reduced cravings.
How to do a body scan meditation?
As with all forms of meditation, doing a body scan is meant to be simple. You can think of a body scan as a mental X-ray that slowly travels across your body.
1. Get comfortable
Start by lying down and allow yourself to stretch your limbs out completely. If that’s not possible or comfortable, sitting upright comfortably is also an option.
Focus on deep breathing
Close your eyes and begin by focusing on your breath. Gently let your breathing slow down, and start breathing through your belly. Inhale- let the belly expand or inflate like a balloon. Exhale- contract/ deflate the belly.
2. Bring awareness
Now slowly bring all your attention down onto your feet. Begin by observing any sensations that you feel there. If you notice any pain, acknowledge it and any thoughts or emotions that accompany it, and gently breathe through it.
“If you begin to notice pain and discomfort, acknowledge and sit with any emotions these sensations bring up. Accept them without any judgement or criticism. For example, if you feel frustrated and angry, don’t judge yourself for feeling these emotions. Silently and calmly notice them and let them pass. Keep yourself aware but detached,” says Shetty, who is also the Co-founder of Moon Village Cafe.
3. Scan your entire body
Continue this practice with each area of your body, gradually moving from your feet upwards to the top of the head. Notice how you feel and where you’re holding stress. During the scan if you notice any uncomfortable sensations in any part of the body, focus all your attention solely on that part. Notice if there’s any tightness, pain or pressure that you feel along the way. Breathe into that part of the body.
4. Go slow
Spend anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute observing these sensations on each part. To get the benefits of meditation, Shetty advises to continue breathing, imagining the pain and tension decreasing with each breath. With every inhale and exhale feel or visualize the tension leaving your body through your breath.
Slowly release your mental awareness on that specific part of your body and redirect it to your next area of focus.
6. Catch the wandering mind
As you continue to scan across your body, note when your thoughts begin to drift and your mind begins to wander. This will happen probably more than once, so don’t stress about it. You haven’t failed, you can easily get your thoughts back on track. Just gently return your awareness to where you left off scanning.
Once you finish scanning the entire body, chant ‘Om’ three times. This is optional, but if you know the benefits of chanting Om, you might end up doing it! Once you’re done, slowly wiggle your toes and fingers. Get your feet together, raise both your hands above your head and stretch in opposite directions. Gently get your palms in front of your chest, rub your palms together creating some heat. Slowly place your palms on your eyes. Cup 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 any place in your body that you’re carrying tension, rather than moving from part to part. This will become easier the more you practice body scan meditation.”