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Body Scan meditation


Most of us are so consumed with the thousands of thoughts, distractions, worries, pressures each day brings, we have forgotten how to disengage. Meditation allows us to step off the roundabout occasionally and find some peace. The ‘body scan’ meditation is one of my favourites.

Body scan meditation is a mindfulness practice that involves systematically bringing attention to different parts of the body, usually starting from the toes and gradually moving up to the head, but you can start with the face and head and move down the body as well. The purpose of this meditation is to cultivate present-moment awareness, relaxation, and a deeper connection with the body.

When you practice any form of mindfulness, or meditation, if you find your mind wandering off into thoughts, at any time, this is normal, so you try to let go of those recurring thoughts, or sound distractions and steer your mind back to the present moment, in this case, it will be a part of your body. Each time you break the link from these distracting thoughts, you are taking a step towards a calmer mind.

Here's how a typical body scan meditation might be practised,

Preparation: Find a comfortable and quiet space where you can lie down or sit comfortably. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so. Try to let the body release, letting go of any tight, contracting muscles and feeling the effect of gravity, and heaviness, of your body. You are going to be still for a few minutes, so welcome that sensation.

Start by bringing your attention to your breath. Take a few deep breaths, allowing yourself to relax and settle into the present moment, then allow yourself to breathe naturally, without any control and notice that when you release breath, the body relaxes a little.

Direct your attention to your feet. Notice any sensations you may feel, such as warmth, tingling, or pressure. As you inhale, imagine breathing into your feet, bringing a sense of relaxation and ease with the release of your breath, you might try to visualise your feet, feel their weight and orientation, the touch of the floor, or clothing, or the toes together.

Slowly move your attention up through your body, one body part at a time. Pay attention to each area without movement, simply noticing any sensations, tension, or discomfort that may arise. Perhaps compare the sensations in one side of the body to the other, without any judgement or reaction, just noticing. As you progress, release any tension that you may be holding.

Moving upwards, continue scanning through each part of the body, such as the legs, hips, abdomen, chest, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, and head. Take your time with each area, allowing yourself to fully experience the sensations present. Pay attention to any areas where you might carry tension, or are tight, the shoulders, the pelvic basin, the jaw. If you feel yourself holding anywhere, try to soften and release with the breath.

As you scan each body part, observe any tension or areas of tightness. With each exhale, imagine releasing any tension or holding in that area, allowing it to soften and relax.

Once you have scanned through the entire body, take a few moments to bring your attention back to your breath. Notice how your body feels as a whole and observe any changes in the rt end depth of your breathing. Feel the heaviness again of the body and the pull of gravity. Return to any part of your body where you may hold tension and see if this has returned, when our mind drifts onto thoughts, this may have a consequential tightening of the body.

When you're ready, gently bring your awareness back to your surroundings. Wiggle your fingers and toes, stretch your body if needed, and slowly open your eyes.

Body scan meditation can be practiced for varying lengths of time, ranging from a few minutes to longer, depending on your preference and availability. Regular practice of body scan meditation can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, improve body awareness, and cultivate mindfulness in daily life.

 

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