Are you run down?
Beset with chronic pain?
Are aches causing you strife?
Or perhaps you’re interested in getting to know your body a bit better.
Whichever the case, doing body scan meditations may help.
Stress affects us in many ways, physically and mentally, and we often don’t realize the discomfort it causes, which frequently results in a negative feedback loop.
But body scans can interrupt the cycle.
So how are they done?
We’ve written a body scan meditation script to get you started.
- What Is a Body Scan Meditation?
- What Are the Benefits of a Guided Body Scan Meditation?
- How to Prepare for a Body Scan Mindfulness Meditation
- Calm Your Body And Mind With This Body Scan Meditation Script
- Ending Your Mindful Body Scan Meditation
What Is a Body Scan Meditation?
Before we get to the script, let’s review a few facts about body scans.
- Interestingly, body scanning is one of the most popular meditation methods.
- Doctors regularly recommend body scan work to patients who need help with chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety.
- The goal of body scan meditation isn’t necessarily to eliminate pain or discomfort but to recognize and understand it. Doing so will help you develop more efficient pain and stress management methods.
Technically speaking, a body scan is a sensory exercise in which you acknowledge every part of your body, in quiet contemplation, from the top of your crown to the end of your halluxes or index toes — whichever are longer.
What Are the Benefits of a Guided Body Scan Meditation?
Jon Kabat-Zinn — creator of mindfulness-based stress reduction programs (MBSR) — is a huge proponent of body scan meditations for a good reason: numerous benefits.
For starters, a study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that people who did body scans as part of a self-care routine are more self-aware.
Other perks include:
- Short-term and long-term stress reduction
- Decreased inflammation, which alleviates pain
- Diminished anxiety
- Ability to pinpoint and implement better pain management protocols
- Improve focus and concentration
- Gray matter retention — i.e., slows the brain-aging process
Why do body scan meditations help with pain management and other unpleasant conditions? There are a few reasons, but mainly because chronic pain has a psychological component.
Think of your brain like a road network wherein neurons are the roads, and the electrical impulses (which determine how we feel) are the vehicles.
Doing body scans is like throwing up a detour sign, forcing the signals to take another route — one that’s often better paved and more amenable.
How to Prepare for a Body Scan Mindfulness Meditation
How do you prepare to scan your body mindfully? Let’s take a look.
Prep Your Space and Yourself
Before you do anything, prep your space. Light incense or a scented candle if that’s your thing. Put on some calming meditation music.
If you’re using a body scan mindful meditation script, queue it up. Is the room temperature OK, or should you adjust it?
If you enjoy working with crystals and minerals, place them around the room in advantageous positions.
Some people like to shower beforehand and wear fresh, clean clothes. Others don’t care or prefer to body scan in the nude. The choice is yours.
Now it’s time to position yourself. Ideally, you want to find a place where you can lie down. A floor, mat, or bed all work fine — just make sure you’re as comfy as you can be given the situation.
Once you’ve prepped and gotten into position, it’s time for some deep breathing work. We do this to calm the parasympathetic nervous system and center ourselves in the moment.
Do as many deep breaths as you like to get in the zone. Take air in through your nose and feel it travel through your lungs, providing oxygen to your blood cells.
If you notice your shoulders going up and down, try to breathe more from your diaphragm.
Choose Your Route
Most people start body scans at their toes and work their way up. Some folks prefer to begin at the top or work down.
Others commence with their fingers on one hand and then circle around the body.
Try all three methods to determine which is best for you.
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Calm Your Body And Mind With This Body Scan Meditation Script
People have different goals for their body scan work.
Below is an introductory script for general body awareness and tension release.
Let’s start with a few deep breaths to relax your body and mind. Notice how your body connects with the surface beneath you as you inhale and exhale. Feel yourself joined with the floor. Your limbs may start to feel heavy. That’s perfectly fine. You’re safe. Do not worry.
With your eyes closed, start to detect certain parts of your body. Feel free to jump around. We’re just getting comfortable with the idea of noticing our components. How do your elbows feel? What about your knees? Your neck? Don’t fret if your mind wanders; simply guide your thoughts back to a body part.
Don’t judge how something feels. Just notice it.
Take another full breath. Follow it as it travels into your body and disperses. Once more. Deep breath in, notice how it fills you with life, and exhale.
Now it’s time to scan.
Direct all your attention to the tips of your big toes. Notice their temperature. Are they tingling? Throbbing? Or do you feel them in relation to the air? Whichever the case is fine. There are no wrong answers.
Now feel the whole toe. Run the same questions through your head.
Work your way down all your toes. The index toe, middle toe, ring toe, and finally, your baby toe.
Next, move to the souls of your feet. Notice the sensations. Now move to the top of your feet and up through the ankles.
All the while, keep your mind focused on your body. Keep breathing and continue to ask yourself sensory questions about each part.
We’re now at the lower leg. How do your muscles feel? Do you notice tension? If so, release it. Let it float out of you into the ether.
Knees next. Are they pained? Notice the sensation without judgment. Consider your thighs. Feel the energy around them.
Next up is your sacral area. Some people find it difficult to focus on this area because of ingrained social taboos — but push through that instinct. It’s healthy to know and feel your whole body. Your sacral area is the root of life, deserving of love and attention.
Slowly move to your stomach region. What’s going on? Notice how it’s the core of your body, your trunk.
Continue to make your way up your body, acknowledging your chest and sternum. When you reach the shoulders, travel down each arm, check in on each finger, then the palms of your hands, and travel back up to your neck.
We’re almost done.
Consult each feature on your face. Feel the energy around your eyes, nose, and mouth. Notice how they all respond to your inhales and exhales. Isn’t the human body incredible? Can you feel your ears? Give it a try.
Finally, we reach the head — the crown. Spend a little time up there, marveling at the majesty of the human brain. Consider how amazing it is.
We’ve reached the end of this body scan. Hopefully, you connected with your body more deliberately. Continue to do this daily to reap the full benefits.
As you go off to finish the rest of your day or head to sleep, try to hold the peace and relaxation you experienced during this body scan session with you.
Ending Your Mindful Body Scan Meditation
People conclude body scan meditations in several ways.
- Gratitude: You can never go wrong with gratitude. Think of saying a quick word of thanks to your body, your higher self, your lower self, a deity, or the Universe as “sealing the deal.” Besides, you’ll feel so relaxed when done that you’ll want to give thanks.
- Closing Breath Work: Ending a body scan with a round of deep breaths is also common. It shuts the door on the session and sets you in a calm mindset as you continue the rest of your day or head off to sleep.
- Post-Meditation Yoga: Doing three or four post-meditation asanas feels good, releases endorphins, and puts a cherry atop the body scan session.
Body scans can do a body good. Stick with it for at least a month to experience the full benefits.
We’re confident that it will become a lifelong habit if you do.