The Power of Body Scanning
Years ago, a therapist taught me how to body scan and, ever since, it’s changed my life in an incredible way.
Body scanning is a terrific therapeutic technique for everyone, but can be especially helpful for those of us that suffer from anxiety. Body scanning can help you identify anxiety, moodiness, hunger, anger, pain, and so much more. More than that: it’ll help clue you on the path to why you may be feeling a certain way.
Essentially, body scanning is a great way to connect body and mind, which will end up reducing stress, decreasing muscle tension and increasing pain tolerance. It encourages self-awareness of body functions, emotions and sensations we might otherwise ignore. This creates everyday mindfulness and intention. Body Scanning shifts your mind and attention away from negative thoughts and pain.
How to body scan
Body scanning is closely aligned with meditation, but once you get good at it, you won’t need to sit in a special, silent area to do so.
As with meditation, there are plenty of ways to body scan. Some feel more natural to some people over others. Again, when you first start out, you may decide you need more time, as you don’t “feel” anything right away. And that’s ok! You do you, girl.
In this case, I’ll share what I do. Feel free to use your own practices or something you find online (like this great meditation for beginners).
- Sit or lay down in a comfortable position. Like any meditation practice, it’s helpful to take several intentional breaths to clear your mind and enhance the mind-body connection.
- Then imagine taking inventory of your entire body. I like to literally imagine scanning my body from the crown of my head slowly down to the tips of my toes.
- Take note of anything that feels “off”: painful, uncomfortable, tense, or otherwise unusual. As with mindfulness in meditation, buzzing or tingling is a typical feeling when you bring awareness to a certain part of your body.
- After completing your scan, take actionable steps to remedy what’s going on in your body.
To give you a real life example of what I mean: I will often body scan when I’m just feeling off. Perhaps I’m irritable or moody and I don’t know why. A quick body scan may clue me in that it’s been a while since I’ve eaten. Mystery solved: I’m hangry!
Another example is that I may discover I’m holding a lot of tension in my chest. This is often where I personally hold my anxiety, so I’m feeling tension here, I need to do more mediation and more work on where that anxiety is coming from so I can remedy it.
Why it works
Just like any other meditation, improving the connection between the mind and body improves your overall self-awareness.
This is more powerful than you realize, especially in today’s world. How many times have you, like me, taken far too long to realize you are hungry because you distracted with other things? How many times have you lashed out at a loved one because you were angry over a situation that didn’t involve them and hadn’t properly dealt with those feelings?
An active body scanning practice can help with all of this! Like I said, once you have the basics down, you’ll be able to perform quicker body scans throughout your day and, in short, deal with small issues before they become major ones.
Have you ever tried body scanning? If not, give it a try and let us know what you think!