If you’re new to meditation, this can be a great way to get started.
The body scan is a lying down meditation where you are very relaxed and very aware. Most body scans take 25-45 minutes.
How to do a body scan meditation
Paul Jeannotte, Wellbeing Instructor at the George Wellbeing Center offers the basics on how to get started with a body scan mediation:
- Find a source for guided body scan meditation—search online for videos.
- Prepare your space—choose a place where you won’t be disturbed, put away electronic devices that might distract you and place a yoga mat on the ground.
- Get on your mat and lie on your back (if you practice yoga, this is also known as shavasana).
- Move your attention to the parts of your body—starting with your toes and working your way up to your head. The object is to be aware of feelings and sensations in the body—for example, temperature, texture of fabric, an itch, soreness, etc.
- Relax and pay attention to what wisdom your body has. Explore the feelings and sensations you encounter during the scan with curiosity and without judgement.
Reasons to try a body scan
If you’re new to meditation, this can be a great way to get started because a guided body scan formally walks you through where to focus during your practice. It’s a unique opportunity to be as still as possible, and in a position where most everything is relaxed and not doing the muscular work of sitting up or standing.
If you feel stressed, a body scan can help you uncover where you hold stress in your body. During a scan, you can slow down and listen to your body.
If you have chronic pain, illness or trauma in the body, this is a way to take control over how you experience a particular feeling. Paul says, “Many people have an experience of how they hold pain in the body and it’s a natural response to try and avoid such feelings. The body scan allows you to turn toward these feelings, creating an awareness and acknowledgement of the truth. This can be the beginning of finding a place of healing and wholeness or reframe our attitudes about what’s possible in terms of health and wellness.”
Alternatively, you should not use a body scan as part of a routine to fall asleep. Although the body scan meditation is done in a relaxed position, Paul suggests that you keep your practice focused on cultivating health and wellbeing in your mind and body—which requires you to be both relaxed and aware. To stay awake during a body scan, you might keep your eyes open during your practice, or take a short walk before lying down.