The Body Scan Meditation – or Body Scan Technique – is a formal mindfulness practice. (Formal means that we set a specific time during the day aside from other activities to practise being mindful).
As the name suggests, the Body Scan involves bringing attention to each or specific parts of the body. It is widespread to start with the feet and move up and through the body. The practitioner uses their focused, full, and sustained attention to bring awareness to one part of the body at the time, to recognize and experience physical sensations and signals there.
During the day, much of our attention focuses on our thoughts and matters outside our bodies. Occupied by our job, social interactions, or just distracted by daily life chores, we pay very little attention to physical signals like pain, tension, or discomfort, increasing the risk for burnout and other stress-related issues and illnesses.
The Body Scan Meditation is a beginner-friendly, guided or non-guided method that can be used to get more in touch with body sensations, become familiar with them, and understand their message.
By sending our awareness and concentration through the physical body, drawing our attention to one single part or point only, we allow ourselves to let go of distracting thoughts. It is very typical, though, that unrelated thoughts are coming up during the practice. They teach us the quality and pattern of our mind in general, highlighting recurring themes that we repeatedly use in life.
While we often criticize and judge ourselves for being distracted, the Body Scan Technique enables us to detect when our attention wanders and how to refocus with self-compassion and self-forgiveness.
The Body Scan is most beneficial when practiced often and regularly, best daily. The more repetitions, the greater the effect on the body, mind, and life.
Here is an example of a guided 10-minute Body Scan Meditation:
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