Body Scan Meditation to elicit relaxation
Body scan meditation can be in-depth or basic simple. I use simple body scanning at night if I’m slow to fall asleep, as a form of meditation. I do a quick head to toe body scan to determine what muscles are tense. This increases my awareness of areas I need to focus on.
For example, it’s usually my neck and jaw muscles giving me trouble. Like my head is struggling to relax and get comfortable on my pillow. I start there. Then I notice my shoulders may be tensed, then my abdomen.
At this point, I start my positive wording and breathing techniques. As I breathe in, inhale, I repeat to myself (in thought, not out loud) “calm” as I exhale, I repeat “and relax.” I do this over and over, sometimes alternating “calm” with other words like, “peace” or “quiet.” While doing this, readjusting my head for comfort on my “soft pillow.”
Using wording like this makes the experience more meaningful and relaxing. To make a conscious effort of wording in my head, stops (visualizing a STOP sign) the unnecessary random chatter. You know, things like, “did I lock the door”, or things I should have said in conversations that day or even last week. Annoying. I continue to focus on relaxing any tense muscles as I do my quick body scans. I focus on sinking into my “soft, comfortable bed, feeling the cool sheets under my warm covers.”
How to do a quick body scan
Body scan meditation can be practiced more in-depth for several weeks (the longer, the better) to achieve desired outcomes. Practiced for 20-30 minutes a day for 3-7 days a week is usual at first. This practice leads to quicker relaxation response times.
Let’s look at what a quick 5-10-minute session (could be longer) of body scan meditation may consist of as we move through the “toe to head” muscle groups. If you choose, you may reverse and go from “head to toe.”
You can either have someone read the script or record it in your own voice and listen as you focus on yourself (eventually after repetition, you will memorize the wording and not need the recording). It helps if you relieve your bladder first. Try to find a quiet place you feel safe in, with a comfortable room temperature. Mute your electronic phone devices.
Ready? Let’s begin.
Begin by making yourself comfortable by either sitting in a soft chair or lying down on a soft mat or your bed. Set your intention, let go of the past and future. Close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you. Notice your body, feeling the weight of your body on the chair, or where you are positioned. Take a few deep breaths in slowly, exhaling naturally. Bringing in more oxygen with each breath. As you exhale, have a sense of relaxing your muscles more deeply.
Notice your feet, the sensations of your feet, the weight and pressure against the supporting surface. Readjust for comfort if needed. Notice your legs and thighs where you are positioned, pressures, pulsing, heaviness, or lightness, relax and release any tensions. Next, notice your buttocks, relax if tense. Notice your back against the surface. Now, bring your attention to your stomach area, allowing the muscles to soften if tense.
Remembering to breathe, take a breath, relaxing on breathing out. Notice your hands. Are they tense or clenched? See if you can allow them to open and soften. Notice your arms, feeling any sensations pulsating or streaming through your arms, release any tensions. Now, notice your shoulders and release any tension. Notice your neck muscles, allow it to relax if tense.
Soften your jaw muscles and allow any tension to relax and release. Let your face and facial muscles be soft. Notice your whole body, relaxed. Take in another breath with increased awareness of your relaxed body, exhaling naturally. Again, another breath in slowly, exhaling naturally. When you’re ready, open your eyes if they were closed and move mindfully into the moment.
I hope you find this helpful.
Remember, sometimes you may find your thoughts have drifted off task, that’s okay, it happens. Just redirect your attention back on task and be gentle with yourself. Congratulate yourself for noticing the slip and redirecting your thoughts. You are now building new neuro pathways to increase your awareness while maintaining a relaxed presence. Eventually, you will be able to do quick scans any time, especially during stressful situations to elicit relaxation.
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