Body scanning is a simple yet effective practice that I teach to my clients. It helps release resistance to pain and emotion during their session and assists the body in letting go. If you have a yoga practice or stretching routine, it can help you let go deeper. Once your skills are honed, it can be used in everyday life to diffuse anger between you and another person. In addition, it can help release anxiety or tension in the body and be used in many situations.
Start by lying on the floor in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. The floor is preferable to your bed or couch because the firmness will help find areas of tension. In addition, you have a more intimate connection with your bed that could interfere with you staying awake and aware. If you begin falling asleep then you are resisting the practice and not giving it your full attention. If lying down is not possible you can sit in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair. Eventually with enough practice you can do body scanning anywhere and anytime.
Sometimes when we are having trouble releasing pain or emotion, it is because we are resisting unconsciously. We think that if we resist it will be less painful, however just the opposites happens, the pain increases. We must develop our awareness to this resistance to let it go.
Here is an example of body scanning: While lying on the floor I feel a tight area at the base of my neck but I cannot release the tension. I scan away from the tight area and through the body looking to find other places of tension that I can release. I find that I am able to relax my feet and forehead. Then I notice that I am clinching my teeth and holding my breath. As I release these places I move on to find other new places. I continue doing this and every once in awhile I circle back through the body starting with the first place again to see if it has tensed back up. Once I check in with these places, I continue looking for different places that I can relax. From time to time, I circle back moving through each one from the beginning and I continue this endless circle until I feel like I am done. This could take five minutes or longer depending on what you feel and want to do. Once you are done, open your eyes and then with awareness feel the difference in each area of your body.
You may notice that if you had pain that it has decreased or disappeared. On the other hand, you may notice that first area of tension that you identified and scanned away from is more relaxed. If it does not feel that way do not get discouraged notice what has shifted. Put your attention on what is different instead of just looking at what you feel is wrong or a problem.
If you commit to this exercise everyday for several weeks, you will begin to develop a closer connection to your body and the signals that it sends you. This can affect your life in ways that you would not expect like your diet, the exercise you do and many other areas of your life. Just be open to the possibilities that can come from this simple exercise and expect more things to be revealed with practice.
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