body scan meditation
Healthy Living

How to Practice Body Scan Meditation

Aug 18 2021

You may think that there’s no way you could ever sit still while meditating for 20 minutes. However, there’s a trick to help with your restless mind and body. It’s called a body scan meditation.

With body scan mediation, there’s no need for a blank mind. In fact, if you did empty your mind during a body scan meditation, it wouldn’t help you very much.

What exactly is a body scan meditation?

A body scan meditation is a basic, easy form of meditation. It allows you to thoughtfully and mindfully scan your body for sensations of pain or tension. By pinpointing these feelings, you give them attention. Once you discover a feeling, it’s very likely it will dissolve and go away.

There is no one person who invented the body scan meditation as it is an outgrowth of meditation in general. However, it’s part of a focused mindfulness practice to improve mental health by reducing stress, known in the wellness community as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

How does a body scan meditation work?

You may wonder how focusing on a problem can reduce it. You will find that you actively dissolve problems during body scan meditation because only you know what your body needs or wants.

There is no right or wrong way to do a body scan meditation. Here are ways people who have practiced body scan meditation describe how they use it to reduce physical pain and stress:

  • Breathe deeply into the tense parts of the body to release the stress.
  • Visualize a healing liquid filling the area of pain or stress in the body.
  • Envision the pain or tension leaving the body as a puff of smoke.
  • Become curious about the pain or stress, talk to it and see if you can learn from it before its release.

A three-minute body scan meditation script

You can find many guided body scan meditations online to listen to. Lots of them run between 10 to 30 minutes. Some are for during the day while others are for right before going to bed.

Looking to do a quick body scan meditation in the middle of your busy day? Follow this three-minute script:

  • Begin by getting into a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes and go inward.
  • Bring your attention into your body.
  • Notice your body seated or lying down, feel the weight of your body on the chair, floor or bed.
  • Take a few deep breaths.
  • As you take a deep breath, bring in more oxygen to refresh the body.
  • And as you exhale, have a sense of relaxing more deeply.
  • Notice your feet on the floor, notice the sensations of your feet touching the floor, including the weight and pressure, vibration and heat.
  • Notice your legs pressing against the chair, floor or bed. Feel the pressure, pulsing, heaviness or lightness.
  • Notice your back against the chair, floor or bed.
  • Bring your attention into your stomach area. If your stomach is tense or tight, let it soften. Take a breath.
  • Notice your hands. Are your hands tense or tight? Allow them to soften.
  • Notice any sensation in your arms. Let your shoulders be soft.
  • Notice your neck and throat. Let them be soft. Relax.
  • Soften your jaw. Let your face and facial muscles be soft.
  • Then notice your whole body at present. Keep breathing.
  • Be aware of your whole body as best you can. Take a breath. And then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.

Body scan meditation mental health benefits

A body scan meditation is a way to pinpoint stress and relieve discomfort that builds up in your body. You can use a body scan meditation to achieve the following:

  • Ease pain
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve energy levels
  • Deepen self-compassion
  • Help reduce insomnia and fatigue
  • Enhance feelings of safety
  • Sharpen focus and concentration
  • Increase awareness of your body and surroundings

Feel that you have severe anxiety, insomnia or other mental health challenges? We at Mercy Health offer many integrated behavioral and mental health services.

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