BODY SCAN MEDITATION // WHAT IT IS & HOW TO PRACTICE IT

Hey babes! it’s been a while (oops).

the things I’ve seen, ways I’ve expanded as a person, and experiences I’ve had since I last posted a little over a month ago are overwhelming and have been quite honestly transforming to say the least! I’m so excited to share some of them with you!

while on my 11 day road trip across the southern US with my fellow yogi babes, we were talking about body awareness. so many people in today’s hectic and disconnected world aren’t just disconnected from others, the earth, and Divine Love… they are also severely disconnected from themselves, including their physical body.

sounds crazy? let me explain.

as we drove through the vast expanse of desert, and climbed into slot canyons, and dangled over deep precipices, it was so clear to me how disconnected I am from the earth. if you believe in what the Genesis creation poem has to offer, you’ll notice the deep relationship planted within us toward the earth– working its soil, gathering good things from it, caring for and appreciating it… even being made from it! of course we’re meant to be connected to the earth!

but so many things come in the way of that- staying up past the sunset and waking up long after the sun rises is just one of the ways we have become lost and disconnected from nature. as I began to find myself in nature again on this trip, I realized something- I hadn’t even noticed how disconnected I was!

when I teach yoga classes, so many people arrive completely disconnected from their body. there are as many reasons for it as there are people. be it body trauma, sexual assault or abuse, childhood obesity, eating disorders, or simply a lifestyle not conducive to paying attention to the body’s signals, we’ve fallen out of touch with our body’s communication.

enter body scan meditation. 🙂 

as a little child, when I was restless at bedtime and couldn’t fall asleep, my dad would sit by my bed as I lied down and tell me to be very still and relax every muscle in my body individually, starting with my toes. usually I was asleep before I reached my head!

he didn’t know it (and neither did I, then!), but he was teaching me the absolutely crucial skill of body awareness through body scan meditation, as a five or six year old!

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body scan meditation is a great way to practice listening to and getting comfortable with communicating to your body. if your body awareness is very low, it may help to have a friend you trust assist you!

here’s how to do it:

ONE | put away any electronics, distracting items, anything that makes noise, etc. choose a place where you won’t be disturbed and where you feel comfortable. choose a place where you have plenty of room to lie down, all stretched out. this could even be your bed, as long as you’re not in danger of falling asleep 😉

TWO | when you’ve found and cleared your space so that it’s calm and comfy, lie down on your back and get comfortable. bring your legs together, or splay them out. place a pillow under your head or lie it flat.
when you’re situated and ready, place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. close your eyes and begin to breathe, feeling the breath reach deep into your belly with your hands. spend a minute or so just deepening your breathing and feeling out the space where your breath goes. if you’re a visual person who has trouble focusing, “watch” your breath travel by imagining seeing it go from deep in your chest out through your nostrils and vice versa.

THREE | choose whether you would like to move from your forehead down, or your toes up. there is no wrong choice! I like to start with my toes because that is how I have done it since I was small. 🙂 there are many great ways to do this, but i like to use visualization because it helps keep me focused.
envision either simply your toes, or a soft light in the muscles of the toes. imagine that the soft light instantly melts whatever it touches into a relaxed state. allow the muscles  in your toes to completely relax.

FOUR | “watch” that light travel slowly through your feet, melting the tense muscle into soft, relaxed muscle.
continue to spread the light up through your ankles, calves and shins, and knees.
when the light reaches your abdomen, imagine your breath giving the light more relaxation power. “watch” the light and your breath mingle together in your belly and let your breaths deepen further.
as the light reaches your chest, imagine it softening the heart.

FIVE | continue until it reaches the crown of your head. hold the light there for a moment. then, imagine your whole body filled up with this softening, relaxing light. you are relaxed and completely limp and calm. there is not a tense space in your body.

SIX | when you are ready, gently open your eyes and reorient yourself. if you need to, feel free to take some more deep breaths sitting up.

if you are struggling to do this, have a friend help you out. they can gently place a hand on the part of the body you are finding it difficult to relax. make sure they give you at least 30 seconds on each space before moving their hand to the next part. always make sure you are practicing with someone you feel safe with. always tell them to stop if you feel uncomfortable.

body scan meditation is not easy and takes some practice to unlearn the part of us that is used to ignoring what the body has to say!
with practice, body scan meditation will become your best friend in your arsenal of body awareness techniques, and can be an incredible calming aide for those who suffer from anxiety.

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