Do you take time to consciously connect to how your body is feeling? Or do you ignore the way your body feels? Or do you connect briefly when there is an ache, a pain, or a twitch – but then you quickly ignore them again? Or maybe you are thinking, “What? Connect to my body? Huh?”
Feeling disconnected from the way your body feels is more common than you think. It can happen when you are not coping with the stress in your life. Stress not only has mental and emotional symptoms, but it also has physical symptoms – such as aches, pains, tension, migraines, heartburn, and digestive issues.
These physical symptoms are ways your body is trying to communicate with you – to let you know your stress levels are becoming too much for you to handle. When our stress levels continue to increase and we get caught up in our stress – we don’t realize that our physical discomfort is connected to our emotional state – which is stress. In addition, our society teaches us to ignore, brush aside, and power through, our stress, and the way we feel.
When you don’t address the stress in your life, it can become a vicious cycle:
- stress comes in – which is ignored, pushed down, brushed off
- physical symptoms begin, which we don’t connect to our stress
- stress increases, which continues to be ignored
- physical symptoms increase, which continues to be ignored
- stress increases even more, and so on and so on
Depending on how long this goes on, the high stress and physical symptoms can become your “new normal” way of living – causing the disconnect between your mind and body.
Using this Body Scan Meditation can be useful in allowing you to gently check in with the feelings, sensations, and potentially any messages your body is trying to send you.
1. Find a quiet space and get into a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down.
2. If you journal, grab that now so you can write down what comes up.
3. Gently close your eyes or keep a soft gaze looking down.
4. We are going to bring attention to your body, noticing different sensations, as you mentally scan down, from your head to your toes.
5. Gently let go of any judgments, expectations, your to-do list, etc.
6. Start by bringing your awareness to your head.
7. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.
8. What feelings and/or sensations come up?
- Comfortable or uncomfortable?
- Relaxed or tense?
- Energetic or tired?
- Heavy or light?
- Pulsing or vibrating?
- Maybe you do not feel anything? That is okay. Let go of all judgments and expectations.
Tip: If you feel yourself not able to let go of thoughts, try gently placing a hand on your heart and take a couple of deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then return to the body scan when you feel ready.
9. Repeat steps 5-8 for your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, back, stomach, hips, legs, ankles, feet, and toes, spending approximately 20-30 seconds focusing on each body part.
10. If you notice any areas of tension. Take another deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth and visualize the tension leaving your body.
11. In your journal, write down any thoughts and/or feelings that arise. When you feel ready, return back to the body part you last left off. You are simply observing how your body feels in the present moment.
12. When you have finished scanning down your body, take another couple of deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
13. Gently open your eyes and take your time coming back to your surroundings and the space you are in.
Be curious and open-minded as you walk through this meditation. If you find that you start to feel uncomfortable or if your stress starts to worsen, take a break. You can always try again later. It may take a couple of sessions before you start to feel comfortable and begin to feel the benefits. Do what feels good to you.
Research has shown that following body scan meditations can help you become more self-aware and present, reduce stress, sleep better, and learn to be less self-critical.
“The mind and body are not separate. What affects one, affects the other.” Unknown