Published on March 23, 2020 – Last Updated on May 6, 2022
Stress can cause multiple problems for our emotional and physical well-being. For example, headaches, body aches, heartburn, and even back pain can be caused by stress.
Sometimes, when you have chronic stress, you may not realize that you have any physical symptoms or attribute them to something else because you’re not paying attention. One of the most common meditation practices to bring awareness to your body and help relieve stress is body scan meditation.
What is Body Scan Meditation?
Body scan meditation is a form of mindfulness and is a relaxation technique. This type of meditation helps release tension, quiets the mind, and gives you body/mind awareness. Instead of focusing on the breath or sound, body scan meditation focuses on the different parts of your body.
With this type of relaxation technique, you mentally scan yourself from head to toe. It makes you aware of how your body is feeling inch by inch. The purpose of this is to help you realize what is going on inside your body, from your muscles to your organs, your bones, and even your digestion.
Body scanning helps you start becoming aware of how your emotional experiences affect your physical experiences by teaching self-awareness, leading to healing and preventing the effects of stress on your body.
What Are the Benefits of Body Scan Meditation?
When our world gets cluttered, and we have several things happening at once, we go into automatic mode and don’t realize what’s happening inside our bodies. Our emotions and physical well-being are connected. When we are going through stressful times, it also relates to how our body feels or responds to the stress. Body scan meditation can:
Helps Relieve Stress
Body scan meditation helps you tune in to what is going on with your body. You become aware of how your body feels, but meditation has a relaxing effect. This, in turn, turns off our body’s stress response and allows the body to go back to its normal state.
In a study published in 2019, 47 healthy participants were split into two groups. The first group used a 20-minute body scan meditation concentrating on body sensations. The second group was given an audiobook to listen to. Each group was instructed to listen to their perspective audios for 20 minutes every day for eight weeks.
The study results were biologically determined by assessing cortisol (stress hormone) levels in hair samples both before and after the eight weeks. The group that practiced the body scans had a decreased cortisol level than the audiobook group.
Researchers concluded that body scan mediation was effective for biological markers of stress.
Want to have a new day? Check out our morning meditation post, where you can find instructions on how to practice meditation daily.
Sleep Aid and Mood Boosting
Insomnia has become prevalent in the adolescent population causing mental health issues. However, one study found that Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in Internet sessions coupled with body scan mediation discovered that incidences of insomnia decreased and better sleep patterns increased in teens.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try using body scan meditation for sleep. This is a great way to analyze everything before going to bed and then get some much-needed rest!
It may make you happier.
Aside from relieving stress, body scan meditation may also make you happier. A study with 89 participants was randomly assigned with body scan meditation, a relaxing style of music, or an active control condition. Those set to the body scan meditation had feelings of happiness and harmony compared to the other groups.
We have compiled a list of the best hypnosis apps; make sure to review it!
May Help You Cope With Major Health Conditions
Body scan meditation has also been found to help with better health outcomes. For example, in a randomized study, 163 women who had Stage 1 or Stage 2 breast cancer either went through a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program that included body scan meditation, no meditation, and other breast cancer support methods.
After four months, the women in the mindfulness-based program had significant improvements in quality of life and coping skills compared to the women who went to other methods of cancer support!
The day you do your body scan can also offer different benefits. For example, doing a body scan in the morning helps you be more mindful throughout the day. Likewise, doing a body scan meditation night before bed will help you relax and fall asleep.
10 Minute Body Scan Meditation
Give this 10-minute body scan meditation a try! First, get in an upright seated position with your feet on the ground.
Close your eyes and take three slow deep breaths through your nose to signal your body that you are about to go into relaxation mode. Allow yourself to relax deeper with each breath.
Once you feel relaxed, start taking full deep breaths (inhale and exhale). Notice how the air feels as it enters and leaves through your nose. If any thoughts come up, acknowledge them without judgment, then let them go.
Start scanning your body head to toe, starting at the top of your forehead against the sky until you reach the top of your head. Then do it again for five rounds letting each part sink into complete relaxation as you move downward.
Once you have gone through your whole body, rate the level of relaxation you feel on a scale from 1-10 (1 being completely relaxed and ten being super tense). Then, repeat this process one more time for a total of three rounds.
Close your eyes and continue taking full deep breaths noticing each breath coming in and going out until you feel ready to open your eyes
Guided Body Scan Meditation
You can find plenty of body scan meditation audios inside MindTastik, the best meditation app.
In addition to the professionally guided meditations, MindTastik also offers support with expert articles on meditation and intuitive games to help you find your inner voice and discover what scents may be most relaxing for you. In addition, there are group challenges that allow you to have some accountability when it comes to practicing meditation.
How to Practice Body Scan Meditation
If you have never done body scan meditation before, here are some steps to prepare and the basic premise of how the meditation works:
Find a time that works best for you. You can start with a 10-minute meditation and work your way up to a 20-minute to 45-minute body scan. Of course, you can always do a quick 5-minute scan when you are short on time.
Find a quiet spot to lay down. Most body scans are done lying down. However, you can also do the meditation in a sitting position or standing more comfortably. The space you are in should be a comfortable temperature and free of distractions to focus.
Begin the Meditation
You can close your eyes or focus on a point in the ceiling. Then, start to notice how you are breathing. Is it a deep belly breath, slow and steady, or is your breathing shallow and fast? The idea is not to change how you breathe but to notice how you live.
Now bring your awareness to the surface you are lying on. Can you feel the carpet or mat underneath you? Are your heels grounded in the floor? Are your toes pointed up, or are your feet angled to each side?
Move your focus through your body from your ankles to your calves, thighs, and up to your head. As you go through each part of your body, notice how it feels on the floor. How much pressure does each piece put on the floor? Can you feel the heaviness of the gravity pull?
These are sensations you may feel during your body scan:
- A feeling of lightness
Now that you have done a quick scan of your body, you’ll do a more in-depth scan. Deeply inhale and exhale and bring your attention to your right or left foot. You can concentrate on just the toes or the whole foot. How does it feel?
Now mentally, let your foot go and switch to the other side. You will slowly move back and forth from right to left, left to right, moving up the body from your calf to the knees, thighs, hips, torso, arms, shoulders, neck, and head.
When you are done, stay grounded for a few more minutes, thinking about your body as a whole and how everything on your body is connected. Even though each part of your body is unique, they all work together.
There is no need to do anything during the meditation except to feel what your body tells you and acknowledge the present sensations.
When you are done, focus on your breath. Has it changed from when you first started the meditation? When you are ready, open your eyes.
You can also use a variation of the meditation; start with your head, and work your way down.
You can perform a body scan yourself or use a guided meditation.
- Set aside time every day for meditation when you will not be interrupted
- Have a special section in your home just for meditation
- Keep a journal about how you feel after meditating (or before and after)
- Don’t be critical of yourself when you meditate, and it doesn’t have to be perfect
The purpose of body scan meditation is to be present and listen. Noticing what is going on with your body helps lessen the intensity of physical symptoms (such as tense muscles) and reduces stress in your daily life.
As you become more comfortable and gain experience with body scan meditation, you will become more sensitive to your body needs. For example, if you are feeling tense, you will notice and take some time to alleviate the tension before it becomes painful.
By exploring your body through meditation, you begin to notice physical sensations much faster and understand how your emotions control how your body feels. In this way, you recognize your feelings, allowing you to have more control over them. This has a healing effect on your mind.
If you notice your heart beating faster after a heated discussion, you might choose to step outside for a few moments instead of getting more worked up. This has a healing effect on your body.
Body scan meditation helps you be more aware of the mind-body connection and how your emotional state affects your body. Developing mindfulness around your body is essential to your meditation practice and overall wellness.
At MindTastik, we have hundreds of meditations, including guided body scan meditations, to help you reduce stress and get to know how your body responds in those stressful moments. Adding body scan meditation to your daily meditation practice is simple and easy with MindTasktik.