What Is Body Scan Meditation & How Do I Do It?
There are as many ways to relax and meditate as there are benefits of meditation. So how do you choose? A good one to try if you’re just starting out is body scan meditation.
A 2019 research review found that body scan meditation techniques can better your relationship with your body by increasing bodily awareness and positivity.
What is body scan meditation?
It’s when you focus on how each body part feels, from the crown of your head to your toes, so that you learn your body’s physical distress signals.
And there are infinite ways to start since there isn’t a single body scan meditation script.
What Are the Benefits of Body Scan Meditation
1. Better Mind-Body Connection
Yoga and meditation teacher Jennifer Robinson, E-RYT 500, helps her students connect their mental and physical health with guided body scan meditation.
The practice enables you to focus on the moment by what’s happening inside your body that you might’ve previously ignored.
“Body scan meditation introduces you to the three major categories of bodily experience: neutral, pleasant, and unpleasant,” Robinson says.
“Regularly practicing body scan meditation, you’ll learn to support your mind calming down with less effort and focus,” she adds.
2. More Self-Compassion
Research supports that having a mindfulness practice, like body scan meditation, increases self-compassion by rewriting negative thought patterns.
Robinson suggests two to five minutes of body scan meditation to silence your inner critic.
Since the brain can’t focus on multiple things at once, Robinson says body scan meditation “gets you out of mental loops.”
3. A Good Night’s Sleep
You can use body scan meditation to promote healthier sleep, as seen in this 2020 study of teens.
The study reported that combining body scan meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy positively affects sleep more than CBT treatments alone.
Zen meditation teacher Taiun M. Elliston Abbot from the Atlanta Soto Zen Center says that his body scan meditation students report better sleep following the practice because the technique aims to ease tension and clear mental confusion.
4. Stress Relief
When we experience stress, our bodies tense, and that’s where body scan meditation comes in.
Participants in this 2019 psychological stress study had reduced cortisol (the stress hormone) levels following an eight-week body scan meditation stint.
How Do You Practice Body Scan Meditation?
- Start in a comfortable seat or lie down. Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
- Draw your attention to your feet. Breathe for a few breaths, then shift your attention up to your legs.
- From your legs, transition your focus to your hips and butt. Next, move to your stomach. Visualize your internal organs, relax as your chest rises and falls, and visualize your heartbeat.
- Shift your awareness to your arms, shoulders, and neck before moving to your head.
- From your crown, reverse the exercise and revisit every muscle until you reach your toes.
- Open your eyes when you’re ready.
Make sure to check out Unstress, a 21-day guided meditation program featuring 10-minute meditations to help you feel relaxed and calm. Or check out our Relaxation & Meditation channel on BOD where you can choose from more than 90 different meditations!