BodyScan Mindfulness exercise
Supports and enhances the important mindfulness body scan meditation.
There are many situations in which you might like to clear your mind, yet it would be unwise to block out your environment. By following the visual cues on the screen, our BodyScan app allows you to perform a full physical check-in while in a complete state of sensory awareness, making sure, for example, that you do not miss that person calling you into the room for your interview! Many people make a body scan an integral part of their regular mindfulness practice. It is one of the most popular ways to begin meditating.
What is a body scan?
In a body scan you focus on each part of your body, one at a time. Usually you start at one end, either the toes or the tops of the head. You then journey to the other end, visiting each part of the body in turn. You spend some time with each body part, being conscious of any sensations present there.
What might it help?
Try to remember a time when you were trying to get something done, but you had a bad few hours, where you were getting annoyed that things were unexpectedly difficult. Perhaps you never realised that you were so wrapped up in the task at hand, you did not notice that your back and shoulders were getting horribly tensed up, or even that you had a toothache? The cramped shoulders or the toothache were not absent while you were in difficulty, even if you did not notice them – it is more likely that two awful things were happening: the discomfort was making the task more difficult, while your behaviour was making the source of discomfort worse as well! Even if the source of the difficulty is something completely in your mind, a toxic mental pattern can manifest as some physical symptom – cramps, muscular tension, or other stress.
Body scan benefits
A regular body scan meditation practice reinforces the crucial communication between our minds and our bodies. Many of us do not fully appreciate this link, treating our bodies as mere transport for our brains. We may even spend time working out in a gym or going for long walks or a run, treating our bodies like a pet being taken out for exercise or training, judging it on how far or fast it can move, or how effectively it moves. Our brains are thoroughly wired in to our bodies through the central nervous system (excepting paralysis or loss of limbs). Frequently these lines of communication can be complex and behaving in unexpected ways, which you may not even notice, like the examples of physical discomfort above. A regular body scan not only allows you to check in with the body while performing the activity, it trains your thought patterns to factor in your physical state while you go about living your life. No longer will your body be something that you only think of when it is time to take it for a walk or give it some food. Indeed, when it comes to making decisions about how you treat your body, a continual mindful consciousness about your body is surely better than having those horrible moments of extreme self-consciousness, in between long periods of blocking your mind to the damage you may be doing to yourself. Mindfulness could help you make wiser decisions when it comes down to deciding what to eat and drink. It is more than ‘becoming friends with your body’, or treating it well (again like a pet). You are hardwired into it: your body is part of you.
What a body scan does not do.
You are not trying to force any part to relax, or interfering with what you find there. There may be many positive gains to be had by a regular practice, but nothing can be forced. One should not ‘try’ to do something, as this could sabotage any potential benefits. If there are unusual or uncomfortable sensations during the journey, this activity allows you to spend some time with that sensation, to register its true quality in a mindful way. If you do not feel any sensations from a particular body part, this is not unusual either, and you are encouraged to spend time in the presence of this blank feedback.