A Mental Body Scan
On most Sunday evenings, you will find me, along with 6 other friends sitting quietly in my Spirit Room having a meditation gathering. For many who lead meditation groups, a meditation session can look like a dozen different things. There is no set process, at least there shouldn’t be. What we have in common should seek quiet space, uninterrupted by phone, noise, media or other distractions. It should be welcoming, comfortable and spiritually focused. In our meditation group we are very safe and open with each other and have been for quite a few years. Our mantra about what we say and hear is simple, and not unlike another well-known statement: what is said in meditation, stays in meditation. We are completely in-trust with each other and never share information to the outside.
Every so often, I will suggest we participate in a new exercise surrounding the self and promoting good breathing and relaxation, in addition to the guided imagery we usually experience. This past week, I asked the group if they would be willing to do a guided internal body scan. I was looking forward to leading them verbally through the journey, while still participating myself. Always a little tricky – doing the talking AND doing the doing.
There are good and healthy reasons for trying and repeating a body scan meditation. Being part of the medical community has grounded me in healing practices of all types; foods, exercises, social activities, preventive medicine, homeopathic lifestyles and stress reduction. Taking a journey “visually” and mentally through your body in a quiet state of mind sounds a little out there for many. The greatest push-back we are likely to receive is that, without a scanning tool (technology type) we cannot possibly see what might be going on inside of us. Technology is fabulous. Technology saves lives. Technology is not all there is. Today technology is all about computers; my most miraculous computer is directly behind my eyes and above my neck. The brain is running all the functions of my body already, 24/7. So why not tap into it, add to the meditation recipe an intention of self-healing, deep breathing, heightened awareness, knowledge of the physical system and pure mindfulness?
If you read about mental body scans, you will learn that the purpose is several-fold; you are quieting your mind and then slowly focusing on every system and space between the top of your head and the bottom of your feet. Take a little 10-minute trip and see the inside of your physical self. Visualize the cells, observe the organs, be sensitive to the temperature, pressure and feelings surrounding each location. You stop at each point, place your attention there, gather the information, log it and move along. Did you hear anything? Was there vibration, heat, cold, tightness or aching, heaviness, normalness or neutrality? Being mindful, providing no judgement, sending it healing energy, if you wish, on the spot is fully allowed.
Who in the world knows your body better than you do?? Have you ever said to your health care provider, “I can’t put my finger on it, but I just don’t feel right. Something is off….I am not myself, but I don’t know what it is.” Trust your internal brain/computer/Intuition.
Here are some tips on conducting your own Internal Body Scan:
- Find a quiet and very comfortable place to rest. You can lie down or recline or sit in a comfortable chair. During the meditation, if you fall asleep, do not fret. When you wake up, you may wish to find a different position or simply continue scanning where you left off.
- Always, always begin by belly breathing. If you find your shoulders are moving during the breathing exercise, bring your breath to your belly and feel each inspiration and expiration move your diaphragm/abdomen in and out. Stay there for awhile until you are sure that you will not return to shallow breathing. Clear your mind fully with each breath. Blow out any stress you discover in your neck, shoulders and belly. Feel the relaxation come over you and eliminate the tension.
- Begin at the top of your head or the bottom of your feet. It doesn’t matter what you chose, simply be consistent from session to session. It serves as a learning tool to visualize your body the same way each time.
- See the inside of your head at the crown and slowly move down. What feelings surface associated with that location? Any hidden discomforts or pressure that you have not experienced or noted before? Feel the inside of the forehead, the eyes, nose, ears, stopping at each organ long enough to gather information. Is it ok? Not ok? Log it in. If you feel that there is something not quite right, you may decide to send a special color healing energy. (You will not necessarily read this step within other scan descriptions. But, if I detect something out of the ordinary or uncomfortable, I chose a specific healing energy with a unique color, and move it to the location, gently surrounding the area, then move along on my scan).
- Try not to skip the major organs and spaces within the body as you know them. Neck, throat, arms, hands, heart, lungs, digestive system, blood circulation, reproductive system, lower belly, legs, joints, top and bottom of feet.
- Finish with belly breathing, releasing tension with each expiration. Feel the body free of discomfort and dis-ease and end the meditation with your body in a healthy state.
Meditation of all types are a wonderful tool for healthy daily living. It doesn’t cost anything in the way of monetary value, and only requires a few minutes of personal time. The benefits of stress release and improved body function are immeasurable. Basically, it is priceless in its advantages. Have fun with being a spectacular camera inside your own body!