The body can be a sponge to the emotions and stress we experience throughout the day. You might notice that at the end of a long day, your body feels tense and you feel agitated or irritable. There are all sorts of meditations and relaxation techniques you can do to unwind, but scanning the body with your attention can put you in touch with the specific places where you hold tension. It can immediately relax you when you’re in a stressful moment.
Of course, during a body scan you’re also giving your body an opportunity to release that tension. In fact, when you scan your body you can instruct a specific area of the body to relax or calm down (quietly in your mind or aloud). Sometimes, with enough attention and focus on that area of the body, your muscles loosen and relax.
Here are step by step instructions for scanning your body for stress relief:
- Get into a comfortable position. You might practice by lying on the floor, or a mat, or your bed. Or if it’s more comfortable, you can sit in a chair. Whatever is comfortable for you. However, try not to fall asleep if you’re lying down.
- Place your attention at the top of your head or on one of your toes. And very slowly move your attention to each area of the body, working your way down or up, depending upon where you started. You can repeat this process by working your way back to where you started. Remember to go nice and slow so that each part of your body is touched by your awareness.
- As you practice a body scan, keep your attention open and aware. You may experience a certain feeling when your attention is on your belly, for instance. Or you might have a random memory appear in your consciousness. As you practice a body scan, simply notice what is going on inside you as your attention moves across your body.
You might notice that as you slowly put your attention on a particular part of your body, muscles relax and your body softens. For this reason, a quick body scan is a great stress relief even if you only have a couple of minutes. You can quickly scan your entire body in one minute. Or, depending upon where you are and your timing, you can make it a longer 20 or 30 minute meditation.
Doing a body scan can also help you become more aware of yourself and your body. For example, although you might know that you hold tension in your neck and shoulders, perhaps you didn’t know that you tend to hold your stomach muscles tight as well. The more you practice the body scan technique the more you will become aware of what’s going on inside of you. And the more awareness you develop, the more you will refrain from acting on cravings or desires to use. In fact, with more self-awareness, the more healthy your choices will become in general.
If you’re looking for a technique that can quickly relieve you of stress, the body scan can do that for you. At the same time, it can be a lasting practice that can promote self-awareness, and in turn, strengthen your sobriety.
Vantage Point Recovery is a lifestyle management and recovery center in Thousand Oaks. We share mental health tips and other helpful information on the Vantage Point Recovery Blog. If you need help or support mental health awareness, please connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.