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Physique Scan: Mindfulness of the Physique

This entry was posted on Mar 7, 2024 by Charlotte Bell.

Physique Scan: Mindfulness of the Physique

Some time again, I wrote a submit on mindfulness of the physique, centering the apply on breath consciousness. Within the Theravada custom, breath consciousness is the place to begin, the muse of starting to stabilize the thoughts. Breath consciousness offers us a steady course of on which to relaxation the thoughts. In fact, that doesn’t imply that the thoughts received’t wander away into its personal worries, reminiscences and reveries at the same time as we intend to stabilize our minds on the respiration course of. Nevertheless it’s within the technique of regularly recognizing that the thoughts has wandered off, and redirecting it again to the breath, that we start to domesticate a brand new behavior of thoughts. In at the moment’s submit, I’d like to ask you to play with increasing consciousness into the remainder of the physique, using a physique scan.

How Does a Physique Scan Work?

Physique scans are foundational in Mindfulness-Based mostly Stress Discount (MBSR) and Goenka-style Vipassana meditation. Shifting consciousness systematically by the physique is integral to Yoga Nidra apply. I’m certain there are different methodologies that use a type of physique scanning as a strategy to stabilize consciousness as properly. Practising a physique scan can assist us join with the physique internally, and as a complete.

In physique scan apply, we systematically transfer consciousness by the physique. This could embrace deliberately stress-free areas as we acknowledge them. It is also merely visiting these areas and not using a explicit agenda.

In some types of the apply, we begin with the toes and transfer up the physique. In others, we begin with the top and work our means right down to the toes. It’s merely a matter of choice. Within the apply I’ll introduce under, I begin with the top. That’s as a result of, not less than for me, visiting the anatomy of the top appears to have a softening impact on all the pieces under.

Breath Consciousness vs. Open Consciousness

Since breath consciousness is often the place mindfulness apply begins, we could are inclined to assume that it’s an “elementary” apply, and that open consciousness of the physique as a complete is extra “superior.” Joseph Goldstein addressed this at an Perception Meditation retreat I attended just a few years in the past. When requested which type of physique mindfulness apply was preferable—breath consciousness or open consciousness—he paused for a second, after which mentioned “no matter works.”

Which apply you select on a given day is determined by the state of your physique/thoughts. In case your thoughts appears scattered and unfocused—aka “monkey thoughts”—breath consciousness can assist you stabilize it. In case you’re practising breath consciousness and discover that your physique and thoughts are feeling tense and caught, you may need to invite the remainder of your physique into consciousness. The apply that’s finest for you on a given day would be the one which means that you can be most aware.

There’s Greater than One Option to Apply a Physique Scan

Earlier than I recommend the apply under, I need to reiterate that this isn’t the one strategy to apply a physique scan. That is merely what I’ve used that has appeared to work with my mindfulness college students. The apply under makes an attempt to tune us into a few of our inner anatomy, in addition to basic classes equivalent to arms, legs, torso, and so forth.

You may need to document a voice memo in your telephone so that you just don’t have to take a look at the textual content. Or, in case you’re like me, and listening to your individual recorded voice is distracting, you may have a good friend document the physique scan as a substitute.

Head-to-Toe Physique Scan

You may apply this physique scan sitting on a Meditation Cushion, mendacity down or in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). In case you’re feeling drained, sitting or standing could show you how to keep extra alert. In case you’re feeling tense or burdened, mendacity down may work finest.

Right here’s the way to apply. Keep in mind that you would be able to deliberately chill out these areas, or just pay attention to the sensations you’re feeling as you contact into them:

  • Pay attention to your facial muscular tissues and scalp.
  • Your cranium
  • Your mind contained in the cranium
  • Eyes
  • Cheeks
  • Inside ears
  • Outer ears
  • Jaw
  • Higher palate
  • Higher row of enamel
  • Inside cheeks
  • Decrease row of enamel
  • Throat
  • Tops of the shoulders
  • Higher arms
  • Forearms
  • Palms
  • Fingers
  • Ribcage
  • Muscle groups between and across the ribs
  • Contents of the ribcage: coronary heart and lungs
  • The diaphragm: Really feel the diaphragmatic motion because the muscle flattens downward on the inhalation, making room for the lungs to increase, and urgent on the stomach organs, inflicting the stomach to increase. Then as you exhale, really feel the diaphragm doming upward to assist push air out of your lungs, permitting the stomach organs to settle again into place. (You may apply this consciousness for a number of breaths in case you like.)
  • Stomach muscular tissues
  • Low again
  • Pelvis
  • Stomach organs
  • Perineum
  • Thighs
  • Knees
  • Toes
  • Toes

Be at liberty to reverse the method and make your means again up, from the toes to the top, or proceed to the subsequent instruction.

Open Consciousness of the Physique

When you’ve completed your physique scan, you may settle again and invite your entire physique into consciousness. Right here, you may merely really feel all of the sensations arising—sensations of contact, temperature, pressure, hardness, softness, pulsing, vibration—no matter is arising. If a specific sensation turns into predominant, you may relaxation your consideration there, feeling its course of. Does it intensify after which wane? Does it come and go? If nothing particularly feels predominant, relaxation your consciousness in the entire physique, feeling the breath arising inside this bigger body.

As Joseph mentioned, there’s no hierarchy between breath consciousness and open consciousness. Use your individual meditation apply as a information to which apply works higher for you at a given second.

About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and commenced instructing in 1986. Charlotte is the writer of Aware Yoga, Aware Life: A Information for On a regular basis Apply and Yoga for Meditators, each printed by Rodmell Press. Her third guide is titled Hip-Wholesome Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Information to Defending the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Ache (Shambhala Publications). She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and people sextet Purple Rock Rondo, whose DVD received two Emmy awards in 2010.

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