WAY TO WELLNESS #87
Experts have found evidence to suggest meditation can promote physical and emotional wellness in multiple ways, such as:
- improved sleep
- anxiety and stress relief
- greater self-awareness
- increased self-compassion
- reduced pain
- reduced cravings when quitting smoking
There are many guided relaxation body scans available online. Think of a body scan as a mental X-ray that slowly travels across your body.
Here are some tips on how to give it a try:
- Get cozy. Start by getting comfortable. Lie down or sit in a position that allows you to stretch your limbs easily.
- Focus. Close your eyes and begin focusing on your breath. Notice the sensation of your breath filling and leaving your lungs as you inhale and exhale.
- Choose where to start. Begin anywhere you like — left hand, left foot, right hand, right foot, the top of your head. Focus on that spot as you continue breathing slowly and deeply.
- Pay attention. Open your awareness to sensations of pain, tension, discomfort, or anything out of the ordinary.
- Go slow. Spend anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute observing these sensations.
- Acknowledge. If you begin to notice pain and discomfort, acknowledge and sit with any emotions these sensations bring up. Accept them without criticism. For example, if you feel frustrated and angry, don’t judge yourself for these emotions. Notice them and let them pass.
- Breathe. Continue breathing, imagining the pain and tension decreasing with each breath.
- Release. Slowly release your mental awareness on that specific part of your body and redirect it to your next area of focus. Some people find it helpful to imagine releasing one body part as they breathe out and moving on to the next as they breathe in.
- Move along. Continue the exercise along your body in a way that makes sense to you, whether you move from top to bottom or up one side and down the other.
- Note drifting thoughts. As you continue to scan across your body, note when your thoughts begin to drift. This will happen probably more than once, so don’t worry. You haven’t failed, and you can easily get your thoughts back on track. Just gently return your awareness to where you left off scanning.
- Visualize and breathe. Once you finish scanning parts of your body, let your awareness travel across your body. Visualize this as liquid filling a mold. Continue inhaling and exhaling slowly as you sit with this awareness of your whole body for several seconds.
- Come back. Slowly release your focus and bring your attention back to your surroundings.