The body scan: mindfulness exercise for body and mind

Many people need relaxation. We literally run through life and sometimes forget to relax, no matter how much we need it. We are also not always aware of our physical and mental stress. However, those who regularly use the ‘body scan’, a method used in Mindfulness, will go through life more attentively and relaxed. An explanation of this effective exercise.

What is a body scan

Anyone who hears the word body scan quickly thinks of checks at Schiphol or security checks at other airports. However, it is also a way to relax and be more conscious and attentive to life. In short, it is a beneficial exercise for body and mind. By concentrating carefully on your body, you can gradually go through life with more peace.

Mindfulness & meditation

The body scan is regularly used in Mindfulness courses. Mindfulness is a method to be more attentive to life, to judge less and the method also helps to approach life in a different way. It is a form of meditation and it has similarities with Buddhism. Here too, ‘conscious living’ is central.

What is the point?

By living more consciously and drawing more attention to your body, you are more in the ‘here and now’. This makes you aware of your own body and gives you more control over your stress reactions. You focus on physical sensations. This makes you think less (and worrying automatically decreases!) and your body usually becomes more relaxed. However, this is not the goal of Mindfulness. This method is just about being more attentive and not judging yourself.

Observe

‘Perception’ is central to the bid scan. What do you think? What do you feel? Where in your body is stress stored? By examining your entire body and really taking the time to do so, you often become aware of what is going on inside you. You scan your body not only literally but also figuratively. From your toes to the top of your head.

Apply the body scan mindfully

You can perform the body scan while sitting or lying down. It is important that you really take your time and choose a quiet environment. It is good to remember that there is no such thing as failure or success. The purpose of the exercise is that you perform it without judging. Afterwards you will see for yourself what the exercise does to your body and mind.

Perform exercise

Step-by-step

Decide in advance whether you want to do the exercise sitting or lying down. When you sit, it is important to sit upright, possibly by using a cushion. Then you concentrate on your breathing. After this you will ‘scan’ your body. You go through your body parts step by step. Most people start with their toe and end with the crown.

Draw a line

You can perform the exercise effectively by drawing an imaginary line around your body. The exercise works best for many people if it is accompanied by a voice, for example on a CD. This is called the so-called ‘guided meditation’. Here someone will tell you step by step which part of the body you should focus on to get the most effective result possible.

CDs, videos and audio files

As described, the body scan is often applied to mindfulness courses. With such training you often receive a folder with text and explanation. Sometimes a CD is included on which the body scan is recorded. Such CDs can also be purchased at shops with a spiritual character. There are also videos on YouTube with text and explanations, and audio files can be downloaded from the internet.