Physical ailments are often a result of energy that has gotten stuck in the body. This is based on the idea of qi, or chi, the life force that flows through our being. When this channel is blocked, the movement of life energy can get stuck and manifest itself into pain or discomfort. Whether it be a tight hip or sore back, body scanning is a simple yet effective practice to free up the channels and meridians in our being. This is especially helpful if you find yourself at work or on a crowded train because all it requires is drawing awareness to the aspects of your physical suit.
The Simplicity of Body Scanning As A Healing Modality
When we draw our awareness to our body we bring ourselves to what is true. Oftentimes, we find distraction in our phones, tablets, entertainment, and commitments. In a way, most things we participate in take us out of our body—out of the present moment. This leads to running in circles to the next shiny thing or red notification on our screen and ultimately takes us away from what needs to be tended to.
The beauty in body scanning as a healing modality lies in its simplicity and accessibility. Perhaps yoga is not your preferred area of practice. Maybe sitting still and focusing on your breath during meditation is not for you at the moment. However, it is easy to sit and scan your body in a way that keeps you interactive and present. You can do this at home, in your office, on the train, or in nature. All that is required is your presence, your awareness, your breath, and your body.
How to Scan Your Body in Full Presence:
In a seated or standing position, start by taking a few deep breaths into your belly. As you release, allow your shoulders, jaw, and muscles to relax. From here, draw your attention to your feet firmly planted on the floor. Allow yourself to feel the grounding energy that always supports you. Slowly wiggle your toes and bring light movement to the spaces in between. Once you can fully feel your feet move your awareness to your legs.
Start to feel the strength in your legs if your standing and add any movement if it feels right to you. If your sitting, continue to focus on your legs and perhaps notice the bend in your knees that allow you to take this seated position. Feel your muscles relax as you run your hands through this part of your body. Continue to breathe deeply with every motion and allow this breath to loosen muscles and release tension.
Continue this practice by drawing attention to your abdomenal area. Perhaps bring a hand over your belly and feel the gentle rise and fall as you take the nourishing air in. From here bring your attention to the heart and chest space. Maybe you’ll feel called to move your hand up and feel the beating in your chest. At first, you might only hear the physical beating of your heart. The more you bring yourself to practice body scanning the more you’ll hear gentle whispers from your deepest core.
As you move through this exercise, feel your arms as they fall gently in your lap or by your side. Ask yourself if there is any tension in your grip. Do your hands form a clenched fist or do they fall freely? You can continue this practice as you bring awareness to your neck and face. Feel into the tiny muscles on your face. Perhaps you let go of tension in the jaw. Or maybe you feel into the subtleties of these muscles and let go of tension in your cheeks and forehead.
Keep breathing and allow your hands to touch the parts of your body you focus on. For some, this might mean tapping on tense areas while for others it might mean rubbing into different muscle points.
As you continue to move through this body scan, see if you can name the sensations you are experiencing. What do they feel like? What are their characteristics? Is there a color you can relate it to? The more you add words to these feelings, the deeper you can connect with the subtle energies that flow through you. If areas of tension come up, continue to breathe. Welcome the discomfort with your breath.
Body scanning allows you to use your mind in a way that shuts off the constant thinking and turns on a new way of experiencing through feeling and sensation. In a way, body scanning is the bridge that connects you to the possibilities that lie within full and embodied presence.
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