Among the most used mindfulness techniques, in addition to breathing, we have body scan, A useful resource to make us more aware of the sensations of our body without resorting to anything other than our own mind.
Let’s see what it is exactly and how it is made to relax and be here and now.
What is the body scan?
Body scan, also called “body scan” and body scan, is one of the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques, as well as one of the most important with controlled breathing.
It consists of focusing all of your attention on bodily sensations, Move from one side of the body to the other and be aware of what it feels, intensifies and understands. This practice has been incorporated into almost all stress reduction programs because, as a beneficial side effect, it induces relaxation.
With the busy life we have, coupled with the short time we have to get to know each other, there are many times when we only feel a pain, a tickle, or our own body posture towards the end of the shift. day, when we are already in bed. The fact that we suddenly become more aware of our feelings at night is because, either out of boredom or because we have trouble sleeping, we pay more attention to our body.
The main objective of this technique is to know the state of our bodyKnow what sensations come from the different parts that compose it. The relaxation, emotions and thoughts that result from this process are secondary, but just as fundamental. Although it is not considered to be a purely relaxation technique, its manner of application contributes to the induction of generalized relaxation, both physical and mental.
How is it made?
As we mentioned, one of the times when, unintentionally, we become more aware of our sensations, this is when we are stretched. This can be a good starting point for those new to this technique, starting with when they are in bed. Not only will we not have a lot of distractors, but also relaxation will help us sleep. However, it must be said that it can be done at any time of the day and that it is not necessarily useful for sleeping.
As the name suggests, the technique involves imagining performing some sort of systematic sweep or body scan, like machines used in airports with passengers. The difference with these machines is that it is not the x-rays that we use to scan the body, but our mind, our consciousness, focus attention on different parts of the body, And become aware of what they are feeling and therefore what we should be feeling ourselves.
scanning it can start anywhere on the body, but it is best to always go in the same direction, Either from top to bottom or from bottom to top. It is said that going up and down generates more relaxation and therefore can induce sleep. If you want to try to sleep that would be a great direction. It may be that in our particular case going from head to toe, bottom to top, involves more relaxation. It’s about trying and seeing which direction works best for us.
Example of body scan exercise to relax
As an example, let’s describe how this technique is performed in ascending order:
First, we closed our eyes and started feeling through the toes of our left foot, Mentally moving around the foot, paying attention to the sole, heel and forefoot. We will then go up the left leg by palpating, in this order, the left ankle, cinnamon and twin, followed by the knee and the kneecap, the whole thigh, the groin and the hip. Then we hopped on the toes of our right foot, following the same process we did with our right leg.
Once we see both legs, we will focus our attention on the pelvic part, including the hips, buttocks, and our genitals. We move on to the lower back and abdomen, which will be our introduction to the rest of the torso, upper back, chest, and ribs. It is possible that if we are very focused, we notice our heartbeat., Especially if we are a little nervous. We will also become aware of the rhythm of the breath, feeling the lungs inflate and deflate.
We will pay attention to the shoulder blades, collarbones and shoulders, the latter being the connecting links between the torso and the arms. When evaluating the arms, we have some freedom, as we can dare to analyze both simultaneously or, if we prefer to spend more time in the session, go one by one.
In the arms we can start the same way we did with the legs, going through the fingers and thumbs. We move successively through the fingers, palms, wrists, forearms, elbows, upper arms, armpits and shoulders again, which will serve as a bridge to go to the end of the body scan , head, neck and throat.
What conditions are needed?
Anyone, regardless of gender and physical condition, can perform a body scan. However, a number of aspects must be taken into account.
Must be found a place where there are no distractions, Such as our room. This spot is ideal because it allows you to lie down while performing the technique, although it is true that you can do it lying down or even standing up, but it is not the most recommended for novices. Also, the idea would be to have enough free time to be able to carry out a session, which can last between 20 and 45 minutes.
Sometimes, it is not necessary to perform the entire scanIn other words, focus on all sensations from all parts of the body. The example given above is a full body scan, but it’s not the only one and you don’t have to take it that wide if you only want to focus on one part, especially if you are fairly new. in this technique or if you don’t have too much time. For example, we can focus only on the sensations of our arm or the rhythm of our breathing.
Also, although it is not the most recommended, you can do the body scan while being in a place where we have nothing to do, such as in the doctor’s waiting room, on the bus or on a bench. in the street. The ideal is to have silence and timeBut we can also test our full attention span in the most diverse places.
What sensations can the body scan involve?
As we said, the body scanner is a technique that makes us pay full attention to the parts of our body. By being more concentrated, we have a lower sensitivity threshold than compared to a normal day, Noticing things that, perhaps, in other situations, we wouldn’t even think to think we are able to perceive.
Below we will see these physical sensations, in addition to the emotions that can be aroused and, of course, more or less related thoughts.
1. Physical sensations
As for the physical sensations, one can feel all kinds of sensations. To name a few: tingling, tingling, tension, softness, relaxation, numbness, heaviness, lightness, tremors, tightness, itching, burning, pain, throbbing, vibration, and sensations of cold and heat.
2. Emotional reactions
While performing the technique we can feel the whole emotional spectrum, Negative and positive emotions.
We may feel joy, surprise, impatience, or a desire to stop, either out of boredom or because we are uncomfortable, or we may experience pleasure. We can also feel sadness or fear, grief, anger, frustration, disgust even …
Of course, when performing the technique it is impossible to leave the mind completely empty.
There may be people, with a great deal of technical experience, who are able to leave their minds blank, to focus solely and exclusively on bodily sensations, but this, most mortals, we can hardly achieve.
During the technique they can come to our minds kind of thoughts and, like the emotions mentioned above, these can be positive or negative.
Since this is a time when we have peace of mind and time to ourselves, we can turn to look back, see what happened in our past, and be aware of our successes and our failures.
We can also look ahead, think about how to plan, what we want, where we want to go … of course, all kinds of thoughts can come to our mind …
Some aspects to consider
It is possible that discomfort may occur during body scanAs important as the person may feel panic. Since you are not undergoing any type of traumatic procedure, there is no reason to think the person is in danger. This is why the most advisable, in these situations, is to try to concentrate on the breath, on its rhythmic movement and, as much as possible, to slow down the rhythm of the inspiration-expiration, until make the person feel better.
If despite this the panic symptoms are not alleviated, it is better to open your eyes, look at the room or where we are and try to orient ourselves in the spaceRealize that we have not gone anywhere dangerous and that we are not in a situation where our lives are in danger.
We can try to look at something that relaxes us, like a painting or a photo of a loved one. We can even try to talk to someone in case we are not home alone or, if so, call someone (no instant messaging). With the sound of his voice and, most importantly, his tone, it will make us feel better. But Eye! we don’t call anyone. He should be a close person and let us know that he tends to be comforting talking to him.
Also, if we need air, we can walk open the windows. If you relax the sweet and delicious aroma of an infusion (before a tea), you can prepare a chamomile, a valerian or the herbal infusion that you prefer, but preferably not to resort to coffee or tea. tea. We may like these types of drinks, but because they contain caffeine, a substance that can increase stress, it is not the most appropriate for the situation we find ourselves in.
- Dreeben, Samuel and Mamberg, Michelle and Salmon, Paul. (2013). MBSR body examination in clinical practice. Mindfulness. 4. 394-401. 10.1007 / s12671-013-0212-z.