Body scan is a technique of meditation where the mind is focused on being aware of the sensations of the body at this moment, here and now. It gives us the ability to become observer of the body sensations including our pain in this moment, right here and now. By giving the mind the possibility of taking the role of an observer instead of a sufferer.
We start by taking a few moment to lay down on a mat on the floor or sitting on a chair while adopting an alert and dignified position. Then we bring our attention to sensations of breathing. Bringing our awareness to the point where the sensations of breathing are the most prominent for us, like the nostrils, mouth, chest or abdomen. Paying attention to the breath as is and not the breath we want it to be. Bringing our awareness to the sensations of breathing as we breath in and breath out. Noticing the pause at the end of inhalation and the pause at the end of exhalation.
Then with an out breath shifting our awareness from the sensations of breathing to the sensations of our head. From top to the bottom, from sides to sides. Allowing our awareness to simply observe any sensations that arise with a sense of curiosity. Paying attention to the sensations of our eyes, ears, scalp, mouth, nose, lips. Letting our awareness to shift from one sensation to another or stay with one sensation for deeper evaluation. We do not interpret the sensations, simply observe them.
Now, with an out breath, we bring of awareness to the sensations of our front body. Paying attention to the rise and fall of our chest with breathing. The fall and rise of our abdomen with breathing. The feeling of our heart and lungs. Observing the sensations of our front arms and legs. Shoulders may have challenging sensations for many of us, simply observing these sensations without judgement.
On an outbreath bringing our awareness to the sensations of our back body. Noticing any sensations that enters our awareness from our skin, the pressure of our weight on floor or the chair. The pelvic area and lower back can bring up challenging sensations. We observe the sensations without leaning towards them or avoiding them.
As we go through the body scan practice, our thoughts may enter our awareness many times and disturb our attention to our sensations. This is normal and all we have to do is to bring back our awareness to the sensations arising from our body, again and again with a sense kindness and compassion, without judgement.
We can do this practice in detail for every joint and body part from head to toe.
This practice has the effect of observing the pain without being affected by it, without hating it or judging it, simply detaching from it and lowering its level down to the object of an observation. The pain is expelled from being the center of attention by this practice.
The same technique has positive effects on Anxiety and Depression. Interestingly enough, there is a co-morbidity between pain and depression. So a practice that helps both pain and depression can have significant positive effects on Chronic pain.
Fibromyalgia, Head aches, Pelvic pain, Neuropathic pain, phantom limb pain, CRPS, Back pain, post herpetic neuralgia and many other chronic pain conditions can benefit from this exercise.