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Bodyscan Meditation

Here our body is our object of meditation. It is an excellent exercise, derived from the world of yoga, meant to relax our body and enjoin silence on our mind….
Bodyscan Meditation
Kind of meditation Concentration and relaxation exercise
Degree of difficulty Beginners
Recommended duration 5-45 minutes
Posture Lying or sitting
  • It improves your concentration

  • It makes your mind clear and calm

  • It gives you a deep feeling of physical relaxation

  • It brings you back into contact with your body

  • It removes feelings of stress

  • It diminishes muscle tension.
  • It is good for RSI and muscle injuries
Remark Excellent and relatively easy relaxation exercise

The body scan is an excellent exercise that is often done at the end of a yoga session, but for many people it also forms part of their daily meditation exercises. The exercise is also often done (sometimes under a different name) as a relaxation exercise in warming ups, in stress management courses, in psychiatric therapies, etcetera. It is an excellent exercise for begin-ners. If we do this exercise in a lying posture we prevent the kind of problems that we might encounter while sitting. For beginners it is therefore advisable to do this exercise while lying.

In this meditation our body is our object of meditation. We make a journey through our body in which we flood every part of it with attention. Every time when our mind strays away we draw it back to the body part that it should be focussed on. In this way we train our powers of focus and concentration. During this exercise we also try to be aware of and to feel all physi-cal sensations in our body. We become more and more aware of which parts of our body are less relaxed and we become more and more conscious of the effects of relaxation on our mus-cles, our posture and our organs. In this way we develop the kind of body awareness and the kind of sensitivity for our physical sensations that many of us have lost during our lifetime. We often hear that as a result of this exercise and our breathing exercises many people begin to appreciate, accept and experience their body in a more positive manner. If you do this exer-cise more regularly you will notice that your physical sensations vary every time and that you can control these sensations better and better. If you experience problems during this medita-tion because, to give an example, you have difficulty feeling certain body parts or you be-come aware that certain body parts cause pain, the best thing to do is to accept these feelings and to try not to be bothered by them.

In short: if we do this exercise regularly then it will help us to experience deep levels of re-laxation. It will help us to achieve a higher level of body awareness and body acceptance. It will teach us to deal in a better way with physical sensations and aches. And last but not least: the exercise will improve our power of concentration and our self confidence. As is the case with every form of meditation we should try not to judge ourselves, we should try not to get angrier with ourselves if things do not work out so well and we should not be too goal-oriented. Every time you breathe out you should try to relax the part of the body you are fo-cussing on. Let us begin.

Exercise: Bodyscan Meditation

  1. Sit down or lie down, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
  2. Be aware of every breathing in and breathing out. Let your breathing be something automatic, do not try to control it.
  3. Observe how the air slowly passes in through your nose, fills up your lungs and goes out again.
  4. If, after a few breaths, you feel at ease and fine we start with our scan.
  5. Direct your attention to your forehead. Try to feel the skin, try to be aware of any twin-kling or tension that might be there and relax by means of breathing.
  6. If you do not feel anything at all, that is all right.
  7. Allow yourself to feel nothing at all.
  8. Do the same with your nose, your ears, your eyes, your eyebrows, your jaw, your mouth, your lips and the skin of your face and the back of your head. Feel how the mouth and the jaw relax and how the eyes sink back into their sockets.
  9. Then direct your attention to your neck, your collar bones, your shoulders, your left upper arm, your right upper arm, your elbows, your lower arms, your hands and fin-gers. Concentrate on each of these areas one by one, both left and right.
  10. Every time your attention wanders off, do not panic but calmly return to the area where you had last been.
  11. Again: try to feel and to experience all sensations.
  12. If you can do this, try with every breathing out to relax the area that you are concen-trated on.
  13. Direct your attention to your chest, your diaphragm, your belly muscles, your upper back, your lower back, your spine.
  14. Be aware of how your breathing, perhaps also your body posture, changes as a result of the relaxation. Does not your body feel different already?
  15. Go on in this manner and direct your attention to your pelvis, your sex organs, your but-tocks, your two upper legs, your knees, your lower legs, your ankles, feet and toes. Take your time!
  16. Notice the differences between the various areas. Feel the twinklings in your body, feel how your muscles get more and more relaxed and observe which body parts are rela-tively hard to relax.
  17. Let yourself become extremely heavy. Now you are totally relaxed and at ease.
  18. When you have refreshed and relaxed your entire body, return for a while to an area in your body that felt relatively tense. Concentrate wholly on that particular area and try to make it feel relaxed. Do you feel the difference? Does it call forth certain thoughts or emotions? Observe and let things go.
  19. Finally: tighten all your muscles for three seconds and do this twice and after each tight-ening let things go on a breath.
  20. All right, slowly take your attention back to the rest of your body and the noises in the room. Move a little, stretch your muscles a bit and open your eyes.
  21. Finished!

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Wednesday 15th December 2010 at 4:17:13 AM  
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Two-three exercises/meditations seem to have been mixed up here.Therefore the techniques as well as the goals seem to be jumbled.

One technique/asana which we usually use is Shava asana/Corpse Pose.Lie down.Let each muscle,each cell of the body relax.Now to sink the relaxation deeper,we pay attention to each part to ensure it is absolutely relaxed.This process also helps the mind to get out of its ususal thought process and relax.Gradually,as it relaxes,body gets sunk in matress/mat (on which one is lying),and some kind of numbness is felt in each part gradually.It is better to start this process from feet onwards,farthest from the seat of mind.If we continue to be aware,it is excellent relaxation of body and mind.Even when you spend 20 minutes you feel as if you have spent hours in rest and relaxation.If you continue longer,the body sinks down more and more,so much so that traces of each part of the body/where each part has sunk during relaxation,can be seen on the matress after you get up from it.

This process is also used for sleeping.As you sink in,and gradually lose track/awareness you enter a sound sleep.

A technique similar to the one described in article is also practiced by way of Vipasana meditation,but there the emphasis is on breathing,and object too is different.

Other ways are given in Vigyan Bhairav Tantra(an ancient Hindu text on meditation which contains 112 techniques of Meditation in the form of a dialogue between Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati).

One is just feeling weightless as you are sitting or lying down.Any time out of mind,you will feel weightless,or in any case feel much less weight.Mind is weight,conciousness is weightless.Once you are out of mind,you are left with your conciousness,and so much less weight.

Another technique is relating to scanning of the body but not from out side.You are required to scan it from within.Outside scanning is difficult because mind has seen the body so many times,and keeps telling you about your head,nose,arm and so on from its own impressions.In other words,mind remains active,you ceases to be in the present,and therefore no purpose is served.But scanning from within too requires lot of practice.

For outside awareness of the body/parts we should scan the body by way of touch and massaging.That process and object is altogether different. For this please see my post on “Body Awareness”.

Therefore,Shavasan/Corpse Pose seems to be the best and the easiest of these asanas as well as meditations.Done after yoga,physical exercises,or when going to bed,it is excellent relaxing,calming technique.

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