Mindful Monday: Body Scan
One of the most basic exercises being taught to beginners with mindfulness is the body scan. The purpose of this exercise is to assist individuals in becoming keenly aware of their physical and emotional state at any given time. This exercise can be done in as little as 30 seconds.
"Why should I pay attention to my body? I feel fine!" Our bodies generally give us the first warning signs to stress and if you're not paying attention you may miss them. What's the worst that could happen if we don't pay attention to those signals? Migraines, ulcers, rashes, conflicts, missed work, lost relationships, this list goes on. I often use the analogy of a roller coaster. As our day goes on and stressful events happen we are slowly being towed up the ramp toward the top of the first big drop off. We know that if we reach the top of the coaster it will only take one small event before we go over the edge and the chaos begins. At that point it is too late, we are reacting impulsively rather than responding effectively. If we can practice awareness of our stressful triggers as we are being towed up the ramp, we have more control and opportunities throughout the day to use stress management and self-care skills to keep us from going over the edge.
I've attached some links here and here. These are just a couple of examples of body scan exercises. It can be difficult to find guided exercises that you can stand listening to, so I encourage you to do a google search to find one you like. It is also possible to do the body scan without an audio guide, all you have to do is take a moment during the day to focus on your breath and scan from head-to-toe noticing any emotions you are experiencing. Also, when you do the body scan take note of physical sensations; you may be experiencing tension in certain areas or maybe your body and mind are calm. There is no judgment involved with this exercise and no need to try and change anything, it's just a practice of paying attention and noticing.
The more you practice paying attention to your body and the signals it's giving the easier it will become to recognize when you are stressed and about to tip over the edge on the roller coaster of life!