TOBY MIZZI, COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGIST, STRONG MINDS PSYCHOLOGY
Last week, I provide some instructions on a fairly simple mindfulness meditation activity focusing on the breath. This week, we are going to try something a little different by introducing a basic body scan. A body scan involves being our awareness to our body, generally starting at one point in the body and moving slowly throughout the body until we reach an end point. In most cases, it means starting with the head and moving downwards towards the toes. A key difference between this week and last week is the change to the focus of our mindfulness. Whereas last week was focused on our natural breathing, this week we focus on our body. This type of exercise is often used in mindfulness and relaxation training. An example of this is Progressive Muscle Relaxation whereby you bring your awareness to various muscle groups in the body and deliberate tense the muscle before allowing to relax. Our approach this week is going to be a little more simple so read on and give it a go!
Time: this activity may take between 5 and 10 minutes but can vary
Body: lotus position, sitting comfortably in a chair, or lying down if you wish
Technique: you can start by briefly bringing your awareness to your breathing just as a way of getting into a mindful state of mind. After a few moments being aware of your breathing, bring your entire awareness to the top of your head. Notice any sensations you may feel as you bring your awareness to the top of your head. You may feel tingling, itching, a sense of coolness or warmth, an ache or pain. You may also not really notice any significant sensation but that is OK. Just keep your awareness on top of your head. If you do notice any sensation, just notice it and accept it and keep maintaining your awareness. After some time has passed, move your awareness down your neck into your shoulders. Again, notice any sensations including any tension that you may be carrying. There is no need to do anything, we are just noticing. You can then move your awareness slowly down each arm right up to your fingertips. Do it slowly and as you do, notice any sensations. From there, you want to continue with the same process going through your chest down to your abdomen through to your legs and feet. Take your time with the process and notice as much as you can about the various sensations in your body.
Remember, while doing the above you are likely to have a lot of distracting thoughts. That is normal. Just recognise when you mind wanders and bring your awareness back to your body. There are lots of guided body scans available online, including YouTube. They vary a little bit but the basic premise is the same. I have included a link to a long (30 minutes) and short (5 minute) body scan that you might like to try. It can be a bit easier being guided through an activity like this, at least initially.
Have a great week!
https://youtu.be/dsmfIAyiois (short body scan)
https://youtu.be/_DTmGtznab4 (longer body scan)
About the Author:
Toby shares his time between the Strong Minds Psychology team, Swinburne University, and his young family. He is passionate about providing individualised support, and empowering people to enhance their mental health. Toby provides counselling and therapy for children, adolescents, adults and couples – helping with depression, anxiety, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, grief & loss, and family conflict. Mindful Mondays will be a regular blog on our website and Facebook page.
If you would like to discuss how the Strong Minds Psychology team can support your mental health needs, complete the form below or call us on 0417 389 941.