This article talks about three body scan methods from my latest book Body Talk. These short yet powerful activities will support you in reconnecting with your body’s intelligence for greater calm, health, power, and well-being. Read further if you want to:
- reduce stress and feel more settled and calm,
- bring more awareness to your body and connect with your emotions,
- increase your presence, personal power and how you connect with others.
“Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going inside ourselves.”Bessel A. van der Kolk, Clinician, leading researcher and teacher in the area of post-traumatic stress
Body Scan mindfulness exercise aids attention and focus
Dr Amishi Jha is a professor of cognitive and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Miami and an expert in the science of attention. According to her research, simple mindfulness exercises, such as the body scan are able to improve attention and focus as well as emotional health in people in high-demand roles. An earlier study also reported a significant reduction in stress levels in students after an 8-week Body Scan intervention.
I find that mindfulness-based and body-linked exercises done over just 1-6 weeks can help people create healthier lifestyle habits and put them on a path to recovery from stress and burnout. When combined with other forms of therapy and coaching, such activities help return the person to a calmer and more relaxed state that is vital for healthy human functioning.
Introducing the Body Scan mindfulness exercise
The Body Scan is one of the most effective ways to begin a mindfulness meditation practice.
The purpose of this exercise is to mindfully reconnect with your physical self. This is done by tuning in to different parts of your body and noticing what sensations are there. You are encouraged to do this without any specific expectations or judgment of what you discover. Your job is to simply notice.
It is this anchoring of the mind in the physical sensations that strengthens the development of mindful attention and focus. This is why the exercise is often used to support clinical sessions or prescribed as self-practice to develop mindfulness and for stress and anxiety reduction.
Body Talk links the body scan exercise with art therapy
In my book Body Talk, I build on the basic principle of the mind-body connection and link the body scan with art therapy. This helps us achieve a greater connection with the body during each exercise and allows us to capture the key findings using a body drawing.
Done over time, the Body Talk supports people in grounding in their physical body, deepening their connection with themselves and others, and fostering healthier living. All this comes from the mind learning to listen to and work in harmony with the body.
In this way, the Body Talk is a deliberate and intentional dialogue between the mind, heart, body, and spirit. The practice involves making time to listen to what your body has to tell you about what is going on with you. The purpose is to hear deeper truths – body wisdom – that emanate from places other than your ego.
What can Body Talk do for me?
Body Talk just like Body Scan is designed to re-engage you with your body. For many of us, our body is like the student who keeps putting their hand up in class, but whom the teacher (our mind) ignores. This student has valuable insights to bring to the lesson. He or she could even teach the teacher a thing or two, but because they are not being asked to contribute, they switch off. The result is that everyone loses out.
With the Body Talk practice, we’re going to change this conversation. We will recruit the body as an equal partner in our life’s mission.
Below are three short Body Talk practices that will restore calm and well-being.
1 minute Body Talk: energy of the feet and hands
- Check the energy level of your feet or your hands by mindfully putting your attention on them. Our feet and hands connect us to all action. Are they achy, tired, restless, excited, or motionless?
- Allow your feet or hands to tell you how this feeling connects to your life or what is represents?
- Imagine your feet or hands taking you towards something that’s truly good for you. Notice the energy as you picture this.
3 minute Body Talk: connecting with our physical center
- Focus on your abdomen – the center of your physical being. Many physical manifestations of wellbeing (or lack of) start here, when the stomach and/or bowels are unwell.
- Notice what you can feel or sence in this area? You may sense for temperature, movement (or lack of movement, colour, general sensations and feeling, etc.
- Breathe and thank your abdomen for helping you discover how you are in your core.
- Now place your hands on your abdomen to soothe it and send love and compassion to the core of your being.
5 minute Body Talk: whole body energy scan
- Scan for the energy and vitality in your body as a whole and notice what it is like.
- Rank your level of energy and vitality on a scale of 1 (very low) to 10 (very high).
- Note where within your body you are able to detect the highest level of energy.
- Conversely, notice where you feel the least amount of energy and vitality, or perhaps none. Understanding your inner ‘aliveness’ will give you a good insight into your physical wellbeing.
- If you have time, return to the place showing the highest energy and focus your attention here. Set an intention to help it disperse to other parts of your body that can benefit from it. Take a deep long breath in and exhale any tension out of yoru body watching and feeling it leave your body.
Ways to take the work further
Your physical body is a powerful instrument. The body does not lie when it comes to how you feel and what you need. Body Talk will teach you how to tap into this superpower.
If you enjoyed the 3 activities in this article, we recommend reading the Body Talk book. The book contains 12 powerful exercises to deepen your connection with yourself and your body. It also presents the whole Body Talk program.
If you’re facing burnout or stress book a 1:1 Guided Body Talk session. Discover how connecting with your physical body can boost your resilience, strength, and power.