These days I can hardly keep up with the health tech devices exploding into the market. Many come across my screen and I must admit I am engaged and often I am about ready to press the button to buy another one and then realize that just might be the moment I need to click another button. The one for a body scan. The one for a time-out for myself, to step away for a little perspective break. It seems hard today not to be lured into the shiny marketing and promises of technology.
It takes a concerted effort to step away from “the machine” and all it has to offer. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we can force the body or mind to even try to match the speed of technology. The body and mind have a rhythm that cannot be denied. When I find myself pushing that rhythm of my body and mind, I feel like a moth unable to control my flight toward the flame. Yet over time, and having gotten roasted too many times, I have learned another path.
The body scan practice is the first practice introduced in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is a deep investigation into the moment-to-moment awareness of the body. It has become the perspective break I need when I get going too fast, when I have spent too much time in my head, gotten too excited or upset and cut off from my physical body and my own deepest wisdom. (Your brain is not the only place where wisdom resides. My brain tells me I NEED to TEST another device. My body KNOWS I DO NOT NEED another device!)
I need a quick body scan to get grounded and gain some perspective. In this practice, as taught in the MBSR program, you lie down. When I first learned the practice, I fell asleep every time. I could not figure it out. Why could I not focus? Perhaps the 5 hours of sleep I was getting on a regular basis at that time was not enough?
These days with a more regular and robust sleeping commitment, I can stay awake but if I do fall asleep for a few minutes all the better. The body scan is a guided awareness meditation to bring awareness from your toes to the crown of your head. Sounds good right. It can also be a great mini-nap.
As you bring awareness and acknowledgment to whatever you feel in the body the body scan can also be very helpful in working with stress, anxiety and physical pain. Stay aware of the physical sensations without having an opinion or story or manipulating your body in any way, just feeling and acknowledging whatever sensations are present.
Like other mindfulness practices, it is about letting whatever comes up just keep flowing in order to be released. The body does hold on to experiences and can also let them go. As a good friend of mine often says, “up and out, up and out.”
This week, if you find yourself flying too close to the flame, or about to be lured into some not so good for you, try a body scan.