Body Scan Meditation: A Simple Mindfulness Exercise to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Meditation is an activity which allows the person to still the mind. There are different types of meditation practices. All the practices however promote mental well-being, calm the mind, help in the healing process, and relieve anxiety.
Mindfulness involves clearing your mind and having focused attention on a single point. It allows the practitioner to be fully present in the moment without being distracted by other things going around.
The trash accumulated daily in our household can cause stink and disease if not disposed off regularly; the trash in the form of negative thoughts invades a person daily. On an average a human being is bombarded by 60,000 thoughts in 24 hours, majority of those thoughts are negative. If the mind is not emptied of all this trash in the form of negative thoughts daily then we can end up being stressed up resulting in anxiety and depression. Medical science has also proved that the root cause of a majority of chronic diseases is mental stress.
The benefits of Meditation are manifold some of which are listed below:
• Reduces stress and anxiety
• Improves concentration and focus
• Encourages a healthy lifestyle
• Increases self-awareness
• Increases happiness (brain produces feel good chemicals like Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphins)
• Slows the aging process
• Benefits the cardiovascular and immune system
Body Scan Meditation:
This type of mindfulness exercise is a simple and effective means to relieve you of unwanted thoughts and bring you into the present moment awareness. It is recommended that the exercise should be performed daily for 10 to 15 minutes.
The exercise is performed by sitting cross-legged with the back leaning against a wall or in an upright position; the head should be relaxed and slightly tilted but not slumped.
Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing. Take 3 deep breaths in and slowly exhale. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Make the breathing effortless, slow and deep, completely filling your lower abdomen and chest as if filling a balloon with air.
Visualize a beam of white light entering your body with each breath in and imagine grey smoke leaving your body with every breath out. The white light symbolizes positive energy entering your body and the grey smoke represents negative energy like stress and anxiety leaving your body.
After the three deep breaths resort to normal breathing and bring your attention to the top of your head. Imagine a wave of awareness entering your crown and travelling down your head, your forehead, eyes, cheeks, mouth and jaws. Let this wave of awareness pass all over your head area, relaxing all the muscles and tissues along. Bring this awareness to your neck, relaxing all the muscles and ligaments in your neck area as it passes down. Let this awareness travel down your shoulders to your arms, forearms, hands and fingers, relaxing all the body parts. This wave of awareness then travels down your spinal cord, relaxing all the muscles and bones as it travels down. It then enters your chest, the upper abdomen and the lower abdomen, relaxing all the muscles and ligaments in your upper body.
Visualize this sensation in your hips, down your thighs, calves and feet systematically relaxing all your lower body parts.
Now that your whole body is relaxed the next step involves relaxing your mind.
To relax your mind, imagine a place of solitude and comfort. It could be a beach, a forest or a mountain top. Utilize all your senses in imagining that place of peace and calm.
If it is a beach, visualize the blue waters of the sea, the pleasant wind blowing, the flight of the sea gulls and the sound of the waves crashing against the sand. Make the picture as detailed and colorful as possible as if you are reliving that moment.
After you have created that ideal environment in your mind’s eye, stay in that place for a few moments. This will gradually calm your mind and relieve you of all residual stress and pressure. You can commence the activity whenever you feel you have achieved the desired state and then slowly open your eyes and bring yourself to normal conscious awareness.
The daily practice of this simple yet powerful mindfulness exercise releases all the feel good hormones from your brain which will make you happy and stress free.