Self-Cultivation Series: Body Scan

Many of us get home from work stressed from the day’s activity. A way to speed the relaxation process and leave the stress of the day behind is to take ten minutes to do a body scan. This scan can also be done a part of the routine preparation of bedtime to assist falling asleep more quickly.

Sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes and begin this exercise by noticing where there is tension in the area of the head. Notice the lips, the jaw muscles, the eyes, the forehead, the scalp, the occiput, and the neck. Notice any place on your head/neck where you feel tension, tightness, or that energy is not moving. Take one deep breath for each area that feels tense, and imagine the breath going into those spaces.

Now move to the region of the chest. Notice where the ribs meet the sternum, the spaces between the ribs, the collar bone, and the shoulder joints. Again, once you notice where there is tension and stagnation, imagine one breath going into each area to help create space and relax the muscles and tissues.

Now move your attention to the abdomen and everything down below. Notice the abdominal muscles, the muscles of the groin and the thighs, the knee joints, the calf muscles, the ankles and feet, especially between the many bones in the feet. Once again, use the breath to create space and relax the area.

Move to the back of the body. Pay attention to where the ribs join the spine, the low back, sacral area, and the hip joints. The sacrum has four small holes on each side in which a great deal of stagnation can gather, and the spine tends to stiffen with tension as we go through our day.

This exercise can be done on three levels. You can just notice the tension on the surface of the body, which is pretty easy for all of us. As you do this exercise more and more, you will begin to notice tension in the deeper levels of the muscles, and then begin to notice tension and stagnation in the organs of the body. Using the breath to help relax the body in all three of these levels may take more than ten minutes, but will add years to your life.


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