The body scan meditation has a number of benefits.
We attune to the language of the body. The body doesn’t communicate in words but in sensations. Tension/holding/pain can block or blur subtler sensations. So when we invite those tension to release, we are actually gaining a clearer, more direct relationship with the body.
Releasing tension, we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally more available. It takes energy to hold tension in the body, even if that holding is unconscious. When we scan through the body, and invite that tension to release, studies have shown that blood flow and metabolism improve. It also frees up energy that was being used to “hold” the tension in place.
Develop a focused attention (we place our attention in a relaxed/clear/gentle way on a point in the body, noticing what sensations are present).
Develop a flexible attention (we learn to place our attention where we want, but then to “let go” of that area and move on to another).
Practice for short periods, practice for long periods.
The body scan can be done in as little as 30 seconds. The easiest and most practical is to begin to do it when you are waiting — for the barista to pour your coffee, for the light to turn green, for an app or webpage to load. Rather than fill that moment with “leaning forward”, trying to rush the next moment to happen, pause and check in with your body. Invite any tension you notice to soften and release. This is a tremendous opportunity, because we are often most uncomfortable “in between” — when one thing has ended but another hasn’t started yet.
Longer body scans go up to an hour. The guided body scan I added here 1) can help release chronically held pain/tension/discomfort and 2) can help you fall asleep at night. Let the practice be a benefit, not a burden. As with all the meditation practices I’ve shared, the intention is that it improve the quality of your life and attention. If you get halfway through and want to stop, no problem. If you go all the way through and want to immediately play it again, great. Do whatever serves you, listen to your intuition.