'Body Scan & Kindness' is a MINDFULGym tool that involves shifting our mindful attention to the sensations of the body, part by part, and relating to them with kindness. The practice is useful for relieving body tiredness or discomfort, refreshing the mind, and restful sleep.
For a maximum relaxation effect of the exercise, it's essential to be kindful - pay attention and relate to the body parts and sensation with kindness.
Kindfulness = Mindful Attention + Kindness
As you scan your body with your mind, get feedback from the body moment-to-moment and adjust how you care for and comfort the body. The following are seven ways you can be kindful to your body during the body scan practice:
1. Make the environment soothing for the body.
A cozy and homey environment helps a lot to relax the mind and body. Some ways to create a supportive atmosphere for body scan include a quiet room, a comfortable couch, suitable temperature, relaxing music, easeful lighting, and a pleasant scent.
2. Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
Feel free to adjust your body posture to feel comfortable and relaxed. Gently move any body parts (e.g., hands and legs) a little, if it helps to increase body awareness and release restlessness.
3. If you sense any muscular tension, apply some mindful body stretching.
For example, apply the mindful face stretching (Aaahh, Eeehh, Oohh) for relieving facial tightness. Also, apply the "tortoise" and "superman" pose for the shoulder and neck strain. You can even say, "relax" or "let go" to consciously release pressure in a particular part of the body. Some simple massage might also be helpful.
4. Use the power of imagination to relax your body.
As you breathe into your legs (image), visualize the refreshing energy of the wave cleansing your legs. Imagine you're cooling yourself under a magnificent waterfall when you breathe into the upper part of your body. You can also imagine the wind blowing on your skin; your body becomes as light as a feather, and your mind becomes as clear as the blue sky.
5.Be grateful to your body.
Say in your mind, "Thank you, Heart, for circulating blood and oxygens to all the organs in the body." "Hi, Liver, thank you for detoxifying and purifying the blood." "Hello Kidney, thank you for removing toxins and waste products from the body." Envision the cells in your body, smiling and sparkling with joy, as you appreciate them for keeping your healthy and happy.
6. Radiate loving-kindness to your body.
Sincerely wish your body parts, for instance, "Stomach, may you be free from indigestion." "Joints, I wish you safe, healthy, and happy." "Nose, I hope you're free from allergy." Let the loving feeling permeate every part of the body. Along with that, we can also comfort a specific body part (e.g., tummy) by patting, rubbing, or stroking it with our hands. If you're experiencing chronic pain, learn to reframe it as a 'strong sensation. Try to accept and befriend the sensation with open-heartedness, curiosity, and wisdom.
7. Sing a song or say a prayer to heal the body.
For instance, sing the 'Rasa Sayang' (feeling the love) folk song to cheer the body, Find out which song your body likes, the one which the body easily resonates with peace and joy. You can also do some chanting, prayer, or invoke spiritual powers (e.g., healing light from the Medicine Buddha or Christ) to heal the body organs and systems.
Audio-guided body scan practice (various versions):
As you shift attention to different parts of your body with the audio-guided body scan on YouTube, be kindful to your body with one or a combination of the seven suggestions mentioned. Feel free to explore the various length of practice, the grouping of body parts, and the sequence of body scan that suit you.
We can also practice the body scan on the go, at any time and anywhere to relax the body and sharpen concentration (see the picture above by Francois on Sketches in Stillness).