From our friends at Hey Pumpkin:
Anyone who’s fallen asleep during savasana in yoga class knows that body scanning is incredibly powerful for relaxation. If all of that sounded like a foreign language, savasana is the practice of lying still on one’s back and gradually relaxing one body part at a time, one muscle at a time, and one thought at a time.
These guided meditations bring us back into our bodies, which is a grounding influence for those of us who spend way too much time trapped in our own brains.
But what if you don’t have time in the middle of the day for a full yoga session and 20-minute savasana?
Welcome to the world of isolated body scanning. In this specific example, scanning your right hand.
Start by getting in a comfortable seated position. You could also lie on your back, but for this short exercise, seated is fine. Close your eyes.
Take a couple of minutes to center yourself and do some deep breathing. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth, consciously relaxing your major muscle groups as you go. It’s helpful to breathe in a pattern, such as in for four counts, hold for seven counts, and out for eight counts. Do this four or five times.
Notice Your Right Hand
Place your hands palm down on the floor, or on the tops of your legs. Draw your full attention to your right hand.
Notice the sensation of the air on the top of your hand, the temperature of the air, and the temperature of the surface your hand is resting on. Notice all of these sensations like you’re doing it for the first time.
Relax Your Pinky
Now draw your attention to your right pinky. Specifically notice the sensations of the air around it, and the temperature.
Take note of any tension in it. Stretch it out and then relax it. Become aware of the length of this finger, the knuckles, and your fingernail.
Run Through the Other Fingers
Now run through that same exact exercise with the rest of the fingers on your right hand. Start by moving into your fourth finger. Stretch it out and relax it, noticing how the air feels around it, its length, and its finger nail.
Then on to your middle finger, your index finger, and finally your thumb.
Focus on Your Wrist
As you move your thumb, notice how that movement draws your attention down your hand toward your wrist. Move it without taking your hand off its surface. Then bring your awareness to the top of your hand, to the sensations of your palm, and finally your hand as a whole, stretching down to your fingertips.
Now compare your right hand to the sensations of your left hand. Take note of the temperature between the two, and the differing sensations of energy and weight.
When you’re finished, slowly bring your awareness to your body as a whole, take a deep breath, and open your eyes.
The Benefits of Focused Body Scanning
As with any sort of meditation – guided or no – body scanning can help us by not only relaxing our bodies and minds, but also by helping us to tap into our inner selves, or subconscious. So this can put us into a great state of mind to do some journaling, visualization, or shadow work.
But it’s also a way to put things into perspective quickly when we’re feeling overwhelmed. So next time you can’t stop your thoughts from spinning out of control, take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, and contemplate your right hand.