Body scans are a fundamental piece of somatic work. It is the simple practice of bringing our awareness inward, and noticing how the body feels. Though it is a simple practice, the hard part is turning off the overactive mind and actually doing it. Another tricky part is having language for all of the sensations and all of the body places those sensations live. Most of us aren’t used to using sensation language, and many of us do not have an in depth awareness of our own body and anatomy.
To begin to build this inner awareness, it is helpful to have language to do so, so I am adding a list of words for sensations and body places/anatomy. It is important to note that the words themselves are only tools, and the real practice is in feeling the sensations, accepting the sensations without judgement, and letting the sensation relax, or move through your body as they want to.
these are only some of the endless list of sensations, many sensations don’t even have words to describe them, so let this list open your mind, rather than shut it!
- sharp pain
Again, this is a small list to help begin your inner exploration. The places in our body are endless and many remained unnamed. These are some of my top places to check-in with, I am putting some of them together in little “check-in” groups. And I have added links to some of the lesser known, but very important “body places”.
- lips, teeth, tongue
- jaw, throat
- ears, back of the head, scalp
- eyeballs, muscles around the eyes
- shoulders, chest, heart
- back of the heart, spine
- diaphragm, solar plexus (mid-upper stomach)
- ribs, muscles between the ribs
- navel, lower stomach, organs, intestines
- hips, hip flexors, psoas
- tailbone, glutes, pelvic floor muscles
- legs, knees, feet, arches of feet
Reading through this list very slowly serves as a beginner practice to the body scan. It will help familiarize you with your own vast inner self, and the unlimited points of awareness you can begin to build as you practice body scans.
Body Scan Practice
- in a comfortable place, sitting, laying or standing bring your awareness inward, closing your eyes can help make this easier
- begin to quiet the mind and increase your curiosity for your body and sensations
- let your awareness follow your sensations
- you can take non-judgemental notes of these sensations and where they are (ie. diaphragm feels tense and stuck, shoulders are lifting, chest feels trembly, etc)
- allow any movement, noise or unwinding to naturally move through you
- take notice of the quality of your breath, how deep or shallow, if breath is more in your chest or belly, the tempo of your breath
- finally, notice if becoming aware of and accepting these sensations helps them lessen soften you, or if you want to intensify and move
The body is alive and dynamic, responding to outer and inner stimulus, and our every thought. The very act of doing a body scan begins to change the body. Keeping a curious mindset and releasing all judgement allows the body scan to be a powerful practice in inner healing. Additionally, allowing the body to move and spontaneously express while you scan, allows you to process stuck stress and emotions. The more often you can drop in with yourself and do body scans, the more expansive and whole your awareness becomes, allowing more ease, softening and peace to enter your life.