Body scan relaxation is very much like progressive muscle relaxation. I include this body scan exercise because it is another variation of a familiar relaxation technique.
This exercise focuses simply on noticing how your body feels and then letting go of the tension.
Body scan relaxation requires mindfulness and is a great exercise that falls under the category of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
Don't forget to breathe!!!
1. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie
down. When you are familiar with this exercise, close your eyes. You
can also have someone else guide you through this body scan exercise.
2. Begin with five deep breaths. Inhale deeply into your belly for a count of four, and exhale completely counting from four back down to one. Breathe. Again inhaling deeply into the belly and exhaling completely. (Repeat until five full breaths have been completed.)
3. Focus on your forehead. Notice how it feels. Are your muscles tightened? Is your brow furrowed? Become aware of any tension you are holding in your forehead. With your next exhale, let any tension go and feel your forehead relax.
4. Focus on the area around your eyes. Notice how your eyes feel. Are they tired? Are they squinting? Do you perceive fatigue in the muscles around your eyes? With the next three breaths, release any tension from the outer corners of your eyes with the exhale.
5. Continue to breathe slowly, pulling air into your nose and down deep into your belly and then letting go of tension with your exhale. Release.
7. Focus on the juncture between your neck and shoulders. Concentrate on bringing your inhalation deep into your belly and, with the exhale, release your shoulders so they float down toward your feet. Feel the weight of your collarbone drop several inches with your exhale. Breathe in and feel your neck lengthening as you leave your shoulders down in the relaxed position. Exhale and feel your shoulders drop lower and lower.
8. Focus on your elbows, wrists and fingers. Can you perceive any tension in these joints and the muscles that support them? Just take notice of your upper arms, lower arms, the palms of your hands, and your thumbs and fingers. Use your inhale to pull fresh cleansing air deep into your body's center and, with the exhale, release the tension in your arms and hands. Feel your arms get heavy as they let go and sink to the floor.
9. Sense the floor beneath you. Give your complete weight to the floor and let it support your whole body. Continue your slow inhalations and exhalations as you let your body sink down into the floor - lower and lower. Exhale completely and discharge all the stress and tension that has built up in the muscles of your back. Let the ground support you now.
10. Focus on your upper and lower legs for signs that you are contracting your muscles unnecessarily. Inhale and hold this awareness about your whole body. Exhale slowly and completely. With your next inhalation, let go of all the worry and stress that you have stored in your lower body. Exhale and let your legs feel heavy against the floor. Let your feet drop away at your ankle joints.
11. Breathe. Release the tension. Focus again on your forehead, eyes, mouth, and jaw. If any tension has slipped back into these areas, just use your deep, slow exhalations to erase it and let it go. Feel your neck long and your shoulders down, the floor rising up to support your back and pelvis, legs and feet. Breathe.