Body scanning is a useful tool both in the clinic during treatments and at home.
What is a ‘body scan’ ?
A body scan is a process during which we check out how we are feeling in our bodies and check out every sensation: muscle aches and pains, twitches, itches and general fatigue.
Sometimes we feel aches and pains in our bodies and we are not quite sure where they are located. There can be a general feeling of fatigue and there are more and more cases of fibromyalgia, where people feel a number of places in the body that feel tense, tired and painful.
For many years body scans have been used in meditation practice. Individuals and groups lay down on the floor on a blanket or yoga mat and allow themselves to drop into quietness, and then become conscious of each breath; breathing slowly and rhythmically until the mind quietens and the body becomes our field of attention rather than the many thoughts that we experience throughout the day.
Once the mind has become quiet and the body feels warm and relaxed the mind can become aware of each part of the body, one by one and check out the feelings and sensations that are occurring there. If pain is located the breath is used to breathe through the discomfort, and oftentimes there is a reduction or even a cessation of pain during this process.
Body scan during massage
I like to encourage my clients to work in this way during massage sessions, both sports and relaxing. During this process the client, laying restfully on the massage table settles into relaxation using the breath. In this way the gift of our conscious attention is used to focus less on the thoughts racing through and more to the feelings of the body. We become aware of sensations that we might not have noticed whilst dashing around. We become aware of warmth or coolness. We become conscious that areas tingle with energy and furthermore of aches, pains; sometimes dull and at other times acute. It is interesting that at this stage we notice that the pain we brought to the clinic for treatment has receded and some other area we hadn’t noticed comes into the foreground and we can report it to the therapist for their attention.
The therapists hand
Another way of working in this way is to simply become aware of the therapist’s hand during our massage treatment, following it wherever it goes. At times we will notice the pleasant sensations of relaxing effleurage as the therapist uses the hand to warm the muscles and fascia, working briskly and then slowly, encouraging the process of vasoconstriction, where the heart works faster and then the slower strokes which encourage vasodilation which brings the heart to rest.
When the therapeutic hand is used with deeper pressure we might notice that a knot or adhesion is being worked on and there might be some sense of slight pain or discomfort. We can use the breath to breathe through this process, thus reducing and discomfort we might be experiencing.
At times, especially when we are relaxed we might drift off and even become sleepy or our attention comes back to the chattering ‘monkey mind’. Then our attention is brought back to the body, either because we have brought ourselves back to the scan or simply because we notice a new pressure or sensation.
I often encourage my clients to use body scan at home in order to get to know their bodies more, or for pain relief or simply to quieten the mind. Some people use it as a method to help them get to sleep at night.
If you would like any further information on body scan do ask your therapist during your next treatment or simply book in for a body scan session. Meanwhile I hope you have enjoyed reading this article as much as I have enjoyed writing it for you.