How are you feeling today?
We don’t always get the chance to check in with how we are going.
Too busy getting on with the job, getting things done, staying focused. Or being stuck in our heads, wonderings about the future, the feelings of other people. It’s important to bring our attention to our bodies occasionally, to make sure we are giving them what they need to support us in achieving our goals.
Mindfulness is a practice of focused attention, a skill that helps us cope with distractions by developing the ability to stay present in the moment.
The body scan is a mindfulness technique that directs attention to the internal sensation of the body, listening and accepting the feelings that we experience.
The idea of sitting down and noticing what you feel inside your body sounds simple, but it can be quite hard. Thoughts keep popping into your head, distracting feelings that you’d rather avoid pop up. And if you’re not used to tuning into feelings inside it can be a challenge to identify what sensations you are having. Listening to a guided mindfulness script can help keep you on track as you follow along with the instructions.
I combined the body scan mindfulness with art therapy to help understand what my body is experiencing, and what it needs.
A while ago I was having a rough week, lots of little aches and pains in my body, a migraine, niggling signals that something wasn’t right but I didn’t know what it was. So I sat myself down to do some mindfulness art therapy to figure out what was going on and sort it out.
To find out what my body needs
A large sheet of paper (A2) you want enough space to capture the details of what you feel through the body.
Crayons, any easy to use set of colours is fine.
Find a comfortable place free from interruptions.
Listen to a guided mindfulness body scan, there are many free apps such as Calm, which enables you to choose the length (5 to 10 minutes is recommended for people new to mindfulness). Or, I recorded my own guided mindfulness specifically for this activity which you can listen to below.
Turn the feelings you noticed during the mindfulness activity into a picture, a map of the feelings in your body.
Can you tell how I was feeling from this picture?
The body scan mindfulness had a soothing effect as if listening to my body meant it didn’t need to scream at me any more to get my attention.
The major focus of the picture are the tension lines around my neck, shoulders and jaw. I wasn’t able to notice much from the rest of my body because they were getting all the attention.
I took a photo of the picture and booked into a massage therapist, asking her to help fix this problem area. Representing what feelings I had inside allowed me to communicate my needs to someone else.
As well as taking care of the symptoms I reflected upon what had caused these feelings to arise in the first place. At the time I was preparing for a long overseas trip. I was very busy, running around trying to do all the things before I went away, putting a lot of pressure on myself. I reviewed my to-do list and reduced it, removing items that would be too hard to get done properly now and were best left until I returned from my trip.
By linking my body sensations to what was happening in my world, I could change what I was doing to better look after myself.
Combining the body scan mindfulness with art therapy was effective in allowing me to hear what my body needed, and think creatively about how I could fix it for myself.
Try this for yourself and share your insights.
- What message does my body have for me?
- What could I give myself? Add this to the picture and notice if it changes the feeling in the picture