When was the last time you paid attention to your right big toe or thumb? Like really paid attention to it? We often move throughout our day without really noticing our body or its various parts unless we are dealing with acute pain. It’s almost like we are on autopilot. When we really pay attention to what our body is experiencing in the moment, we can be more present, and we can notice how our physical experience is often connected to our emotional experience. This is called body scan.
We sometimes hold emotional experiences or trauma in our body. By bringing our awareness and attention to the body, we can learn how and where we might be holding this stress and how to respond to the physical sensations it creates. Taking a few minutes in our day to pause, breathe, and bring awareness to how our body feels or is reacting to stress can help us come back to a calmer state – physically and emotionally.
Join Dr. Tim Avery from the Palo Alto VA Medical Center in this 7-minute body scan meditation, where you will be able to slowly bring awareness to how each part of your body is feeling in this moment.
By bringing awareness to each part of your body with your breath, you may notice different sensations or even lack of sensation. Perhaps you will feel more connected to your body and more present in the moment, or maybe even notice the ability to let go of extra tension you might be holding in the body. It’s possible you may even encounter some emotions as you follow along with the meditation. Allow yourself to be present in the experience without judgment. Be curious.
Each of us has the power to impact our well-being. Whole Health offers the skills and support you need to make the changes you want. The Circle of Health can get you started with self-care resources to live a happier life: https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/circle-of-health/index.asp.
For more tips on stress management strategies, check out the National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention’s page, which includes links to meditations and a Pleasant Activities Tips Sheet: https://www.prevention.va.gov/Healthy_Living/Manage_Stress.asp.
Alison M. Whitehead, MPH, C-IAYT is the National Program Lead for the Integrative Health Coordinating Center in the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation.