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Learn & Practice

Well-Being Tip: Embodiment

By The Healthy Minds Team

In this week’s Well-Being Tip, we explore how to stay present by training your mind to notice the sensations within your body.

Photo by Toàn Nghĩa on Unsplash 

The humble body scan can help get you out of your head and into your body. It’s a touchpoint in time that can soothe and clarify in moments of stress, distraction, and even panic. Training your mind to notice the sensations within your body can make you aware and present – even if you suffer from pain or aches.

This connection between the self and the body can be powerful to harness. A body scan practice trains you to stay present in your body even when you don’t like what you’re experiencing, such as pain and discomfort. Working through discomfort in the body without resisting has the added benefit of training our minds to work through discomfort in our lives in general. 

This connection between our sense of self and our body can also give rise to expectations and judgments: what your body should look like or be capable of. By bringing insight into a body scan, you can examine this dynamic and ease some of this tension.

Body scans can be done seated, lying down, or on the go. They are especially helpful in bed at night to ease you into a restful sleep.

Basic Body Scan:

  • Find a restful posture and close your eyes.

  • Direct your attention to your body, moving slowly from your head to your toes (or reverse).

  • Pause to notice sensations as closely as you can. You’re not trying to change anything here, you’re just noticing. We’re training the mind to respond, not react or  resist, even if there is pain or other unpleasant sensations.

Once you have the basics down for a body scan, you can leverage it in moments of stress on-the-go as well. In the moment, use the sensations in your body as an anchor to get out of your head and be present. Notice your forehead tightening, shoulders tensing, your chest pounding, your stomach knotting, and all the way down. This is embodiment – moving your attention away from thoughts and into sensations.

Practicing a body scan with insight is a way to add meaningful layers to a basic body scan. When our body doesn’t look, feel or function the way we want it to – listening to the Healthy Minds Program app meditation, The Self Body Connection can help us process these emotions.

Embodiment can support you in times of stress or any other time you just want to get out of your head. It can also be called upon at any moment. Just pause throughout the day and do a short body scan. You’ll be amazed at how this simple act can help ground you in the moment. Good luck with your practice!

Get more practices and tips by downloading the Healthy Minds Program App, freely available thanks to the generosity of our donors wherever you get your apps. Dive deeper into the Healthy Minds Framework for Well-Being by registering for our upcoming Masterclass: Founders Edition.

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