If you are interested in meditation, but have little or no experience with the topic, you are in the right place. Due to the demand for these topics we present here from time to time selected basic techniques. The term “basic” technique may sound misleading, but it suggests a certain “simplicity”. Often this terminology is associated with the notion that something basic and simple cannot be truly effective. The outer world of gadgets and utensils often teaches us the opposite.
This is a common question. We do not only encounter it in meditation. Let us briefly add sport as a reflection surface. Basketball, for example, is always about the so-called “fundamentals”. Even professional athletes practice the same basic movements again and again and build on them much later. These “build-up” units are rather a rarity in the training plan, which is dominated by routines. This is not different with meditation. The “basic techniques” are often the most effective and those that bring the fastest results. Our minds tend to label simple solutions as inferior. The experience of thousands of years shows, however, that the simplest techniques have proven themselves in meditation and are still taught and passed on today in a practically unchanged way.
Relaxation technique body-scan
The “body-scan” is initially a relaxation technique, which is, however, fundamental for meditation. Our mind cannot exist without the body (and of course the other way round). A “yogi tea wisdom” means – “outside as well as inside” – and has thus hit a very important point, which we can well understand using the example of restlessness. Physical restlessness leads to mental restlessness (and of course vice versa). If we are interested in meditation and want to follow this path, consciousness plays an important role. We can become better aware of ourselves and our body when it is relaxed. Stress is especially reflected in the physical, which is reflected in the multitude of psychosomatic illnesses.
The body-scan enables us to relax our body and mind and thus to take a meditative mental attitude.
This meditation unit should be done lying down. The recommended time for this is 20 minutes. If this seems too long to you, you can also start with a shorter session duration. However, it is recommended that you start with at least 10 minutes if circumstances allow. It is advisable to read the following instructions carefully each time before turning to this method.
- Ensure an undisturbed room (mobile phone flight mode, reduce noise as much as possible, avoid interruptions) and comfortable clothing. Ideally, this should be done without clothing, which of course is not always and everywhere possible in our society.
- Lie on a mat on the floor or on a (preferably not too soft) surface. The bed is not ideal as this could lead to unwanted falling asleep.
- Lie on your back. Place your arms to the side of your body with your palms facing up. Your legs should be slightly spread.
- Close your eyes and take some deep breaths (4-5 or more, depending on the prevailing stress sensation at that moment). Breathe deep into the abdomen so that the abdominal wall rises and then exhale slowly and pleasurably. Let go as you exhale and feel the relaxation in your body.
- Let your breath come to a rhythm that is pleasant for you and become aware of your body. For this you can use the contact surfaces of your body with the support to call them into your perception.
- During the next few minutes, slowly walk with your attention from your soles to your calves, legs, etc. all body parts individually through to the highest point of your skull. (Example: start with the left foot, then the right foot, then the left calf, then the right calf, etc.)
- If during this scan you become aware of a tense spot or perceive a tension in a spot, stay briefly on this spot with your attention and concentrate all your awareness for the moment on this spot.
- Now take a deep breath and consciously tighten this spot as much as you can for about one second. With the exhalation now let go of all the tension and let it go out of your body together with the exhaled air.
- As practice progresses: visualize how you lie there and are totally relaxed and fully aware of all your physical sensations as you breathe calmly and deeply into your stomach.
- If you are through with the scan, go to your stomach with your attention and feel how it rises with inhalation and falls with exhalation. You can also put your attention on your belly button and stay there.
- When the given time has ended, slowly open your eyes as you exhale and sit up slowly and carefully.
When & how long should the scan be used?
Ideally, this technique should be used in the evening and can provide a much better sleep. With continuous practice, the (e.g. app-supported) meditation will also become much deeper and the awareness of one’s own body will increase. The scan can also be used during the day when stress levels are higher or when tension is felt. Ideally, you need a rest room where you can lie down completely. If this is not possible, the scan can also be done while sitting. Here a straight spinal column is to be paid attention to.
As mentioned at the beginning, the body scan is a fundamental technique. This can be used again and again. If meditation is something new for you, we recommend to use this method daily at the beginning over a period of 21 days (e.g. in the evening). In the beginning it can be helpful to use only this technique, without other techniques before or after. If you feel good with the scan and can keep consciousness constant during the session, you can add other techniques to the daily routine. For example, a guided meditation session with an app in the morning and a body scan in the evening can contribute to a much higher level of well-being.