• DSN Volunteer Sarah Wanger

Mindful Body Scans for Chronic Pain

Sarah Wanger is a volunteer and moderator in one of DSN's Lifestyle Clubs. If you guessed Mindfulness, you would be correct! She is very active and passionate on the subject and application of mindfulness and how it can help us in our health journey. She shared some of that knowledge with us and I thought it was perfect to publish on the heals of "Mindful March".

Being Mindful and Doing a Body Scan with Chronic Pain

If you suffer from chronic pain, noticing the sensations with a heightened awareness may seem like the opposite of what you want to do. But, the intent of a body scan is not to exacerbate your pain, but rather to raise your awareness of it so you can respond to it accordingly.

The purpose of your focus and attention is to notice the areas of your body most in need of healing. Find them so that you can use your breath and your thoughts to bring calm, healing energy to each part of you that needs these.

If you notice a particular part of your body is painful, linger there. Focus on the areas with pain but do not focus on the pain itself. Show that part of your body extra love during the meditation and throughout the day.

If you notice an area that you are holding tension, focus on it for a moment. Take a few deep breaths and visualize the muscle relaxing. Perhaps even try stretching that area throughout the day, if it is safe for you to do so.

If you notice a sense of fatigue in one of your muscles or a feeling of malaise throughout your body, note where. Breathe deeply and imagine the warmth of your breath in these places - energizing them like a good night's rest.

Here is one chronic illness friendly body scan meditation you can use, if you like guided meditation scripts:

First, chose a power word to set the intent of your practice. Really, any positive power word will work. But I would advise you to consider your choice for a moment. Choose one that works for you and reflects what you most need to hear today. If you have trouble coming up with one, here are a few possibilities to get you started: "Calm!", "Relaxed!", "Strong!", "Soft!", "Good Enough!", "Capable!", "Accepted!", "Healed!", "Working!", "Whole!", "Beautiful!", "At ease!", "Peaceful!", "Miraculous!" or "Accepted!".

Once you have your power word, find a comfortable position - whether that is seated, kneeling, or laying down. Now you are ready to begin the Body Scan.

Start at the crown (top) of the head and think about how this part of your body feels. Breathe deeply and focus on your crown. As you focus on your crown, say your power word in your mind or out loud. Imagine your breath bringing the power of your word to that part of the body, filling it with your desired intent.

Move your attention slowly down your body, repeating the same process using your power word. Work your way down through your forehead, down your cheeks and your jaw, down your neck, down your shoulders, and into your upper arms, then elbows and into your lower arms, your wrists and your palms, and down to the tips of your fingers.

Then return to the center of your body. Continue to use your power word as you scan your ribcage, paying special attention to your heart. Then make your way down your chest, into your belly, and then your pelvis and buttocks. Then continue down your legs - starting with your hips, and then your thighs and quads, your knees, your calves, your ankles, your feet, and down to the very tips of your toes.

When you are ready to end, take one last deep breath in. Say your power word one more time, this time for your whole body. Imagine your body being filled with your intent as you breathe in.

Then, let out the breath slowly, holding on to the intention. End your meditation by restating power word as an affirmation: "I am _____." Throughout the day, you can come back to this affirmation as many times as you need it.

If Mindfullness intrugues you and you think you may benefit from it, please check out our Lifestyle Club!

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