When I was 14 I had my first (and last) summer camp experience. I don’t truly know why I went there that summer – but I do think it had something to do with a certain boy whom my parents weren’t too crazy about! There are a few things I remember about the camp, and it was a beautiful place, set up in some mountains in PA. We hiked and canoed. I helped little kids learn how to swim and care for horses – two things I was very good by that age. There was a farm, we picked and ate fresh foods and even decorated our cabins with fresh flowers. It was a little slice of heaven, as they say. There were also Beth and Tom, honestly, I don’t remember their real names, I saw them once, that was it, but the work they did with us that day has remained with me for all of these years.
“Ok, today we’re going to take a full body scan. Find a blanket and lie down, please.” Beth and Tom were young, probably college students. There were about 10 of us there that day-all chatty, giggly, little teeny-bopper campers. They had us lie on a cabin floor and guided us through a meditation and full body scan – two things I had never heard of. “You need to be quiet and try to keep your eyes closed. If you fall asleep it’s ok, you may get very relaxed,” they told us. “Ha! quiet? US? This is going to be interesting,” I thought to myself.
First we were guided into a short meditation. I don’t recall much of it, but it felt quite nice! Then, we were “awakened” a bit and told to curl up our toes as tight as we could. “What?!,” I worried to myself, “I’m so relaxed, I feel so good! why would I want to do this to myself now?! Beth and Tom are nuts!” But, I followed along, I was always good at following directions. “Now, breathe in, feel your toes, and breathe out, release your toes. Let them go. Wiggle them around. How does that feel?” AHHHH! “WOAH! That felt SO good!” I answered out LOUD. I couldn’t help it, they asked the question.
Tom and Beth continued to move throughout our entire body, having us tense up a certain muscle area, breathe, recall the feeling, then breathe out and release. Let go. I will never forget the blanket I was lying on or how the body scan felt – simply amazing. Not one of us spoke afterwards. It was as if we were in this cloud, floating , relaxed and happy. There were truly no words for the pure bliss we had just been exposed to.
I had never been taught anything like that before, and, sadly, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet up with it again until almost after my college years. Finally, I was reunited with things like meditation, yoga, breath work. I found NIA , an amazing dance flow and Reiki. I’ve become a collector of healing arts. I’ve learned how to meditate while walking. And, of course, I use the body scan, the same one I learned as a young camper, almost daily.
Body scans can be done in a variety of ways. However, the most simple way is to lie down in a comfortable, quiet area and start with your feet and work your way up. Tense and flex your muscles, one at a time, feel your muscles and note any sensations that accompany the movement. Breathe. Then, relax your muscle, breathe out , let go, release and move on. You may want to journal any unique or unusual sensations that you find during your scan afterwards. Making a daily practice out of this can produce amazing results in your health and physical appearance, energy, attitude and awareness.
Be well, go scan & let go.