Author Topic: Headaches Developing During Meditation?  (Read 18824 times)

NickAWilson

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Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« on: February 09, 2011, 09:04:43 PM »
Hi everyone,

Occasionally when I sit I seem to develop a very heavy feeling in my head. Particularly the back of the neck, and temples. A kind of tight, tense feeling that ends up staying with me for some hours (or even the rest of the day).

After the meditation it feels exactly like the onset of a nasty head cold. (sometimes complete with sneezing fits!).

Any thoughts on what might be going on there?

Jhana4

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 09:25:41 PM »
I had a big breakthrough when I read a pamphlet by Ajahn Brahm that stated that the purpose of meditation was Letting go.  That is, meditation is a relaxation exercise.   I discovered that I was building up tension in the background during meditation, but staying too long in a posture I could handle, well, for that length of time, and *forcing* my concentration back to where it should be.

Tension is one cause of headaches.

Try changing your posture or shortening your sit.   

Instead of bringing your concentration back to your object, let it fall back on its own by Letting go of the distraction.

On your exhalations mentally repeat "r-e-l-a-x" to yourself


Matthew

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 10:44:03 PM »
How do you sit Nck?
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Morning Dew

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2011, 07:52:37 AM »
Nick do you focus/concentrate on anything like the nose, belly, eyes, etc... Focusing can create a headacke.
Also, if you are anything like me; I was a very hyper person always on the move which can keep the blood pressure a bit higher than usually and certain brain parts more active than others.
In meditation the blood pressure calms down and other parts of the brain start functioning. It is like getting off alcohol, or any other habit, it can cause some headackes or flu/cold, until one relaxes into it.

I suddenly get often migraines which I didn't have since the childhood. I know it is the meditation kicking in and rewiring the fragmented parts. I let it be and try to go without pain killers unless I cant stand it any longer.

It could also be a stiff posture as Jhana said.

Che

thelastrich

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2011, 01:18:34 PM »
If it's about the posture, on the upper back/neck, probably comes from the head going forward/down or the hands/arms in a wrong place.
Maintain your head straight with your spine, and your hands like a cup, one under the other, resting on your thighs or somewhere comfortable.

NickAWilson

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2011, 02:41:13 PM »
>>How do you sit Nck?

I sit sieza on an upturned zafu for now. It's far from ideal, but i can't sit any kind of cross legged position without major difficulty after just 10mins... I have a bench on order.

>>Nick do you focus/concentrate on anything like the nose, belly, eyes, etc..

I have been focusing on the "whole breath", particularly the relaxing feeling on the exhale and the belly moving and settling. I *think* the headache is coming when I shift focus to feeling the outline of my body. I can feel it already but when i really concentrate on it, this happens.

Im not 100% on that, but Im fairly sure.

Sitting is definitely hard for me on the lower back. I can infuse the pain with equanimity to a degree, and if I sit it out it does seem to go but it is a strain.

Im very new to meditation, so am just trying to get as ready as I can for my course at the UK IMC in April.

Thanks for all the replies. Sorry for the delay it responding!

Morning Dew

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 04:16:27 PM »
Quote
I have been focusing on the "whole breath", particularly the relaxing feeling on the exhale and the belly moving and settling. I *think* the headache is coming when I shift focus to feeling the outline of my body. I can feel it already but when i really concentrate on it, this happens.

Im not 100% on that, but Im fairly sure.

Nick what do you mean by focusing on the outline of the body? Here could be the OVER DOING the Meditation part causing the strain in the eyes or behind the eyes.
Which part of the head hurts? I usually get migraines and that means only one side of the head hurts left or right never both at the same time and here I know something on the emotional level is changing settling down or what ever. If I have headacke in the front of my head like a pressure in the eyes and above I know I have been Over doing the Meditation, trying too hard to achieve. This happens when there is a GOAL. Goal orientated practice will lead to strain and stiffness opposing the relaxed, calm state. You might be focused on that course in April and are "sitting" hard to achieve it  :) maybe not but worth considering it. You will know the answer.

You mention "focusing" on the whole body etc ... There is no focus in my experience. When ever I focused I had headaches and dizziness all day long. Give up on "trying to" focus, concentrate, do it right, etc... Welcome in each in breath and welcome out each out-breath instead (as Quadramon nicely put it) relaxing into the body.
No reason to focus on the whole body. We have awareness instead and awareness need no force in form of focus or concentration. Awareness is just that awareness, we all have it we just have to remember when we dream out of it and jump into the trains of thoughts. As soon we notice we have been in the thoughts THAT IS awareness  :)  just slide back into welcoming the in and out-breath and relaxing into the body.

Friendly Che  :)

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 04:27:26 PM »
Nick,

>>How do you sit Nck?

I sit sieza on an upturned zafu for now. It's far from ideal, but i can't sit any kind of cross legged position without major difficulty after just 10mins... I have a bench on order.

>>Nick do you focus/concentrate on anything like the nose, belly, eyes, etc..

I have been focusing on the "whole breath", particularly the relaxing feeling on the exhale and the belly moving and settling. I *think* the headache is coming when I shift focus to feeling the outline of my body. I can feel it already but when i really concentrate on it, this happens.

....

These are the two key culprits.

Getting a bench will help - strengthening your back with yoga or stretches and also swimming may help a lot too. Also holding your head up high when you sit with the head lifted back a tiny bit and chin tucked in.

.....   

Instead of bringing your concentration back to your object, let it fall back on its own by Letting go of the distraction.

.....

Jhana4 makes a good point here and in alignment with Che's words above too. I think you are trying a little hard to "meditate", through some concepts that have crept into your practice.

It's very simple. Breathe in aware of your whole body, relaxing your whole body. Breathe out aware of your whole body, relaxing your whole body. Let everything else go, but do not force it away.

Force or tension on either the physical or psychological level can lead to tensions building instead of dissolving, and thus headaches.

Don't imagine your body in any way - FEEL it as you breathe, FEEL the body moving as the breath goes in and out. Don't conceptualise that at all, just feel the reality.

Warmly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

NickAWilson

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 05:06:03 PM »
Before reading these replies I did do pretty much what you both have suggested. Instinctively this seems like the right way to go. I did not get a headache, but then I did also drop my time to 30mins.

I do still feel a huge amount of "awareness" of my head, face and neck.  Not unpleasant, not forced (at least this time) but very intense compared to the rest of my body.

I have been sitting with my head slightly bowed because I believed that's what "chin tucked in" meant. I assume that's not the case?

Che, by "outline of body" I mean I can feel a fuzzy sensation of "aliveness" or "awareness" that arises all over my body as I meditate. Like a pleasant buzzing all over me.

thelastrich

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 08:18:15 PM »
I tried 3 days of focusing on my nose, I got sitting for about 50 minutes.
Usually I do sitting with calm-abiding for no more than 30 minutes.
But doing calm-abiding I sense all my body fading away extremely relaxed, while in focusing I do not.

The position of the head should be relative to the spine, to have the spine totally straight. Forget the skull, and think about the spine.

 :)

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 10:18:45 PM »
Nick put a little of your attention on the rise and fall of the belly as you breathe in and out.

M
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2011, 12:11:37 AM »
I have been sitting with my head slightly bowed because I believed that's what "chin tucked in" meant. I assume that's not the case?

Hi NickW,
Is it possible that you are putting pressure on the arteries and viens with your head forward?. Depending on your build, perhaps it is something as simple as that? I can't see it being good to sit with the tension on the back of your neck like that either. I grew up with older friends who are Occupational Therapists, it is amazing how much tension can be stored in the muscles around the neck and shoulders. Any repetitive excercise will bring this to the surface. Just my 2c.
 

love

Andy
getting it done

Morning Dew

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2011, 07:48:10 AM »
Nick put a little of your attention on the rise and fall of the belly as you breathe in and out.

M

Agreed. Bringing attention to the lower belly will also take away some of the energy being built around the head. This is very usual in Qigong to bring the attention to the Dantien (large lower belly area an inch under the bellybutton) and keep it there. Same is in Zazen.
One is NOT to burn a hole in that area by concentrating on it RATHER bring gentle soft awareness to it, just be aware of that whole inside the body area. Don't give it much intellectual meaning. It means nothing  :)  It just Is where all the energy from the food is being sucked into our body (stomach and intestines). Bringing attention to it can only improve your digestion  ;D  ... and lowering the energy away from the head in case there is an energy overflow in the head.
Keep noticing all the thoughts of course and letting go of them.

I fiddle a lot with my meditation practice. If I feel sleepy I close my eyelids totally instead of fighting to keep them open  ;D
If I feel scattered I count 4-5 times to 10 on each out and in breath and then resume the calm abiding practice.
If there is too much tension in the head I bring the awareness to the lower belly breathing, but still being aware of the whole body breathing and thoughts coming and going.
If I feel restless I keep the body as still as possible and eyes open just a little bit and bring the attention to the lower belly a bit.

See what works for you best.

I had huge problem with sitting cross legged and once I have build a seiza bench the problem disapeared.

You can also try lying down meditation if having back problems. Whatever works to keep the practise going.

Friendly Che

NickAWilson

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2011, 05:14:21 PM »
Hi everyone.

Well I just did my afternoon sit for 30mins again and I do seem to be able to regulate the tension by focusing on the belly as suggested. My posture was definitely better, but I'm quite slightly built so don't think I was causing any areraial pressure before.

I did get the beginnings of the same sensations this time again but I was able to diffuse them by refocusing and being mindful of how gentle I was being, and not "trying to hard".

We'll see over time I guess, but I think it's all working out!

Thanks everyone,

Morning Dew

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Re: Headaches Developing During Meditation?
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2011, 06:33:29 PM »
Good man Nick! Dont worry, this path can be bumpy at times but that to shall pass :)

Friendly Che