Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby Mkoll » Tue Dec 31, 2013 10:11 pm

Dear Mike,

Have you tried using the pressure itself as your object of concentration? That is, forget about the breath and just watch the pressure.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby khlawng » Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:22 am

With all due respect, I would not advise on focusing more on pressure or tension spots.
My advice will be to spend time exclusively relaxing the pressure and normalizing the mind around the problem area.

Relaxation requires gentle effort in:
1) relaxing the muscles around problem spots
2) Take gentle note of your in-out breathe.
3) allow the tension spot to breathe first by syncing your in-out breathing with the general trouble area. if you do this correct, you will feel like the air is coming in-and-out of you area of attention.
4) if you do step (1) to (3) correctly, you will start noticing that there is a pulsation that closely follows the heartbeat.
5) Relax even further until you can feel that there are beats between each heart beat.
7) keep noting the beats without putting your entire attention to it, just very soft focus and let your mind be aware of the entire body.
8) make sure that the rest of your body is relax and if other tension spots arise, relax those and then come back to your initial problem spot.
9) when you reach this stage, consciously normalize the area continuously by gently moving the tension into and around the body or bring it to your heart and let is dissipate.

Do this in a quiet place, in your meditation posture or sitting on a chair. you must use only gentle attention. no forceful concentration or you are back to square one.
Keep doing this pre/post meditation steps until you feel that the tension and pressure is gone over a number of sessions. Do not try to place your mind in samadhi until this problem is solved.

good luck.
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby beyondbig » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:40 am

Hi All,

I really appreciate all the helpful input.

James - thanks, yes I have tried concentrating on the pressure but this seems to make it worse, I think because the pressure is only a small area to focus on.

Khlawng - thank you for your clear and complete instructions - makes a lot of sense in view of what's going on so I will certainly give this a good try.

Thank you again kind people!!

Mike
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:53 pm

Hi Mike,

Another suggestion is to spend some of your time doing walking meditation. I was reminded of this listening to a talk by Patrick Kearney yesterday, where he made a slightly off-hand remark that sitting can tend to lead to tension in the upper body and head, and walking tends to move the focus down. Personally I do half-and-half walking and sitting.

:anjali:
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby beyondbig » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:14 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Mike,

Another suggestion is to spend some of your time doing walking meditation. I was reminded of this listening to a talk by Patrick Kearney yesterday, where he made a slightly off-hand remark that sitting can tend to lead to tension in the upper body and head, and walking tends to move the focus down. Personally I do half-and-half walking and sitting.

:anjali:
Mike


Thanks Mike!
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby KnowThyself » Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:09 pm

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for this thread and the advice given - I have been having the same problem recently and thought I might add a few of my observations, hopefully it will be of use.

I have just returned from my first Vipassana course, a 10-day course. This is from someone who has never meditated in his life before. I feel immensely fortunate that I was able to find out about Vipassana and the great benefits that meditation can bestow on people.

Regarding the pressure in the head, at its most intense, it feels as if I have a bowling ball for a head, or a large brick. The focal point of the sensation seems to be at the centerline of the nose, perhaps an inch 1/2 below the brow. But the sensation can move around depending on what I'm doing with my awareness.

I believe this started on day 3 or 4 of the course, when we had finished working exclusively on anapana, from 430am to about 930pm, and were being introduced to the technique of Vipassana.
I was sitting and focusing on my breathing - observing the sensation of breath on the outside of the nose and upper lip. I was also moving awareness to any sensation I could feel within the triangular area composing the nose and above the lip.
I noticed a pulsing sensation at a spot on the bridge of my nose, below the brow. I focused all my attention there and studied the quality of the sensation intensely. Then, at about the same time, I was noticing some colorful "fireworks" and studied those as well. I felt myself going deeper into concentration - feeling both the pulsing sensation and observing these colorful aurora like shapes. At one point, it felt as if I was entering into one of these shapes, kind of a circular yellow pattern, or alternatively, that it was being zoomed into greater magnification. Inside, there was another pattern, this time green or blue and much more vivid. At this point, and still feeling the pulsing in quite some detail, I felt a strong wave of sensation throughout my body, a very pleasant sensation. I remembered to remain equanimous, and the meditation time ended shortly after.

I think after this was when the pressure sensation arose. The next few days, it became more apparent and increased. It is extremely distracting. Not quite painful, but is a great pressure. Quite unpleasant. I am having great difficulty focusing on anapana in the nose area because any attention that I put near that area causes the pressure to intensify.
I have tried ignoring it and focusing on the breathing anyway, and just being with it, yet it has remained so far. Sometimes, it feels as if my nose is 6 inches wide and that makes it harder to feel the breath.
I have also tried focusing on the sensation directly, quite a few times. I noticed that:

- The fundamental quality of the sensation, at its focal point, is an extremely rapid vibration or oscillation.
- The pressure, or stiffness-feeling can move around a bit. It has moved away from the nose and off to either direction. It can encompass the entire head. One time, the pressure was intense and expanded enough after a meditation session that it affected my eyesight a little bit (things were out of focus). Seems to be focused at the nose or forehead area though.
I have tried avoiding the head completely and focusing on feeling sensations on the rest of the body, below the neck. This seemed to help a bit. At times though, the pressure/stiffness would shift and I would feel it in my right shoulder blade area and around the upper back.
- When studying the area around the focal point, it felt like there was a repulsive force between my point of awareness and that of the focal point of the sensation. Like the poles of 2 magnets repelling each other.

I asked my teacher at the course about it, and he said that it may be a sankara rising up and manifesting itself at a weak point in the body. I have fractured my nose around that area, years ago. Is it possible for a re-fracture to occur with simply focusing awareness at a weak point like that?
I will be going in to see a doctor if this does not subside soon, to cover that base. It has to do with the fracture or something else, I will find out. If not, maybe it really is a sankara or something energy related. I have not been sleeping well lately and also having unpleasant dreams. Perhaps I am just fueling this more with nervousness and worry.
I have to admit, the only concept of "energy" that I have subscribed to is of that used in the physical sciences, where energy is some quantity that one calculates (still mysterious). There must be the same amount of energy before and after something happens. But I feel myself having a more open mind now with this incident. Perhaps there really is some other form.

In any case, I will be trying the advice given here, and will hopefully "drain" or move this pressure away and dissipate it. For those of you who have been experiencing this, any updates?

Also, I found this instructional video that may be related:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq4NVSp35Rs
any thoughts?

Be happy!
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby khlawng » Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:09 pm

this is a problem that comes up frequently in this forum.
if you have not done meditation before, then focusing all your attention on that one spot will result in tension.
it would very much be like running a marathon without warm up or any prior training and as you can imagine, you can going to be sore for a while.
but this is much worst,
we are talking about your mind and your mental health.
if you are a beginner, you need to spend time on only 2 activities

1) how to relax to the point where you can feel your body breathe naturally ie. total body relaxation
2) how to normalize

normalize normalize normalize. bring all this mental energy and dissipate it throughout your body after each meditation exercise.
any course you go to that don't spend time teaching you these pre-and-post meditation procedure is going to give bunch of new yogis a walloping headache.
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby Pondera » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:18 pm

To the OP:

You're using the breath deliberately. You're using the breath as if you could free your mind by the breath. This is the cause of those feelings of mental balloons in your head and top molars.

Use discernment to calm your mind. Use reflection on the passing of time to allow mental states the ability to come and go. Breathing in and out - as if to control mental states - that will give you a "big head". Your mind wants to understand reality. So let it go with the flow of impermanence and the flow of conditions. This is a passive reflexion.

The use of breaths in and breaths out is for the sake of calming the body (in the intial stages). So my advise is to leave that type of meditation alone for a while and observe perceptions and external phenomenon instead. The use of breaths in and breaths out is literally counter-productive if your discernment of the world is not perceiving that things change and things are impermanent. Without this insight, it is like there is a lid on a jar and your just trying to blow the lid off by shaking the jar. The lid has to come off on its own. Perceptions of change in sounds, sights, etc. will help with that.
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby suttametta » Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:40 pm

I had this problem too up until recently. The head pressure drove me nuts, literally. I also had this extreme tension between the shoulder blades that seemed locked in place. I think a remnant of a debilitating injury I suffered fifteen years ago. I tried everything. What finally allowed me to relax these things was to balance samatha and vipassana. Focusing of anapanasati helped me temporarily to remove the hidden thought of the tensing. Focusing on vipassana helped me to not let that thought come back. For me, these potent distracting tensions were like a great nemesis. Defeating this nemesis has been very illuminating exercise about what does and doesn't help. Specifically, Pak Aw Sayadaw's talks on the kalapas brought together a problem I've been trying long to crack and now I'm very relaxed myself. Powerful oppressing thoughts lurk underneath the surface of awareness. And when I tried to find this oppressor, I could only find this tension. I could only find a shadow of the past. When I saw it, it seemed as useless as taking to a shadow. Trying to crack this shell of tension using only shamatha didn't allow me to destroy the thought permanently. Focusing on vipassana make it worse because I was building up hope to destroy that thought faster. With shamatha and vipassana together, I was able to reduce this thought to nothing. Don't take a one sided approach, is my advice. Corner it from all sides using all the weapons of dhamma.
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby Babadhari » Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:37 pm

suttametta wrote:I had this problem too up until recently. The head pressure drove me nuts, literally. I also had this extreme tension between the shoulder blades that seemed locked in place. I think a remnant of a debilitating injury I suffered fifteen years ago. I tried everything. What finally allowed me to relax these things was to balance samatha and vipassana. Focusing of anapanasati helped me temporarily to remove the hidden thought of the tensing. Focusing on vipassana helped me to not let that thought come back. For me, these potent distracting tensions were like a great nemesis. Defeating this nemesis has been very illuminating exercise about what does and doesn't help. Specifically, Pak Aw Sayadaw's talks on the kalapas brought together a problem I've been trying long to crack and now I'm very relaxed myself. Powerful oppressing thoughts lurk underneath the surface of awareness. And when I tried to find this oppressor, I could only find this tension. I could only find a shadow of the past. When I saw it, it seemed as useless as taking to a shadow. Trying to crack this shell of tension using only shamatha didn't allow me to destroy the thought permanently. Focusing on vipassana make it worse because I was building up hope to destroy that thought faster. With shamatha and vipassana together, I was able to reduce this thought to nothing. Don't take a one sided approach, is my advice. Corner it from all sides using all the weapons of dhamma.



hi suttametta

could you by any chance provide a link for the talks by Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw you listened to.

i have trouble finding ones of good quality audio that i can follow. thanks
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby suttametta » Thu Jan 23, 2014 7:06 pm

kitztack wrote:
suttametta wrote:I had this problem too up until recently. The head pressure drove me nuts, literally. I also had this extreme tension between the shoulder blades that seemed locked in place. I think a remnant of a debilitating injury I suffered fifteen years ago. I tried everything. What finally allowed me to relax these things was to balance samatha and vipassana. Focusing of anapanasati helped me temporarily to remove the hidden thought of the tensing. Focusing on vipassana helped me to not let that thought come back. For me, these potent distracting tensions were like a great nemesis. Defeating this nemesis has been very illuminating exercise about what does and doesn't help. Specifically, Pak Aw Sayadaw's talks on the kalapas brought together a problem I've been trying long to crack and now I'm very relaxed myself. Powerful oppressing thoughts lurk underneath the surface of awareness. And when I tried to find this oppressor, I could only find this tension. I could only find a shadow of the past. When I saw it, it seemed as useless as taking to a shadow. Trying to crack this shell of tension using only shamatha didn't allow me to destroy the thought permanently. Focusing on vipassana make it worse because I was building up hope to destroy that thought faster. With shamatha and vipassana together, I was able to reduce this thought to nothing. Don't take a one sided approach, is my advice. Corner it from all sides using all the weapons of dhamma.



hi suttametta

could you by any chance provide a link for the talks by Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw you listened to.

i have trouble finding ones of good quality audio that i can follow. thanks


I read this.

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/know-see.pdf
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby KnowThyself » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:36 am

Hi,

Thank you all kindly for your wisdom. I have been travelling and am now settling into a new home for the moment. I have taken a break from meditating and have not sat since the end of the course I attended. The pressure has definitely gone down and I do not think of it usually. I am worried it may come back if I meditate however.

Khlawng, thank you, I will heed your advice. But, how to normalize?

if you are a beginner, you need to spend time on only 2 activities

1) how to relax to the point where you can feel your body breathe naturally ie. total body relaxation
2) how to normalize

normalize normalize normalize. bring all this mental energy and dissipate it throughout your body after each meditation exercise.


To Pondera, I think you captured my attitude quite well. I guess I intuitively knew this, and also knew to avoid it, but I was unaware that I was still thinking this way.

You're using the breath deliberately.You're using the breath as if you could free your mind by the breath....Your mind wants to understand reality


I will need to learn how to really "let it go with the flow of impermanence". It is interesting how difficult it can be to just observe...objectively.
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby khlawng » Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:51 am

KnowThyself wrote:
Khlawng, thank you, I will heed your advice. But, how to normalize?



As you relax the problem area, keep bringing the tension back into the entire body.
Just like when you form the one-pointedness by gathering your mind at the tip of your nose or at the upper lip, reverse the process and dissipate it back into the body.
use the sensation of the in-breath as a guide and feel how the breath can spread throughout your entire body.
you may try to do the same with the tension.
hope that helps.
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby Pondera » Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:25 am

suttametta wrote:I had this problem too up until recently. The head pressure drove me nuts, literally. I also had this extreme tension between the shoulder blades that seemed locked in place. I think a remnant of a debilitating injury I suffered fifteen years ago. I tried everything. What finally allowed me to relax these things was to balance samatha and vipassana. Focusing of anapanasati helped me temporarily to remove the hidden thought of the tensing. Focusing on vipassana helped me to not let that thought come back. For me, these potent distracting tensions were like a great nemesis. Defeating this nemesis has been very illuminating exercise about what does and doesn't help. Specifically, Pak Aw Sayadaw's talks on the kalapas brought together a problem I've been trying long to crack and now I'm very relaxed myself. Powerful oppressing thoughts lurk underneath the surface of awareness. And when I tried to find this oppressor, I could only find this tension. I could only find a shadow of the past. When I saw it, it seemed as useless as taking to a shadow. Trying to crack this shell of tension using only shamatha didn't allow me to destroy the thought permanently. Focusing on vipassana make it worse because I was building up hope to destroy that thought faster. With shamatha and vipassana together, I was able to reduce this thought to nothing. Don't take a one sided approach, is my advice. Corner it from all sides using all the weapons of dhamma.


Is there an occasion for certainty that this thought has left itself?
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Re: Pressure/tension in face/teeth during meditation

Postby suttametta » Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:51 am

Pondera wrote:
suttametta wrote:I had this problem too up until recently. The head pressure drove me nuts, literally. I also had this extreme tension between the shoulder blades that seemed locked in place. I think a remnant of a debilitating injury I suffered fifteen years ago. I tried everything. What finally allowed me to relax these things was to balance samatha and vipassana. Focusing of anapanasati helped me temporarily to remove the hidden thought of the tensing. Focusing on vipassana helped me to not let that thought come back. For me, these potent distracting tensions were like a great nemesis. Defeating this nemesis has been very illuminating exercise about what does and doesn't help. Specifically, Pak Aw Sayadaw's talks on the kalapas brought together a problem I've been trying long to crack and now I'm very relaxed myself. Powerful oppressing thoughts lurk underneath the surface of awareness. And when I tried to find this oppressor, I could only find this tension. I could only find a shadow of the past. When I saw it, it seemed as useless as taking to a shadow. Trying to crack this shell of tension using only shamatha didn't allow me to destroy the thought permanently. Focusing on vipassana make it worse because I was building up hope to destroy that thought faster. With shamatha and vipassana together, I was able to reduce this thought to nothing. Don't take a one sided approach, is my advice. Corner it from all sides using all the weapons of dhamma.


Is there an occasion for certainty that this thought has left itself?


When you relax deeply and feel comfort and joy.
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