stone head syndrome

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

Post by elvedas »

Hi everyone,

Im a practitioner from the tibetan buddhist tradition but im posting here beacuse there seems to be some experience and knowledge about my problem amongst the Theravada practitioners.
For almost two years i have ben suffering from pressure/sensations/tension in my forehead/face during meditation. I got this from forcing my meditation and worrying about resuklts etc. I got this diagnosed by tibetan doctors as Lung and got advice, medicine etc but i still have this problem and i can just do a little meditation on the breath every morning, and even then there is some tension there. This sound like what sometimes is called stone head syndrome. For a while it was really bad and affected my ordinary day much as well but some improvement has been noticed. I was wondering if anyone have some tips about how to get better? I try to relax and not push but it seems that i somehow automaticly tens up even when thinking about meditation.

very thankful for advice and help, i miss doing my practice!

Best regards,
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retrofuturist
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,

I stopped meditating.

I wouldn't recommend that as a long-term solution though, but worth trying for a short period perhaps to identify the delta between the current situation and no meditation.

Now I only feel like that when I'm really tired - like right now.

Goodnight!

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
PeterB
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by PeterB »

elvedas wrote:Hi everyone,

Im a practitioner from the tibetan buddhist tradition but im posting here beacuse there seems to be some experience and knowledge about my problem amongst the Theravada practitioners.
For almost two years i have ben suffering from pressure/sensations/tension in my forehead/face during meditation. I got this from forcing my meditation and worrying about resuklts etc. I got this diagnosed by tibetan doctors as Lung and got advice, medicine etc but i still have this problem and i can just do a little meditation on the breath every morning, and even then there is some tension there. This sound like what sometimes is called stone head syndrome. For a while it was really bad and affected my ordinary day much as well but some improvement has been noticed. I was wondering if anyone have some tips about how to get better? I try to relax and not push but it seems that i somehow automaticly tens up even when thinking about meditation.

very thankful for advice and help, i miss doing my practice!

Best regards,
Some of the time what we see as something more "spiritual " is actually physical elvedas. You might want to see a chiropractor or physio or acupuncturist and get your neck alignment checked out...I have to have my neck adjusted on a regular basis following surgery..I know when its tightening up because my hearing on that side suffers.
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m0rl0ck
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by m0rl0ck »

elvedas wrote:Hi everyone,

Im a practitioner from the tibetan buddhist tradition but im posting here beacuse there seems to be some experience and knowledge about my problem amongst the Theravada practitioners.
For almost two years i have ben suffering from pressure/sensations/tension in my forehead/face during meditation. I got this from forcing my meditation and worrying about resuklts etc. I got this diagnosed by tibetan doctors as Lung and got advice, medicine etc but i still have this problem and i can just do a little meditation on the breath every morning, and even then there is some tension there. This sound like what sometimes is called stone head syndrome. For a while it was really bad and affected my ordinary day much as well but some improvement has been noticed. I was wondering if anyone have some tips about how to get better? I try to relax and not push but it seems that i somehow automaticly tens up even when thinking about meditation.

very thankful for advice and help, i miss doing my practice!

Best regards,
I have had sensations of pressure in the forehead and top of the head and sometimes even pain. Alot of meditators get this. I heard a chan techer say that sometimes it may feel as if a hole is being bored in your skull. The advice that teacher gave is to keep sitting through it. For me it was extreme enough that i have actually gone to the point of taking asprin for it, which does seem to help a bit. My theory is that its energy/ tension/ working itself out. In my case this manifested as a pressure / pain in the third eye region between the eyebrows and an intense pain at the top of the head just in front and to the left of the fontanelle area.
Seeing a doctor, to make sure there is no cause for health concern is good advice, after that check with a teacher that you trust. Ultimately tho if you are going to keep practicing, you may end up just having to sit through it. Thats what i did. In my case it eventually passed, and i gather thats what usually happens. You might try switching practice methods to something less effortful, or checking with a chan teacher for a recommendation.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig
Akuma
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by Akuma »

In the Anapanassati Sutta of the Theravada canon there are several steps of which the first ones are "knowing that I breathe in long I breathe in... out long I breathe out... short... etc" which demonstrates the state of mind one should be in to reach what is then later called dhyana / jhana. So you start with having clear perception, clear seeing of what is happening to your body without trying to do anything else at all, not trying to force breathing, not trying to force sitting still, only perceiving what is going on, having compassion with whats going on, being very calm, really loving if you know what I mean ^^. When this is done and you are in a state where you dont want to achieve deep meditation, dont want sensual pleasures from it, dont want to be a buddha-superstar with three bodies, five eyes and so on, dont want perfect imagination, fixed concentration etc then it might happen that you realize that your conscious-point (I think its sometimes called Thigle, yes?) does have nothing to do with what you call your body whatsoever. From my experience this is the first step for good concentration because then you can use this point, throw it around, fix it wherever you like etc. without even moving an inch of any muscle in your body. Its kind of a state where you perceive a clear duality of body and mind, kind of split off consciousness from the body and let the body rest completely, just as if you forget about it and be like "Ok body youre a body you can do on your own for a while, I'm only working with the mind now". But if this duality isnt seen clearly you might try to strengthen your concentration unconsciously using muscles in your face, your neck, your eyes and so on trying to force something to concentrate that is not consciousness whatsoever.
The Buddha had something like that too btw when he did the concentration of No-Breath. Lucky for the Buddhists of the world he realized that painful meditation was not the way before his head exploded ;)
Mabbe this helps a bit - hope you get better soon :smile:
PeterB
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by PeterB »

I think the purpose of meditation is to go deeper than any imagined cartesian duality or "body mind split" to a place where of the khandas are seen to arise in mutual dependance. We are embodied, even if that embodiment is in constant flux and non permanent. The object of Buddh Dhamma is not to attempt to inhabit an idealistic Platonic world . Or favour a particular khandic function over another. It starts where we are.
elvedas
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by elvedas »

Thanks for all your replies!

i have checked this problem with western doctors, he even took x-rays of my head/brain and everything was fine. I try to sit through it but beacuse i had it so long i start to fear that it would never go away. I have talked to my teacher about this when i last saw him about 9 month ago and he said to relax, take it easy with meditation and dont push so much, and thats what i have been doing, trying to follow his advice.

Thanks!
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kirk5a
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by kirk5a »

You might take a look at the breathing instructions here, in the "method 2" section - they involve balancing the body energy.

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... tm#method2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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m0rl0ck
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by m0rl0ck »

FWIW something else occurred to me. During the time i was having this problem, i was open to suggestions as to how to help abate it and the advice i got from ( iirc) someone on a yoga forum was "try a heart centered practice to balance your energies".
I was skeptical :) Sounded like new age fluff to me. It worked tho. Switching from my regular practice to metta for a while seemed to help. YMMV
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig
elvedas
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by elvedas »

Thanks for all the advice!

Maybe i should stop meditating for a while, a few weeks maybe, and see what happens.

Much love,
Euclid
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by Euclid »

I get this all the time too - I simply don't have very good sinuses for meditation. My breath through my nose is much more often than not short and constricted/congested, and I get intense pressures in my head / popping in my ears etc. I just try to take it in my stride, but on those days where I simply can't do anything with the sensation of breath touching my nostril, I turn my concentration to my sternum or lower. Try focus on something like your diaphram moving, or your abdomen rising and falling.
Buckwheat
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by Buckwheat »

Great thread. I also get something similar that has worried me for about 6 months. It's more in the center of my head, lots of pressure. At first it felt really soothing, but over time it got almost painful. It does not seem correlated to my level of concentration and goes off at work and throughout the day when I have a regular meditation practice. It seems to be getting better by trying to really focus on the chest or other areas below the neck. Every once in a while I focus right on the pressure itself, being very careful not to "puff it up" as my initial experiences I may have accidentally forced it.

I can move it around all the lobes of my brain and when I move it to any part other than the center it is very soothing and relaxing. When i eventually move my focus back to my chest, my can head got very light and clear. I can also pull it downward into my throat and sometime my chest, where it always seems to dissolve, but then once I relax my concentration it pops back into my head as a softer pressure.

I seem to be able to perceive textures in my brain, as if the pressure can feel all the little lumps and folds of my brain. Does anybody know if this correlates to some sort of body scan or if I'm just dreaming up sensations?

I definitely get the "hole in the top of the head" mentioned above. That can be very, very powerful and it almost feels like there is a 2" pipe shoved down into the top of my head.

To be honest, the best strategy seems to be focus extra hard on the breath at the abdomen until my whole body is filled with goodness and a pretty solid focus. Then the only sensations in my head are more soothing. I don't seem to be able to do this when I have high stress or anxiety, though, which is when it would be most useful.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
atipattoh
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by atipattoh »

Apology for deleting my post!
Last edited by atipattoh on Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
daverupa
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by daverupa »

Some people concentrate so hard they tighten the muscles surrounding their ocular sockets without quite knowing it; another might tighten their jaw muscles; another might tighten the muscles which support the head at the top of the spine. All of these things can lead to these sorts of feelings.

Relaaax...

(If I was esoterically-minded, I might suggest gently placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth to drain accumulated energy back down to the abdomen... but that's just silly, isn't it?)
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Goofaholix
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Re: stone head syndrome

Post by Goofaholix »

What technique are you practising?

Do you notice similar sensations when you are not meditating?

It's possible that you are carrying a tendency to try an tense or force things thoroughout your life and that meditation is giving the opportunity for this to come to the surface.

If this is true then best to work with it until you naturally just let go of it. I would drop whatever technique you've been practising but continue meditating as much as you can,

Change to an expansive choiceless awareness type practice, but also spend times making awareness of this sensation your primary object, don't try to change it or fix it just try to learn from it.

this is an opportunity to learn about and modify your approach to life in general, not a goal, or a race, or an attainment to achieve.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
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