Q&A: Pressure in the Forehead after meditating

Q&A: pressure after meditating

Q: I just started meditating. I keep getting a pressure sensation in the middle of my forehead when I’m done. What does that mean?

A: There are several small things that could be contributing to it. This is one of those questions where it needs to be helped in person, or with at least some sort of one on one conversation. Are you working with an instructor or meditation coach at all? Meditation isn’t rocket surgery as they say, but it really does help to have someone experienced to go to with questions like this, especially as a beginner. I’d be happy to help if you are in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh, or willing to work via Skype. If that’s not an option, and there are no meditation coaches in your area, you might want to look for a Zen or Ch’an monk or teacher, a classically trained yoga instructor, or if you are following a particular style of meditation like TM, then finding a teacher in that style would be the best option.

Here are some GENERAL ideas. These may or may not apply to you, so use your discretion about using them (see the use at your own risk part of the small print policies page).

  • Check your posture. No slouching! A straight but relaxed back is important two ways. First it is important for proper energy flow. If energy is blocked or accumulating at the third eye chakra (more about that later) that may account for the pressure sensation. Second is just plain ordinary muscle tension. There are muscles in the neck and shoulder that connect under the scalp towards the front of the skull…that’s what let’s you look up, like at fireworks or an airplane. Schlumpy posture held for a time as in a meditation session could cause some tension in those muscles that is most felt at the insertion (connection) point giving a forehead sort of ache
  • You are trying to hard. Meditation is about a quiet mind. Sometimes that means giving our busy mind something to do, like repeat a mantra or repeat a sequence of numbers.. Sometimes visualizations can help channel busy thoughts into something quieter. For others, the important thing is to release…let the thoughts go, and emotions with them. Don’t stress about meditation…like my favorite phrase. “it is what it is”. If thoughts flood in, that’s ok. If you catch yourself holding on to them instead of letting them go, that’s ok too…at least now you know that you do that. If you are a visualizer now, try a mantra or a more release-type meditation style. No big. Not every style suites every person. That pressure you are feeling just might be pressure you are putting on yourself about meditating, just in a different form.
  • Be aware of your body focus. People who need meditation the most are people who tend to “live in their head”…are very thought and mind oriented in the first place. An intense focus on the third eye (the point in middle of your forehead between and just above the eyebrows). Energy goes where your attention goes. Keeping laser focus on one spot, like the forehead could cause tension there. If you ever catch yourself thinking from that spot, or focusing on the spot where the ache tends to start…then stop, take a deep breath, let go of what you were doing, and shift your focus. Look at a spot on the floor a few feet in front of you…but then let it go out of focus. Keep your eyes still, but not focus on anything too clearly.
  • Chakras are energy centers in the body, that are believe to help regulate life energy, the subtle esoteric, not-so-hardwired kind of energy the same way that transformers on electric poles adjust electricity from transmission power to household power. If you think there may be a blockage or imbalance within the third eye chakra, then that is definitely something to be handled on a personal, one-to-one basis, customized to your individual needs.

I hope that helps a little. If you have other questions the contact form for free answers is here




Head Pressure or Pain after Meditating – revisit

Head discomfort or pain after meditation – revisit

A while ago, I was asked about the sensation of head pressure or discomfort after “intense” meditation sessions.

With his permission, I shared the question with you in this Q&A post, but it is hard to translate an individual situation into a general interest / general information post. Particularly since one the big advantages of holistic health is how acutely it can be individualized.

The question of head discomfort after “intense” meditation has come up again, in a different context, so I’d like to add a few more thoughts.

One key difference is the location of the discomfort. Later mentions have the discomfort in different places on the head and face…no big surprise that would clue us in to different causes, different solutions.

In the first case, the discomfort was behind both eye brows and under the eyes, more face than head. That is smack dab over the frontal and maxillary sinuses, so that is why those were such a focus in the last discussion. The location is a key detail that built the case for a strong connection between the complaint and mainstream medicine. It was a situation where allopathy might be a key tool to bring out of the healers toolkit in this particular case.

In later instances, the location was a whole other story. This time mind-body connection was at the forefront. This time mind and spirit would be the focus, with less of a ‘body’ component. In fact, some of you might think this time the answer is too “fringe”, but the proof is in the pudding as they say…individual experience is still valid data, especially to the individual experiencing it! An open mind goes a long way when it comes to stress management.

Another person might indicate a tightness or pain in the head, less so in the face. A tight cap-like or band-like feeling often is simple muscle tension. (Mainstream medicine will agree with me there). If meditation relaxes you, how can it give you a muscle tension headache? Mind-body connection of course. If someone is meditating to relax, that can heap a lot of expectations on the meditation experience. Expectation is a big stumbling block to anyone working with meditation, intuition, visualization, imagination etc. That goes double if you are new to the process.

Meditation works in its own time in its own way…that is one of the biggest lessons it can teach us. Meditation is about letting go of those kinds of thought-bound expectations. Meditation is about being right here, right now, and letting things be as they are…NOT about getting your blood pressure down to X by Y date,  or by expecting to feel peaceful and blissed out NOW DOGGONEIT! It is very very easy to let those cultural expectations and old, well-established thought habits slip into relaxation time. It is a hard switch to turn off. The solution is persistence, and a whole lot of patience for yourself. Even in tea and mint candy commercials, wise gurus are seldom young. It takes a while to get the hang of the peace and serenity thing, especially in a ‘normal’ fast paced modern life.

The solution to this kind of head discomfort is easy to say, a little harder to enact. Let go. Don’t put any expectations on your meditation.

In the category of “when you hear hoofbeats look for horses not zebras”: if you are feeling muscle tension in you head after meditation, pay attention to your posture. Don’t slouch, but don’t try to force yourself into a full lotus zen master sitting position if you aren’t ready for it. Keep the spine erect, but comfortable. It is OK to sit in a chair that way if you aren’t comfortable cross-legged on the floor. It is even valid and effective to lay down…but I don’t recommend it unless you are fairly experienced or well-rested. I don’t know about you, but the laying down and relaxing thing is a fast-track to a NAP for me! Stretch, do a little yoga when you are not particularly meditating if you want to work your way into a pillow sitting zazen thing but aren’t flexible enough right now. Just like in the last post, working with a meditation mentor or teacher (Shameless plug: I offer meditation tutorials) can help sort some of the posture issues out.

The other scenario that I’ve heard lately is even more esoteric – this is where things get a little fringe-ish for some people.

In Eastern medicine and philosophy, there are energy centers (some might say nerve clusters) in the body that help regulate energy flow. You might have heard of “chakras”. Entire books have been written about that, and explaining it all is way outside of a blog post. Each chakra is assigned a specific location, and the one for the third eye, in middle of the forehead just above the eyebrows, is associated with meditation. If the pressure after mediation is in that location, then this is way way into mind-spirit territory.

Improper meditation (for you) can take that energy center out of its natural balance. It might become drained, or overcharged. It might just be a matter of adjusting your habits…meditating for a little less time, or changing the focus, or redirecting the energy to other things. Even little things like wearing dark blue (the symbolic color of the chakra) or making sure to drink adequate water after a session can help. The key here is to individualize your mediation practice to your particular needs if discomfort appears here. Get a little help and arm yourself with knowledge.

Meditation should be a comforting, relaxing, pleasant experience. Even if these head-discomfort problems come up, they can be handled. There are many different way to meditate, many schools of thought. If problems like these turn up, then it is just a clue to make an adjustment or slight change…don’t give up!

Sources /suggested reading:

“Wheels of Life” by Anodea Judith, Ph.D.

Q&A: Face Pressure After Intense Meditation Practice

Q and A about pressure sensation and meditation

Q: I have been having pain and pressure in my forehead and face. I’ve been doing intensive concentration meditations, and know this to be the cause. I went to an accupuncturist with no result. What is your advice?

A: There is a saying in medicine, “when you hear hoof beats looks for horses and not zebras”.

How do you know the facial pressure is from the concentration exercises? Alternative medicine is still a logical, analytic process. Just because two things happen at the same time does not mean one caused the other.

Do you have any allergies? Have you had any colds or flu recently? Facial or nasal injuries in the past? Who is your meditation teacher? How long have you been doing the “concentration exercises”? How long has the pressure been there? Is there anything other than the exercises that makes the discomfort better or worse? There is much to be considered…that’s why my first recommendation is always to get an in-person evaluation. If you aren’t happy with the accupuncture results, you might want to try an homeopathic evaluation, or an herbalist. Those are both too detailed to do online here.

Mainstream medicine isn’t the enemy, either. It is one tool in the healing tool kit, just as all of the alternative methods are. You really can have the best of both worlds. You may want to try to find a MD or DO (doctors of osteopathy are trained in a more holistic manner and typically are more open to natural / alternative techniques). It isn’t impossible, even here on the East Coast, to find a doctor that is knowledgeable about alternative practices and willing to work with them.

You know about sinuses, right? They are air spaces in the bones just behind the eyebrows and to either side of the nose. They normally function to warm and moisturize the air we breath in, while the cilia (little hairs) on the mucous membranes help clean the air. If there is infection or allergies, that normal system becomes overwhelmed and overactive… all the extra mucus and inflammation can cause pain and pressure. On one hand, you may be going through a physical ‘detox’ of sorts because of your meditation practices which has overwhelmed the sinuses. On the other hand, you might have just picked up a low grade, generic, garden variety sinus infection. A doctor can help you sort that out.

From the mainstream part of our healing toolkit…as long as you don’t have high blood pressure or any other chronic medical problem that contraindicates its use, there is a mild decongestant you can buy over the counter…pseudoephedrine (brand name Sudafed) It is based on the active ingredient of the ephedra plant, which is the “ma huang” herb from traditional Chinese medicine. Follow package instructions carefully, and if that doesn’t help, it may be worth while to find a doctor to take a look…it might be something as simple as a short run of a mild antibiotic to give your body the head-start it needs to get your sinuses back on track. Also that would rule out any less common “zebra” problems…deviated septum, nasal polyps or what have you.

From the alternative side:

Aromatherapy: Peppermint is soothing for headache. Both peppermint eucalyptus globulas aromatherapy oils are decongestant (pressure relieving if that is the cause of your discomfort) Moisture would help soothe the mucus membranes as well, so putting a few drops of oil on a pan of hot water and inhaling the scented vapor through your nose may help.

Ayervedic Medicine: Regular maintenance with a neti pot and salt water – 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup (8 oz) of water – can help keep the sinuses clear and in good working order… if congestion is the pressure problem, that is. Ayervedic doctors and even some yoga instructors can help you learn to use a neti pot if you have trouble with it just using the package instructions. Neti pots are widely available in drugstores and health food stores.

Energy / Spiritual: Who is guiding your meditation? Ask them, they may know what is going wrong. Meditation should never cause pain or lead to ongoing problems! If you are working on your own…get a teacher!

Except for maybe, maybe, some fairly uncommon marital arts practices, “Intensive concentration” is not  part of meditation. “Concentration” is very mind, very ego, very “yang”. The whole point of meditation is to remove mind and ego, to observe but detach from thoughts. Meditation is “yin”. This problem may be a big message for to you to reconsider your meditation path.

If you are already working with a meditation teacher they may also know some accupressure routines (where you massage chi points with the tip of your fingers) that you can use on your own more frequently than going to see the accupuncturist. ALL natural healing takes time, so you may also want to consider giving the accupuncture & traditional chinese medicine more time. You didn’t mention the time-frame of all of this in your message at all.

Dietary: Avoid dairy for a few weeks. It increases mucus production. Drink tea and water, avoid sodas, get plenty of sleep and proper exercise…you know, the basics.

What may be going on is a blockage or imbalance of the sixth and / or seventh chakras. If that is the case, changing your meditation, perhaps some Reiki treatments, and wearing gemstone attuned to those chakras (like lapis for the third eye and amethyst for the crown chakra) might help get things back on track.

I hope this gives you a few ideas to work with, although I’m sure you know already that internet information can NOT take the place of an in-person evaluation – mainstream or alternative either one. NONE of the information here is intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease, and can not take the place of professional medical care.

With your permission, I would like to share a redacted, private version of your question with my blog readers. A lot of people don’t realize that some forms of mediation or chi gong can lead to problems if done improperly and that it is necessary to work with a skilled advisor when working with the more intensive forms of energy work and meditation.

Good luck!