Q&A: Pressure in the Forehead after meditating

Q&A: pressure after meditating

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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

 

threemala

 

Water of Life

Water makes a news splash – again

I know “water of life” sounds like an exaggeration, but as a science fiction fan, I couldn’t resist that little shout-out to “Dune”, one of my favorite sci fi novels.

But if you think about it, associating water and life is no exaggeration at all. We die from lack of water much faster than from lack of food. There has been seemingly unending buzz in the popular media about how much to drink, contaminants in tap water, plastic bottles leeching chemicals into the water they contain (which might just be filtered tap water anyway), you name it. The latest ruckus is the First Lady’s “Drink up ” campaign. While it is true we need to drink enough fluid to maintain optimum health, it is easy enough to get that optimum. I don’t think the point is to drink a higher volume of water, I think the point of the thing is to drink more water INSTEAD of all the sugary, or artificially sweetened beverages. Instead of ‘drink more water’ the message should be to “stop polluting the water you already drink with processed corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.”

But let’s dial all that back a bit. In the bigger picture, water has been associated with health and healing for hundreds of years.

Mostly because the water we take for granted was a difficult thing to get in the past. It was hard enough to get decent water for drinking (often impossible…leading to a panoply of diseases still found in developing nations today) – much less get enough water for cleaning and bathing. Basic hygene could have gone a long way to mitigating the great epidemics of the past.  Mineral and natural hot springs were thought to have miraculous healing properties (although it may have been less a matter of divine intervention, and more an instance of heat and minerals killing germs) Even ‘normal’ water was a revered healing method in the 18th and 19th centuries. Extended showers, mineral spas, hot and cold compresses, saunas, and “Kniepp therapy” are just a few examples.

We often take our water supply for granted. We are able to drink all we want without fear of disease or parasites. We can easily keep ourselves and homes clean. A study from Kyoto University proves that simple gargle with plain water 2 or 3 times a day can help reduce colds and flu.

Simple water is a wondrous thing – drink up.

Related posts and sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebastian_Kneipp

http://www.cartercenter.org/news/documents/doc130.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16242593

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/09/12/first-lady-michelle-obama-ask-everyone-drink-more-water

How to drink water

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.