Headache After Meditation

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Can Meditation Cause Headaches?

blessings. many times when i meditate i have been feeling pain in my head. specifically around my temples, above my right eye and sometimes behind at the medulla obligation. it seems to be very distracting to me and i try not to let it divert my focused attention but many times i get agitated about it. and this only makes the pain worse! of course. it seems like an intense pressure in my head. i am curious to know if you may have any thoughts about this…~in love and gratitude. Carrie.

Let me address both of your questions at once as they are seemingly related. As you know, when we meditate we are making a conscious and focused effort to first concentrate and then move energy up through our chakras to our third eye. When we do this, we are often dislodging and unseating energy that has been stagnant for some time… probably a very long time!

This can create resistance and dissonance as our ego struggles to keep everything exactly as it is. It is simply a part of the human condition to resist change. Often people feel physical and emotional “pain” as they begin and strengthen or deepen a meditation practice. As it says in the Bhagavad Gita, this is a struggle between our “upward and downward-declining tendencies.”

Having said that, we often need help and support as we move on our path, and knowing what kind of help can be tricky. First, make sure you are in good physical, medical, and emotional shape. Have a medical check-up, and maybe work with a chiropractor for good spine care and alignment.

Ask yourself if you could use some help in the form of psychotherapy to deal with all of the emotion that is being released. As Yogis we often tend to dismiss or even deny our need for traditional types of support when in fact that may be exactly what we need to move forward.

Also, try and get directly involved with a meditation teacher and group so you are not alone. Paramhansa Yogananda said that next to God’s grace the most important thing helping us on our spiritual path is the company we keep.

Heartache, Headache, and Meditation: What Are the Signs of a Practice Going Wrong?

If your practice is wholesome and enjoyable, maintained with a sense of buoyancy and well-being, the chances are extremely remote that any problems that are catalyzed in meditation will become entrenched. Almost every case I have encountered of persistent problems in samatha practice is characterized by a lack of buoyancy and a reliance on sheer discipline. Typically, when samatha practice goes wrong, it gets heavy—frustrating and isolated, barren and dark. You may feel you have to muscle your way through, and of course that makes it worse.

Physical tension, aches and pains, are not necessarily indications of a problem. In the early stages especially, tension in the body may be brought on more by the mind than by muscle fatigue, or some other purely physical factor. People’s knees may hurt when they are meditating and feel fine at any other time, even if they are sitting motionlessly for long periods of time. Part of the mind wants an excuse. If the pain is caused by this sort of influence from the mind, then make a choice. Recognize that the tension is not really debilitating, and just let it go.

If the problem tends to linger between sessions, and especially if it’s conjoined with an array of other symptoms that suggest an imbalance in your nervous system, you should be more careful. Such symptoms include tension, a feeling of darkness or heaviness at the heart that lingers, a gloom in the mind that may slip into depression or irritability, nervousness, and a tendency to weep—not a refreshing, cleansing weeping, but just grief. If you recognize one or more of those occurring in a chronic fashion, then something has gone wrong. It’s time to lighten up, speak with the teacher, and clear it out. If you are on your own, the first thing to do is lighten up the intensity of the practice. Ease off and let yourself be a little bit lazy. You might try some yoga: that’s what it’s for. Above all, bring in a greater sense of buoyancy and find something to restore good cheer and lightness to the mind. If you can do that, in all likelihood, you will knock out the problem. When the mind’s joy, its buoyancy and lightness, becomes a distant memory, that’s when these symptoms can really set in persistently and become problematic.

If you ever experience a dense, dark, tight, fisty quality, especially in the area of your heart or the center of your chest, back off immediately. Back off just as if you found a snake in your lap. It’s really important not to pursue the meditation if this happens, as great damage can be done. Do something cheerful instead. Go eat pizza and ice cream; listen to your favorite music. Do whatever you can to bring lightness back in and get out of that space quickly.

Why would this happen? The heart center is closely connected to mental consciousness. There is a vital energy in the body that you can experience in a tactile way, even though it is not physical in the Western scientific sense. (There is no place for “vital energy” in modern physics. I don’t think there ever will be; it’s a different type of phenomenon. This is a type of “qualia” that is experienced first-hand, not something existing purely objectively, independently of experience.) But it manifests, among other ways, as the physical sensations at your heart that accompany different emotional states. When you feel buoyant and happy, when you feel excited, when you feel heavy and depressed, when you feel like dirt: check the physical sensations at your heart. For any of the major mind states, you can probably feel the corresponding vital energy if you attend to it.

In samatha practice, you are doing something very unusual with and to your mind. You’re asking it to focus on one thing and stay there. That means you are, in a sense, compacting your attention. You’re channeling and collecting it, gathering it together. As you gather your mind, you also gather your vital energies, drawing them to the heart. If the quality of awareness that you are compacting has negative elements such as resentment, guilt, depression, sadness, or fear, that will also show up in the heart as a sensation of heavy darkness, a feeling like you have just swallowed a rock.

Pontoon Ricochet talked about the development of g
The Tibetans describe this as “bad energy” (rung ngan pa), and of course that is just what it feels like. It is dangerous, because the energy can get lodged in the heart and stay there. That may lead to chronic depression, or worse. It’s unfortunate, and it happens unnecessarily to too many mediators. You can work through it but it’s difficult, and it’s far better not to fall into it in the first place. If it does start, the sooner you deal with it, the easier it will be. How do you address it? You need to bring a lot of buoyancy and light into your life and you probably shouldn’t meditate much. If you do meditate, the sessions should be very short and very light; loving kindness practice is appropriate, but never to the point where it gets oppressive or heavy in any sense. You need to keep a lightness in your life, do things that you enjoy, spend time with people you enjoy. If you have a spiritual teacher, think about him or her a lot. Do whatever you can to introduce a quality of lightness, sweetness, and warmth into your heart and mind. You really have to take major steps to counter the dark, cold, heaviness of this problem, and be very patient about returning to any kind of intensive meditation. You have to take a leave of absence for a while.

It is unusual, but similar problems to those associated with the heart center can sometimes happen when breath awareness with a focus on the nostrils concentrates too much energy in the head. You may find your head feeling full and bloated like a pumpkin on top of your neck. Or you may experience a feeling of pressure in the head, or headaches. If this happens, drop that technique for a while. Bring the awareness down to the abdomen or diffuse it gently throughout the whole body, but get it out of the head. It’s not healthy; if you continued slogging on with that technique, it could become a chronic problem and there is really no reason to let that happen. Headaches should not become common as a result of practice. If they occur once in a while, that’s normal. But if you find you’re getting headaches from meditation with any degree of regularity at all, then something is wrong and needs to be checked. If headaches become at all consistent, please speak with a qualified teacher.

On the other hand, you may experience many unusual physical sensations in samatha practice that are not at all cause for concern. People commonly report bizarre experiences such as distortions of the sense of physical space, illusions of movement or falling, a sense that the limbs are contorted, or a ringing in the ears. You may feel as if your body is swelling up like the Pillsbury dough boy, or it may feel rooted to the earth. In general, when such experiences involve the whole body, or are peripheral, focused on the limbs, they are not danger signs at all, but quite harmless. The traditional instructions are to ignore such phenomena, hard as that may be. By paying attention to a sensation or becoming fixated on it, you perpetuate it and it can then turn into an obstacle.

The reason behind such experiences is that samatha has a profound effect on the vital energy system in the body. We are doing something the mind is not at all accustomed to, plunking the mind down and saying: Stay! As you concentrate and channel the mind in an unfamiliar way, especially if you go to greater depths than you have previously, this is bound to have an effect on the vital energies. They start to rearrange themselves. This continues all through the course of developing samatha, all the way to its culmination. When you actually attain samatha, there is a radical shift of vital energies. It’s like having your whole house rewired: the energies will function differently, and your body will feel extraordinarily light and pliant. From then on, unless you let your samatha deteriorate, that becomes your normal physical state. Prior to the actual achievement of samatha there’s a lot of rearranging of the furniture, so to speak, as the energies shift around. And as this takes place, you may feel strange physical sensations, perhaps even as if your body is rotating or turning upside down.

What if you are not sure if something you are experiencing might be problematic? There are two types of teachers: one is your own intuition, the other is an outside source. If you have a very strong sense something is worth exploring, do so. Release yourself into it and experiment. If you have problems, come back and check with an outside source. If you have a recurring problem with headaches or a heaviness of the heart, I suggest you consult a qualified meditation teacher. If you ever start developing a chronic sense of fatigue and tension in the meditation, or a chronic sense of darkness around the mind, that’s a time to stop and take appropriate countermeasures. Come and talk to a teacher. Get it early and nip it in the bud. Don’t let it linger and become an embedded problem.

Can meditation (concentration on breath) cause headache?

I see many answers to your question. And I believe all of them are right, some may be more correct and other may be partially correct.

However, most important thing is to recognize the fact that every one of us is unique and so our problem is, context varies, situation varies,  physical challenges are different, our understanding differs, and there are countless other subtleties which is quite different for each of us. Hence it is unlikely that one answer or approach helps everyone. Having said that, I would still say that it is very good idea to discuss such experience in group and get to know others thought or experience and take these inputs and improve your meditation.  Ultimately it is your experience which will give the right answer for your unique problem. Meditation is all about that, its about finding the answers – be it a questions at the physical level or metaphysical. The possibility and power for meditation and meditator is unlimited, it solely depends on individual level of commitment and perseverance. 

  Having said that, I would like to share mine as I have been going through the similar experience. I have irritatingly persistent  throbbing, squeezing  head sensation that shifts between crown and third eye areas, sometime I feel a helmet like sensation on part of the head and sometimes it fully covers the head. I still have it and It is continuing for months. Initially I consulted doctor, he prescribing me some medicines but of no help, i did not continue these medications for long as somewhere I realized  that I have to find and internal solution to this problem. Meanwhile I was searching various source of information which could help me improve my situation.  I tried approaches like  observation of these sensation, that helped calm me sometimes. I also tried focusing on different areas (meditating on lower chakra) that also help subsiding the sensation and many more approaches which are subtle enough to describe in words. It is only a trial and error approach for me, but many times I am experiencing a great tranquility and clarity in mind that I have never experienced before, although it does not last long but it is giving me hope. 

Hence somewhere these small experiences but positive ones, giving me a reason to believe that eventually I will not only get the answer for this problem alone  problem alone but I will learn many more things one the way. As every time I try a new approach I experience something very new which may be even unrelated to this problem. 

Meditation causing headaches

In the last couple of months, I have experienced a chronic headache in my forehead and after checking with doctors etc nothing could be found. I then kind of had the intuition it could be related to my meditation practice. It’s more the 2 years I meditate daily for 20/30 minutes or more. I have come around some articles online reading that focusing on the breath (especially in the nostrils, which I used to do) could lead to an accumulation of energy around the third eye chakra, and it seemed to me my pain felt exactly like this. I have now taken a break from my daily practice and the headache got much better and nearly disappeared, but as I stopped meditating I really miss the peaceful state of mind and presence I had when I meditated daily, so I would like to start again soon. I would be so grateful to get tips from you on this.

Headache after meditating for several weeks – Related?

  1. Siva Member Joined: Sep 22, 2008 Messages: Likes Received: 0 Trophy Points: 1 Hello all,
    I’ve been meditating (with LF10 ) for about a month now. I’m relatively new to meditation and did a week without LF10 before I bought LF series. I meditate for anytime between 20-30 mins in the morning (want to do the prescribed 40 min, but the mind wants to stop in 20-30 min)
    I’ve been having a headache in the top portion of my head several minutes after I finish my meditation. This started about 3 weeks into meditation.
    I had been following ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ from ‘Art of Living’ for a while last year around October and had a similar kind of pain at the same region several weeks into it. I discontinued it at that time and got a MRI scan of the brain and the doctor found nothing. He said that these types of headaches are known as ‘Vertex Headaches’ and sometimes comes and goes without reason.
    Since ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ is a form of meditation too, I’d like to hear opinions on whether the headache and meditation could be related.
    I’d also like to hear opinions on why I’m not able to continue past 30 min in a session.
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