RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 2 Months ago.

Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 146 Join Date: 8/9/20 Recent Posts
I have been experiencing pressure at the base of my nose and forehead for almost two years. How can I resolve this?

First of all, I would like to say thank you to those that have already helped me to navigate my practice. You guys and gals have been a lifesaver. This community is full of amazing people. 

I have been practicing a 50/50 split of samatha/vipassana for 60 minutes daily. Typically I either work through the jhanas or do rapid noting and body scanning. It's pretty consistent experience-wise. 

With my jhana practiced I've noticed that I have a consistent pressure at the base of my nose and forehead. At first, I thought this was piti that was stuck on but now I'm starting to think that it's something else.  I read some old posts here about the same type of thing and also a "void" or "black hole" phenomenon that's related to the pressure.

This has become a roadblock in my practice and I feel like it needs to be resolved in order to move forward. So, today I decided to make the pressure the object of my meditation and just observe it like a scientist. Watch it, ignore it, poke it with a stick, to see how it reacts. What I found is that if I concentrate with the breath at the nose the pressure increases and if I move awareness lower it fades a little to the background, but usually comes back after other sensations like sukka have subsided. 

It's a really strange feeling. It feels like my body and mind cannot let go of the pressure. I tried to let go of it today and I almost became anxious that I was going to float away. The pressure is acting as some sort of anchor/window to my awareness. I can sense a massive perceptual shift coming and my mind/body is clinging to this pressure. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It's kind of like the feeling of getting a driver's license, although that was so long ago I probably felt differently then!

I plan to keep exploring this objectively. Sukka seemed to help it fade but I'm not sure if that's just because it was being overpowered. The pressure remains off the cushion so I'm not sure what can be done there.

Thank you for reading this!
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 1899 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
From my experience with various types of forehead and facial pressures, it’s not something that can actively be resolved. It waxes and wanes depending on circumstances. There does seem to be some kind of general progression, but over a timescale of months-years. For me, trying to actively resolve it turned it into more of a problem than it actually is, becoming a kind of fixation at times.

I also recognize that feeling of it becoming a practice roadblock, something that needs to be fixed before insights or perceptual shifts can occur. In hindsight I can see now that was also a false assumption on my part.

Maybe you could examine more closely this feeling that a massive perceptual shift is coming and the mind/body is clinging to the pressure. I think you are probably onto something here, but it’s the clinging which is the important part not the pressure itself. The mind will basically cling to anything at times as a kind of defense mechanism to protect itself against something which doesn’t really need to be protected against. I don’t really know your insight practice well enough to have a sense of what that something might be … what's your sense?
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Thanks for this George. 

Could the insight itself be that I'm clinging? I'm not sure what insights exist other than the 4th path model. I believe I'm beyond SE so it could be that I'm reaching the end of the 2nd path. Although, completion of the first path seems so long ago it feels like it almost didn't happen! 

What other insights exist?
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Yes! Clinging - wanting things to be different from the way they are. Acceptance is the heart of this thing.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Well, sure, if one manages to stop clinging entirely, a lot is resolved. Easier said than done, though. If you can't stop all your clinging by shere willpower, my post below mentions a couple of aapproaches that can help with letting go. Best of luck!
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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One approach that might be worth trying is to widen your focus considerably or even try to let go of all focus entirely. Michael Taft often talks about what he calls dropping the ball, that is, not engaging with anything that tries to draw attention. He does guided meditation on youtube. The pressure is because of your attention. A very narrowly focused attention, especially when concentration increases, can heighten sensations in a way that can manifest like what you describe. It happens to me too, but more rarely nowadays. 

Another approach is working with your resistance towards the pressure sensations, unless you get strong headaches or something like that. It's possible to just relax through it, or work with it to shred all your constructions and let it collapse in on itself and sort of turn the world inside out. It's a dualism thing that has to do with the separation inte subject and object. Attention does that and therefore there are tensions inherent in it. You can either intensify your attention until it collapses into nondual awareness or you can relax into nondual awareness by dropping the ball. I did something inbetween, sort of. I let the process unfold intensely while gradually relaxing the sense of me doing it, thus more and more letting awareness do it rather than the attention. There were still tensions, as there was still remaning dualism, but as I surrendered to it, I found it pleasant. 
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 146 Join Date: 8/9/20 Recent Posts
Hi Linda!

This is extremely helpful. These are the kind of things that I can try out in my practice. I'm going to look up Michael Taft on youtube and see if I can follow one of his guided meditations to get the gist. 

I really appreciate your response. I'll let you know what I come up with. =)

-Kelly
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Zachary _, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Hi Kelly, 

There is some good advice above. Like George says, it's likely not something that is going to just go away forever. Off hand, if I'm remembering correctly, I can recall some instances where people like Daniel Ingram and Kenneth Folk have described occasionally experiencing this sort of thing many decades into practice.

I see these sorts of pressures and tensions as maintaing and reifying the dualistic observer/observed split. It's something we've been unconciously doing our whole lives yet we only start to notice it once we get some ways along in our practice. The sense of the observer typically consists of sensations located somewhere behind the eyes, inside the head. There is a somatic flavor of contraction. Like any other object, this pressure has the mark of the three characteristics. The pressure is unsatisfactory and irritating, the pressure isn't "you", and one can notice that the pressure/observer actually consists of granular, impermanent vibrations. 

In addition to gently noticing the three characteristics of the pressure, I find that resting into a more spacious, panoramic awareness can be a useful orientation.

Some questions you could also feel your way into:

How far back around your head does awareness go?
How wide is your field of vision?
How big is the space your head is "located" in?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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This is very well put! Yes, the dualism is so heavy and irritating, but it's not new. It's an old habit, only the sensations of it are becoming clearer. Also, great pointers!
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 146 Join Date: 8/9/20 Recent Posts
Thank you Zachary.

I like your suggestion about observing the 3 characteristics of the pressure. I did that today and yesterday as I did a "drop the ball" Michael Taft mediation. I'm definitely feeling like the pressure IS the origin of my awareness and my awareness is firmly attached to this point.

I tried allowing my awareness to expand and sink lower into the body. I was not able to release the pressure, but I will keep working with it. I may have to give up jhana for a while and focus on creating a wide/open awareness with no objects.

I'll let you know how it goes!

​​​​​​​-Kelly
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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If you feel like the pressure is the point of origin of your awareness, that's something you need to investigate by trying to observe the point of origin itself. You can either do it from a vipassana point of view or you can drop the ball until you are fully relaxed and then intend for awareness to investigate it. The former tends to be somewhat more hectic and bouncy and with annoying tensions until you see what needs to be seen (but also utterly fascinating!) whereas the latter, if it works, has more of an empty luminosity taste. Whichever approach you choose, there is something here that needs to be thoroughly seen through. 
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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I agree on this. However, isn't the origin of awareness supposed to be in the forehead, behind the eyes? This must be the default? I think that I remember Daniel Ingram mentioning this as part of nonduality, or rather the illusion of duality?

​​​​​​​Thanks Linda! 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Kelly Gordon Weeks
I agree on this. However, isn't the origin of awareness supposed to be in the forehead, behind the eyes? This must be the default? I think that I remember Daniel Ingram mentioning this as part of nonduality, or rather the illusion of duality?

​​​​​​​Thanks Linda! 


I’m not sure exactly what you mean when you say ”supposed to”. It’s a common perception, sure, but it needs to be seen through. It’s a duality that you are constructing.
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Kelly Gordon Weeks
However, isn't the origin of awareness supposed to be in the forehead, behind the eyes? This must be the default?

This is the common assumption, but if you look closely and start to play around with it you can see that it's just a fabrication. Incoming sensory data doesn't have any a priori spatial distribution, or even a division between inside & outside the body. The brain is doing a lot of work to separate and model which signals belong to which parts of the body, which belongs to the outside world, and also to maintain a "centre of awareness" somewhere in the middle of the head with space arranged all around it. Of course this model works pretty well for navigating the world, but there's a certain level of suffering involved in clinging to it as an objective reality which is an essential part of our identity. To penetrate this suffering you can start to play around with this centre. What does it look/feel like if you place the centre in the heart, or the belly? Or how about no centre at all? You can also do the same thing with space. How do I actually know where one object stands in relation to another? And where are thoughts located? Is there actually any relationship between awareness and space? (No need to answer, just things to play around with.)
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 146 Join Date: 8/9/20 Recent Posts
Today I believe that I just did the opposite of what needs to be done. =( 

I entered jhana to see if I could get a better look at the pressure. This clearly solidified the pressure further. When in jhana I tried looking for the three characteristics but the pressure felt like an impregnable steel wall. The pressure also feels like a stream of energy. I'll keep trying the open awareness approach starting tomorrow. 

Will report back! 
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Zachary _, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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If the active, investigative approach you mention seems to be reifying the pressure then it probably makes sense to just rest in open awareness or even "Do Nothing". 
John H, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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You might find spending a few minutes meditating on visualizing your body as luminous and empty tends to disappate this sort of thing. 
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 146 Join Date: 8/9/20 Recent Posts
So I've been doing open awareness meditation as suggested here by a few for about 10 days. I've been using Michael Taft's guided videos on youtube. 

What I've noticed so far is that I have been able to get into open awareness briefly, 15-20 minutes. But then, HOLY HELL, I then have been entering into a torrent of energy for the remainder of each sit. It literally feels like I'm on a life raft in the middle of the ocean in a hurricane. The energy currents are so strong that they actually make me nauseous. Intensely chaotic energy with no source. Everything seems to disappear and I become the energy or enter into it. I try to let go of it and not cling, but alas it hasn't worked yet.

I've experienced this before and doing qigong seemed to help. I have recently been slacking on my qigong. Perhaps I better start doing it again!

Anyway, I'll keep trying for the open awareness. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading this!

​​​​​​​-Kelly
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J W, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Hey Kelly, dizziness / spinning currents / chaotic energy comes up for me too, I think of this as kind of 3rd Jhana territory (though perhaps that is not accurate). 

In my experience there's nothing really to do other than observe, and open your eyes/stop meditating if it gets too intense.  But it seems to naturally sort itself out after a while of patiently observing.

If I had to guess it's something to do with energy alignment.  So yeah, qigong would probably help!
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Hi JW,

When you say third jhana are referring to the dukkha nanas, or third samatha jhana, or both?

Thanks!
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J W, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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I'm not entirely clear on the difference between the Vipassana Jhanas and Samatha Jhanas, though I think there are some good threads on it here. 
But as a general rule of thumb, anything involving intense energy (spinning, gyroscopic movements) and the like, I would place more into samatha territory.  (Keeping in mind the distinction between concentration/insight can be quite porous.)
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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I'm no stranger to the dark night! I've spent a lot of time here, but this much more ramped up than normal and seemingly came on fast. Fortunately, it's not carrying over off the cushion!

​​​​​​​Thanks for your help!
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spatial, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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I wouldn't expect this to go away any time soon. It hasn't gone away for me at all (I'll let you know if it does), but it's changed a lot.

Sometimes I wonder: what if, instead of the pressure being something that happens to me, I am something that happens to the pressure...?

​​​
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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spatial
what if, instead of the pressure being something that happens to me, I am something that happens to the pressure...?​

+1   ​​​​​​​emoticon
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 146 Join Date: 8/9/20 Recent Posts
"I am something that happens to the pressure."

​​​​​​​Perhaps I'm too dense to get this. I'm not sure what you mean by this. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 1899 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Just my interpretation, spatial's may differ ...

The pressure is there whether you like it or not, there's basically nothing you can do about it. If you accept it then it's just another aspect of impersonal stuff that's happening in the world, it's not a personal affliction that's happening to you. If you resist it (or try to fix it or understand it) then you make it into a personal issue, you are forcing yourself upon it or even creating an aspect of yourself in the process, i.e. "you are happening to it".
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 146 Join Date: 8/9/20 Recent Posts
This makes sense. Thank you for helping me put it into context.
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 146 Join Date: 8/9/20 Recent Posts
This makes sense. Thank you for helping me put it into context.
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spatial, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Kelly Gordon Weeks "I am something that happens to the pressure." ​​​​​​​Perhaps I'm too dense to get this. I'm not sure what you mean by this. 


Well, I'm just going to offer an alternative interpretation. It may not be the right one. But, I like having multiple ways to look at things, since the default interpretation ("I'm sitting here and this pressure is happening to me") is so rigid.

Since the pressure occurs when you sit down to meditate, what if the pressure is itself the meditator? What if it's just the action of a body-mind that has been conditioned to meditate, and by observing it, you're seeing reality as it is? What if the pressure is more real than you are?

What if, when you're asked to observe "not self", this is a sign of progress??? The fact that things which a moment ago you had taken to be "self" are now seen as "not self"?
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 146 Join Date: 8/9/20 Recent Posts
Interesting. When I observe the pressure from this perspective it makes it seem like the pressure is an aperture of awareness. It's fun to try to create depth from this point. Sometimes awareness seems very localized and flat from this point. Other times it seems to gain space. I have yet to have awareness expand beyond this point. Yesterday during my sit, I felt as though I was on the edge of formless absorption. I can narrow the point or expand it, but I'm still bound to it.

Thanks for your input.
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spatial, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Kelly Gordon Weeks Interesting. When I observe the pressure from this perspective it makes it seem like the pressure is an aperture of awareness. It's fun to try to create depth from this point. Sometimes awareness seems very localized and flat from this point. Other times it seems to gain space. I have yet to have awareness expand beyond this point. Yesterday during my sit, I felt as though I was on the edge of formless absorption. I can narrow the point or expand it, but I'm still bound to it. Thanks for your input. ​​​​​​​


While locked on to the point, are you able to observe objects coming in and out of the periphery?
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

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Try switching your television watching habits. While I have been on psychiatric meds over the past 7-8 years I hAve noticed how awareness shifts while my parents watched tv. Leave yourself little chores that are anouncing they are an emergency and go sit down for 5 minutes and ignore everything except the television. Then note how your head feels. You can either continue watching (which I recommend) or your awareness can shift back to the doer and go finish your project. But wait! Did you leave the tv on? Lol note everything.
Kelly Gordon Weeks, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pressure in Base of Nose/Anchor of Awareness

Posts: 146 Join Date: 8/9/20 Recent Posts
 I seem to have made a breakthrough!

The past three days/sits I've been starting by focusing on deep breathing and keeping attention low, right below the navel. At about the 10-minute mark I enter into a very wide/lite absorption. I'll remain here for about 10 minutes and then move up to my chest area. Sukha starts to build and the absorption rises in intensity. I remain here for another 10 minutes and then move attention to the breath at the nose. This is when the absorption becomes very intense and I begin to see smoke, wavy lines, and strong piti. It's difficult to stay intensly here for more than a few minutes, although I can keep attention here for a very long time in a lighter way. When it becomes very intense my head becomes heavy and tends to flop over. 

After I work up I work back down in the reverse order and then repeat the whole thing.

I'm not sure if it's appropriate, necessary, or helpful to label these as separate absorptions. If so then it seems I'd be doing them as 4-2-1, 4-3-2, or 4-3-2-1 and one of the 4 is obscured in there. Regardless, the breakthrough came by working in reverse of what I was formally practicing. 

If I begin with the breath at the nose, piti/energy becomes too intense and obscures the following absorptions.

One other interesting observation, sukha feels like heartburn to me. lol. 

Thanks for reading this. I appreciate your help!
 

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