Advice on "Backlash" due to Meditation

Jae Huang, modified 11 Years ago.

Advice on "Backlash" due to Meditation

Posts: 2 Join Date: 1/8/10 Recent Posts
Happy New Year, everyone!

My 1st post here and I hope to seek advice from experienced practitioners here regarding my meditation and post-meditation experiences.

I started meditation practice 5 years ago and usually it's a 30mins to an hour session before I go to bed every night. I started with basic concentration meditation in the beginning and soon realized that awareness of the breath is the technique that works best for me. In the beginning, i always had to start the session with awareness of the breath, which will then lead to crossing over a "threshold" where there is a pretty abrupt shift in quality of my awareness - awareness becomes clearer, calmer, more "absorbed" and relatively thought-free - i'll call this the calm state. And even when there's thoughts or external sights/noise/disturbances occurring thereafter, the calm state doesn't get affected nor disrupted. In more recent times, it seems like just sitting down and "relax and let go" will bring me to the calm state pretty effortlessly, without needing to start with awareness of breath. As the ease of accessing the calm state gets easier, even during the day or working hours, just by relaxing my mind will cause me to go into this calm state as well.

As i get easier access to this calm state, I noticed that it feels like the "awareness" within my head is expanding beyond my head/body towards external environment, feels like bloated mind/head. The body, especially both hands tingling like pin-pricks or sometimes wave-like sensations sweeping over. This can be intentional like during formal sessions, and recently non-intentional like during the day when i have some time to relax my mind, or while reading Dharma books and just contemplating on the content, will cause me to get into the calm state as a result.

My "problem area" is actually the very active sensations centering around my scalp where there are wave-like sensations, which sometimes feels like tiny blood vessels throbbing all over my scalp, or invisible fingers massaging my scalp. The focus of these sensations moves around, sometimes the crown area, or can be back of my head near the spine area, or other times nearer to the front hairline. Sometimes, if i stay in the calm state for too long (eg. an hour of sitting session), i will suffer "backlash" during post-meditation where the waves and throbbing on my scalp will "worsen" or gets too strong/active, and it feels painful like a migraine or a vein popping or pounding in my head. I had to actually stop meditating for next 1 or 2 days to recover from this and even took leave from work on few occasions as the head pounding is too much to handle. It seems like the more absorbed and calmer i get in the formal sitting, the worse the "backlash" is during post-meditation.

I also have other physical phenomenon like:
- constantly hearing a high-pitch frequency (similar to what you hear when both ears are plugged up)
- sometimes the high-pitch frequency seems to fluctuate in sync with the "waves" on my scalp
- i need to regularly "pop" both ears which seems to be due to the feeling of "bloated head/mind"
- jaw muscles throbbing or tightening involuntarily

That's all i can think of for now. I hope the experienced practitioners in this forum will be able to advise me on what are all these sensations about, and how should i handle them and move forward. Big thanks!!


Cheers,
Jae
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Advice on "Backlash" due to Meditation

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Jae Amber:


My "problem area" is actually the very active sensations centering around my scalp where there are wave-like sensations, which sometimes feels like tiny blood vessels throbbing all over my scalp, or invisible fingers massaging my scalp. The focus of these sensations moves around, sometimes the crown area, or can be back of my head near the spine area, or other times nearer to the front hairline. Sometimes, if i stay in the calm state for too long (eg. an hour of sitting session), i will suffer "backlash" during post-meditation where the waves and throbbing on my scalp will "worsen" or gets too strong/active, and it feels painful like a migraine or a vein popping or pounding in my head. I had to actually stop meditating for next 1 or 2 days to recover from this and even took leave from work on few occasions as the head pounding is too much to handle. It seems like the more absorbed and calmer i get in the formal sitting, the worse the "backlash" is during post-meditation.

I also have other physical phenomenon like:
- constantly hearing a high-pitch frequency (similar to what you hear when both ears are plugged up)
- sometimes the high-pitch frequency seems to fluctuate in sync with the "waves" on my scalp
- i need to regularly "pop" both ears which seems to be due to the feeling of "bloated head/mind"
- jaw muscles throbbing or tightening involuntarily


Dear Jae,

Hey, welcome.

Impressions:

The body distortion thing is 1st jhana, as is the initial shift to calm state.

The vibrations are second vipassana jhana, aka the early A&P territory. These can get strong and disconcerting: just let them do their thing, noticing their qualities and reactions to them as they are. Sometimes the energy moving through can really be unpleasant, and sometimes it is very nice. Both are ok from a big picture point of view, more stuff happening.

The high-pitched sound is actually an interesting object. Most people have this in varying degrees, and dissecting it into its various harmonics, pulses and other aspects can build concentration and produce insight, depending on how you listen to it.

The interference patterns or synchronicity with the high-pitched sound and the waves is classic A&P territory: noticing that sort of stuff is good.

Jaw muscles tightening and the like are late 3 characteristics and can to into A&P territory also, as well as re-arise in later Dark Night, and some people are just more jaw-clenchy than others at times.

One way or the other, noticing those sorts of vibrations consistently is very good practice: keep going: you are doing well and the effects you describe are par for the course and normal.
Jae Amber, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Advice on "Backlash" due to Meditation

Posts: 2 Join Date: 1/8/10 Recent Posts
Thanks Daniel! Appreciate your advice that kind of put things into perspective for me. Very helpful.

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