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Intense shoulder/neck tension.

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Intense shoulder/neck tension.
physical tension
Answer
11/12/12 9:31 PM
I typically have some tension in my upper back, between my shoulders and at the base of my neck. However, five days ago I did five hours of samatha while sitting in a chair, interspersed with three session of walking meditation. Since then, it's gotten a lot more intense, so that it's a painful sort of tension when I sit. I tried doing some yoga this morning to strengthen that area, but it seems to have just made it more achy. It's achy all the time, but seems especially so during meditation. When I lift my arms up, I feel like a get some relief, or it could just be because my arms are no longer stagnant. It tried having the area massaged a few days ago, since it was still pretty achy before the eight hour meditation day, but that did not seem to help much.

Is this a typical problem with some standard remedies?

Possible causes that I can think of are:

-My meditation sitting posture. Perhaps my arms are positioned so that my shoulders have to tense to hold them in place. I am an extremely flexible person, so perhaps my shoulders have to work harder to keep them 'in place'. I think my posture is generally in good form though.

-I am breathing wrong, causing tension. Perhaps I am controlling the breath while focusing on it. But it doesn't seem like that would cause this much tension and my breath seems okay from what I can tell.

-I was in a car wreck several years ago, afterwards I went to a chiropractor and he made some adjustments on my neck. I first noticed tension in my lower neck area prior to this event though, after first starting out in college. Which makes me think part of the cause may be how I sit at computers.

Added through an edit:-I've been pretty stressed at work lately, so it could also be partly stress based.

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Any help would be appreciated, if you know some possible remedies or if you know where I ought to visit to get help.

RE: Intense shoulder/neck tension.
Answer
11/12/12 11:22 AM as a reply to Aduro T.
Are you sitting on a zafu on the floor? Put another cushion in your lap and rest your hands across it while you're sitting. This will relieve some of the tension on your shoulders. Alternatively, try meditating laying flat on your back.

RE: Intense shoulder/neck tension.
Answer
11/12/12 11:36 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Thanks for the suggestions, I'll try them out. I sit on a chair, but a zafu would work too I imagine. I have a hip injury, so I don't sit cross legged, but I would be up for trying cross legged again if that might help.

RE: Intense shoulder/neck tension.
Answer
11/12/12 11:49 AM as a reply to Aduro T.
You imply that you are doing 8 hours of meditation a day. With that much meditation, you may find that after building a sufficient base of attention it is fruitful to make the ache the object of attention. You might try cultivating metta for an hour, then doing a form of tonglen, where you attend to the ache during the in-breath, and attend to metta on the out-breath. This may afford some insight into the physical causes of the ache, but it may also lead to other insights.

Only do this if your attention is stable, though, and don't push it. If the tonglen leads to agitation, go back to building stable attention some more, then maybe try again.

RE: Intense shoulder/neck tension.
Answer
11/12/12 11:57 AM as a reply to Aduro T.
It's the same thing in a chair. I always keep my elbows up on the arm rests, because there's too much neck and shoulder tension if I keep them in my lap.

The other possibility is that you're experiencing 3rd or 10th ñana side-effects. Have you crossed the A&P yet?

RE: Intense shoulder/neck tension.
Answer
11/12/12 12:27 PM as a reply to Aduro T.
Hey!

I have the same koala pic as my work ID!

Five hours sitting with an incorret posture would certainly create some tension, but it is worth considering Fitter Stroke's suggestion that you are experiencing side-effects of insight. The 3rd nana can be full of pain, but also that kind of neck/ shoulder tension is exactly how the DN manifests for me....it feels like a blockage at the base of the neck and lots of pressure pushing from below until the release of EQ.

Are you sure you are doing pure samatha? It is easy to think you are concentrating when you are actually investigating, that's what happened to me. Tell us a little bit about what you are experiencing during meditation.

Cheers.

RE: Intense shoulder/neck tension.
Answer
11/12/12 3:07 PM as a reply to Dodge E Knees.
Thanks for your posts!

fivebells .:
You imply that you are doing 8 hours of meditation a day. With that much meditation, you may find that after building a sufficient base of attention it is fruitful to make the ache the object of attention. You might try cultivating metta for an hour, then doing a form of tonglen, where you attend to the ache during the in-breath, and attend to metta on the out-breath. This may afford some insight into the physical causes of the ache, but it may also lead to other insights.

Only do this if your attention is stable, though, and don't push it. If the tonglen leads to agitation, go back to building stable attention some more, then maybe try again.


I decided to make Saturday into an at-home 'mini-retreat' day, so that was a lot more meditation than usual. I was going for pure samatha that day. I normally do 1-2 hours of samatha and 45-60 minutes of noting per day, with 45 minute to one hour sits and a bit of walking meditation. My long term goal is to start with working on simultaneously getting practice with noting and attaining the jhanas. Once I get the concentration from some jhanas, I plan to switch to mostly just doing noting.

Thanks for the Tonglen suggestion. I'll plan to do it if my concentration stays. It's felt really good to feel mindful and have fairly stable attention this last couple days, but I don't know how long it will last. It looks like Shinzen has some practices that might be good for dealing with pain on his site too. http://shinzen.org/Articles/artPain.pdf

Fitter Stoke:
It's the same thing in a chair. I always keep my elbows up on the arm rests, because there's too much neck and shoulder tension if I keep them in my lap.

The other possibility is that you're experiencing 3rd or 10th ñana side-effects. Have you crossed the A&P yet?


I'll plan to look for a chair with arm rests, it seems like this could help. Thanks! I am fairly certain that I crossed the A&P about 8 months ago. Could be part of re-observation?


Dodge E Knees:
Hey!

I have the same koala pic as my work ID!

Five hours sitting with an incorret posture would certainly create some tension, but it is worth considering Fitter Stroke's suggestion that you are experiencing side-effects of insight. The 3rd nana can be full of pain, but also that kind of neck/ shoulder tension is exactly how the DN manifests for me....it feels like a blockage at the base of the neck and lots of pressure pushing from below until the release of EQ.

Are you sure you are doing pure samatha? It is easy to think you are concentrating when you are actually investigating, that's what happened to me. Tell us a little bit about what you are experiencing during meditation.

Cheers.


Most days I do 45-60 minutes of noting, in addition to samatha, so that could have caused me to progress through the DN since my A&P. During Saturday's samatha practice I didn't experience anything too out of the ordinary that I recall. I mostly payed attention to the sensation of the air passing in and out of my nostrils. Sometimes I would focus on sensation related to the breath in general, such as the abdomen moving up and down or the feeling of air moving in my throat. I typically felt content. I felt like I could sort of 'sink into' the moment and whatever I was feeling while doing my walking meditation. I tried to follow Ajahn Brahm's guidelines in his book on jhanas, and focus on letting go of the past, future, and inner talk. Responding to restlessness and with contentment and loving kindness toward the breath.

One thing comes to mind. My out breath would tend to be very long, then at the end there would be a moment where it would 'turn around' or 'stop', then the in breath would typically feel hurried. My assumption was that my breath was 'trying' to slow down, but the in-breath would go faster because I wasn't getting enough oxygen. Perhaps I ate too much bread for lunch? That tends to make me short of breath when I run.

RE: Intense shoulder/neck tension.
Answer
11/12/12 7:35 PM as a reply to Aduro T.
I'll plan to look for a chair with arm rests, it seems like this could help. Thanks! I am fairly certain that I crossed the A&P about 8 months ago. Could be part of re-observation?


It wouldn't surprise me. My trapezius muscles become very painful and very tight in Reobservation. Nothing helps it but to cross over into Equanimity.

RE: Intense shoulder/neck tension.
Answer
11/12/12 8:48 PM as a reply to Aduro T.
I suggest going to a orthopedic guy and get it checked first. It doesn't sound like it has an organic
cause , but sometimes just visiting these guys relieves all the pain.

RE: Intense shoulder/neck tension.
Answer
11/12/12 10:33 PM as a reply to Shashank Dixit.
Shashank Dixit:
I suggest going to a orthopedic guy and get it checked first. It doesn't sound like it has an organic
cause , but sometimes just visiting these guys relieves all the pain.


Yeah, I should do that if this doesn't clear up soon.

This could also be stress based. I've been pretty stressed at work lately.

Lately I've also felt tension around the point between my eyebrows. I don't know what this indicates or if it is related to the shoulder tension.

This morning the tension was really bad, and I just ended my meditation out of concern for it. I just had an hour session this evening and the tension was very tolerable and I had a good meditation. Off topic: At the end of this meditation I felt like the breath entranced me. Shortly after this, the breath seemed to 'breathe by itself', like it had a mind of it's own. Then my blasted alarm went off!... oh well. emoticon