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Wierd tensions
Answer
2/14/17 6:52 AM
Hi everyone,
 
I would like to ask if you've come across this weird thing:
 
Background: I am a partner in a large law firm, and used to think of myself as extremely stable psychologically. I started doing insight practices about a year ago, and was meditating daily for at least a couple of hours a day. At some point early last summer I felt I was in heaven: kundalini raising (like a full-body orgasm for hours), bliss, a lot of energy, constant happiness, etc. Stupidly, I thought that this will continue and the things will only get better.
 
Predictably, a few weeks later things started getting messy. I then find MCTB and realized that it was the DN. I am still pretty much depressed (never happened to me before to such an extent), and meditate daily hoping to finally get to Equanimity.
 
But the question is: for a couple of months I got very weird tensions in my face. As soon as I start meditating, muscles around my nose, eyes, in the forehead and in cheeks become tense, they tingle and there's a lot of vibrations there. It continues after the meditation for the entire day. Extremely unpleasant and annoying. Now this generalized and I get these weird tensions while doing any intense mental work.
 
When I sit, I can't even notice much because the tension and sensations in the face are too strong and pull all my attention to them. And it seems to get worse with time.
 
So I wonder if this is somehow related to the DN? Daniel said in MCTB that there could be some weird facial tensions in some stages. Can it be such tension, and will it go away eventually? I hope it is not a brain tumor or MS ((((
 
Opinions anyone?
 
Thank you!

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/14/17 11:19 AM as a reply to Alex Smith.
My teacher has told me about putting attention on my extremities (fingers and toes) when ever intense sensations in the head and face area monopolize my attention and keep me from being able to do anapana during tough moments.

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/14/17 11:25 AM as a reply to Alex Smith.
Hi Alex,

i experienced the same phenomena in the face, lots of tension pulling attention there to seemingly create even more tension. The hyper focused mind seems to do that. Try difusing awareness and focus by noticing  the periphery of awareness. This is not to  say ignore the tension which seems impossible, but try and include the periphery around it and observe the tension at the centre of attention informed by the periphery being seen too. 

Another thing that worked for me was consciously letting go of body tensions one part at a time. I consciously let go of my feet and toes first, then work through all other areas of the body until there was just the face and the tension there. The whole body would be very relaxed at this stage, so awareness would be more informed by this relaxedness. Peripheral diffuse awareness that takes in the sides and centre of awareness togetherworks well here to relax the hyper focused-ness, as well as lead the mind to accept the parts of the body are being previously unconsciously tensed or to accept that some "thing" needs time, space and recognition to eventually work itself out in the body. 

My 2 cents

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/14/17 11:31 AM as a reply to Alex Smith.
Hey, Alex, welcome!

Paradoxically, these sensations are a form of piti.

These sensations will go away eventually. They will go away sooner if you try to be equanimous about them.

In the meantime, note the tensions, note "what" they are made of, how they move around (if they do). Break them up in their microscopic constituents. Notice the flowy interaction between the constricting aspect of them, trying to close around some nucleus, and the nucleus pushing back against the constriction, the balance of forces. (Impermanence.)

Also note aversion to them, the desire for them to go away, thoughts about them. Notice how aversion and negative thoughts only make matters worse! (Dukkha)

Note how external sounds and other physical sensations interrupt the tensions. Notice how, when attention is grabbed by another sensation, the tensions disappear from attention. (Impermanence.)

Notice how the desire for them to go away is just another sensation. Notice how verbal thoughts about them are yet another sensation. Worry that they might be a brain tumour? Yet another sensation. And, most importantly, note how none of these sensations is "you". Try to locate the aversion to the sensations in your body. Is it in your chest? In your legs? Notice how you are not the aversion. (No-self)

Last, but not least, while you try to be equanimous about those sensations... you can try to relax those muscles voluntarily too. emoticon 

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/15/17 12:11 AM as a reply to neko.
Thanks a lot for responding, guys, I really appreciate it. This is very helpful. 

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/15/17 3:46 AM as a reply to Alex Smith.
Hi Alex,

I have had a couple of terrible Dark Knights in the past two years. One of the symptoms I've had recurring is very similar to what you describe here. Luckily, I chanced into a monk Vipassana Ajahn in Thailand who had suffered something similar in the past and has dealt with several students with similar symptoms. Here is the advice I can consolidate with the 2 months I spent with him on retreat:

Daily Life
  1. Daily exercise is very important: (Jogging and mild weight lifting works for me) At the temple, I was helping with construction work and with feeding the temple dogs.
  2. Try to do simple acts of kindness (aka Merit Making, punna etc.) daily. Something simple like helping your partner with cooking or spending a weekend at the soup kitchen can go a long way to brighten up your mind and release pressure. I know this sounds preachy from an Internet stranger, but I mention it because it has been potent in my experience.
  3. Make sure you get enough sleep at night and if possible a short afternoon nap.
  4. Surround yourself with positive people
Meditation
  1. Do walking meditation before your sits. In my experience, a moving object is less prone to cause the mind to be overly concentrated. In my lineage there are six stages of walking meditation in the order of increasing mindfulness/concentration. I ramp up and down from step 1 to step 6 depending how the pressure is easing or tightening. This seems to work quite well for me. Nowadays, I stick to .5 hr Walk and .5 Hr Sit; or if I'm busy 15 mins each. 
  2. If there is too much pressure, try opening your eyes for a few seconds. If hard pressure persists or is not changing, abandon the sit. During retreat I may have abandoned less than ten sits. Anyways, keep this option. There is no need to power through a sit in which you are obviously over concentrated.
  3. In daily life, note gently and move away your attention to some other object eg. "seeing". I use the word "knowing" instead of "feeling" or "pressure" as the word seems to have the effect of opening pressure not further tightening.
  4. Occasionally, in daily life, you can move your attention gently to the pressure area and blow some air out of your mouth as if releasing the aforementioned pressure.
  5. If the pressure is still increasing, reduce number of hours in meditation
Continue until pressure eases completely or does not bother you mentally.

Hope this helps. Feel free to PM.

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/15/17 5:24 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
What Nick is describing is not only a good strategy to deal with such focus/tension points, it is also the way to break through from DN territory into equanimity territory.

Just really consistently and repeatedly notice the edges of things. Including especially the edges of focus itself. Softly include that into your awareness.

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/15/17 5:33 AM as a reply to Mettafore.
Mettafore:

Try to do simple acts of kindness (aka Merit Making, punna etc.) daily. Something simple like helping your partner with cooking or spending a weekend at the soup kitchen can go a long way to brighten up your mind and release pressure. I know this sounds preachy from an Internet stranger, but I mention it because it has been potent in my experience.
Thanks Mettafore. Indeed, I noticed myself that this (Metta, simple acts of kindness) improves the things somewhat. In my current slightly depressed state, unless I consciously tune myself into kindness, I become really bad-tempered and any concentration becomes too forceful. Probably concentrated too much on pain, negative states and suffering. I will keep working on this (and the other advice) and see how it goes.  

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/15/17 5:51 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Just really consistently and repeatedly notice the edges of things. Including especially the edges of focus itself. Softly include that into your awareness.
Thanks, Bruno. If I understand your "noticing the edges of things" correctly, you suggest widening, diffusing my focus? So that when I concentrate on my chosen object, I also include peripery in my awareness? If this helps to break through DN territory, it would be just great. 

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/16/17 6:41 AM as a reply to Alex Smith.
Alex Smith:
Bruno Loff:
Just really consistently and repeatedly notice the edges of things. Including especially the edges of focus itself. Softly include that into your awareness.
Thanks, Bruno. If I understand your "noticing the edges of things" correctly, you suggest widening, diffusing my focus? So that when I concentrate on my chosen object, I also include peripery in my awareness? If this helps to break through DN territory, it would be just great. 

This is exactly right. When you have a sense of something, notice both the when and where that thing begins and ends, i.e. the periphery.

A very interesting choice of meditation object, for this particular purpose, is your sense of focus. During dark night the center of focus is somehow off, out of sync, difficult to attend to, slippery, hazy, tired. So you should instead turn to the periphery of your sense of focus. 

Soon you will notice that there is a lot of awareness that sits outside of the sense of focus. This was very preplexing to me, as at that point I thought that awareness was "what is being focused on". But it's not. This practice was tricky at first since I had the tendency of changing my focus to the phenomena that happened to be at the periphery (e.g. sensations on the side of the head). But it was interesting and fun to see that focus is not awareness, and exactly how that happens.

When center and periphery become balanced, equanimity ensues. Then attention becomes very wide, and the sense of focus becomes very panoramic / all inclusive. Then the practice should shift to noticing things that still appear to be in the background. At that stage it will be things like sense of space, sense of watching something, sense of the passage of time, etc. When everything is included and nothing is left, there will be a flip, which is fruition.

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/16/17 4:10 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Thanks a lot, Bruno, very helpful. 

On a related note, there's a book by Les Fermi, Open Focus Brain. As far as I recall, he says, based on his biofedback research, that attention has four basic characteristics, it can be wide, narrow, inclusive (i.e., when you are one with the object of attention) and exclusive (i.e., where there's a clear subject-object split) (maybe he used different terms, but the point is the same). The most healthy, relaxing, stress-reducing and even healing combination is inclusive-wide attention. Basically, you don't create a split between observer and observed, and your attention is totally unfocused, or spread almost eqaully on all that's within your awareness. He suggest some excercises and tapes to train this type of attention. When one stays in this state, they really feel relaxed and their stress level notably diminishes. 

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/16/17 6:40 AM as a reply to Alex Smith.
Yes that makes sense to me, actually.

It also seems to me, at the moment, that the very sense of focus is a fabrication, and that it will ultimately dissappear at or near the culmination of the path.

RE: Wierd tensions
Answer
2/16/17 6:57 AM as a reply to Alex Smith.
tensions are your new face, it doesn't fit into your current one. You need to become more flexible, and try to move awareness to different spot but without violating rules, you can't disconnect or get out of the scenario way like quiting practice or willfully just almost randomly(well maybe its what fors, but wyou get the point ..) move awareness to another point, because when you start again you reach the same point of change again, you just don't know how to pass it. Ofcourse you can take your time off and rest too, and also fail.

For example i had lots of trouble with teeth, but i get pass that point now before they start get hurt alot. When i was stuck it sped up the karma of those teeth what were destinied to get broken went broken fast. Thats how i think now, if i get better understanding i change my view and get better explanations for things what happening.

This is whole science how to move from one point to another. A tension in particular part in face can mean you need to use legs to pass that point, but it is particular area in legs..gotta unlock point and function one at a time, go through changes and get imbeded them into your beying take next point etc. Something like that.

You can read on those things on books, telling you something how to solve issues.

you see a crow on particular day or hear dog barking, can mean something and it really means, but ignorance is too big yet to make something out of it.

just encouranging here!