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Tension around throat - guidance needed

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Hello
For some time now, I noticed that my throat seems to have an unlimited amount of tension. when I sit down, I spend a good chunk of my time noting this area. I came to realize that every time I note, or more accurate, every time I mentally verbalize, there’s a physical pulse sensation around the throat. This doesn’t happen when thoughts whiz by, those are usually up there around the head. But whenever I am reading something, saying something out loud or in my head, there’s this pulse. So when I note the tension around my throat, I create more tension.

This got me thinking. Am I really noting the sensations that arise? When I note a sensation in my head, the note seems to go to the throat, instead of the head. So today I tried ‘throwing’ the note to where the sensation is and that seems to be helping a bit.

Another thing, it seems to me like attention has a ‘resting’ spot, and for me that seems to be the throat. This might have something to do with being a smoker/drinker for 9 years, habitually telling lies for most of my life, excessive reading as a teenager, I have no clue. But there’s always tension around my throat, more than any other part on the body.

Anyone have any insights into any of this? Is this making sense?

My next steps is to notice where the actual label is manifesting when I note sensations. For example, if I put my attention on my right temple, and say ‘temple’, there’s no throat pulse.

If I'm noting the rise/fall of abdomen, the labels 'rising' and 'falling' should be there at the abdomen, not around the throat, or head, correct?

Anyone have any practices related to lessening tension around the throat? 

Thanks, all the best, 
ham

RE: Tension around throat - guidance needed
Answer
7/31/18 6:54 AM as a reply to ham.
ham:
 So when I note the tension around my throat, I create more tension.


This does sound a little like a period I went through. At the time, I was practicing with attention at the nosetip and it was making me hypersalivate and get all twitchy in the mouth/throat area. Increased awareness just made it worse and I kept feeling the need to swallow, which was distracting. I switched to using a broader area of attention in a different part of the body (postural sensations along the spine) and eventually the tension and drooling worked itself out and subsided on its own. It sounds like you are already doing something like this and it is helping.

I've done minimal verbal noting so won't comment on that, but for me applying mental labels at the location of sensations has worked well.

RE: Tension around throat - guidance needed
Answer
7/31/18 12:47 PM as a reply to ham.
A few things I've tried on blockages and tensions in the body, results may vary:  

1. Drop any willful noting. Widen the space of awareness around the tension. Lightly expand and hold the tension in space for a while and see where that gets you. Try and notice where the tension ends, if anywhere. What are the boundaries of it? 

2. Change your object of meditation. I've recently moved to using the abdomen as using the breath at the nostrils kept increasing the sense of pressure and blockage in the skull region. You could try out different chakra centers or something else.  

3. Do some energy work with the tension. Get yourself into a solid state of concentration. Ask the tension what it wants to show you, what, if anything, it's hiding. Direct metta at it, soothe it, show it compassion and love. Let it know that you won't judge or shame it and that it's free to speak openly. Really feel into this and be truthful about it. See what happens-- what memories, images and sensations come up. Be careful with this one!

RE: Tension around throat - guidance needed
Answer
8/1/18 10:44 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
ham:
 So when I note the tension around my throat, I create more tension.


This does sound a little like a period I went through. At the time, I was practicing with attention at the nosetip and it was making me hypersalivate and get all twitchy in the mouth/throat area. Increased awareness just made it worse and I kept feeling the need to swallow, which was distracting. I switched to using a broader area of attention in a different part of the body (postural sensations along the spine) and eventually the tension and drooling worked itself out and subsided on its own. It sounds like you are already doing something like this and it is helping.

I've done minimal verbal noting so won't comment on that, but for me applying mental labels at the location of sensations has worked well.

Yea! Very similar to me when I used the nostrils as the object for concentration. Not sure what I did but I no longer have a salivating problem. 

So when you apply the label at the location, how does that go for you? It's not a visualization correct?

How about attention having a 'resting' spot, what do you think of that? Like, when I stop typing just now, attention seems to center around throat area...I don't know. 

Thanks for chiming in.

RE: Tension around throat - guidance needed
Answer
8/1/18 10:47 PM as a reply to Zachary.
Zachary:
A few things I've tried on blockages and tensions in the body, results may vary:  

1. Drop any willful noting. Widen the space of awareness around the tension. Lightly expand and hold the tension in space for a while and see where that gets you. Try and notice where the tension ends, if anywhere. What are the boundaries of it? 

2. Change your object of meditation. I've recently moved to using the abdomen as using the breath at the nostrils kept increasing the sense of pressure and blockage in the skull region. You could try out different chakra centers or something else.  

3. Do some energy work with the tension. Get yourself into a solid state of concentration. Ask the tension what it wants to show you, what, if anything, it's hiding. Direct metta at it, soothe it, show it compassion and love. Let it know that you won't judge or shame it and that it's free to speak openly. Really feel into this and be truthful about it. See what happens-- what memories, images and sensations come up. Be careful with this one!

Love your suggestions, will give them a go. 

Thanks!

RE: Tension around throat - guidance needed
Answer
8/2/18 1:23 AM as a reply to ham.
I also tend to have a lot of tension around the throat, and a voice that too often tends to constrict itself. So I'll just offer up what works for me

One aspect of it has to do with holding back things I want to say, or even just holding back emotions. Might be worth trying to note the emotional tone-sensation of your voice when speaking, both inner voice to yourself or inner conversations, or actual speaking. Note if there is a tendency for the voice to have a tone that carries sadness or anger and so on.

Something I do sometimes related to this is to close my eyes and imagine that if I could spontaneously emanate any sound right now, what would come easiest? And often I start hearing screaming and shouting. And without actually doing any screaming, I'll allow a sort of internal natural sub-vocal screaming session to happen for 10-20 seconds. And then it'll go away and my voice will feel open again.

I definitely think you're onto something with the lying aspect. Its really worth spending time giving the voice over to only wholesome vibrations and expressions. Chanting can be really good for this. To give the voice 10 or 20 or however many minutes of only expressing something entirely decent both in meaning and in emotional tone. Just a really basic Om, om, om or Om Ah Hung over and over can be really good for the throat physically, even if there isn't really an emotional blockage for you. Or chanting pali suttas or aspirations or mantras etc can be really helpful. I used to be really afraid of singing etc, and pali chanting has helped a lot.

Another throat exercise i learned from a "sound-yoga" teacher was to stand upright and relaxed, and to vocally project each of the 5 syllables in turn, for as long as possible. So you'd say AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Then on the next breath, youd' say EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

going through IIIIIII OOOOOOO and UUUUUUUUUU

afterwards my throat would be very open and doing this as a practice every morning for a round or 3 rounds was very helpful. In some spiritual traditions the sounds have a sacred vibrational aspect and so going through them like that can have a purifying effect

It could also be that you are holding back things that need to be said/expressed so its worth taking a look at recurring thoughts in that area and writing/speaking them to yourself or someone else



Everything in the body is connected so its also worth looking at if youre diet is causing excess phlegm in that area (milk etc?), and to your overall body posture (not just neck) etc.

Yes rising/falling labels should be on the abdomen as a measure of the breath

Is any of that useful? Hope you find something that works, good luck

RE: Tension around throat - guidance needed
Answer
8/2/18 6:17 AM as a reply to ham.
ham:
Andromeda:
ham:
 So when I note the tension around my throat, I create more tension.


This does sound a little like a period I went through. At the time, I was practicing with attention at the nosetip and it was making me hypersalivate and get all twitchy in the mouth/throat area. Increased awareness just made it worse and I kept feeling the need to swallow, which was distracting. I switched to using a broader area of attention in a different part of the body (postural sensations along the spine) and eventually the tension and drooling worked itself out and subsided on its own. It sounds like you are already doing something like this and it is helping.

I've done minimal verbal noting so won't comment on that, but for me applying mental labels at the location of sensations has worked well.

Yea! Very similar to me when I used the nostrils as the object for concentration. Not sure what I did but I no longer have a salivating problem. 

So when you apply the label at the location, how does that go for you? It's not a visualization correct?

How about attention having a 'resting' spot, what do you think of that? Like, when I stop typing just now, attention seems to center around throat area...I don't know. 

Thanks for chiming in.
Here's where my experience may be quite different from yours, as I'm wired a bit funny. I've always had synesthesia, primarily audio-tactile, so I feel sound and my sense of space is quite spread out and mapped in a sort of audio-tactile way, if that makes any sense at all. It probably sounds bizarre, but I thought that was how everyone experienced the world until I was an adult and I still don't totally get what the usual "normal" is. But from what I understand, it is pretty typical for most people to have a "resting spot" for attention in the region of the head/throat, at least until they reach a critical mass of vipassana and that changes. So much on the perceptual front has changed for me with practice, but I don't recall ever having a center point in that particular way. Someone else can probably do a better job of explaining this.

So for applying mental labels, for example, I use that extended tactile sense to "touch" a perception wherever it is. But for insight practice mostly I've just used bare awareness as adding anything seems to slow things down and add an unnecessary clunkiness. I only learned of noting after practicing with other insight techniques, so am not the best person to ask. 

I do now recall reading something about throat chakra issues and lying in some yoga book--I think it was Anodea Judith's Eastern Body Western Mind, but I'll have to dig it out. That book made me feel like a total hippie for reading it, but there was a lot of good stuff in it.

RE: Tension around throat - guidance needed
Answer
8/5/18 10:56 PM as a reply to Andrew S.
Thanks man! 

Very helpful, what you wrote struck a chord. I started doing some of the 'sound yoga', and I think it's a step in the right direction. 

Any recommendations for getting started with some chanting?

RE: Tension around throat - guidance needed
Answer
8/6/18 3:01 AM as a reply to ham.
Great, glad its helpful!

I think for chanting its best to find something that is meaningful to you even if just in a minor way, or at least has an aesthetic appeal.

If you are into Theravada Buddhism, you can't go wrong with the classic "Namo Tassa Bhagawato, Arahato, Sammasambuddhasa" (homage to the buddha / aspiration to become a buddha). And the refuge in Triple Gem "Buddham Saranam Gacchami", "Dhammam Saranam Gachami" "Sangham Saranam Gachami" each done three times usually. Reciting the precepts in Pali has its own power too. Metta chant is good too.

Then there's the Buddhavandana, Dhammavandana and Sanghavandana which you may have heard before. There seems to be a big difference in how the indians do it compared to how its done in countries that still have a Theravada tradition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwwc-hO_88k The melody/rhythm is always different so be sure to check for one that is suitable. Memorising them intellectually can be boring but if you practice following along then within a few days your muscle memory will automatically know what to say.

You can find some great Pali chants here. Metta sutta is a good one too https://www.satipanya.org.uk/chanting/


If you like Vajrayana, there is the good old Om Mani Pad Me Hung https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztkmSCsrD80
It doesn't have to be sung with this melody either and is traditionally done recited 108 times with prayer beads, which can take maybe half an hour depending on your speed. I went through quite a big throat-energetic-release after doing this everyday for a month or so. This is Chenrezig's mantra (Chenrezig is a deity that symbolises Compassion). On a practical level its easy to understand how having the voice spend so much time just saying positive meanings/sounds can have a suitable effect regardless of higher explanations.

Om Ah Hung and also Om Ah Hung Vajra Guru Pema Siddhi Hung
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOFFsqoo-Fc

good luck!

RE: Tension around throat - guidance needed
Answer
8/15/18 5:38 PM as a reply to ham.
I recommend Your Breathing Body (https://www.amazon.com/Your-Breathing-Body-Reginald-Ray/dp/1591796598) as a general-purpose resource for releasing tension. These are my primary practices right now, including the techniques on this page: https://www.dharmaocean.org/meditation/learn-to-meditate/learn-to-meditate-foundational-practices/. I'm using them to work through various blockages, including throat tension similar to what has been described in this thread.

As I have mentioned in other threads, you may benefit from a body-oriented form of trauma therapy like EMDR, somatic experiencing, Feldenkrais, Hakomi, or Rolfing. Fellow DhO user Noah and I both had a lot of success with EMDR therapy.

If you're able to do so discreetly, you can go somewhere you won't be heard and actually let yourself yell and scream if that reaction wants to come out. I would imagine that most people in our society have at least some unprocessed frustration & anger. This can be a really powerful way to release those emotions, just as letting yourself cry is sometimes necessary to release grief.

RE: Tension around throat - guidance needed
Answer
8/16/18 2:29 PM as a reply to ham.
This won't be super helpful because I don't have any advice, per se, but I will say "me too". There was a period of time when every time I sat I would get this super tight constriction in my throat, like I could not swallow at all. I know there is talk of blockages, and chakras, and as the saying goes, "I never believed they were true until it happened to me". I cannot recall, now, how I got past it, but it wasn't anything super heroic, just sitting. And after a few weeks it passed. It was literally like a blockage opened up, and I have never had it since. That has been a number of years now.