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Tension settles when sensetions intensify

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Hello there !
I have noticed that a lot of times when I practice metta, while focusing on the phrases and the pleasant sensations, i suddenty realise that my upper back got very tense. It relaxes when i notice it, but then again i end up tense and do it all over again. It also happens when I only focus on my breathing and I start feeling more relaxed. I don't notice how the tension start ofrming up, onlty when it's already very tense and i don't know for how long it's been like that.
This morning I was thinking about something I am really greatful for in my life and a very pleasant feeling arised, which got stopped out by the same kind of tension.
It seems like everytime sensation get more intense, be them pleasant or unplesant, I tend to block them by doing this.
Any tips on how to deal with this and how to let things manifest as they are would be super welcome!

RE: Tension settles when sensetions intensify
Answer
9/1/18 10:29 AM as a reply to puzzledpanda.
Hi puzzledpanda! If your posture and general health are fine, then I would assume this is just another distraction to note and release. 

Not sure if this will help, but in Josh Waitzkin's book "The Art of Learning," he talks about how a song would play incessantly in his head while he was playing chess. It destroyed his focus, and he struggled to chase the song out of his head. That simply made things worse, so he learned to roll with it and make his thoughts follow the beat of the song, kind of dancing with it rather than struggling against it. Though the book is mostly about chess and his subsequent martial arts career, I found it really helpful for my meditation practice.

To me it sounds like you're in a similar situation where your brain is trying to tug you in a different direction, and addressing it head-on isn't helping. With this in mind, what if rather than focusing on those unpleasant sensations, you soften your attention to it a bit and let things move to the pulse of that pressure, if that makes sense. 

Just a thought!

RE: Tension settles when sensetions intensify
Answer
9/2/18 12:49 PM as a reply to puzzledpanda.
I can't tell you how many times I have been driven insane by:

- tensions that crop up randomly
- relaxations that crop up randomly
- successfully being able to relax something and then find that it just creates another tension
- the lingering question of "is it really tense/relaxed, or does it just feel that way because I'm thinking about it right now?"
- the lingering question of "is it my thinking itself that is creating the tension/relaxation?"
- the feeling that I should be able to control all of this much better
- noticing myself trying to relax/tense something even though I resolved to refrain from doing so
- the frustration that results from reading books on anatomy and either finding that I can't make my experience match the simple diagram, or possibly feeling that I must have some serious physical problem
- hearing other people say "just relax" or "just let the tension go" or "just do what feels good" or "just accept what's happening"

puzzledpanda:

Any tips on how to deal with this and how to let things manifest as they are would be super welcome!


So, here are some questions that I've asked myself which have seemed to be fruitful (These are not intellectual questions meant to be theorized about. They are intended to prompt investigation into my actual physical behavior and sensations):

1. Am I not currently letting things manifest as they are? How do I know this?
2. If I know that I am doing something to get in the way, why don't I just stop doing it?
3. Am I sure that I am willing to investigate both the pleasure and the tension, or is only one of them acceptable?
4. How do I know there is tension? Why do I say one part of my body is tense, but the surrounding parts aren't?
5. What if I really let myself relax/tense? What would that say about me as a person? What sensations show up when I think about that?
6. Is the tension a solid object? If I look at it twice, is there any new detail I can possibly notice about it the second time? How about 3 times?
7. Is there anything that seems to habitually pull my attention away every time I try investigating this issue?

RE: Tension settles when sensetions intensify
Answer
9/2/18 2:53 PM as a reply to spatial.
Odd tensions common result from an early meditation stage called the Three Characteristics, aka the third ñana.

For many, it invovles what is called "hard pain", no idea why, but it does. This can involve various muscle spasms in the jaw, face, neck, upper back, psoas muscles, shoulders, and sometimes other places. It can involve the sense that energy is blocked, that we are stuck, and it can get worse as we practice more. It can be a very unpleasant stage, and sometimes also involve dark, heavy emotions as well.

It is a common time for people to get interested in stretching, yoga, body work, massage, tai chi, and the like.

The next stage, which comes when we learn to relax and drop a lot of the effort and let practice do itself, is the early A&P, which can involve great posture, much less pain, bliss, ease, and the like, and is worth reading up on for its wide range of presentation.