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Thread: Pain during zazen but not the kind you'd think

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  1. #1

    Pain during zazen but not the kind you'd think

    I have recently had difficulty when doing any type of meditation. I get these symptoms ether on their own or sometimes in concert:

    *headache (right in the middle of my forehead)
    *pain in the left side of my chest
    *pain in my lower jaw

    I am not sure what I have done or doing to cause this but it has really made sitting difficult for me. I have been trying to sit with it but I am becoming progressively worried.

    any ideas ?

    --Washu
    和 Harmony
    秀 Excellence

    "Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body" George Carlin Roshi

  2. #2
    Hello Justin,

    That happens to me sometimes (the headache, not the other), and most of the time I'm holding a fair bit of tension somewhere. When the pain gets too overpowering to "sit with" I do a quick "body scan" (a-la-Satipatthana), find which muscles I've got tensed up, and focus on relaxing them for a few seconds. That usually clears things up.

    Hope this helps!

    In Gassho,

    Saijun
    To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

  3. #3
    I get a lot of tension in my upper back... when I'm not sitting properly... or when I hold tension. I tend to hold my stress right there. So when I actually sit properly at the end of the day (I have been sitting after work lately), my body just aches. But like Saijun said, it goes away if I can just relax.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by threethirty View Post
    I have recently had difficulty when doing any type of meditation. I get these symptoms ether on their own or sometimes in concert:

    *headache (right in the middle of my forehead)
    *pain in the left side of my chest
    *pain in my lower jaw

    I am not sure what I have done or doing to cause this but it has really made sitting difficult for me. I have been trying to sit with it but I am becoming progressively worried.

    any ideas ?

    Hi,

    I would assume that you are somehow holding the teeth, jaw, head or neck too tight and strained, or otherwise sitting with too much rigidity in the whole body.

    In what position are you sitting? Is it comfortable, and does it feel balanced and unstrained to sit that way?

    Reminds me of that old joke ...

    A man says to a doctor, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this."

    The doctor responds, "Don't do that."


    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    I sit in either quarter lotus (you know that "half lotus" that people do when they cant get the foot to the thigh), Burmese, or Seiza. I have this happen even during insta-zazen.

    I will try not being so rigid. Thanks for the input

    --Washu
    和 Harmony
    秀 Excellence

    "Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body" George Carlin Roshi

  6. #6
    Even during Insta-Zazen, standing in the grocery line or sitting in the barbers' chair? Hmmm. Now that's strange.

    Are you sitting on a Zafu? Are your knees flat on the ground, not hanging in the air?

    I would try the old trick of mentally relaxing the tension in the muscles in various parts of the body for a few moments at the start of sitting, or when these symptoms appear. For example, feel the muscles in the jaw relax, the face, forehead, neck, shoulders, back. Then, return to Just Sitting.

    See if that does the trick.

    Beyond that, take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Hi Threethirty

    In a nutshell: The core of Alexander Technique is the following: most pains unless they arise out of serious conditions ( that s why it is always a good idea to see your GP ) come from misuse. Trying to relax won t do and will induce further tensions. You need to apply directions and if nothing is medicaly wrong with you head to the closest Alexander Technique teacher.
    Mark my words and I dont give a s.... About people mocking the Technique: many Zen practionners and priests are now discovering its precious message.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  8. #8
    Hi Taigu,

    In addition to Chodo Cross, I have come across the names recently of several Soto Zen teachers who also teach or practice the Alexander Technique ... including Issho Fujita of the Sawaki-Uchiyama Line (who explains how it informs his Zen Practice here) ...

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q...i1cY7wsQiE1JdA

    Jisen Coghlan who is an heir of Kyoki Roberts ...
    http://citydharma.wordpress.com/author/jisen3/

    and (I believe) Koun Franz ...

    and classes seem to offered at several other Zen Centers, such as this at San Francisco Zen Center by Myozen Joan Amaral ...
    http://www.sfzc.org/cc/display.asp?c...28&pageid=2214
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-16-2012 at 04:36 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    I had no idea the Alexander Technique existed.

    I will have to do some research. Looks pretty interesting.

    Thank you for putting this on the radar, Taigu.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  10. #10
    Taigu has a point!

    It's amazing sometimes to see how difficult it is to relax. Doctors face this problem all the time when they need to examine someone's reflexes or palpate their abdomen. The patient says he is completely relaxed but his arm or leg is still held up in the air... Those few who do know how to relax their bodies seem to do it by simultaneously calming their mind. I would say this relaxation/calming always includes letting go of control and never just a mental effort. The effort, trying to force relaxation through willpower, causes both body and mind to tighten up and contract. Instead, we need to give the body-mind space, lots of space, and not try to control it (Galen, look up the passage about the cows in ZMBM! ).

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
    you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
    now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
    the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Even during Insta-Zazen, standing in the grocery line or sitting in the barbers' chair? Hmmm. Now that's strange.
    Yup, I agree, strange!

    Perhaps you have these pains at other times too, but distract yourself with activities so that you don't notice? Sometimes when I sit and all distractions disappear, I notice things that I hadn't been aware of before.

    Pain in the forehead could have many causes. Perhaps you suffer from bruxism? Are your masseter muscles tender? That would explain both jaw pain and forehead pain. So would a dental infection or sinusitis. So would clenching the jaw and creasing your forehead because of too much tension. Don't worry if your jaw drops a little while sitting. You don't have to force your jaws shut. There is also no need to keep your gaze fixed at some imaginary distant mountains. Eye problems can also cause pain around the forehead. Just let go of your eyes and let them do whatever they wish. Don't force them.

    Good luck!

    /Pontus
    In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
    you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
    now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
    the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

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