Chest tension during meditation

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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wingsofwax
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Chest tension during meditation

Post by wingsofwax » Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:24 am

I am experiencing tension and pain in the solar plexus area when meditating. It seems to be related to my breathing. I try to simply observe the breath, but the chest feels tight and after a while, it gets painful. The problem seems to come and go.

I suspect that this problem is somehow related to some fear or anxiety that I am not fully aware of. The pain certainly is accompanied by frustration and some anxiety.

How should I handle this? Thank you.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:57 am

It's very easy to switch from observing the breath to controlling it, and controlling it will introduce all sorts of tensions ("Am I doing it right?", "I must slow this down," etc)
If you're observing, try not to be at all judgemental. Let your body do what it wants. Watch it as though it's something someone else was doing, something you're not in any way responsible for.

:namaste:
Kim

wingsofwax
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by wingsofwax » Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:52 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:57 am
It's very easy to switch from observing the breath to controlling it, and controlling it will introduce all sorts of tensions ("Am I doing it right?", "I must slow this down," etc)
If you're observing, try not to be at all judgemental. Let your body do what it wants. Watch it as though it's something someone else was doing, something you're not in any way responsible for.
I think you're right on the money. I am probably trying to control the breath instead of simply observing. I will take a closer look.

Thank you.

Domeniko
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by Domeniko » Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:53 pm

I also felt a lot of tension in my chest, when I first started meditating. You might want to try doing some metta meditation. At least that's what helped relive some of that tension. You might also want to try actively relaxing any spots of tension, that you feel in your body. You can also foucs on other parts of your body. I start my meditation by focusing my attention on the sensations, that I am feeling in my arms. From that point, I slowly and carefully expand my awareness to other parts of my body. Since I have been using that technique, my meditation has become much more comfortable.

I guess the best thing is to try stuff out and see what works for you and what doesn't.

wingsofwax
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by wingsofwax » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:48 am

Domeniko wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:53 pm
I also felt a lot of tension in my chest, when I first started meditating. You might want to try doing some metta meditation. At least that's what helped relive some of that tension. You might also want to try actively relaxing any spots of tension, that you feel in your body. You can also foucs on other parts of your body. I start my meditation by focusing my attention on the sensations, that I am feeling in my arms. From that point, I slowly and carefully expand my awareness to other parts of my body. Since I have been using that technique, my meditation has become much more comfortable.
Yes, that is good advice. I will focus more on body relaxation and see where it brings me.

I'd be happy to hear from more people who've had this issue.

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LG2V
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by LG2V » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:45 pm

Mahasi-style insight meditation, with a specific focus on noting the sensations in the region, may help.

A natural supplement to help blood-flow, such as arginine or hawthorne, might help. Fish oil might do the trick, too. And they're super cheap.

I used to have chest pains for a while. It sucks. Changing my posture and shifting my focus to another part of my body during meditation, in addition to the methods above, helped improve things.
Here are some excellent sites for giving free Dana (Click-Based Donation):
http://freerice.comhttp://greatergood.com/www.ripple.orgwww.thenonprofits.com

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Kim OHara
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by Kim OHara » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:36 pm

LG2V wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:45 pm
A natural supplement to help blood-flow, such as arginine or hawthorne, might help. Fish oil might do the trick, too. And they're super cheap. ...
No.
Just no.
Firstly because you're trying to fix a short-term situational mental problem with a long-term physical treatment, secondly because the treatments you suggest don't target the problem, and thirdly because they are of very dubious effectiveness even for the problem they are supposed to fix.

:namaste:
Kim

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LG2V
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by LG2V » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:53 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:36 pm
No.
Just no.
Firstly because you're trying to fix a short-term situational mental problem with a long-term physical treatment, secondly because the treatments you suggest don't target the problem, and thirdly because they are of very dubious effectiveness even for the problem they are supposed to fix.

:namaste:
Kim


I respectfully disagree. I've worked in a health store, and these things work just fine. Arginine is a naturally occurring amino acid, and hawthorn is a fairly common berry. They're safe, and I've gotten enough good reviews from customers about arginie to feel safe recommending it. Hawthorne is a centuries-old herbal remedy that I've tried myself. There are probably jellybeans that are more dangerous.

He or she doesn't have to take these indefinitely. That's the great part about supplements. It can be used to clear a temporary hurdle, maybe just for a few weeks or a month. I don't like long-term medication, and I'd try to stay away from it myself.

I'm from a different school of thought. As long as it doesn't obscure mindfulness or mental strength (like marijuana or other drugs), then it seems fine to use natural remedies as a physical base to encourage optimal meditation.
Here are some excellent sites for giving free Dana (Click-Based Donation):
http://freerice.comhttp://greatergood.com/www.ripple.orgwww.thenonprofits.com

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Kim OHara
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:05 am

LG2V wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:53 pm
Kim OHara wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:36 pm
No.
Just no.
Firstly because you're trying to fix a short-term situational mental problem with a long-term physical treatment, secondly because the treatments you suggest don't target the problem, and thirdly because they are of very dubious effectiveness even for the problem they are supposed to fix.

:namaste:
Kim


I respectfully disagree. I've worked in a health store, and these things work just fine. Arginine is a naturally occurring amino acid, and hawthorn is a fairly common berry. They're safe, and I've gotten enough good reviews from customers about arginie to feel safe recommending it. Hawthorne is a centuries-old herbal remedy that I've tried myself. There are probably jellybeans that are more dangerous.

He or she doesn't have to take these indefinitely. That's the great part about supplements. It can be used to clear a temporary hurdle, maybe just for a few weeks or a month. I don't like long-term medication, and I'd try to stay away from it myself.

I'm from a different school of thought. As long as it doesn't obscure mindfulness or mental strength (like marijuana or other drugs), then it seems fine to use natural remedies as a physical base to encourage optimal meditation.
That's an answer to one of my three objections. Responding to it adequately would drag the thread OT so I will just suggest we move right along.

:namaste:
Kim

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bradyt112
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by bradyt112 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:32 pm

Domeniko wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:53 pm
You might also want to try actively relaxing any spots of tension, that you feel in your body. You can also foucs on other parts of your body. I start my meditation by focusing my attention on the sensations, that I am feeling in my arms. From that point, I slowly and carefully expand my awareness to other parts of my body. Since I have been using that technique, my meditation has become much more comfortable.
I just wanted to drop in and say that relaxing points of tension that I put into my focus like you described has been indispensable in my meditation practice. I first heard about this trick in a Thanissaro guided meditation, I believe, and it has been absolutely revolutionary for me. Another thing I like to do is go through the major parts of the body two or maybe three times to make sure that I got all of the tension out as a base before I do anything else.

I usually work in a pretty systematic pattern. I focus on the nine quadrants in the core from bottom to top, from the shoulder, slowly down each arm to the hands, then to the pelvis and slowly down the legs to the feet. Then I focus on my spine, neck, and head last. I find that the most relaxing part of this for me is when I put my focus on my head. As I do this, I imagine I am breathing through this part of the body rather than through my nose. In addition to relaxing my body, I feel like it also increases my awareness and attention span for some reason. And as I go through each point, I kind of automatically take note of the qualities of the tension or pain and if the feeling is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. It’s probably not absolutely necessary to do all of this, but it helps me a lot!
There's no fire like passion,
no loss like anger,
no pain like the aggregates,
no ease other than peace.

-Dhp 202

Caodemarte
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:46 pm

bradyt112 wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:32 pm
.....I just wanted to drop in and say that relaxing points of tension that I put into my focus like you described has been indispensable in my meditation practice. I first heard about this trick in a Thanissaro guided meditation, I believe, and it has been absolutely revolutionary for me. Another thing I like to do is go through the major parts of the body two or maybe three times to make sure that I got all of the tension out as a base before I do anything else.

I usually work in a pretty systematic pattern. I focus on the nine quadrants in the core from bottom to top, from the shoulder, slowly down each arm to the hands, then to the pelvis and slowly down the legs to the feet. Then I focus on my spine, neck, and head last. I find that the most relaxing part of this for me is when I put my focus on my head. As I do this, I imagine I am breathing through this part of the body rather than through my nose. In addition to relaxing my body, I feel like it also increases my awareness and attention span for some reason. And as I go through each point, I kind of automatically take note of the qualities of the tension or pain and if the feeling is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. It’s probably not absolutely necessary to do all of this, but it helps me a lot!
Thanks. Not the OP, but I will try to incorporate your good help.

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bradyt112
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by bradyt112 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:25 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:46 pm
Thanks. Not the OP, but I will try to incorporate your good help.
Of course! Also, here’s a link to the guided meditations I mentioned earlier if you’re interested.

https://www.dhammatalks.org/mp3_guidedMed_index.html
There's no fire like passion,
no loss like anger,
no pain like the aggregates,
no ease other than peace.

-Dhp 202

Caodemarte
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Re: Chest tension during meditation

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:29 pm

Thanks!

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