What are these strange feelings during meditation?
Meditation is a deep sense of relaxation of both the physical and mental elements of your body and being. Therefore it is not uncommon to experience some unusual sensations during the process. However, it can leave some people feeling a little unsettled particularly if they experience something that they weren’t expecting to. Meditation should be a positive experience and therefore this article aims to talk about some of the more common questions and sensations that people might feel. These are all normal and part of the process, so if you are experiencing any of these rest assured that your mediation is working well – so relax and enjoy the process!
What you can expect
Although there are a variety of sensations that you can experience during meditation, in reality, only four things can happen during meditation:
You have awareness of your mantra or the focus of your meditation.
You experience thoughts or sensations.
You fall asleep.
You enter the stillness between thoughts, commonly referred to as “the gap.”
You can be reassured that meditation is always healing and that your body takes exactly what it needs from your practice. When you notice that your attention has drifted from your mantra to a thought in your mind or to a sensation in your body, gently return your attention to the repetition of your mantra. If you fall asleep, it’s because you were tired and needed to rest. If it happens a lot, you’re probably overtired and need to get more sleep at night.
When you enter the silence between thoughts, you won’t actually realize it until after you have drifted back out of the gap. There are no thoughts in the gap – just pure consciousness or restful awareness, so you can only have the realization that you were in the gap once you are leaving it. This gentle drifting between thought and silence is a natural part of the meditation process. We don’t try to get rid of thoughts or do anything with them, for that only creates more mental turbulence. Instead, you just keep returning your attention to the mantra. As you meditate on a regular basis, cultivating inner quiet, the time you spend in the gap during meditation will increase.
Whirling and disorientation
Question: I meditate regularly twice per day for twenty minutes each time. Sometimes during meditation I feel that I don’t have a sense of the position of my physical body. I don’t have a sense of whether I’m upside down or upright, and I feel like I’m whirling or moving in an anti-clockwise direction on a spiral. Could you help me understand what is happening?
It’s always a good idea to get a thorough physical exam if you continue to experience a whirling sensation while sitting. Once you have ruled out any organic physical problem, then you should know that such temporary feelings of displacement or disorientation are not uncommon as the body heals various traumas in the senses. Usually it doesn’t last for more than a moment or so. If it persists and is uncomfortable, then stop repeating your mantra and open your eyes. After you have regained equilibrium, you can restart the mantra. Once the underlying stress has been released, your normal sense of balance and ease will return.
Feelings of nausea and heat
Question: I was meditating this evening when all of sudden after about twenty-eight minutes, a huge wave of nausea and heat overcame me. I came out of meditation to take some deep breaths and lean forward, and then the nausea went away. My question is, should I have continued the meditation by assuming this was just another feeling . . . or should I have done what I did?
You handled it correctly. When a sensation is so strong that it becomes difficult to continue meditating easily, then coming out to attend to the sensation until it subsides is appropriate. When the feelings are not so strong, then you can treat them like any other thought that comes up in meditation and easily go back to the mantra. But in your case, you said the nausea and heat overcame you, so in such a situation you shouldn’t try to force your mind to go back to the mantra when it is so completely caught up in that physical release process. By stopping the mantra, breathing all the way into the sensation, and being with it until it went away, you did the right thing.
Pain in the upper body
Question: Last year I learnt the Primordial Sound Meditation and since that time I have been meditating every morning and evening. Recently I’ve had a lot of head, shoulder, and back pains. During the meditation the pains are stronger and my shoulders and arms become heavy. When I feel this, I can’t relax myself. Is this quite normal or is there something wrong in my meditation technique?
Sometimes we can experience joint and muscular pain in meditation as the deep trauma from the past is being released. It doesn’t mean you are meditating incorrectly. On the contrary, it means that your practice is effective and correct because you are healing the old conditioning very quickly.
Just continue meditating effortlessly and not minding the physical release process too much. It will end when the stored stresses have been cleared away. It should help to do some yoga asanas before and after meditation as well to help assist the body to let go of the old pain. Additionally, try to get a massage once a week and soak in a bath with Epsom salts every day until the discomfort diminishes significantly.
Feeling expansive and tilting
Question: Sometimes when I meditate I experience a feeling of “growing” really big and tall, like I’m filling up the whole room or sitting just below the ceiling. Sometimes I also feel like I’m leaning as much as 45 degrees to the right but my body really is straight up. What’s happening when I get these strange feelings?
These experiences are quite common in meditators. As awareness becomes more refined and abstract, it is as if the spatial boundaries and orientation of the body can feel distended or distorted. So we might feel very tall or massive or tilted or turned. Sometimes people report that their body feels incredibly dense and foreign to them. These are all normal meditation sensations as a consequence of the mind experiencing more subtle realms of thought.
“Twitching” during meditation
Question: The past few months I have been experiencing an unusual amount of “twitching” during meditation. Coincidentally, for the past few months I have also been a volunteer Reiki specialist in the advanced cancer ward at a hospital. After my shift at the hospital I generally find that I need to go sit by a tree or something in order to help clear the energy. I was wondering if you thought the twitching could be related to my healing work and if you might have some suggestions for other ways to help clear this energy. I miss my more peaceful and bliss filled meditation time but believe the healing is important work and plan to continue.
Twitching or other physical movements during meditation are commonplace when the body is releasing more intense conditioning or stress. It’s possible that this release
process is connected to the extra stress burden you have now with your hospital work, but it may also be unrelated to it. There’s no way to know for sure. Either way, it is nothing to worry about. The important thing is that you are clearing it, and not storing it.Spending time in natural surroundings after your hospital work is a good way to help release the stress and tension you are picking up in the cancer ward. Regardless of the
source of the twitching during meditation, whatever you can do to relax will facilitate the release process. Long walks, deep breathing, talking with friends, yoga asanas, watching funny movies, and warm baths are just a few of the practices that people have found to be helpful. Do the things that help you unwind and relax, and that will smooth out your meditation.