Dealing with intense head pressures

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    How do you some of you deal with intense head pressures? What techniques do you use to alleviate it? I have a tendency to feel a lot of head pressure either at the top of my head, my forehead, or in the center of my brain. It doesn’t always happen but seems to occur when I meditate more or when concentration increases.

    I’ve tried the following:
    -Meditating gently.
    -Bringing awareness to the spot and trying to relax and ease tension. Sometimes it makes it worse.
    -Tried noticing for any type of tenseness around my face, jaw, neck and relaxing them.
    -Tried “noting/labeling” the sensation.
    -Tried noticing the sensations more deeply, usually makes it worse.
    -Making my rise/fall of the belly my primary meditation object

    It gets more intense during retreats because of the back-to-back meditations.

    Any ideas?


    B Arnold

    Hi Peter,

    Can you elaborate on how you are “noticing the sensations more deeply”? What does this entail?

    Also, what do you do differently when you meditate “gently”?


    Bobby – Teacher In Training



    Hey B,

    When I say “noticing the sensations more deeply”, is just to continue to observe the sensation and try to see that the pressure is not solid, but broken up into smaller or finer subtler experiences. It was a suggestion that a teacher gave me. However, it just continues to stay dense and solid.

    When I say “gently” it’s just to imply that I’m not concentrating using force or trying really hard to solve or figure out some kind of problem. By “gently”, I just mean gentle awareness resting on the primary meditative object and an attempt to see the object with clarity.



    Michael Dunn

    Hello, Peter

    There are some known conditions in some traditions that are caused by wind imbalances of the subtle body that can lead to these sensations. I had this occur many times during my retreats appearing as a deep pressure/pain in between my ears, and though I don’t have a single solution to help in all cases here are some options. First of all, I would really need to know more about what you are experiencing so let’s start with a few questions.

    – I’m wondering if your head pressure leads to headaches too or if it stays at the level of pain-free sensation?

    – Off the cushion after your practice what happens to this pressure? Do you have any lingering issues post-meditation in your daily life (loss of sleep, higher anxiety)?

    – Is the condition stable or is it increasing with each time you practice?

    – Have you tried standard remedies such as an OTC pain reliever/anti-inflammatory and do you get relief from this? Have you tried other remedies such as homeopathy?

    In the short term, you can focus on a meditation object lower down in the body, say observing sensations of the breath at the abdomen, and use this as your object, not at the nose. This will lower your winds for your practice session away from the head.

    Walking meditations are great if you have wind disorders in the head, have you tried this – see the Appendix of the TMI book for details.





    Hi Michael,

    In general, it’s pain-free and does not lead to headaches. However, during my 10-day Goenka retreat, the pressures did get pretty intense and at times a bit concerning. But since the retreat early in Jan, they have not reached that level of intensity. Of course this was after I learned the various techniques to minimize the pressure.

    The pressure subsides off the cushion and does not affect daily life. As mentioned above though, during the retreat I felt the pressure pretty intensely when I was about to sleep. Ultimately it would subside the next day but start up again as a progressed with meditation throughout the day.

    It’s relatively stable considering I just do an hour a day. But it does increase when I practice multiple times a day.

    No, I don’t take Aspirin. I do take turmeric and fish oil to alleviate inflammation from lifting weights.

    Yes, I have found the abdomen to produce less pressure than the nose. However as concentration increases and the mind gets quiet and still, the pressures slowly begins. They do come and go on their own, but does increase as I meditate more frequently within a day.

    Yes, there’s no pressure when I perform walking meditation.

    I just brought this up because I have a 10-day Mahasi retreat coming up next week and wanted to see if there are ways to ease or counter the pressure.

    The pressure at the crown and forehead are okay and I can deal with it. It’s the one that’s in the center of the brain that makes me go, “ehh should I slow down a bit.”


    • This reply was modified 8 months, 2 weeks ago by  Peter.


    Hi Peter.
    I had the same problem for a long time. I had it as a “headband tension” that would start and increase during my meditation but would subside and disappear once I am off concentrated state.
    I am not entirely free from it now but below is what definitely helped me to start understanding this condition deeper and work it out.
    I had several notes related to it in my meditation diaries. I compiled (with some modifications) several of them.
    I hope it will help.

    When this symptom started I quickly noticed that the pressure rather quickly disappears when I stop meditation so I made an assumption that it must be related to “something that I bring with me” to the meditation, but it was awfully difficult to figure out what it is and how to work it out.
    The first signs of progress came when I started watching closely the moments when this headband tension would JUST BEGIN to accumulate.
    I found something unexpected: it was not just one reason that was bringing this physical manifestation of accumulated headband pressure. There was the whole bunch of problems that I was bringing with me to the meditation.
    This is what I noticed:

    1. I was trying to control.
    I actually noticed that I had another symptom that was going along with the headband pressure – I was losing my breath as well.
    The instruction sounded very simple: Make no attempt to control the breath. Just let the breath move naturally. Let go and allow the process to go along at its own rhythm. BUT for some reason, it was much trickier to do than I expected.
    I started making progress when I switched to observing the nature of my CONSCIOUS INTENTION and started watching the delicate interrelation between the breath, the impulse to control the breath, and the impulse to cease controlling the breath. It was an amazing learning experience.
    2. I was grasping.
    I noticed that regardless of all the clear instructions, on the deep level I was FIGHTING to remain on the breath and I was grasping onto the breathing process instead of just being aware of it. This grasping generated an unnecessary tension, that would accumulate and turn into this headband pressure and some kind of a headache after. It was hard for me to realize the gentleness of the attention and how to proceed without forcing anything.

    Definitely, to meditate I would create a point of awareness/attention to watch my breath.
    Now all the processes that used to flow unceasingly all of a sudden start having this unusual point in their free flow where they are being watched. So I as meditator created an observer, who was not trained in fluidity, who reacted toward different contents shown to him, who grasps, who has the mind prone to mind-wandering, who potentially bring some aggressiveness to the set. All these qualities affected the ability to have sustained continuous and vivid (clear) experience.

    By watching the very moment of the beginning of generating the attention of breathing (or any other meditation object) I noticed that I move not just my attention, I move a lot of physical level of sensations with it.
    Try to do the following and see for yourself what you do:
    Create an intention to start your attention and bring it to the tip of your nose. Concentrate gently but steadily then relax your attention. When you begin relaxing it, trace to see where your attention goes, what happens to it and how it disappears.
    Now do the same but bring it to the top of your right ear and relax again.
    Do it with the top of your left ear and relax then drop your concentration down toward your belly button and relax again.
    Notice that you can do it in a way that will not move too much of your physical sensations OR you can move it in a way that will produce a lot of physical waves of pressure of some sort.

    Best of luck,

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