Difficulty Watching the Breath

Question

Hi. Six months ago, after a sudden awakening to the reality of who I am, I started meditation to move towards spirituality. However, recently whenever I focus on the sensation of the breathing on my nose, I feel a burst of energy going up from the rim of my nose, and soon I feel a sense of dullness and pressure on the nose, and I cannot feel the sensation of the breath anymore. I tried not to focus too much, but the problem still continues. Thanks a lot.

—Saeid, Germany

Answer

Dear Saeid,

I’m sorry to hear about this difficulty you’re having. I’m not sure what meditation practice you have begun — in any case, congratulations on beginning — so I will offer several general options that you might investigate:

1. Concentration on the breath should be relaxed — very focused, but very relaxed. Check to see that tension is not creeping into your practice as you try to focus. It might help if, before you begin watching the breath, you inhale and hold the breath, then strongly tense the entire body (including the nose and face), then exhale and relax completely. Do this several times, then resolve to carry that relaxation into your focus on the breath.

2. Are you keeping your gaze comfortably upturned? If your gaze is turning downward, as though you were trying to see something in your nose, turn it slightly upward insetad, as though you were gazing toward a distant mountaintop.

3. Try watching the breath at the point between the eyebrows instead of in the nose. That is, try to feel as though the air is entering your head at that point during inhalation, and leaving your head at that point during exhalation. It isn’t doing that in reality, of course, but this more-advanced variant of watching the breath might help your situation.

I hope that one of these ideas will prove helpful.

Blessings,
Nayaswami Gyandev