Pressure in the Head During Meditation

Question

I have been meditating for 5 months now but lately I am experiencing a strong, unpleasant pressure in my head rising from the the top of my head ( crown chakra ) down to the point between the eyebrows and the ache stays for 40-50 minutes after meditation, its a tingling sensation and my head feels really heavy. Also I feel as if I am being uplifted or starting to float but as soon as I rise, I fall to the ground again. Please help me understand it.

—Zara, India

Answer

Dear Zara,

When we first begin meditating, we have to learn progressively and ever more subtly to relax body and mind. Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda and the founder of Ananda’s worldwide work, describes meditation as “an upward relaxation into superconsciousness.” (in the book, Awaken to Superconsciousness).

It is no coincidence that Yogananda-ji created a series of 39 exercise-movements which are now called energization exercises. Or, a more traditional approach is a routine of hatha yoga exercises. The point is that in order to meditate deeply, we benefit to some degree by engaging the body in a conscious and calm way to spirit-away the hidden tension and blockages in the body.

I remember that when I first began to meditate I would get a headache. I was “trying too hard” to concentrate at the point between the eyebrows and I hadn’t yet learned the secret of deep relaxation first. What you are experiencing has its good points, to be sure, but the tension you are feeling counteracts the joy inherent in the awakening of the higher psychic centers of the astral body.

Do you practice any stretches before you meditate? Any chanting? Devotion? Pranayama (breathing exercises)? “Make haste slowly,” it is said. Perhaps on a mental level you are rushing into meditation. Meditate with relaxation and joy and you will experience deep calmness without tension.

Before you sit to meditate, practice some physical yoga or the Energization Exercises. Then sit and calmly pray to God, Divine Mother, and the guru(s) to guide your meditation practice with their wisdom and presence. Chant a little (silently or aloud). Then begin your pranayama practice: slowly and deeply. Take your time. Keep your eyes focused at the spiritual eye, but calmly, without strain. Instead, gaze upwards with a happy sense of curiosity and keen, positive interest — with a slightly joyful sense of expectation.

If tension develops or appears in the head, mentally step away from the experience and rest in the heart center until it goes away. Make sure you are relaxed. Then you might try again. As often as tension appears, withdraw from it into the heart until it recedes. No matter what, however, try to remain the observer and do not react emotionally to the tension (that makes it worse). Imagine you are an artist, sensitively guiding the body-mind matrix towards a higher state of awareness. But it is a delicate process, and it needs to invoke a higher power to guide it. It is a curious mixture of will and surrender, alternating in a dance of life.

May the Light of Joy be your guide!
Nayaswami Hriman