Tense jaw muscles while meditating

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
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Luxenalex
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Joined: Wed May 10, 2017 5:38 pm

Tense jaw muscles while meditating

Post by Luxenalex » Wed May 10, 2017 6:20 pm

Hello everyone :smile:

I have a meditation issue i could usesome help with. When i meditate my jaw muscles (the ones that closes the jaws) tend to get really tense and uncomfortable. This especially occurs when i try to focus on something like the breath and i have completely stopped such practices because of it. I used to do long sessions of focusing on the breath using a lot of willpower and force not caring about how tense my jaws got, but now the problem seems to have gotten fixed into my nervous system and my jaw are always tense to some degree even when not meditating.

When i meditate now i'm more gentle and mostly just observe what happens in the mind but i still get periods of excessive discomfort in my jaw. I have tried feeling into and relaxing the muscles while meditating but with mixed results. Sometimes the tension lightens momentarily only to return after a minute or two. I sometimes let the jaws close and let the muscles "bite them selves tired" which releases the tension for a while. I've tried to convince them that there is no reason for being tense but they don't want to hear it :tongue:

I wish to understand why this happens and find a way to relieve it as it limits my meditation practice. To do that i could really need some advice from more experienced mediators. Any wisdom or general advice is greatly appreciated :namaste:

tingdzin
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Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:19 am

Re: Tense jaw muscles while meditating

Post by tingdzin » Wed May 10, 2017 8:06 pm

An unusual problem.
Luxenalex wrote:I have tried feeling into and relaxing the muscles while meditating
This seems to me your best bet. Use it like following the breath; no matter how many times you lose focus and your jaws clench, just keep relaxing them.

As a stopgap measure, you might put a rubber eraser or something between your jaws.

Good luck.

Crazywisdom
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Re: Tense jaw muscles while meditating

Post by Crazywisdom » Wed May 10, 2017 8:30 pm

Luxenalex wrote:Hello everyone :smile:

I have a meditation issue i could usesome help with. When i meditate my jaw muscles (the ones that closes the jaws) tend to get really tense and uncomfortable. This especially occurs when i try to focus on something like the breath and i have completely stopped such practices because of it. I used to do long sessions of focusing on the breath using a lot of willpower and force not caring about how tense my jaws got, but now the problem seems to have gotten fixed into my nervous system and my jaw are always tense to some degree even when not meditating.

When i meditate now i'm more gentle and mostly just observe what happens in the mind but i still get periods of excessive discomfort in my jaw. I have tried feeling into and relaxing the muscles while meditating but with mixed results. Sometimes the tension lightens momentarily only to return after a minute or two. I sometimes let the jaws close and let the muscles "bite them selves tired" which releases the tension for a while. I've tried to convince them that there is no reason for being tense but they don't want to hear it :tongue:

I wish to understand why this happens and find a way to relieve it as it limits my meditation practice. To do that i could really need some advice from more experienced mediators. Any wisdom or general advice is greatly appreciated :namaste:
I have experience with this. It's a demon. J/k. It's a knot in your channels. Just keep going. You might get a cyst or a something and then it will be gone.
Delete my account

Anonymous X
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Re: Tense jaw muscles while meditating

Post by Anonymous X » Thu May 11, 2017 4:42 am

Luxenalex wrote:Hello everyone :smile:

I have a meditation issue i could usesome help with. When i meditate my jaw muscles (the ones that closes the jaws) tend to get really tense and uncomfortable. This especially occurs when i try to focus on something like the breath and i have completely stopped such practices because of it. I used to do long sessions of focusing on the breath using a lot of willpower and force not caring about how tense my jaws got, but now the problem seems to have gotten fixed into my nervous system and my jaw are always tense to some degree even when not meditating.

When i meditate now i'm more gentle and mostly just observe what happens in the mind but i still get periods of excessive discomfort in my jaw. I have tried feeling into and relaxing the muscles while meditating but with mixed results. Sometimes the tension lightens momentarily only to return after a minute or two. I sometimes let the jaws close and let the muscles "bite them selves tired" which releases the tension for a while. I've tried to convince them that there is no reason for being tense but they don't want to hear it :tongue:

I wish to understand why this happens and find a way to relieve it as it limits my meditation practice. To do that i could really need some advice from more experienced mediators. Any wisdom or general advice is greatly appreciated :namaste:
It's very difficult for an observer to say exactly what will help you in this situation. Things like tenseness are usually associated with fixation on certain kinds of feelings/emotions. Areas in the head often tighten up when you exert will or any kind of resistance that is trying to change your present state. One thing that is very helpful with breath meditation, shamata, is to breath into your lower abdomen. Because the tendency to think is so great in many people, the energy stays up in the head and causes tightness. When you breath into your lower abdomen, dantien in Chinese, just below the navel, the head relaxes and the feeling aspect of your body naturally returns. This is the center where you can feel/sense your being most. When this relaxes and opens, thought and effort naturally relax and a deep sense of being present is felt. Sometimes you don't feel like you have a head any longer. :twothumbsup:

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Vasana
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Re: Tense jaw muscles while meditating

Post by Vasana » Thu May 11, 2017 11:33 am

Deeper relxation of the whole body before meditating helps. Having the jaw slightly open and loose can do to. If your jaw is tense it'salso quite common for the eyes to closed too tightly and for me it can sometimes be indicative of grasping at the object of meditation too tightly.

The thing with habitual tension anywhere in the body is that it takes a while to overcome the muscle memory. Learning the anatomy of the body's relxation will help. What's your jaw like outside of meditation?

I'm thinking of getting a cheap smartwatch or something and setting hourly silent vibrating alarms to 'fast-track' the mindfullnees and release of any tense areas that are at least partially influenced by mind & mental activity.
"The changing cycle of joy and sorrow, like the changing seasons –
As a time of suffering will surely come around to me,
May I truly practice the sublime teachings."
- Dudjom Rinpoche

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Tense jaw muscles while meditating

Post by Kim O'Hara » Thu May 11, 2017 1:46 pm

Vasana wrote:Deeper relxation of the whole body before meditating helps. Having the jaw slightly open and loose can do to. If your jaw is tense it'salso quite common for the eyes to closed too tightly and for me it can sometimes be indicative of grasping at the object of meditation too tightly.

The thing with habitual tension anywhere in the body is that it takes a while to overcome the muscle memory. Learning the anatomy of the body's relxation will help. What's your jaw like outside of meditation?

I'm thinking of getting a cheap smartwatch or something and setting hourly silent vibrating alarms to 'fast-track' the mindfullnees and release of any tense areas that are at least partially influenced by mind & mental activity.
All true, but "...any tense areas that are at least partially influenced by mind & mental activity" ?? Are there any that aren't ?
Mental tension can show up just about anywhere in the body - in the breath is common, in the shoulders just as common. Just thinking about it now, I suspect each kind of stress/tension has a typical place for showing up in the body.
Contrariwise, physical tensions/aches/exhaustion show up in the mind. :thinking:

But yes, learning to be aware is the first step and learning how to deliberately relax the muscles is next. Learning to do body scans in seated meditation helped me a lot, but savasana in yoga classes has extended that learning and improved my skill - and it really is a learnable skill, so don't give up, Luxenalex.

:namaste:
Kim

DGA
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Re: Tense jaw muscles while meditating

Post by DGA » Thu May 11, 2017 5:10 pm

It's worthwhile to check your posture, or rather have someone who knows what he or she is doing check it for you. Sometimes as a person concentrates, he or she may start to cave the shoulders in, crane the neck, tilt the jaw forward... and all this can put some pressure on the muscles in the face.

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