Dhamma Letter No. 93
Satipatthana 17 : Kayanupassana 8 : Q&A 27 How to deal with the headache from Anapanasati (Mindfulness of Breathing 5)
How to deal with the headache from Anapanasati (Mindfulness of Breathing)?
Q: When I do breathing meditation by focusing on the tip of my nose, I get a headache. Am I doing something wrong? Or is breathing meditation not right for me?
A: In the Nikaya (sutta) it is said that the focus is on ‘parimukham satim’ (Around / in front of the mouth or face, or where you are facing directly): the tip of the nose or around the upper lip, where breathing begins. However, modern people often have headaches due to a lot of stress, so they often stop breathing meditation. Therefore, Mahashi Sayadow, a well-known meditation teacher in Myanmar, used the method of observing breathing through the movement of the lower abdomen, making it easy for modern people to engage in meditation. The beginning and end of the breath are under the same nostrils, but the entire breath starts from the tip of the nose, goes through the bronchi, and goes down from the chest to the lower abdomen. Various breathing meditations have been developed and practiced.
If you have a headache and it is difficult to do breathing meditation, it is recommended to observe the breathing by targeting the lower abdomen (one of the chakras) that lowers the energy. Concentrating on the lower abdomen not only has the effect of physical health, but also has the effect of stabilizing the mind.
For beginners, starting with the method of counting in-breath and exhalation while breathing, there is a method to follow the flow of breathing naturally as a whole after breathing has stabilized to some extent. In Thailand, when inhaling and exhaling, the word bud-do- is often used to focus on respiration. Paying attention to the sensation of the tip of the nose or the movement of the lower abdomen through breathing, the mind stays in the present in harmony with the body, and leads to establishing awareness.
First of all, before meditating, check how tense you are, and allow each muscle and cell to relax. Mainly check that the shoulder is not stiff, and relax each part of the face and body comfortably.
In the end, 'awareness of the body (身念處, 신념처)' means being aware of the phenomena occurring in the body as it is through the thought of entering and leaving the body. Through this, the body and mind are harmonized, and the mind dynamically stays in the present moment through breathing. In this respect, awareness of the body becomes a cornerstone for the development of peace of mind, stillness, and wisdom in daily life through meditation.
May all understand Dhamma and develop Wisdom!
May all beings be free from any suffering!
May all beings be well and happy!
Ayyā Kosallā & Mahāpajāpatī Bhikkhunī Sangha
Edited by Euna Bonovich
If you have any questions related to dhamma & meditation, please feel free to ask. You can reach Ayya Kosalla directly at Bhikkhuni.Kosalla@gmail.com .
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Buddha Sāsanaṁ Ciraṁ Tiṭṭhatu!
May the Buddha’s teachings last a long time!
Bhavatu Sabba Sotiṁ ca Maṅgalaṁ ca!!
May everyone be led on the path of peace and blessing!!
Sādhu Sādhu Sādhu !