Brain & Body Activity During Meditation
These comments are based on my experiences while meditating. If you have any experience you would like to add please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Relaxation is a passive state, achieved by a warm bath, reclining in a chair or watching TV. Meditation is an active process. It is different to relaxation, although the two are linked.
In meditation we start by concentrating on something, usually a repetitive action, maybe a visualisation story, an object, a candle, music, a beautiful sunset, mantra, breath, any activity that occupies our brains and allows us to slow down thoughts. We intentionally quieten our busy brains. We are contacting within ourselves a place that is peaceful, rejuvenating and meaningful.
When quietening your mind it becomes calmer and more aware of day to day feelings. As you sit you will find they go away of their own accord. Just note them, and keep going with the meditation unless they totally take your attention. If the latter it often helps to pay attention to your breathing, to fill your mind with a sensory experience rather than deprive it.
It is now accepted that your brain waves alter during meditation and hence bodily energyfields change and you become more open to sensing energies. In the Alpha state we are in a relaxed state of light meditation. During meditation we move between that and the Theta state. During this type of brain activity we may experience day dreaming, creativity, meditation, paranormal phenomena, ESP or shamanic journeys.
It often happens that your body feels heavy, dense, during meditation. You can feel very large, expanded. The space you occupy seems to change, becomes distorted, abstract, and you may feel very tall or tilted in one direction.
Spontaneous Movement orTwitching
Have you noticed how people twitch when they are asleep. Well you may not be asleep, but the body is deeply resting, with relaxed breathing, during meditation, and you may suddenly twitch. This is normal and commonplace.
Tickles and other Sensations
Many physical sensations arise during meditation and one of them is that annoying tickle, at the back of your throat, on the ball of your foot, anywhere. That tickle can sometimes build or be accompanied by a wave of energy, an ache, a rumbling stomach, dare we say it... a fart. Yes, as you relax and let go, the physical body takes an opportunity to re-adjust and change. You may become more aware of temperature changes, in different parts of your body. Just observe, be aware of the physical release, and allow it to pass.
Joint and Muscular Pain
Sitting, unmoving, for a longer period of time than usual may set off some old past muscle pains. If you need to move and modify your body position do. Try not to mind the physical process too much. Like not sleeping, some meditation practices require that you do not move. If that suits you that is grand but, if a muscle starts niggling, I try to ease it with a gentle movement, get as comfortable as possible, then refocus on the meditation, and let it pass. If the pain persists, visit your doctor to determine if the physical pain requires medical attention.
Tears and Crying During Meditation
Tears often start flowing during a meditation. Why you are crying may be obvious to you or a complete mystery. I remember crying once, relieved I was sat at the back of room so no one noticed. Utter sadness engulfed me. I felt it had to do with a past life but realised I did not have to identify what it was, just to let it happen, let it go and then get on with life.
Dry mouth or slobbering
Yes, this happens sometimes, and often you start with one, go to the other and then return, like waves of water washing through you. If you need a drink and all you can focus on is having that drink then have one.
Difficulty Staying Awake
Some meditation practices are designed to keep you awake. Fine, if that feels right for you. But I prefer to let everything happen for it's own reason and happily go ahead and let myself and others sleep if you feel a strong urge to nod off during meditation. As you gain inner peace and calm during a meditation you can also be aware you have not been aware... some call it 'the gap'. You realise for a moment you were silent in your thoughts. It is usually in hindsight you realise this happened.
Colours, lights and visual events
Reds, golds, swirling light, soft white light... these can appear as your busy mental mind quietens... it is as if it was trying to find something to entertain itself.... sometimes shapes and symbols arise.... all very interesting but all very normal as your concentration on the meditation deepens. You may choose to pay attention to them or ignore them.
Nora J – 19 December 2018 updated 2022.