1

I have had very strong sensations in my throat since I started practicing Vipassana 2 years back.

They keep changing shapes and sharpness - they started like a picket fence and now are like hard pokey stone(s). They get overwhelming at times and am not able to focus on other body parts.

  • Has anyone experienced something like this ?
  • Have you managed to be equanimous in the face of sensations that seem to be communicating with you?
2

I haven't had the "throat" experience, but it's not uncommon to have long or recurring periods of some kind of weird painful or uncomfortable physical/somatic sensation. Teachers that I know of link it to the "knowledge of the three characteristics" phase of the Theravada "progress of insight". It's a sign of maturing insight into the non-self nature of your physical and mental sensations.

It's not a reflection on you or the state of your practice- in fact, it may be a sign that your practice is healthy and getting results.

However, if it starts to be accompanied by disturbing imagery or strong negative emotions, especially if it seems linked to memories of past potentially-traumatizing experiences, then reduce your meditation periods and look for professional psychological support before continuing intensive vipassana practice. However, if it stays purely physical/somatic, then it's not that unusual.

You just won't feel equanimous about it in the short term, but your non-equanimous feelings about it can be part of your vipassana practice. Examine the sensations in terms of "vedana" - the quick arising and disappearance of pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant feelings.

0

Great answer from Namrata.

Can you turn towards the experience with curiosity and kindness?

If you can't give your attention to other experience because this is too overwhelming, perhaps it is just something that is asking for attention.

Sometimes, the issue with something like this is merely that it feels ignored. Once we really become interested, in a kindly way, it feels seen and met, and quietens down. Or, it has a story to tell, perhaps of past trauma, etc.

Curiosity and kindness are crucial. Along with gentleness. Just look, see what you can actually know about these.

Perhaps as Andrei suggests, it is connected with smoking. Perhaps turning towards the sensation with kindness might help you see more what is there?

  • Thank you for that. This resonated with me. I struggle with kindness and compassion towards self. There's a lot of repressed anger and an old belief that expressing it is a "bad" thing, especially for women. I only valued and marked myself on niceness and being selfless, which I now know were not authentic. – Namrata Apr 26 '18 at 11:10
  • It can help to separate out parts of ourselves, and have conversations with them. Perhaps ask them how old they are. Is there anything they need. Much like we would with a young child. Perhaps offer them a hug. Reassurance that you are there for them. Even if it seems ghastly, we can still be kind and loving towards it. If it does seem ghastly, that is almost certainly just a strategy it is taking to get our attention anyway. Its real need will be far more innocuous. – Upayavira Apr 26 '18 at 14:05
  • The best material I know of on this approach comes from Focusing, by Eugene Gendlin. It describes a way of engaging with our experience that is very gentle and kind, and thus very helpful to westerners approaching meditation. – Upayavira Apr 26 '18 at 14:06
  • Thank you so much. I get what you are saying about having conversations with these parts of myself. It's ironic but a 'need to be heard' comes up the moment I think about my throat :) – Namrata Apr 27 '18 at 2:55
0

Believe it or not I had exactly same problem back in the day, and I used to smoke cigarettes then, which is why I asked if you were a smoker.

I had these nagging sensations in the throat, surprisingly they were somewhat pleasant, as in I actually enjoyed what felt like warmth and movement in my throat. But sometimes they were getting slightly too strong and it worried me. It all started as my self-awareness increased as a result of my Buddhist practice. I did not meditate back then but did apply serious effort to practice mindfulness.

Around the same period of time I felt increasing disgust to the smell and taste of tobacco products. As my self-awareness grew, I kept enjoying the sensations in my throat but did not want to experience the smell and taste in my mouth. Also, my head started spinning a bit too much after having another cigarette. So at some point I started to reduce the frequency and amount I smoked, until I quit. I never applied any force, never used nicotine patches - it just happened by itself, through awareness and disgust and some head spinning. As I quit smoking, the throat sensations have briefly increased, and then were gone forever.

I'm not saying your case is the same, but perhaps it's not entirely out of question that your awareness of your body has increased as a result of your meditation practice, and now you feel what was always there but you simply did not notice before. In a way, this could be interpreted as your throat talking to you: "please stop smoking". Might as well listen :)

  • I totally believe you because disgust is what am feeling towards cigarettes and fumes too. I have started hating it on my fingers, in my mouth. Thank you for sharing this Andrei. – Namrata Apr 27 '18 at 3:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.