I am meditating now regularly for last 4 months. I always sit in a cross legged position with my head slightly bent down. I started developing a neck pain for last 10 days and it distubs me a lot. I couldn't do a chin up position because if i do it then my forehead part feels heavy after meditation. I tried various positions like chin slightly tucked in, it still puts me under pain. Everything was good but this neck pain now disturbs my meditation. Does anyone experienced it ? Any suggestions for me to come out of it.
I don't know how you're sitting but you might want to straighten (lift) your upper back, and ensure that your shoulders are held down (relaxed) and back (not hunched forward and rounded). That (being more vertical instead of hunched forward) helps to ensure that your head is directly above (balanced on top of) your spine, less effort for the neck.
You might be able to get the head/skull to balance like a stone, supported on the vertical skeleton instead of by muscles. If the bones are stacked one on top of the other then the muscles hardly need to support them -- then the muscles can relax, soften, droop.
To make your upper back more vertical, you might want to make your lower back more vertical too, so the whole back is straighter (i.e. try to straighten both the thoracic curve and the lumbar curve, as illustrated here).
One way to test whether your back is straight is to twist or rotate it: e.g. with your seat still, twist your back (to move your shoulders) and your neck (to move your head) to try to look behind you (look back over your shoulder). It's easier to twist on a vertical axis (i.e. if your spine is vertical), i.e. you can't do it (your vertebrae lock) when you have a pronounced thoracic and lumbar curves -- so doing this (rotating, left and right) is a good test or good lesson on straightening your back.
Also it's not necessarily a question of whether you chin is up or down: it's a question of whether it (and your whole head) is pushed forward (off-balance) or pulled back slightly (more vertical).
It would have made a little easier to answer if you would have given the time for which you sit for meditation. Because 30 min to 1 hour meditation daily should not really induce a complex neck pain.
I suggest you should check with a doctor as you also experience heavy forehead with chin up, which is also not normal. Just dont let it become chronic or any other medical condition.
If there is nothing to worry about medically, I will suggest you two things.
Use an orthopedic neck collar like this .
- When you are meditating, between intervals convenient to you, just revolve your neck or move from side to side to make it loose, so muscles dont get stiff. You can do it slowly so as not to disturb your meditation.
Other people have brought up concerns with physiological issues and issues related to posture, but I'd like to bring up concerns with the actual meditation practice, as a possibility.
According to Bhante Vimalaramsi, neck pain and headaches related to meditation may be related not only to body position but also to the actual meditation practice. Do you find yourself feeling when meditating that you are keeping very tense, in order to stay focused on the breath or to prevent thoughts? If so, his 6-Rs might be helpful. The 6-R method is used to dismiss unnecessary thoughts during meditation without causing tension in the body. (I have also used them in day-to-day life in order to reduce intrusive negative thoughts, to great success).
The six Rs are as follows:
- Recognize-- Recognize that the train of thought is not what your goal is at the moment.
- Release-- Release the thought. I have often mentally said to myself something along the lines of "I don't need to have this thought right now" or "I don't need to think about this" or "I can think about this later if I need to"
- Relax-- Entirely relax the body. If you notice tension in the neck, be sure to release it now.
- Re-smile-- Smile to yourself. This can be something you do physically or something you mentally do as well. If you don't have success mentally smiling, it can be easier to simply physically smile.
- Return-- Whatever it is you're doing for this meditation, go back to it.
- Repeat-- This will probably happen again, and that's fine! Be prepared for that. Go back to step one each time you find yourself straying from the meditation.
(Chart of 6-Rs from Bhante Vimalaramsi: https://library.dhammasukha.org/chart-of-6-rs.html )
Here is also a letter on his website which is somewhat related-- it refers more specifically to how the tension might be a result from trying to push down negative feelings as a result of negative actions in one's past, but the idea is similar:
"When one has done something in their past that they may feel guilty about, it can cause the meditator to try and push the memory down be using excessive energy"
(Quote from https://library.dhammasukha.org/headache-advice.html)
In this case, the excessive energy is being used to push down specifically negative thoughts, but I have also heard of people having the neck pain or headaches from simply using excessive energy to push down any thoughts unrelated to the meditation.
For meditations like anapanasati and iriyapatha you need to maintain a certain position in your body..But for most of other meditations you needn't a certain position..That means you can do them in a sleeping position also..But the problem arise next when you do it in a that type of position you may feel sleepy..If you don't feel so you can try any position like that, no barriers for it,you are the one who can find a suitable position for it,than us.. Otherwise try some exercises for neck if need getting some medical advises, sometime that may help prevent the pain
A neck slightly bent forward put lot of stress on mussels on the back side of the neck when balancing the weight of your head. This usually cause pain and stiffness.
When meditating for a longer time on siting pose, a straight back and a neck is important. If this is deficult for you try strengthning back and neck musseles or try a completly different post (ex laying down).