I tried breathing meditation a few times recently. I have noticed that every time I use the breath as object, I get a headache and I tend to fall asleep. This fails to happen during compassion meditation or walking meditation. I might even say I feel dizzy, as if I were drunk, after breath meditation.

What may be the cause of this?

  • 1
    Please check the following check list: do not force your breaths, breathe naturally; keeping the back straight but do not tense up; maintain focus on the the "touching area" (tips of the nose, upper lips, etc) where you can feel the sensation of the air coming in and out; use a cushion to keep the buttock about a few inches above the knees (to maintain good blood circulation and straighten the back naturally);
    – santa100
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 13:39

2 Answers 2


These expected/typical/common results of headache & sleepiness are due to wrong concentration or suppression. If practising Anapanasati, the primary object of awareness should be the relaxed clear quiet mind. The secondary object of awareness or 'sign' should be the mere knowing or noting of each in-breath & each out-breath. While a difficult practice for minds with hindrance, to truly practise Anapanasati, all possible craving must be abandoned. In other words, there is no need to direct the mind towards the breathing. All that is required is mental stillness & quiet. Sit upright, relax & surrender with faith to the Dhamma.

  • So if I understand correctly, too rigid and narrow focus on the breath is involved with grasping, while the right practice is merely awareness of the quiet mind and just nothing the breath?
    – user7302
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 10:34
  • If you are practising correctly
    • This can happen due to past conditioning. As you practice this will slowly wear off. If this pain arises set aside the breath meditation and look at the feeling until it subsides.
  • If you make a mistake in the techniques
    • If you are influencing the breath like breathing too slowly, holding a breath, etc., this might also happen. In this case, check your technique and correct it.
  • I feel this happens when I use the tip of the nostrils as focus, as then thinking really seems to stop. Should I use a wider or less narrow focus?
    – user7302
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 10:36
  • 1
    One should narrow down gradually. Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 10:53

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