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I recently completed a 10 day Goenka retreat. When we began vipassana on the 4th day, I noticed that I was getting a lot of tension/pressure/movement around my eyes. I informed the teacher of this and she instructed me to try practicing with my eyes open to train my eyes to not move to the same point of focus as my mind (presuming that that's what was happening). It's been several weeks now since the end of the retreat and I've remained practicing 2.5-3 hours a day, every day, except since the end of the retreat I've practiced with eyes closed. The tension/pressure/movement hasn't gone away; if anything its gotten worse, to the point now that it's getting very difficult to do full body scans because the intensity of sensation around my eyes fully averts my attention back to the forehead area. Sometimes it's just a very intense but dull pressure, other times it's random and very sporadic movement of sensations, other times its a very intense energetic feeling. How do I deal with this?

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You have very strong concentration but your mindfulness is lacking behind. Every time you fix your mind on an area the concentration takes over and because you have strong sensations in the eyes your concentration takes you back to the eyes.

The solution is to scan faster whereby you increase your mindfulness and not let concentration zoom in. When you have succeeded to prevent going back to the eyes then slowly slow down your scan.

You may have to start to scan as fast as a Xerox machine.

  • With that same concept in mind, could I also practice walking meditation at a faster pace to strengthen mindfulness? – Ryan May 28 '15 at 12:44
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    Yes, of course. That's what I also do. I just do left right, left right, anchoring the the mind to just the walking. Try it! – Samadhi May 28 '15 at 13:02
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Just focus on the sensation and realise that it is your aversion to the sensation which is creating your suffering, and not...the sensation causing you to suffer. There is nothing intrinsically bad or painful about the sensation, the pain and suffering is coming from your aversion, you wish to experience different sensations during your meditation, you wish to control your mind... that is causing your pain and suffering, it's your ignorance of the truth- you control nothing!!

I hope this helps! Metta.

  • The sensation isn't really causing suffering, just impeding my ability to practice. In the Goenka tradition you have to move the focus of your mind from head to toe, becoming aware of the sensations present on that point of the body, scanning the entirety of the body in this way. If I'm currently "scanning" my stomach, but the sensations around my eyes are so intense that I can't focus on my stomach, therein lies my issue. In this tradition you aren't supposed to "just focus on the sensation", as you say. You're supposed to move awareness in an orderly fashion across the entire body. – Ryan May 26 '15 at 21:56
  • Okay. Good luck! – user476 May 26 '15 at 22:02
  • thank you! and thank you for your comment; unfortunately I think I'm just practicing a somewhat weird tradition of vipassana it seems? – Ryan May 26 '15 at 22:04
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    @LeeHebditch Please keep up your contribution. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena May 27 '15 at 17:26
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Great answer by Lee Hebditch. Following is to compliment.

Your sub concious mind (Bhavanga) is the store of past Sankhara. They give results by "bubbling up". The area may have relationship to where the Karma effects.

Since you get sensations tied to your eye faculty is perhaps (speculation here) you have done some Karma in the past relating to you eye like perhaps: making someone blind or maybe donating reading glasses. The resulting sensation can be either pleasant and unpleasant.

If the sensations are unpleasant this means your past Karma has aversion as the basis. If you react with aversion you multiply this fabrication (Karma) by creating new Karma which will give similar results in the future.

If the sensation is pleasant then this means your past Karma has craving as the base. If you react with craving, you you are again creating new fabrications.

So best cause of action is not to react and be mindful and being eqaunimous while analysing the sensation. Stay with the sensation with for a while and them more on. When you stay with the sensation, there is a tendency that it might pass away. But not for too long as you: will miss more subtle sensation arising and passing away in the rest of the body, you might develop a attachment or aversion to the sensation.

You can analyse this sensation in the following ways: the start (or from 1st time you noticed) to end of the sensation (if it is short lived), start from the boundary to the centre and then to the other side, dividing the areas into smaller pieces, if you can at the level of arising and passing.

Again something additional to compliment Lee Hebditch's answer.

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Other answers were good enough, but since I had almost similar problem here's my two cents. I try to make a list of all the reasons I found for my problem:

First Evil Eye glasses!

I were eye glasses and after my second vipassana I realized pressure I was feeling on my nose and template were from the weight of eye glasses. so the first thing you should investigate is physical problems. when this pressure is more intense. Does yoga, watching tv, looking at phone, etc. making it better or worse. Like a scientist you can examine all these factors.

Second, too much thinking!

yep, that's right. I realized I think way too much even doing anapana and vipassana and I realized more I think, the tension in my head increases. Now when this happen either I go back to anapana and with breath-out I tell to my body be relax, be gentle or if it doesn't stop tp the point that practicing is impossible I switch to walking meditation (i.e. walking watching my breath or sensations)

Third, Not right time

I also noticed I cannot meditate all time and in every situation. early morning and late at night or after a short nap afternoon was not ideal for my. my mind was dull and easily agitated so i tested different hours of day and find the hours that my body was most relaxed and I try to stick to these hours for daily meditation.

There were other little experiments that I made which may or may not helped my solve this problem. Like one sitting I just scanned left part of my body and the next sitting the other part. or in one sitting for example I would skip the head totally and in the other I would just scan head. I know Mr.Goenka seriously warns about changing the method but when you are uncomfortable to the level that you may give up practicing altogether, its better test a couple of things. At least, this is what I think.

Take care and I'm sure you'll be able to overcome your problem in no time

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I think this maybe related to your degree of concentration. I say this because I have been having the same thing occur.

Often the eye tension continues outside of meditation due to the continued contemplation of internal and external phenomena. My concentration could be too focused or out of sync with generating insight. I'm not sure just yet.

The fact remains that this is a hindrance to the greater exercise. I would spend some extra time on this eye tension in the same way that you would use your attention elsewhere on other bodily phenomena. It would be fitting to spend several minutes on this or until you feel that you can continue with scanning.

The unpleasant eye experience will have, within it, its own shifting characteristics and undulating intensities. If you're very astute you may also see a transaction occuring between the unpleasant sensation and the mind. The noticing of this transaction is key and is often overlooked by even the most experienced meditator. Mind can bypass the grossness of its monologues and dialogues and take on a much more subtle form of interpretation of bodily phenomena. This can fool the meditator into 'thinking' that mind is not contributing to the unpleasant phenomena.

Moreover, one might consider a medical check up.

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