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Why does my body experience strange sensations when I meditate?

by Andy Puddicombe

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Question:

Why do I sometimes lose the feeling of my body when I meditate? Why am I having strange sensations? Is this normal? How do I deal with it?

Andy’s answer:

When we sit to meditate there are many processes at work. Some of them happen all the time but we are usually too busy or distracted to notice them. Others happen only when we sit still and focus our attention, as in the case of meditation.

Learning to meditate is the process of becoming more aware. Much of this awareness will be around the relationship between the body and mind. There are so many different factors involved, but here are just a few examples which might resonate:

A small drop in blood pressure is common when meditating. This is an automatic response to slower breathing and a decreased heart rate. The result can sometimes be one of feeling light-headed or dizzy and is nothing to worry about.

Emotions have a funny way of being processed and can sometimes cause very strange feelings as they are discovered or released. These feelings range from intense heat or cold to aches and pains, and even to involuntary twitches. It’s common to experience one or more of these when learning to meditate.

If we sit to meditate with a very quiet and calm mind, we will likely experience a similar feeling in the body. But when we sit to meditate with a very busy mind, it can cause the body to feel irritable, sometimes even itchy and scratchy, or alternatively leave us feeling quite removed from the body and very lightheaded instead. Once again, nothing to worry about at all.

Sometimes when we meditate we lose all sense of a body or self and while this is liberating in some ways, it can also be very disconcerting and feel a little strange. But this is a good thing and by relaxing the mind in that space, things begin to feel comfortable after a while.

There are so many factors involved and so many more examples I could give, but these are a few of the common ones. I’m sure it goes without saying, but if you are at all worried or concerned about any physical sensations experienced during meditation, you should temporarily stop and seek advice from your medical professional.

Andy Puddicombe

Andy Puddicombe is a meditation and mindfulness expert. An accomplished presenter and writer, Andy is the voice of all things Headspace. In his early twenties, midway through a university degree in Sports Science, Andy made the unexpected decision to travel to the Himalayas to study meditation instead. It was the beginning of a ten-year journey which took him around the world, culminating with ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India. His transition back to lay life in 2004 was no less extraordinary. Training briefly at Moscow State Circus, he returned to London where he completed a degree in Circus Arts with the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama, whilst drawing up the early plans for what was later to become Headspace.