From an outside perspective, meditation seems like a straightforward process. When considering meditation, many folks automatically think of sitting cross-legged on the floor, hands on the knees, eyes closed. However, meditation goes much deeper than a simple pose on the floor.
It allows the individual to focus on breathwork, healing, and inner thoughts, giving the mind and body time to process pent-up emotions, feelings, tension, and experiences. Because meditation often becomes a deeper experience, many meditators notice random occurrences throughout their bodies. For example, some folks experience twitching during a session.
If you’re new to meditation, this can be concerning, as you might be unsure what is causing the sudden, abrupt movements. There’s no need to worry – the movements are entirely normal. Here’s what you should know about twitching and other sensations during mediation.
Why Do I Drift Off During Meditation?
Meditation walks a fine line between focus and total relaxation, leaving you balancing between alertness and sleep. So, you might notice you drift off during your session, perhaps falling asleep entirely. Sometimes, you may drift off and lose a sense of time yet remain somewhat alert. Lapses in time can indicate deep meditation, as your mind loses external awareness to focus inward.
This is entirely normal – your body is relaxing and releasing stress and tension, so this can make you feel drowsy or lose track of the clock. The relaxation aspect is often why folks use it to fall asleep – it allows them to take a step back from the chaos of their minds, turning their focus inward to prioritize deep, even breathing.
However, this feeling can be somewhat aggravating since falling asleep isn’t the objective of every meditation session. You can combat drowsiness by implementing a few tips into your routine, including:
- Practice away from the bedroom.
- Practice outside, where there’s plenty of natural light.
- Ensure you get plenty of restful sleep each night.
- Walk around or remain standing throughout the session.
- Listen to audio during your session.
- Stick to short, frequent sessions instead of prolonged sessions.
- Create a specific meditation space, complete with a meditation bench.
- Avoid meditating when you’re drowsy (unless the goal is to fall asleep).
- Allow the feelings to come and go – don’t resist the feeling.
Why Do I Experience Strange Sensations During Meditation?
Meditation can bring up unaddressed emotions, experiences, and tension, so many mediators experience strange sensations throughout the session. While some sensations are positive and relieving, others are negative and feel weird.
Different forms of meditation may bring up different feelings and emotions, but here are a few of the most common sensations and why they happen:
You may notice twitching throughout your body as you move deeper into your meditation session. It often seems completely involuntary, as the twitch might surprise you when it happens. The reason this happens is due to your central nervous system, which controls the fibers of your muscles and is consistently communicating with them via signals.
The fibers that make up your muscles can only expand or contract; they can’t do anything else. When we practice mediation, we allow our bodies and minds a chance to sift through our feelings, thoughts, and experiences, processing them individually.
As we turn our focus inward, we slow the absorption of external stimuli, giving the brain the chance to process internal occurrences. This increases the chemical reactions in our bodies, which distributes as energy throughout the body via the central nervous system.
As this energy dissipates, it may release in the form of twitching, trembling, or shaking throughout the muscles in our bodies. The release of this energy represents the body letting go of pent-up stress, habitual tensions and knots, and inner conditioning. Your body slowly returns to a balanced state, so sometimes the twitching and involuntary motions may be more prominent.
For example, if your body’s fight or flight sympathetic nervous system has been overused, you might notice the twitching is more intense or lasts longer than usual. On the other hand, maybe you often twitch during meditation sessions, but you’ve been more at peace and stress-free lately, so you don’t twitch as much.
Like any feeling or sensation in meditation, let it happen. Let your body release what it needs via twitching, trembling, or shaking. Simply observe the physical reaction without judgment, allowing the body to follow its natural course.
In some cases, the sensation might feel aggressive or overwhelming, feeling as though it might overflow and wreak your meditation session. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, turn your focus to your breathing. Take two or three deep, even breaths through the nose. As you exhale, imagine that part of the body relaxing, but let energy flow entirely as it pleases.
Continue breathing, turning your focus to the sensation, simply observing it as it passes. If it becomes too difficult to focus on both, turn back to breathing, focusing on each inhale and exhale. Let the feeling ebb and flow, allowing the energy to flow as it needs to.
Tingling Or Ticklish Sensations
Many meditators experience feelings of tingling, warmth, energy, or tickling sensations throughout the session. Some folks describe the feeling as “currents of electricity,” while others compare the feeling to the tickling sensation you feel when your feet are being scrubbed during a pedicure. The descriptions of the sensations vary, but they’re a standard part of these sessions.
These sensations often mean imbalances in your body are being corrected. Many times, these sensations allow you to feel more deeply and express your inner emotions fully, which can create an emotional rollercoaster as you experience the release of tension and energy, slowly regaining balance.
Again, remember to breathe, remaining free of judgment and entirely relaxed. If you’d like, turn your attention to the feelings, watching them course throughout your body as they pass through each limb on their way out. However, if this feels too overwhelming, shift your focus back to breathing, focusing on each breath, in and out.
Difficulty Remaining Awake
Many folks experience feelings of drowsiness and exhaustion or have difficulty remaining awake during their sessions. While this is excellent if you’re trying to calm the mind and slip into a deep, restful sleep, it isn’t ideal when trying to remain alert.
In some scenarios, the feeling is simply a feeling. Watch it pass, continuing to breathe through the moment. However, in other cases, this can indicate issues in other areas of your life. For example, you might not be getting enough restful sleep. So, when you settle into a mediation session, your body relaxes excessively, lulling you into a drowsy state.
Or, the feeling might result from depletion or exhaustion from illness or stress. Meditation practices can turn your attention to stress or emotion in your everyday life as it releases from the body, leaving you feeling drained or exhausted.
Alternatively, it could be due to you practicing in an area where you usually sleep. For example, if you practice in bed, your body might be conditioned to prepare for sleep when in bed, causing you to feel tired.
Whatever it may be, focus on moving through the feeling. If you think the struggle comes from too little sleep at night, you’ll need to make adjustments in other areas of your life to ensure your body gets the rest it needs. Or, if you think it’s simply a feeling, like any other feeling you experience in meditation, treat it like any other. Watch it pass without judgment, allowing your body to experience the emotion as it processes and breathing through the moment.
Pain In Your Muscles Or Joints
While meditation is rewarding, the process during each session can be unpleasant. You may experience negative feelings or emotions as you process unwelcome thoughts, experiences, and stress from areas of your life. Or, you might experience physical pain throughout your body, often in the muscles or joints.
Many times, this pain stems from old conditions or injuries that are slowly healing. In other settings, it might be your body releasing emotional trauma you haven’t dealt with. As your body copes with the emotion, you might feel uncomfortable, but remember to breathe deeply and calmly.
However, if the feelings and sensations become unbearable, it doesn’t hurt to discuss them with your doctor to ensure it isn’t your body trying to indicate something serious.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Should I Handle Intense Twitching During Meditation?
During meditation sessions, some folks experience intense physical sensations, such as twitching. While these sensations can be mild for some people, they may become overwhelmingly intense for others.
It’s usually best to weather these sensations by going with the flow and riding the wave of each sensation, observing it with a balanced and detached objective. However, you might need to employ other methods when the feeling becomes too intense.
For example, you could try taking a hot bath with Epsom salts, as this can help you relax and relieve tension that could be causing the twitching. Alternatively, massages and acupuncture are excellent ways to release stored tension and stress, which may alleviate the sensations you experience during meditation.
How Am I Supposed To Feel During Meditiation?
There isn’t a singular feeling you should experience during meditation. Meditation looks and feels different for everyone, so your experience may differ entirely from someone else’s. You might experience a range of emotions, all the way from pure and serene calm to frustration and even rage.
As you notice each emotion, remain observant yet detached and balanced, watching each thought, feeling, and emotion as it passes.