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Eyes twitching while meditating

edited April 2006 in Buddhism Basics
Hello again,

I have a problem from time to time, and have always had.

When meditating, I think I am not fully relaxing my eye-lid muscles and as a result after about 5-10 minutes into my meditation my eyelids begin to twitch and it is very distracting.

Everytime I go into meditation I take the first couple of minutes to relax my body from head to toe, even when I get to my head area and my eye muscles feel relaxed it, they still twitch.

It doesnt happen all the time, about 50% of the time.

Does anyone else have a similar problem and any insight as how they overcame this?

thank you!



  • edited April 2006
    Do you meditate with your eyes open or closed.
    I used to have mine closed but when I went to my zen center to learn their technique I was taught to have my eyes partially open. This keeps you aware of your surroundings and grounded in the present (and helps stop you falling asleep!). It took a lot of getting used to but it works for me.

    Anyhow, back to twitching. It could just be your body's way of relaxing. Sometimes my stomach gurgles which is a bit offputting for me. The first time I went to my meditation group it gurgled the whole evening - much to my horror! Fortunately the rest of the group weren't fazed at all, they said it was just my body relaxing and that other people twitch, yawn, some even cry !
  • edited April 2006
    I think the best way to overcome it is not to worry about it. I don't know what meditation instruction you are following, but whatever it is I am sure it is not being preoccupied with eye-twitchings or the ant crawling on the wall, or the way the person next to you smells or sounds, or if the room is too cold or too hot...

    This is the kind of thing everybody has to deal with and my suggestion is that you use it for your meditation...every thing that arises can be used as a sounding board for returning to the meditation practice. I don't suggest you preoccupy yourself with the imagery of the following analogy during meditation proper, but think about it to get the meaning so you can employ the essence of the idea in practice free from the images. Every phenomenon can be thought of as like playing tennis alone with a practice wall. The wall is anything that comes before you, be it eye-twitching or that nasty centipede that just crawled onto your foot, even your own body and thoughts. The ball is your mind, round, flexible, and without it you don't have a game. So you go along in meditation as if you are hitting the ball against the wall (your mind is grasping phenomena) with your racket (craving). This becomes a never-ending game because, so long as you use your racket, the ball will always be bouncing back and forth, back and forth. The important thing, the pivotal thing that you can use in practice is that the ball is always coming back to you, it is rebounding off the phenomena...in that way you can begin using them to get your mind back to you, back centered where you want it to be in meditation. This, I think, is one way of expressing the notion of "sati" or "mindfulness". As you get into this way of practicing, eye-twitching will no longer bother you, and it even might just go away without you really having noticed it. With practice, you will get better and better at "catching" the ball (your mind) and keeping it in hand (making it steady, samadhi) instead of compulsively hitting it at the wall. When you can stop the game altogether, we might say that is nirvana. I guess this means that dukkha would be a mean case of tennis elbow!

    in friendliness,
  • edited April 2006
    Nice post and a good analogy V! :uphand:

    Your comment about not being preoccupied by twitching, gurgling, etc is spot on. Once I learned to not worry about my stomach it stopped gurgling on its own. The guy that runs our zen group said that to them it's just another noise along with the sounds of birds singing, trains going by, traffic, etc and that it in no way impacted their meditation. It was just me projecting my own embarrassment on the others.
    It was only when I went on a 3 day retreat that I experienced for myself all the weird and wonderful things that people involuntarily do when meditating ! :D

    Take care,
  • edited April 2006
    that is very good advice vach, thank you.

    So what I got from your post is that when distractions arise, acknowledge them briefly and then re-focus attention to the mind. I have been trying to do this regularly and I have noticed that I don't notice distractions as much anymore. I hear a distraction or feel it, but it passes fairly quickly and doesnt really grab my concentration for as long.

    I guess it comes with practice, practice, practice!
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