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Head rolls are very helpful!

When it occurred to me to post what I regard as a useful tip, there was no intention of starting (or participating in) any discussion. I don't have the time to keep "ping-ponging" remarks and replies. However, the tip that I offer has been so very fruitful that I feel it would be a crime not to post about it.

Many years ago after an X-ray examination, a doctor advised me that there was a condition in the neck called spondylitis. When I turned my head, it felt stiff and was painful, and I believed it would stay in that condition for the rest of my life. However, about twenty years ago, I acquired my first computer and was able to gain access to information very easily. By chance, I came across a page about the exercise known as neck circles or neck-rolls etc., and gave it a try, thinking that it might loosen up my neck. After many years of doing these neck rolls, I am able to report that (several years ago) a remarkable improvement in my neck occurred. Now, I can turn, or roll, my head as much as and for as long as I like, with not the slightest stiffness or discomfort, much less pain! Now, anyone that would like to try this exercise should consult the Internet before doing so, because there are caveats about the practice. Done wrongly, it is a potential source of damage to the neck. I should say that I had been doing it for years (with no ill-effects) before I learned about its dangers, so perhaps the cautions are just published as a matter of principle, rather than because injury might easily occur. As I found, it is possible to be too cautious.

Readers may wonder why information about neck-rolls should be posted on a Buddhist forum. Let me continue, and judge for yourself.

Over several years, I discovered that a session of neck-rolling (sitting in bed with my wife, after coffee) had a very marked effect on "my" state. By this, I mean that, many, many times (in fact, nearly every time a session occurred), a spontaneous state of meditation would arise. Many times, my wife would leave me sitting there, and go about her business, knowing that I would not rise for at least half an hour. On occasion, these sessions last much longer, but one's breakfast cannot be left for too long on the kitchen table, and it becomes necessary for me to reluctantly break off the meditation, and rise. Many are the times after a session of neck-rolling, when a state of heightened consciousness will occur. Whether there is any lasting benefit from these sessions, I cannot say. However, I am profoundly grateful for them. They strengthen my faith in invisible forces, and they certainly have bestowed insights that would not have arisen through thinking about the dharma.

Though what is written above is perfectly true, I used to wonder why it happened. I have heard of the Dervishes that rotate at dizzying speed, then go into a trance. There also is the remark made by R.W. Emerson, who, in one of his essays (I don't remember which), referred to a sect of his times (also, the name of this Christian sect escapes me), who had a practice of doing what he called a "Bruin-dance" ("shuffling about", as he put it, and dancing as bears were trained to dance, I presume), and by this practice, found some kind of spiritual state that helped them. (I have tried to find out more about this sect and the dance, but without success. I cannot even find out in which essay of Emerson's the reference to it is.) I read the essay many, many years ago. Blessings be on Ralph Emerson!

The mind (consciousness) and the body are linked — there is no doubt about that. (I think of breathing exercises and yoga.) All the same, it is rather strange that valuable meditation states can arise in the way I describe. I hope others may find this observation helpful.

If anyone wishes to ask a question about the above, I should be very willing to answer it in due course, but as stated, there simply is not the time to engage in any discussion.



  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Interesting you should post this. I followed a guided meditation from a Zen Center (I’ll use the American spelling as that’s how they refer to themselves).
    As it started the teacher said it will be 25 / 10 / 25.
    So after sitting for 25 mins suddenly we were standing and doing exercises!
    One of these exercises was the neck rolling similar to what you’ve mentioned above.
    Then back to 25 minutes sitting.

  • Even though I can do most exercises just fine, if I try neck rolling, I get dizzy and light-headed very soon. Any ideas as to what's going on?

  • I do calisthenics and stretches with breathing twice a week. As part of stretching/breathing I do three head turns side to side, three head look up and down, and three raise shoulders while I scrunch my face muscles and brow muscles.

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