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Are you tensing up in meditation instead of relaxing?

by | Feb 22, 2023 | Awareness, Breath, Buddha, Buddha, Ego, Meditation, Meditation, Mindfulness, Sensations, Silence


A teacher said that “If you practice mindfulness too much, you cannot relax and experience the unknown.” I had been pondering on this a lot, I find it true and untrue at the same time. During my Satipatthana meditation, I tend to feel tense and stiffness when I am mindful about all the sensations in me, the relaxation does not happen easily. So here it is true that if mindfulness is too much, I cannot relax. Then during my morning walk, I realized that I am walking barefoot mindfully in the park, 100% mindfulness in every step and every breath I take. Surprisingly, I felt relaxed and calm, I even can ‘hear’ the quietness inside of me despite all the people walking and activities happening around me. Being mindful can be relaxing as well! Didi, can you throw some light on this? Am I putting too much effort when practicing mindfulness?



For all beginners of meditation, there is a regular issue that pops up and that is the tensing up of the muscles. This is usually because a new meditator does not know better. Why? He has just begun and therefore has an immature meditating style.


Immature meditating style:

Focusing on a meditation object is the style of the beginner in meditation.

He is deeply focussing on his object, whether it is breath or a sound in the mind or any other meditation object. Focusing is like using a spotlight. It is definitely going to cause tensing up of the muscles. This is an immature meditating style but it is better than nothing and okay for a beginner. Such a person needs individual meditation-mentorship to understand what he/she is doing so he can gradually mature in meditation.

Mature meditating style:

For someone who has been practicing for a long time, defocussing happens automatically [if he is mentored correctly]. A sincere meditator slowly learns to relax from focussing on the object. He graduates to a stage of melting away or collapsing his attention into the silence beyond the object. Thus he moves from using the spotlight to using the floodlight.

This is taught in details in a 10-day Buddha retreat so the meditator learns to let-go of his previous spotlight-meditating style and adopt the relaxation of the floodlight-style. Every meditator gradually learns to relax.

Therefore, if you hear that any meditation causes tensing up of muscles and prevents relaxation, know that it is coming from an immature meditation practice or incorrect understanding and has nothing to do with any particular type of meditation technique specifically dear. Let’s now understand the real meaning of mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is nothing but a practice of awareness.
– At first one practices by relaxing into the awareness of the breath,
– and then by relaxing into the awareness of sensations happening in the body-mind complex,
which finally leads to the realization that one is just a field of awareness.

That is what is unknown to the mind-ego complex. This is the biggest milestone for any meditator. How can knowing yourself lead to anything but relaxation?

Awareness/Mindfulness only leads to the relaxation of the ego and then to its final collapse. The unknown can be reached only when the Ego collapses into that all-pervading field of awareness, where there is no ‘I’, where there is no ‘you’.


Be mindful of being mindful dear. You will find home! May you reach the highest Truth soon dear!



Have questions? Reach out to Ekta by clicking on the “Ask a Question” button on the left sidebar. For attending Ekta’s online knowledge sessions, click the “Gnyana Sangha” button on the left sidebar.


  1. Hetal

    How can a beginner/immature meditator find the mentorship to learn the right way of meditating and to correct the mistake?

    • Gnyana Sangha

      Find a teacher who provides individual personalized meditation mentorship.

  2. Nehal Shah

    Ektaji has a very nice explanation.

    For the longest time, I was confused on one pointedness, zero pointedness (Shunyata) and multi-pointedness (regular life).

    So how come one pointedness cumilates to Shunyata(zero ness) or no mind. Idea is to transcend the mind. But, mind is like a monkey, jumping around all over the place. Like Ektaji said, during meditation initially there is one pointedness, in the form of focussing on an object, reaching single pointedness. This state of single pointedness, makes the monkey mind cool down. And like Ektaji, said that one pointedness, then cumilates into Shunyata(no mind).

    And to the question on muscle tensing or pain due to sitting in a single posture for a long time, again like Ektaji said, is due to initial stages of meditation practice. That is why patanjali specifically advised to work on “Asana” as one of the key stages. Once Asana is firm, the practitioner can automatically focus. Another factor is pratihar (withdrawal of senses). If the Sadhak has mastered the first four steps, Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama, the next step Pratihar comes naturally.

    Nowadays, most systems, including AOL systems, don’t work on distinct steps. Everything is blended i.e. blend on working on Yama together with Asana and with Pranayama.

    Eventually, comes the fun part aka Dharna, Dhyana. Once these is mastered in meditation, comes Samadhi. And that is game over. Samadhi will cumulate into converting the sadhak into a Arahat (Buddhist), Arihant (Jains), Sant (Sikh), Oneness (Christians) and many other names. This person has attained Nirvana, mukti, Self-realization, kevalya or whatever other words used.

    To reach this highest state, we have to go through trials and tribulations. We should be ready to go through life’s challenges with a smile on our face. That includes pain due to energy blockages during our meditation.

    There is light at the end of the tunnel. And with a smile on our face, let us drudge towards the goal.

  3. Suman walia

    Yes it is true that only immature mind found itself in tension in meditation very well explained 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

  4. Tonya



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