Blog

Body Movements in Meditation

January 9, 2009

I’ve had a lot of questions about spontaneous body movements in meditation. People report shaking, the head moving, twitches and all sorts of other body movements. When these movements occur, it can be surprising and sometimes people feel concerned about them or want to know if they have any significance.

Regardless of what kind of movements you have and what you are experiencing before they happen and as they are occurring, body movements that come up in meditation are the primarily the result of two things: 1)┬árelease of tension from the deep relaxation of meditation; and 2) increased flow of energy in your body’s “energy field” (or “aura”) which starts to move “blocks”. In a sense these could be thought of as the same thing, but each explanation has a value in understanding your experience.

  1. Release of tension. This is quite obvious. When the body becomes deeply relaxed in meditation, muscles start to relax. Usually this would be felt as twitches and small movements such as your thumb jumping, but it could also be a larger movement — your head might suddenly turn.
  2. Increased flow of energy in the energy field moving through blocks. This is a more esoteric explanation, but you may actually feel the movement as being associated with “energy” (see some of the comments on the Sensing Energy during Meditation post). In this case, deep meditation is opening up some energy pathways and as more energy starts to flow it can hit up against blocks. As the energy dissolves the blocks, the body may spontaneously shake or twist and turn since everything that happens in our energy field is reflected in the body. (Read about the Human Energy Field.)

The question then is, what should I do about this? There’s really nothing you need to do unless the movements are too strong or disturbing you in some way. If that’s the case, you can simply open your eyes. This will help you to come out of the deep state you are in and the movements will naturally subside. Take it easy and come out of meditation slowly.

If the movements don’t disturb you, just let them happen without trying to manipulate them in any way. It’s better to not get involved with the movements, trying to make them happen or continue. Just let them happen spontaneously on their own, not resisting them and not getting involved with them. In a sense, you can treat them like thoughts in meditation.

Note: Of course, if you have unusual movements happening outside of meditation or have any other symptoms of concern, it’s always advisable to consult a health care provider to make sure there isn’t a medical condition you need to tend to.

Related post: Sensing Energy during Meditation

Comments

44 Responses to “Body Movements in Meditation”

  1. karthik on January 15th, 2009 7:30 pm

    Hey Mary,

    Interesting post. I made a post some time back on this.. Basically a collection of articles that explain involuntary body movements:
    http://philomusings.blogspot.com/2008/05/rocking-motion-during-meditation.html

    The reasons you give are essentially what these articles describe with some of them also referring to the kundalini energy movement.

  2. Mary on January 16th, 2009 10:37 am

    Thanks for sending this link, karthik — a good list of references. I enjoyed visiting your blog — a thoughtful, insightful and open sharing of your process of seeking and growth.

    Yes, the increased energy flow I describe can be considered to be related to kundalini energy rising up the spine. I like to keep things simple…

  3. Dona Attygalle on January 17th, 2009 12:59 am

    Is it normal to feel a deep tingle/tingling sensation in the area right above the nose, in between the eyebrows while in deep meditation? At times it can be felt as a tightening or a movement inside. It spreads into the head area and can be felt as bugs crawling on top of my head. I am very concerned about this. Could this possibly be an indication of a disease in my brain? Please help.

  4. Mary on January 17th, 2009 10:47 am

    Hi Dona,
    Energy moving is often sensed as a tingling sensation. You are experiencing it in the location of the 6th chakra (the “ajna”, often called the “third eye”.) So it’s very likely that there is an opening, or increased flow of energy, in that chakra. The sense of it spreading into the head indicates the energy is moving up to the crown chakra at the very top of the head. The activation or opening of the crown can be experienced in all sorts of ways, and sometimes people do describe the feeling of bugs crawling.

    Since this experience is coming up in deep meditation, it is highly likely that it is associated with activation of the chakras. Of course it is always wise to check with your health care provider about any symptoms that concern you.

  5. karthik on January 17th, 2009 7:56 pm

    Dona,

    My two cents:
    I experience the tingling sensation/vibrations on my head often during meditation and quite often during guided meditations. I also experience a pulling sensation on my forehead sometimes. I also experience vibrations in my fingers when I sit down to meditate.
    Since it is happening to you during meditation, I think it has to do with the chakras as Mary pointed out.

  6. Dona Attygalle on January 18th, 2009 4:55 pm

    Thank you Mary, I’ve found your answer very useful as I’ve started searching and reading about Chakras.

  7. Dona Attygalle on January 18th, 2009 4:57 pm

    Dear Karthik,
    Thank you for responding, It’s good to know that others too experience similar things in meditation. I have started reading about Chakras as this is new knowledge to me.

  8. Joseph Hoydilla on January 29th, 2009 10:12 am

    Hello,
    I’ve been meditating for over ten years and have had many bodily movements after I received shaktipad from a teacher. My problem is that the movements are getting old and I wish I could just sit still and meditate at a zen center and just be. Does this ever pass? I used to have good luck with the open eye meditation, but lately that hasn’t been working either.

    Thanks,
    Joe

  9. Mary on January 29th, 2009 11:24 am

    Hi Joe,
    It’s hard to say without knowing more about what kind of meditation you are doing, how you are doing it and so on.

    It’s possible the shaktipad caused a flow of energy to meet some blocks that haven’t moved. You might try having an energy healing session — Reiki, Healing Touch or Therapeutic Touch. That might help smooth things out. You might also have to adjust how long or often you meditate.

  10. Robert Gentle on April 19th, 2009 1:01 am

    Hi

    I experience spontaneous body movements five to seven minutes into my meditation. They range from complete yoga movements to placing of my hands on my chakras and tracing shapes in the air with my arms and hands. I sometimes feel heat around my third eye, my chin, and what feels like pulsating waves of energy/current through my fingers. It disturbed me at first, but now it’s become normal and I just let it be. Quite cool, really. But I still have no idea what it all means!

  11. Mary on April 19th, 2009 12:01 pm

    Hi Robert, It’s fascinating, really, what can happen. Of course yoga movements as well as tracing symbols (as done mentally in Reiki) all serve a purpose. And with energy coming through the hands, there could be some sort of self-balancing thing going on. Who knows? We really don’t need to know what it all means!

  12. Jeff on April 23rd, 2009 3:42 pm

    I am a beginner who was searching the web for a little guidance and saw this thread. I get the tingle feeling (usually starting at the crown) and can spread it or move it around my body. Does anyone have any advice or books to read so that I can further my understanding of what I am doing?

  13. Veronica on July 2nd, 2009 5:11 pm

    Hi my name is Veronica I just started meditating for like 1 week and i love it..But i told sombody about my movements and they answered that it was wrong that is a misinterpretation of meditation. Is that true cuz i love meditating and what it does to me.(lots of movements) Is that wrong?

  14. Mary on July 3rd, 2009 8:38 am

    Hi Veronica. I don’t know what kind of meditation you are doing and without knowing how you meditate, I can’t be sure of how to answer. I will say a couple general things.

    First, there is no one right way to meditate. There are many different styles and philosophies and you need to find what is right for you. If you ask around, you may get all sorts of different answers!

    In the meditation style on this website, it is not “wrong” to have body movements. They can just happen spontaneously and it’s not necessary to try and stop them if they are not causing you a problem or making you uncomfortable. On the other hand, I wouldn’t encourage movements and try to make them happen — not because it’s “wrong” or harmful, but because the meditation is more effective when you don’t do that. But remember, this all applies to meditating in the style we teach here, or meditating along with our guided meditations.

  15. Shirley Thompson on July 20th, 2009 1:56 pm

    During a sparring match, someone stepped on my foot and I had a difficult time getting my foot loose. Someone told me to take a deep breath and try and release my foot at the same time. This worked! Why?

  16. Mary on July 21st, 2009 8:51 am

    Shirley, I really don’t know, but you might want to research Chi Kung for an explanation. It probably has to do with increasing chi (energy) with the breath.

  17. Alex on July 25th, 2009 7:55 pm

    How about this, I came home from work last night, sat down to have dinner, and halfway through eating my pasta my neck started to pull in one direction. (I pulled my neck/shoulders a day before that, and went for a massage the same day to try and loosen my stiff muscles. It helped) So during dinner it didn’t feel wrong it was actually quite pleasureable, it felt like my body was trying to do its own stretching, so i relaxed my neck and gave in to what was a three hour long Tai-chi-esque session of my head rolling gently from side to side, up and down, stretching the muscles, my torso felt like turning to one side and then the other way, my hands and arms would feel like lifting up, turning, stretching. The closest known feeling I could compare it to would be the ‘pull” of your hands upwards after you carry heavy bags for a while, only in numerous directions, changing, one after another, gentle, and yet so strange.. I don’t take drugs :) and the pasta was fresh. Honest. I do meditate using those audio tracks before I go to sleep 3-4 times a week, but haven’t done so for 2 days prior to this event. P.S. the strain in my neck has completely gone away, I had a really good sleep and feeling awesome. Has anyone heard of/experienced something similar?

  18. Mary on July 26th, 2009 10:14 am

    This is really interesting, Eric!

    I suspect that the body is always wanting to make it’s own adjustments. It has the intelligence to do so — we just don’t usually listen. It sounds like you gave in to the way your body wanted to move to bring about some self-correction. You allowed it to “do its thing”. I usually allow sometime for what I consider to be intuitive body movement after my yoga and stretches, but have never gone on for hours. Three hours is quite a marathon! Sounds like the results of this were really good.

    As for its connection with meditation — it may be that because of meditating you have become more in tune with your body, more intuitive and more able to “go with the flow”.

  19. sonya on July 31st, 2009 3:13 am

    during medtation my feet move in tune like running in air, its a strange feeling but i go with it, it also makes my headaches go straight away.

  20. Mary on July 31st, 2009 10:07 am

    Interesting, Sonya. Great that meditating is making your headaches go. My guess is that your feet moving isn’t the cause of the headaches going, but more of a “by-product” of the release of tension happening in the meditation.

  21. mike sam on September 4th, 2009 1:54 pm

    Hi, i am new to the forum and have a question about my meditation. Each time i meditate, my head starts moving from front to back. It first starts slowly, then it gets faster. Sometimes it moves sideways. It really goes very fast at times that i feel a lot of energy around me. It’s like i am spinning in a flow of energy. I usually get scared at this point(when it gets really fast) and open my eyes, then it stops. I have been meditating for about 2 months. Is it normal what is happening to me?

  22. Mary on September 5th, 2009 9:07 am

    mike sam, It’s always tricky for me to comment on an experience when I don’t know anything about you and what kind of meditation you are doing and so on. I can say that these kinds of experiences do happen to people in meditation and as discussed previously are usually the expression of energy flowing more strongly through the system causing the release of tension in the muscles. This produces movement. Even the deep relaxation of meditation can cause the release of tension.

    You can do just what you are already doing — open your eyes to stop it when it gets to be too much. If it happens also outside of meditation, it’s always good to check it out medically and make sure there isn’t a medical reason for it.

    If this only happens in meditation and you are feeling good in your daily activity from the meditation, there’s probably no need to be concerned. If you start to be “spacey” or ungrounded in activity, you could be releasing too much and it would be good to meditate less.

  23. Renz on September 9th, 2009 4:40 pm

    Hi,

    I tried meditation for the 1st time today and i got a bit scared, because as i was clearing my mind completely and breathed, my breath intakes started to get shorter until i hardly breathed. Then I saw lights and felt a strong tingling sensation all over my body furthermore my heart started pounding really strong and quickly. After this i opened my eyes in shock.
    Because i tried this in the evening, i tried to go and sleep but i automatically went back into the meditation state.
    Please tell me if something is wrong, because now i cannot sleep.

    Renz

  24. Mary on September 10th, 2009 9:58 am

    Hi Renz, Sounds like you need some mentoring with an experienced meditation guide. It’s not possible to give you advice for this in a comment here — there’s too much to discuss.

  25. Andrew on September 13th, 2009 1:06 pm

    Hello, started meditating 2 days ago, started with 15 mins, then 30, nothing happened, then 45 mins and finally 1 hour, at the one hour point, i couldn’t feel my body at all, it was amazing but a bit scary, prior to that had some strange small movements over my body, but didnt worry. I was observing my breathing all the way through it was amazing. But then i think i got a bit freaked when i conciously couldnt feel my body at all, i mean i knew my body was there but i couldnt feel it, so i told my self to stop. When i opened my eyes, i felt absolutley stoned or not quite there, had to wait for a few minutes for this to pass, is all of this sound normal to you guys?
    And next time i get to not feeling my body what do i do, next, i mean do i just chill and let it carry on. Its so cool

  26. Mary on September 14th, 2009 9:17 am

    Andrew, I hesitate to say a lot when I’m not familiar with you and how you are trying to meditate. I can comment more easily when people are using our meditations. I can say a couple things though.

    When the awareness goes very deep in meditation, we can lose the sense of our body. But an hour is a long time to meditate — maybe too much. You noticed that when you opened your eyes you felt “not quite there”. Meditating a lot can make you ungrounded. If that just lasts a few minutes and then you’re fine and everything goes well in your activity, it’s not a problem. But if you start feeling “stoned” and “not quite there” a lot during your activity, it’s not a good thing. The ultimate goal of meditation isn’t to have cool experiences, but to enhance your quality of life.

    Since you’re so new to meditation, take it slowly, and perhaps seek the guidance of an experienced teacher.

  27. Ajay on September 19th, 2009 11:24 am

    I am practicing yoga past few days. When I am alone or sleeping, I feel some sort of movement from left shoulder to head to right shoulder and vice versa for a minute.

  28. Andrew on September 24th, 2009 2:44 pm

    Thanks for your reply and advice mary, i havent tried since but i am going to start again soon :)

  29. Gina on November 18th, 2009 6:01 pm

    Thank you Mary for your simple explanation. My head started shaking over a year ago. The intensity would very but it was most intense when I meditated and was sort of in a sleep but aware state. I did not know what it all meant. I finally got my “head” checked out (MRI) and all was ok there. Finding this site further confirmed that all is well with me.:)

  30. Pirabu on February 5th, 2010 7:46 am

    Andrew the actual essance of Meditation is to rid of the MAYA (illusion-Visual & Matter) and to set the one (called JIVAN) inside free. Your attempt is a good start. Just set an alarm and do it for 20 to 30 min in the starting weeks. You can do it more times. But do it in smaller time periods. It is a clearing process. Say like a warm up before going into trying to cross a sea by swimming. This meditaion process is more than getting you to have a cool life. Life sequence is predetermined but you can make it cool to start with but the actual rewards are far reaching than this “COOL”.
    Sometime your body may create static electricity also. You may experiance when touching metals!! interesting right?!! Enjoy your practise

  31. JASON on August 12th, 2010 7:48 am

    Hi, i’m relatively new to meditation and i am enjoying it, but i always find when focusing on my breath that i get twitches, almost like a jerking to my breathing ,i’m trying not to control the breathing and just observe but it seems like my consiousness keeps kicking in and trying to take over, does this get easier with time? and is it common to have difficulty trying not to controlthe breath? Also quite often – althought not always – i get a tingling all over, usually starting at my fingertips, is this the energy you mentioned above?

  32. Mary on August 12th, 2010 8:49 am

    Jason, try meditating with our Breath Awareness Meditation (in our free podcast). That may help you with doing this type of meditation. If you have been using the meditation and having these experiences, read our Difficulty Meditating, page about Breathing Meditations and Meditation Guidelines pages and see if those help.

    The tingling may be sensing energy, but it could also be related to how you are breathing.

  33. Ellie on September 27th, 2010 3:45 pm

    my friend told me that when she meditates she feels a soft thrumming but when i meditate i feel a strong pounding like someone’s constatntly kicking the chair im sitting in is this normal?

  34. Mary on September 28th, 2010 9:22 am

    Ellie, people can experience all sorts of things in meditation. This certainly isn’t a “usual” experience. As I suggested on our other blog, it would be a good idea to find an experienced energy worker or teacher to help you sort out your experiences.

  35. Seeka on January 30th, 2011 3:06 pm

    Hi Renz,

    That was a great meditation experience. Nothing to be afraid about. Sounds pretty normal. THis is a good place to start in looking for a good teacher.

    http://www.blue-star.org/home.htm

    Seeka

  36. Anisha on March 2nd, 2011 2:34 am

    @Alex on July 25th, 2009 7:55 pm

    I’m so glad I found this post! I have had similar body movement experiences as Alex every day for about 1 week, and I was wondering whether it was “normal.” Reading these posts has made me feel a lot more assured. However, I’m still a little confused, because, unlike most people here, I don’t get these experiences when I meditate. In fact, I haven’t been trying to meditate at all, and I find it very difficult to do so.

    It all started when I began to listen to Solfeggio frequencies on YouTube. At first, when I listened to frquency 528 Hz, I would get what I call a cool “healing current” in certain parts of my body. After 3 sessions, my hands wanted to move by themselves. On the 5th or 6th time, my hips and torso and legs also wanted to twist and turn involuntarily while I was listening to the music. A week ago, I listened to frequency 528 again, and when it ended, my body still wanted to keep moving, just as Alex’s head and torso did for 3 hours. The feeling still hasn’t gone away. I can control it, of course, when I am in front of other people. But when I am alone, I always feel like moving involuntarily, twisting and turning my torso and arms and legs in the air. I often give in, and if I don’t make myself stop, it can go on for hours. The movements have become so large and systemic that I sometimes end up on the floor doing stretches or yoga postures. Moreover, whenever I walk, I feel the same physical force that guides my body movements, pulling my feet in the direction that they are supposed to be walking — to my classes, to the cafeteria, etc. Once, the force made me to run to a metro station, where I just barely made it in time to catch the train back to my school.

    Often, while I am moving involuntarily, I feel the same cool healing currents running through those parts of my body that were sore before. Also, I feel a pressure or coolness or tingling between my eyebrows. For 3 days, these sensations did not leave, even while I was in class.

    The reason why I am confused about all of this is because these body movements and sensations don’t happen when I am meditating. They happen as I am going about my daily life. In fact, as I write this post, my torso is involuntarily swaying. Is it normal for a few sessions of listening to solfeggio harmonics to cause all of this, even without meditation?

  37. WIBI on March 20th, 2011 6:09 pm

    by following my feet I can find a secret way, in meditation hands, feet and breath sistemic moves automatically. such as tai chi movements. sometimes., can interact with sunlight, air, and shadows. what is happening to me. please help me

  38. Mary on March 22nd, 2011 8:41 am

    WIBI, you need to find a meditation teacher or energy worker who can talk with you and go into depth into what is going on. It’s impossible to do in a comment on a website. Try to find a local meditation expert.

  39. Mary M on August 9th, 2011 2:08 pm

    Someone just told me that when she meditated, her body actually rotate on its own. Is it possible that the body moves around like that during deep meditation? Is it normal?

  40. Mary on August 9th, 2011 5:02 pm

    Mary M, Twisting could easily happen, but rotating all the way around — 360┬░ — is hard to imagine. She could feel as if she is rotating, and not actually rotate physically, though.

  41. Maisie on August 26th, 2011 6:24 am

    I have often wondered if the rhythmic head movement I have always experienced when meditating – and which I do understand could relate to the third eye chakra – might be ultimately therapeutic, ie if I really stayed with it might I eventually have a breakthrough into a more permanent relaxed state? Do you know of any experiences of this happening?

  42. Mary on August 26th, 2011 8:40 am

    Maisie, it’s impossible for us to answer that for you, but if the movement comes about as some tension is unwinding or being released, it could lead to a more relaxed state. In general with movements, the guideline would be not to resist them, but also not to “favor” them in any way (in other words not doing anything from your side to promote them).

  43. Nick on August 26th, 2011 1:27 pm

    Hi,
    Just a question about eye movements. I am in the early stages of practising zen meditation. I sit for either 10 or 30 minutes. A little while in, my eyes move, usually rhythmically and quite quickly, from centre to left, repeatedly. I’ve had hypnotherapy before, and remember eye movements (a little different, yet similar). I certainly feel different during this time, when the eye movements are happening, and it’s good. Certainly awake and aware. I’m a bit confused as to whether this should be happening? And not sure exactly what is happening?
    THanks,
    Nick

  44. Mary on August 26th, 2011 3:56 pm

    Nick, since you are practicing Zen meditation, it’s best for you to seek advice from a Zen teacher. That’s not our background. Good luck.

Copyright © 2006-2014 Mary and Richard Maddux. Meditation Oasis is a registered trademark.