The Next Buddha is Sangha

Dear Abhi,

What Advice can you give me about having a tight jaw when meditationg. I have tried to place my tongue behind the bottom teeth, but this does not have a strong effect. Are there other ways to release the jaw when sitting?

Ananda Beth

Dear Ananda Beth,

Here are some ideas you might try, I found these helpful when tension points arises in my body.

Try doing a body scan when you first start to sit, start from the top of your head and slowly go to the toes, making note of the conditions you find in the body all together. Do this before you start your concentration practice.This sets the intention that you are interested in your whole body and bringing ease into your sitting practice.

Metta is always a deep and valuable practice, bringing metta to your whole being. This you can do at the beginning of a sit or at the end. Since you have experienced jaw tension it might be good to do some sitting that is just metta practice focused. If you sit twice a day make one sit a metta practice. Direct it first toward yourself and then outward toward others.

It can be helpful with aversive mind states (I don’t want a tight jaw), to do some mental noting, pleasant, unpleasant, neutral, noting where your mind settles. See if it is possible to develop over time a more relaxed, easeful relationship with aversive thoughts, pains in the body and other conditions where strong aversion arises. This is a powerful practice.

It is always helpful to remember the four foundations of mindfulness. You can work here with the body, awareness of the body the way it is, if there is tension, is that not the way it is? Does it need to be removed? Why do you want to get rid of it?

Lastly, consider the judgement you need a loose jaw, or possibly a loose jaw will make me a better meditator? Will a loose jaw make you a better meditator, or mean you are or are not a better meditator? All of these are ideas, but do they have a substance we should cling too? Try to relax and observe the judgements with mindfulness and ease.

Ananda, your question was great. I hope some of the meditation tools I have mentioned can be of benefit to you. Remember we are practicing; all of these suggestions should be worked with over time. Kindness, effort, energy and ease can be of the greatest benefit! Thank you so much for sharing this with the sangha, I hope my words have been of some help.

With much metta,
Nancy Glimm