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The urge to swallow can be quite distracting when you're first learning to meditate. Here are a few tips to help you stay focused.

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Feeling that urge to swallow can be really distracting when you're first learning to focus on a particular object. And it happens to quite a lot of people. In fact, it's such a key component that traditionally when these types of exercises were taught, there were seven key points to the posture. And the way we set up the mouth and the tongue was actually the seventh point. And it was there very specifically to help us to prevent this constant production of saliva and this feeling of needing to swallow. So I'm gonna give you a tip on how you can prevent that from happening, and also talk a little bit about how to approach the feeling. 'Cause sometimes it's not that we actually need to swallow, there's just a habit, as well. So as you begin your meditation, if you just make sure your head is balanced nicely on your neck, it sounds funny, but then, if you've ever seen people falling asleep on the train, or the bus and their, they set their chin on their chest, if you do that, it's likely to change the way that the swallowing process works. Equally, if you go too far back and your chin is high in the air, then that will affect it, as well. So just making sure that the head is nicely balanced. Now, inside the mouth, although this might sound strange at first, if you just very lightly press your tongue against the roof of the mouth. Now, it sounds when I say press as though you're having to do something, but actually remember the mouth is closed. So it doesn't really require any effort at all. It's not like you have to keep the muscles in the tongue engaged through the entire session. The tongue will naturally kind of rest there once we've kind of set it in that position. And as long as it stays in that position, again, without any force, without any kind of extra effort, then we just won't experience that feeling of needing to swallow. So it's really helpful if you can, if you take the time to set that up at the beginning of each session. But as I say, sometimes it's become such a kind of thing in our, or such a habit when we sit down to do these sessions, there's still psychologically something that makes us kind of want to swallow. Now, not always, but sometimes it can be indicative of just focusing a little too intensely and just trying a bit too hard. So if you see that happening, just remembering, Oh yeah. Okay. I see. I really don't need to do anything here. If I'm following my breath, well, the body knows how to breathe. So I'm just following the natural rhythm of the breath. If it's a visualization, okay, I'm just imagining that that's already happening in the mind. I don't really kind of need to do anything. So the less effort...


Duration4 min

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  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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