Tongue Placement Question

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Tongue Placement Question

Post by StickFigure »


I have somewhat of a silly problem, but it's my current obstacle to meditation and after googling this quite a bit, and trying to solve it on my own, I just wanted to get some input. I've been meditating casually on and off for over a year, but recently decided to get more serious about it. I am following the Mindfulness In Plain English guide at ... nglish.php" onclick=";return false;. Overall, it's a very useful resource, but it doesn't say anything about where to place your tongue during meditation. In many other places, I have seen that people suggest placing the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth, or against the place just behind the front teeth, or against the teeth themselves. This is done mostly to decrease salivation and swallowing during meditation, but also perhaps to connect some energy pathways of the body.

I have tried to do that, but there are several issues. One, it's not very clear where exactly and how the tongue is supposed to be placed, because different places have different specifics and sometimes use different terminology. The second and more important issue, is that my tongue does not naturally stick to the top of my mouth. It might stick for a while, but eventually, as meditation goes on, it starts moving downward. Because of this, it seems like to make it stick, I have to apply pressure upward, and this both tenses up my mouth and also distracts me from the meditation itself, as I am often thinking about whether the tongue is getting loose and so on.

After that, I decided to just do meditation with my tongue in the loose position (just free in the mouth). But now, I am always worried that I am not doing it right, that after a while, the saliva will start flowing, or that the tongue is too loose in the mouth.

So I guess my question is, is this stuff really important or am I just concentrating too much on unimportant details? Can I stick with the tongue being just naturally loose or should I try to touch the roof of the mouth (and if so, how do i keep it from sliding off)? I appreciate any responses, especially from people who maybe also went through something like this.
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Re: Tongue Placement Question

Post by Virgo »

Hi StickFigure,

I don't think it makes a difference. I hope that helps.

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Re: Tongue Placement Question

Post by Reductor »

If loose tongue doesn't bother you, then there isn't really a problem. I doubt you'll be swallowing often enough or hard enough to be an issue anyway.

However, I do start my meditation by placing the front of my tongue to the top of my mouth and then swallowing as much of my saliva as possible. As to where against the roof to place it, I'd say anywhere is fine, so long as it feels comfortable and you can do that first swallowing. It is then easy to leave the tongue there and focus more on my meditation. But I don't pay much attention to it after that and don't recall being bothered by it coming loose (perhaps it does, but really it doesn't matter).
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Re: Tongue Placement Question

Post by Viscid »

I've had issues with swallowing and excess saliva and tongue placing, but found that becoming too overly conscious about what's going on in my mouth (even when it leads to swallowing) is more distracting than the saliva/swallowing itself.
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Re: Tongue Placement Question

Post by Ben »

As Kevin said - it doesn't actually matter.
However, I understand that its a distraction.
The following you might be helpful:
- straight back and neck
- tip of your tongue (gently) touching the back of your top front teeth.
- and if you need to swallow - swallow.
Just don't worry about it.
kind regards,

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loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
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Re: Tongue Placement Question

Post by Cittasanto »

I second Ben's advice, I have excess saliva from time to time, I have on occasion tried limiting my liquid, and solid intake before sitting which helped.
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Re: Tongue Placement Question

Post by Fede »

when i attended my local monastery, where i used to live, I sat in meditation, and a lady asked the same question...
her problem was that her mouth, tongue and what was in between her teeth - became an irritating distraction... (we very often had a meditaton session after lunch, and it wasn't always possible or practical to go and brush our teeth beforehand!)
the monk heading the session, smiled, and to paraphrase, (Can't remember precisely word for word, but it's pretty close) replied:

"So, the tongue moves, the food moves, the saliva gathers and fills.... really, it's not too important.
Deal with it as you would any distraction, any small noise, any irritation.
do it, then just go on.
It doesn't really matter how you control your mouth, teeth and tongue in meditation.... it's easy.... controlling the mouth teeth and tongue, in day-to-day living is hard enough...!
don't make a burden for yourself, believing everything must be still, inactive, immobile....
just sit, focus, breathe and be mindful. and whatever you need to do, do it, then just return to mindfulness, but don't focus on what you need to do, to be mindful. just do it, and move on. "

controlling the mouth teeth and tongue is enough of a challenge in our day-to-day living.
without fixating on them in meditation.


just do it.
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Re: Tongue Placement Question

Post by StickFigure »

Thank you very much for your responses, guys, they were very helpful.
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