I have only started meditating for only 2-3 weeks. But now I cannot seem to meditate properly. Whenever I sit for meditation, there are several problems, like increased salivation, feeling of being pressed in the chest and like not getting breath after a few minutes, which to go away I have to take a deep breath. The same just process repeats itself for the whole 20 minutes I sit for meditation. I sit in the burmese position with pillow under my butt, on the bed.

I would be glad if someone please helped me.

3 Answers 3


Whenever I sit for meditation, there are several problems, like increased salivation, feeling of being pressed in the chest and like not getting breath after a few minutes...

As a physiotherapist I would like to briefly explain the anatomy of poor posture related to meditation practice.

First of all, you want to sit on a firm surface, not a soft surface like a bed. Thats due to the anatomical structure of the spine. The spine has an "S"-curved shape meaning that biomechanically it allows to act like a spring when loaded.

When sitting on a soft surface your muscles need to work much harder in keeping your spine erect. Failing to do so results in slumping. Slumping here means that the posterior hip and spine muscles contract, thereby limiting the working space available for the diaphragm. You see the diaphragm needs to be able to move up and down in order for the lungs to expand. When one is slumped over one is actively putting restriction on the air passage by decreasing the thoracic cavity.

That is why you are feeling like the chest is being compressed and air moves slower and restricted. An analogy would be having a water hose and then bending the hose so that the water flow gets restricted.

When sitting in an upright posture with spine erect the diaphragm can move up and down unhindered thereby increasing ventilation and air passage.

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My advice would be to change your sitting posture from a soft surface onto a firm surface.

When sitting you want to:

  • Keep the spine erect to increase working conditions for the diaphragm.

  • Keep pelvis in neutral position. Look at the nice and neutral position of the pelvis in the illustration with proper posture. Now look at the left illustration with the malalignment. See how the pelvis is posteriorly tilted. That is not a good posture since it causes many secondary problems to arise.

Regarding sitting options there are various options to try out. See illustration below.

enter image description here

The insight meditational way to deal with e.g. increased salivation, uncomfortable sensations in the body would be to take them as an object, note them and let them go.

If for example increased salivation is happening, take the feeling of the saliva touching the inner mouth parts and note that a couple of times and then let it go.

If an intention to swallow arises, note that intention. That is the "nama" part of reality. The saliva arising is the "rupa" part. Rupa arises and nama knows it. Nama knows rupa. Rupa does not know nama.

You will come to see the physical and mental aspect of reality. The two streams. You will come to see the characteristics of conventional reality, i.e. impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and uncontrollability of conditioned phenomena.

If you need further help feel free to contact me. Email is on profile page.

  • Thanks a lot for your advice. But when I sit without the pillow my legs feel stretched from the pelvic joint and feels my back is being pulled down to a bent relaxed posture, which after some time becomes a little sore.
    – Allen
    Jan 25, 2017 at 14:56
  • Your welcome. By all means, don't change your sitting arrangement. Keep your pillow as it will align your pelvis. Just move pillow onto a more firm surface.
    – user2424
    Jan 25, 2017 at 15:00
  • If problem still persists, send me a photo of you taken from the side while you sit. I will take a look and give you some exercises, probably stretching exercises.
    – user2424
    Jan 25, 2017 at 15:02
  • can you please suggest some now.
    – Allen
    Jan 25, 2017 at 15:03
  • I'm at work right now. I will give you some exercises later. Send me an email and I will respond to you.
    – user2424
    Jan 25, 2017 at 16:04

When you sit, your back should be naturally straight, in the manner as when you are standing.

Your seat should be firm, i.e., not on a bed.

enter image description here

  • Thanks a lot for your advice. I will from now on meditate on the floor.
    – Allen
    Jan 25, 2017 at 14:53

If you have a teacher best is to consult him / her.

Generally, numerous issues like these do pop up at the beginning, which you have to deal with objectively. Some times through meditation you notice problems which were there but you did not notice beforehand, because your awareness was weak. Whatever happens this should not make you worried or anxious in which case you will be creating negativity. You should try to be equanimous noting its impermanence and dependently arisen or causality arisen nature.

If partly this is due to issues with your posture the picture in the other answer might be of help.

  • Thanks a lot @Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena . I will try my best stay cool and face the problems in a positive way.
    – Allen
    Jan 25, 2017 at 14:58
  • You are welcome! Jan 25, 2017 at 15:01

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