I just attended a 10-day Vipassana retreat and during the whole retreat I was constantly annoyed by nasal congestion and hyper-salivation. For many years I've had a sort of chronic nasal congestion, whether it's summer or winter, it doesn't matter, I always have at least one stuffy nostril. I know I need to go to the doctor but I've been lazy all this time, but now I'll do it, I promise.

Anyways, it seems that in tandem with the nasal congestion I've also developed the automatic habit of "fighting" the nasal congestion by sucking/breathing the mucus in, producing saliva and then swallowing the saliva which kind of carries some of the mucus with it, thus producing a temporary feeling of relief from the nasal congestion. However, as I said the relief is partial and only temporary, because a few seconds later the feeling of nasal congestion comes back again, the urge to "fight" arises and the whole process repeats again. This almost subconscious process became blatantly obvious during the 10-day retreat where we were meditating 12 hours a day. It was super annoying. I was developing aversion towards it which totally defeats the purpose of Vipassana. So I tried to remain equanimous to my nasal congestion and hyper-salivation, but then I realized that even if I remain equanimous to the feeling of the air hitting the clogged nostril, the saliva production would not stop. The saliva would start accumulating quickly in my mouth, and eventually I would have no choice but to swallow it all. This was super annoying and many times I just gave up and started swallowing quickly and compulsively, hopelessly trying to get rid of the saliva, but then my mouth would keep producing saliva anyway. So one way or another I ended up fighting my nasal congestion and swallowing a lot of saliva, and felt like a weirdo making all these mouth noises during the group meditations, which probably annoyed my unfortunate fellow meditators in the room.

So it seems as if my brain has somehow learned to automatically produce saliva whenever I experience nasal congestion, which is pretty much all the time. It's as if I've developed a sort of OCD of fighiting my nasal congestion and producing and swallowing saliva, and I don't know how to get rid of it. After the 10-day retreat I still keep experiencing this, in fact I had experienced this problem even before the retreat too, it's just that the retreat allowed me to become extremely aware of it.

What can I do? Has anyone experienced something like this and managed to solve it?

Thank you very much in advance.

3 Answers 3


I was developing aversion towards it which totally defeats the purpose of Vipassana.

The purpose of Vipassana is to gain insight. Is there any way you can gain insight into the workings of your experience through your newfound aversion? You can observe any experience to gain insight into the truth, but looking into suffering is particularly helpful. Moments of suffering house so much delusion, they are information treasures!

Wishing your physical condition to go away is a manifestation of fundimental aversion. Next time you are meditating, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions.

  1. What makes up your desire to have your condition go away?
  2. How often is the desire/suffering being felt by you?
  3. What physical and mental sensations occur that show you your desire is absolute/a need?
  4. What part of you is your condition harming?

The beautiful thing about being dissatisfied is that although it is painful, it is an insight jumping in front of your face, ready to occur!

Best of luck to you and I hope you find what you are looking for!


This appears to be a physical issue; that probably needs to be resolved in a physical way; such as by proper exercise, proper eating, non-consumption of intoxicants, herbal detoxification medicine, acupuncture, etc. For example, if you could run five kilometers this nasal problem probably would not occur.

Pornography was also mentioned in another topic. Pornography can contribute to this because watching the secretion of fluids in pornography (such as when a women performs oral sex on a man) will naturally cause the watcher's own body to secrete similar fluids (as the woman); similar to how watching a man's body aroused in pornography will stimulate the watcher's body to be aroused.

Whatever the mind fixates, the watcher will also "become". Pornography is deliberately designed using Freudian principles of phallic, oral & anal arousal to trap men into a self (male) fixation. Pornography is not primarily the watching of naked women but the watching of men having sex.

Both posts on this forum are indicative of an unhealthy lifestyle. The benefit of doing the Vipassana Retreat is it had you become personally & intimately conscious of these problems & therefore it provided you with an insight & opportunity to change your life for the better.

  • Dhammadhatu, is there a way to e-mail you privately for addressing certain questions in Buddhism?
    – Val
    Mar 13, 2018 at 5:49
  • [email protected] Mar 13, 2018 at 9:08

Did you tell the assistant teacher about your problem?

I've attended a few 10-day Vipassana courses and even though my symptoms perhaps weren't as acute as yours, I've also had problems with the blocked nose and saliva in my mouth. Almost every time I attended the course I asked the assistant teacher what I should do with the excess saliva in my mouth, and they all consistently answered that I may swallow it as often as I wish. I suggest you ask that question yourself next time you attend the course, but it seems that the simplest solution is to swallow the saliva and return to observing sensations.

As for the problem with nasal congestion, I don't know any good solution for that, perhaps a physical/medical solution is needed here. Note, however, that during Ānāpānasati you're supposed to breath through your nostrils, but it's apparently not so crucial during Vipassanā, and you can resort to breathing though your mouth, if there's no other option. Again, this is what an assistant teacher told me, but you should ask this question yourself.

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