Babies tend to take things into their mouths to better sense the nature of the objects they inspect. The mouth is an extremely sensitive area with many nerve endings. Inside my mouth, there are sharp sensors of taste and touch. My tongue is like a barometer, which may indicate tensions in my body.
By bringing awareness to my tongue, I can monitor my balance. When Fight or Flight becomes dominant, saliva secretion is reduced, and the mouth dries. Sensitivity to subtle saliva concentration changes may give valuable indications. Once my emotional state shifts back to balance, saliva secretion increases, and the sensations I get from my tongue are humid and warm. During deep relaxation, I may also sense that my gums warm up, and even something like gums-softening.
A relaxed tongue may indicate that other muscles in my body are also relaxed. But again, it’s bidirectional; when I intentionally relax my tongue, I induce the relaxation of different muscles in my body. In addition, it’s easier to relax my tongue while breathing through my nose than when I mouth-breathe.
Mouth sensations give me an indication of how different breathing practices affect me.
Encapsulating the tongue
To get indications from my tongue, I position or ‘park’ it in a particular manner; I encapsulate it.
The way I encapsulate and monitor my tongue:
- I relax my jaw.
- Let my tongue float in my mouth, lightly touching the roof and floor of my mouth simultaneously.
- Bring the tip of my tongue to gently contact the back side of my teeth, as if saying the name ‘Ann’ with closed lips and not moving my tongue after saying the last ‘n.’
- Monitor the pressure exerted on my tongue by the roof or the floor of my mouth.
- Monitor: folding, twisting, biting, protruding, or asymmetries.
- Monitor vacuum or ‘trapped’ air in my mouth.
Maintaining a tensionless tongue may be challenging, mainly when practicing more intense breathing sequences like hyperventilating or breath-holds.