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Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"

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Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Mateusz 6/10/19 7:03 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Chris Marti 6/10/19 7:19 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Mateusz 6/10/19 7:38 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" JP 6/10/19 8:22 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Mateusz 6/11/19 4:25 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/11/19 5:28 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Mateusz 6/11/19 7:50 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Siavash Mahmoudpour 6/11/19 6:48 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Mateusz 6/11/19 8:07 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Siavash Mahmoudpour 6/11/19 9:13 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Chris Marti 6/10/19 9:05 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Siavash Mahmoudpour 6/10/19 9:07 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/10/19 10:47 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" curious 6/10/19 12:36 PM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" SigmaTropic 6/11/19 9:55 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Yuki Saka 6/18/19 8:57 PM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/19/19 1:46 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Yuki Saka 6/19/19 2:27 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Jehanne S Peacock 6/19/19 3:11 AM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/19/19 5:04 PM
RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness" Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/19/19 4:53 PM
I've gotten to stage 5 using very little effort, and now unless I use insane amounts of effort, nothing changes in my meditation and I remain in what is called subtle dullness. How is this possible when stages 5,6,7 are supposedly low effort? I've tried everything, from taking it easy and relaxing to using amphetamine. I have zero gross distractions or gross dullness it just seems like subtle dullness is my default state of the mind. One time about one year ago I was able to get to stage 8 effortlessness with very vivid perception and was astounded by how amazing it feels, but unfortunately, it lasted 2 days and I came back to stage 5,6. So you may say just do what worked for you at the time. Well, at the time I was doing the same thing - using extreme levels of effort to remain hyperalert and somehow it worked. One more problem is that meditation suck all energy out of me and usually after my 45 minute sit I have to either take a nap or lay down to recover after such intense mental work.

Any help would be appreciated

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/10/19 7:19 AM as a reply to Mateusz.
I'm not now and never have been a TMI practitioner, but do you think you might be trying too hard? What if you were to just relax into your meditation sessions for a few weeks and see what happens?

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/10/19 7:38 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I'm not now and never have been a TMI practitioner, but do you think you might be trying too hard? What if you were to just relax into your meditation sessions for a few weeks and see what happens?

I can relax no problem, I can even stop putting any effort and "look" at the dull mental construct of the breath but it's an obvious dead-end. I did relax for a few weeks in the past and again - nothing was changing in my meditation, no piti, no joy, no more vivid perception of the breath. I can "meditate" like this 4h+ hours a day but what's the point? When I do whatever it takes to make the breath more vivid, it does but I tend to lose energy around 25 minute mark and the rest of my meditation is just subtle dullness again and nothing changes. My mental energy just doesn't want to increase as it should emoticon

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/10/19 8:22 AM as a reply to Mateusz.
What's your attitude like when your mental energy doesn't increase like it's supposed to?  Do you get angry or averse towards it, or are you holding an intention to be gentle and accepting towards where you are?

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/10/19 9:07 AM as a reply to Mateusz.
What helped me with subtle dullness, was that for a period of a few weeks or more, I used more body scan type practice, instead of breath at the nose, and used labeling when I was noticing dullness is coming, and I was including ambient sounds in my focus range too, also I was opening my eyes once in a few minutes or doing eyes open practice when dullness was present.

Regarding ambient sounds, it was very helpful. There is clock in my room and has ticking sound, and also things like fridge and air conditioning are producing sounds too, so what I did was like this, I am focused on the breath at the nose or whole body, or just switching between different locations of body that I notice breath there, and once in a few seconds, I intentionally switch the attention to the clock ticking sound, and if I have a clear hearing, then I go back to the breath or the main object, but if I can't have a clear experience of clock ticking sound, then I have dullness, so I open my eyes, or take a few deep breaths, or clench and release leg muscles or other muscles a few times, or use labeling (can be out load if it's needed with strong dullness), or for a minute, instead of breath, just focus on the external sounds, preferably with eyes open, and also straighten my back/spine and posture. And when I have a clear experience of external sounds and it feels like that mind is sharp, then I go back to the main object again.

And about distractions, specially subtle distractions, I think it's highly likely that when you cure and remove subtle dullness, for a period of time, there will be more subtle distractions, because your mind is sharper and have stronger awareness, so it notices the distractions that were there, and were hidden because of subtle dullness and not having clear awareness.

Hope that helps.

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/10/19 9:05 AM as a reply to Mateusz.
Take a break for a few weeks and come back and try again. Maybe a vacation from meditation will help.

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/10/19 10:47 AM as a reply to Mateusz.
Hi Mateusz! As I understand it, the TMI map is more of a model for troubleshooting and a hiearchy of stages with regard to an ideal than an actual map based on what a practician goes through chronologically, but I may be wrong as I haven’t followed the TMI recipe. It is quite common to go through dull periods after periods of great clarity and effortlessness. According to Theravadan maps, progress involves going through some more challenging phases. I think the shamatha first approach in TMI is intended to make those challenges less rough, but I would be utterly surprised if TMI students didn’t have at least some cycling through the stages as well. The path isn’t linear. Sometimes you fall back into lower stages. That’s normal.

What I have found helpful in dull phases is the following:
- doing yoga or qi-gong exercises before meditating. There are plenty of youtube videos available.
- sleeping more
- exercising
- getting more daylight
- doing noting practice
- practicing for shorter sessions in order to maintain clarity throughout the session and thus not allow the brain to form pathways leading to dullness; 20 minutes of clarity is better than 40 minutes that lead to dullness.
- practicing more than once per day instead (optional)
- meditating while standing up if needed
- trying different times of the day
- staying aware of the dullness, observing it, noting it - seeing it as it is and accepting it
- appreciating every time I notice the dullness

Best of luck with your practice!

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/10/19 12:36 PM as a reply to Mateusz.
Mateusz - the other thing to bear in mind is that Culudasa says that at some stages it takes ages to unify the mind, and it can be really boring just keeping going until this finally starts to happen. 

So he recommends various exercises to keep the interest up until this happens.  So maybe go back and have a look at the exercises.  I can't find my notes at the moment so couldn't tell you exactly which ones, but from memory it might be things like close following of the breath, or lite jhanas, or contemplating dependent arising.

Hope this helps.

Malcolm

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/11/19 4:25 AM as a reply to JP.
JP:
What's your attitude like when your mental energy doesn't increase like it's supposed to?  Do you get angry or averse towards it, or are you holding an intention to be gentle and accepting towards where you are?


It's rather like I start to think when the ring will start to bell so I can end my meditation and go take a nap because it's so tiring. 


Also, why TMI makes it as tho "subtle dullness" is something we fall into or train ourselves into, rather than something like a default normal state of a human mind that we have to get out of? Instruction for stage 5 is to notice subtle dullness and correct for that immediately like it's so simple to correct when it requires so much mental energy. I do everything in my life in what is described in TMI as subtle dullness, I mean listen to the music, having an orgasm, driving a car... I feel like the instruction for stage 5 for me would be more appropriate as "get to a state of hyperalertness"  I'm 24 yo in a peek of mental energy one might think and yet I can't do it

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/11/19 5:28 AM as a reply to Mateusz.
It is normal for human beings to have periods of dullness, but it is also normal for human beings to train ourselves into habitual patterns. A human child is helpless. We don’t have enough instincts. Most of our behavior is learned. Therefore, some of it can also be unlearned. Conditionings can be pretty strong, though, so it’s hard. We have to walk very persistently on those pathways that we wish to cultivate and make our default pathways. We tend to grow up with conditionings that aren’t exactly optimal for awakening. In challenging phases it’s hard to do the work, but there will also be less challenging phases. There is stuff to learn from the challenges. The very frustration that you are going through is a goldmine for insight practice, although I’m not sure exactly where that comes in for TMI practice.

If after diligent practice over time you find that mastering the TMI stages doesn’t work for you, there are other options that are less concentration heavy.

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/11/19 6:48 AM as a reply to Mateusz.
Mateusz:
Also, why TMI makes it as tho "subtle dullness" is something we fall into or train ourselves into, rather than something like a default normal state of a human mind that we have to get out of? Instruction for stage 5 is to notice subtle dullness and correct for that immediately like it's so simple to correct when it requires so much mental energy. I do everything in my life in what is described in TMI as subtle dullness, I mean listen to the music, having an orgasm, driving a car... I feel like the instruction for stage 5 for me would be more appropriate as "get to a state of hyperalertness"  I'm 24 yo in a peek of mental energy one might think and yet I can't do it

Are you sure that you have subtle dullness? And you are not calling your normal state subtle dullness? In formal practice, if there is subtle dullness present, then usually you should not be able to detect your thoughts or ambient sounds clearly. So when practicing with breath, when a thought arises, if you can notice clearly that there was a thought, or if an ambient sound arises, and you notice clearly that you heard a sound, then you have clear awareness, and you probably don't have subtle dullness. It's unlikely to have things like orgasm in a state of subtle dullness. I think noticing thoughts and ambient sounds can give you a good clue that you have subtle dullness or not.

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/11/19 7:50 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I'm already satisfied with my level of awakening/PNSE so I'm not interested in insight practices. I want to learn concentration practice as I liked this joyful state of mind when I could get to effortless attention.

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/11/19 8:07 AM as a reply to Siavash Mahmoudpour.
Siavash Mahmoudpour:
Are you sure that you have subtle dullness? And you are not calling your normal state subtle dullness? In formal practice, if there is subtle dullness present, then usually you should not be able to detect your thoughts or ambient sounds clearly. So when practicing with breath, when a thought arises, if you can notice clearly that there was a thought, or if an ambient sound arises, and you notice clearly that you heard a sound, then you have clear awareness, and you probably don't have subtle dullness. It's unlikely to have things like orgasm in a state of subtle dullness. I think noticing thoughts and ambient sounds can give you a good clue that you have subtle dullness or not.
Right now as I'm writing this post when I put my attention on the breath, it's very vague, indistinct, clearly dull. Also, I know because for the short period when somehow I was in stage 8, my senses where much much stronger + my posture even outside of meditation was just completely straight like never before + startle reaction was completely gone. With detecting thoughts and sounds in my environment, it depends, 5 minutes in my meditation if I put a lot of effort I can usually detect thoughts and be pretty aware of sounds but the longer I sit, it gets worse. 100% I have orgasms in subtle dullness. I know it because I can make sensations more vivid for a short period of time but it takes so much effort it's ridiculous. And BTW my meditations are always at the time of my highest alertness eg. 20 minutes after waking up and in the afternoon 15 minutes after coffee 

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/11/19 9:13 AM as a reply to Mateusz.
Right now as I'm writing this post when I put my attention on the breath, it's very vague, indistinct, clearly dull. Also, I know because for the short period when somehow I was in stage 8, my senses where much much stronger + my posture even outside of meditation was just completely straight like never before + startle reaction was completely gone. With detecting thoughts and sounds in my environment, it depends, 5 minutes in my meditation if I put a lot of effort I can usually detect thoughts and be pretty aware of sounds but the longer I sit, it gets worse. 100% I have orgasms in subtle dullness. I know it because I can make sensations more vivid for a short period of time but it takes so much effort it's ridiculous. And BTW my meditations are always at the time of my highest alertness eg. 20 minutes after waking up and in the afternoon 15 minutes after coffee 

I don't think that Culadasa defines subtle dullness in the sense that, you are either in a state of subtle dullness, or you are hyper-alert. My understanding is that the level of clarity of sensations and sharpness of mind is relative, and depends of the stage of practice and depth of concentration, but I think the way that Culadasa defines dullness, is in a spectrum. and the objective of stage 5 practices is that, relatively we are able to detect what is going on in the mind, so that we prevent subtle dullness to turn into sinking and not having clear awareness. I think if for instance you do body scan type technique, and in most of the moments/seconds, you know what you are attending to, and which sensatoin you are detecting in which part of the body, that is ok/enough, and there is no need to push towards hyper-alertness, when the mind doesn't want to go in that direction. It's obvious that pushing the mind more than what is needed to not have dullness, will result in having dullness, because you will get tired and frustrated and mind/body will want to rest, so dullness will arise.

Culadasa has a few talks in his SoundCloud channel about dullness, in at least one of them, he describes the spectrum of dullness and the energy level of mind, unfortunately I don't remember which talk it is, but probably you can find if you search his channel for dullness.

Hope it helps.

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/11/19 9:55 AM as a reply to Mateusz.
Mateusz:
I've gotten to stage 5 using very little effort, and now unless I use insane amounts of effort, nothing changes in my meditation and I remain in what is called subtle dullness. How is this possible when stages 5,6,7 are supposedly low effort? I've tried everything, from taking it easy and relaxing to using amphetamine. I have zero gross distractions or gross dullness it just seems like subtle dullness is my default state of the mind. One time about one year ago I was able to get to stage 8 effortlessness with very vivid perception and was astounded by how amazing it feels, but unfortunately, it lasted 2 days and I came back to stage 5,6. So you may say just do what worked for you at the time. Well, at the time I was doing the same thing - using extreme levels of effort to remain hyperalert and somehow it worked. One more problem is that meditation suck all energy out of me and usually after my 45 minute sit I have to either take a nap or lay down to recover after such intense mental work.

Any help would be appreciated

I've practiced TMI and had some success. I would suggest easing off a bit, being a bit more patient and just doing the technique. You're not neccesarily supposed to see immediate results, it's more of a skill that gradually builds over time, kinda like gradually wearing a groove into the handle of an axe after chopping a lot of wood. If your meditation is sucking out your energy that's a sure sign you're trying too hard. The subtle state of dullness is actually like the default human state of mind, what you're trying to do is get to a level of clarity comparable to like being in a gun battle or skydiving or something similarly exhilerating yet also being calm. It's not something you can just decide to do and do it, it takes a gradual recoditioning of the mind's habitual tendencies, and it won't happen in a week, a month, etc. This kind of thing is measured in years, unless you're some kind of unicorn meditation savant, which most of us are not. Even after getting to a level which could be called stage 6, I continue to uncover more and more sensory clarity even though "subtle dullness" is gone according to the book. At some point you just call it good and move on, but with path shifts and practice you level up in sensory clarity and awareness and will likely be revisiting the same skills over many years, refining things further and further.  It's much more of a continuum than a black/white thing. So maybe just relax a bit and frame it more like a long-term practice. 

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/18/19 8:57 PM as a reply to Mateusz.
Hi Mateusz,

Since you are working in the framwork of TMI and others have given great advice already, I'm not sure how much of the following helps, but I thought to write because the question of effort/effortlessness seems to be at issue here.

You may be interested in fitting in some time to do a meditation approach as demonstrated by my teacher in the following video.

Semdzin: Natural State Teachings

I've posted the background for this approach here.

In this approach, concentration effort is applied explosively and momentarily in a form of a shout or a chant of certain syllables (called Semdzin) couple of times, followed by complete dropping of the effort.  If any kind of distractions such as subtle dullness that you are talking about comes back, you apply the Semdzin again...and continue to alternate in that fashion.

I found that I could meditate for quite a long time without getting tired in this way, because effort is only momentary and rest of the time you are supposed to completely relax. 

It is kind of like the physical exercise where you apply effort in intervals and rest of the time you just relax.  I think it's been found that muscles get developed more efficiently in this way....it may be true for meditation muscle also.

I also wanted to point out that overcoming of distraction or dullness, I think is not so much about suppressng them by effort or high vigilence, but more like allowing natural clarity and undistractedness that is our nature to manifest more and more so that distractions/dullness become less and less problematic part of your life (and even they manifest the same natural clarity). 

So, as other posters have nicely put, relax and wait for the long term benefit of your daily practice seems to be the way to go.

Yuki

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/19/19 1:46 AM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
Hi Yuki!

Nice post. I can understand how shouting mantras in short intervals can help with dullness. I have found that some sudden sounds make things come alive, and in yoga I have found that short intervals of certain physical effort or certain breathing exercises make things come alive in the body. I just can’t see myself shouting in my home without freaking out my kid, cats and neighbours. How do you do it? Do you go away to some studio to do it?

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/19/19 2:27 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hi Linda,

Thanks for asking!

I generally do it at home in my room, closed door, with just a silent shout for "Phet!"...meaning I just make an explosive sound "Phet!" with my breath.  For "A", I chant it with small enough volume that people who I live with won't be bothered too much by it.

Once in a while, when my kids are in the shower or something and I get my chances I practice with a louder shout.  You can also talk to your family that you'll make some loud noises at certain time in the day, but don't be alarmed emoticon

I think you'll learn how to adjust the volume without becoming too self-conscious as you practice.   I don't think the practice necessarily becomes any less effective if the volume is low.  The point is this alternation between sharp focus and the relaxation.

You can also do this by tensing muscles and relaxing, called PDC (physical dynamic concentration) as shown in the video below also.  You don't have to be concerned about the volume in that case.

Chi Gong and Physical Dynamic Concentration

Yuki
 
 

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/19/19 3:11 AM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
Hi Linda,
Like Yuki, I also often have to do the "shouts" in silence. Meaning that I focus the energy as if I'm shouting but end up generating only a whisper. It takes some practice to manage that, in order to keep the punch still there. Because the exhalation is sharp, there is accompanying muscle tension like in an actual shout. It's important to stay recewptive of what it does to you, and you might need to do varying amounts of repetitions. When conditions allow, I also do actual loud shouts. This is most easily accessible when I'm in my car either driving or at a parking lot. Or in a hotel emoticon When I do loud shouts it's easy for me to notice the selfing process from the quality of the shout. If the shout comes from a "there's no self" stance, it is a good, clean shout that generates space in the mind. If selfing takes place, for example if I'm being self conciounss, the shout is all weak and lousy, and there is no benefit to the mental clarity.

I think this method related to sensing outside sounds as well, although the actual physical tensing also plays some role. Long ago in the past I remember hearing a distant sound would make me enter into this "no-self" mode, with the clarity and all that. With this shouting method, one can learn to have short glimpses into this state over a longer period of time, instead of relying on the odd outsides sounds every now and then.

As for the original question by the original poster, my two cent's would be to try this dynamic concentration thing, as it helps me pernoally to fight what I call subtle dullness.  I do have to admit though,  that I know next to nothing about TMI emoticon

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/19/19 4:53 PM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
Thankyou, Yuki, for your thorough and informative reply!

RE: Cant overcome stage 5 TMI "subtle dullness"
Answer
6/19/19 5:04 PM as a reply to Jehanne S Peacock.
And thankyou Jehanne for explaining further and sharing your experiences!

From my yoga practice I’m used to being receptive to what the exercices do to me, so I can relate to that.

Shinzen Young also has some exercises that make things come alive. I did a home practice program on spontaneity, and it involved both movements and sounds (I was alone at home that time). It temporarily increased my concentration to the extent that I could draw in the air and see very very faint residues of color strokes there.

Sorry for kidnapping the thread!