RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Harold Quinn, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 5:52 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 5:52 AM

Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 62 Join Date: 12/12/21 Recent Posts
I started to do whole-body breath technique and develop piti gradually after listening to Rob Burbea's Jhana retreat talks. On the very first 20m sit piti arose and for a couple of days I stayed there and enjoyed it, piti even stayed there for most of the day (I did 2-3 hours a day of 20m sits). After about 3-4 days I feel blockage and I can't make the piti arise. I tried noting till the sensation dissapeared, imagining the breath energy flowing through the place, concentration practice, mahasi style noting, but these didn't work.

Now a new hindrance arose which is dullness. I don't get sleepy but the dullness gets really strong. I can still keep redirecting the attention to the breath but am afraid of dullness getting stronger and aversion develops. I have done TMI at home retreat for 6-10 hours a day for 1.5 months twice but couldn't overcome dullness after using everything, would get discouraged and quit.

I want to know these things:
1. Culadasa mentions that letting dullness be will make you get into a bad habit and you'll have to unlearn this habit. So if I keep redirecting the attention to the breath even if dullness gets stronger, will I develop concentration? Will it worsen my concentration by increasing dullness? or will dullness soon not arise after doing this straightforward practice? I want a straightforward way, antidotes to dullness mentioned in TMI are a lot and It's too complex which is why I am asking if the method I mentioned would work.

2. How to get rid of energy blockage? Rob Burbea mentioned seeing it as tingling and I did but it didn't help. I can't enjoy my sits anymore because there is negative energy, aversion or something preventing me from it.

​​​​​​​Thanks a lot.
Harold Quinn, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 5:58 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 5:58 AM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 62 Join Date: 12/12/21 Recent Posts
Also, when I had piti, dullness was still present, and I focused on developing piti and enjoying the breath more. Is this a legit way of doing this or will this lead to concentration with dullness? I am confused about what it means to not give in to dullness.
Macky Ben-Jonah, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 5:59 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 5:58 AM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 74 Join Date: 2/17/22 Recent Posts
You may get a better response if you post on a forum which specialises in TMI https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMindIlluminated/ is a useful one. The people here tend to practice noting and more vipassana heavy methods


About the energy, what you have experienced is an insight into annica. In meditation, it isn' a linear proccess. On some days, the piti will be strong, and on others, it will not be there at all. If you have Seeing that Frees by Rob Burbea, I reccomend you read the chapter on Annica. 
Harold Quinn, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 6:02 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 6:02 AM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 62 Join Date: 12/12/21 Recent Posts
Thanks for your advice! I will definitely read that. I also feel I don't know many things about what I am doing so book recommendations are welcome.
Macky Ben-Jonah, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 6:05 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 6:05 AM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 74 Join Date: 2/17/22 Recent Posts
Iracly Gorgadze
Thanks for your advice! I will definitely read that. I also feel I don't know many things about what I am doing so book recommendations are welcome.


Maybe try posting a practice log. It can help you establish accountability and get help.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 6:55 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 6:55 AM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 328 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
So I know TMI quite well, and I can say that the body breathing practice is not about producing piti. The only piti being produced is the pity in my heart for lone confused dhamma warriors trying to manifest piti when they should be working on eradicating dullness. 

This is a boring phase of practice that I went through that lasted a couple years, with the thickest period being a couple months straight of doing nothing but remedying dullness. But guess what? It works. No dullness, ever, it simply is not a hindrance that arises for me, ever, the first sign of dulness is illuminated instantly by strong yogi skills. 

Now to get through TMI stage 4 or any phaser of thick dullness, it's important for someone to not get discouraged. Dullness can be a persistent, sticky obstacle, but it can and will be overcome with simply doing the practices in TMI or any of the Buddha's own suggestions for dullness (my personal favorite is imagining a bright light). If you have to, do standing meditation. 

If you fall asleep, just continue. If the mind is murky, just accept that the mind is murky and make the practice simply seeing how much of the murk you can clear out in each session. Even if dullness contin ues to arise, you will notice the dullness over time lessesning, getting easier to overcome and less pervasive. Dullness is not a black/white phenomena, when you make progress you will notice the strength of dullness decreases. Until one beautiful day and a coupke attainments later, you will say, hmm. I can't remember the lasst time I was dull! It literally does not arise anymore as a habit of mind! Yes! This is a big accomplishment in itself that will happen if you just persevere. Good luck.  
Harold Quinn, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 7:13 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 7:11 AM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 62 Join Date: 12/12/21 Recent Posts
Thanks for your advice. After you mentioned that dullness over time becomes less pervasive and easier to overcome I understood that the same was happening for me. I guess my greed for making fast progress and expecting dullness to disappear quickly made me overlook progress, develop aversion and become discouraged.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 7:23 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 7:23 AM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 328 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
I would do standing meditation at times when the dullness was so strong, and would literally almost fall asleep standing up, but it's a nice mechanism because your body will protect itself and not simply fall asleep- you can notice this motion of mind and use it. If all elese fails, alternate between standing and splashing cold water on your face, doing pushups beteeen standing periods, keep mindfulness at the fore, and brightness and clarity as a premium, your mind can overcome dullness. 

Also- pay attention to the food intakes and how your state of mind fluxes in relation to food. For example, don't ignore behaviors which contribute to dullness, Learn to observe cause and effect. That state will add a lot of extra dullness that can be avoided by common sense- eat things that are good for your system and don't cause a sense of dullness- if you feel dull and full after eating, rather than simply nourished and refreshed- you're eating too much and you're like 2/3 of our obese society. 

 
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 9:25 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 8:36 AM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 2458 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I have a different take on dullness. For me, dullness is either because I need more sleep, but if it's not that then it's usually because I'm avoiding some uncomfortable area of my experience. So when I feel dullness, the first thing I do is to accept it and give myself permission to fall asleep if I need. Sometimes that means not meditating and taking a nap instead, which is what my body really needs. Sometimes it's a 5 minute micronap in meditation, which can actually be amazingly revitalizing. Often there is interesting stuff to observe around the border of falling asleep and waking up, interesting insights into how the sense of self falls apart and is reassembled, also interesting messages that arise from the subconscious in the hypnagogic state. I've even received some very clear practice pointers in that state! After a nap my meditation is much clearer.

If I don't need to sleep, then I investigate the sense of dullness itself. Where is it located? What does it feel like? What are the sensations? Is it moving? Really try to feel into it. Usually after investigating for a bit it starts to move around or break up, and then I can discern that there is actually a different feeling tone underneath it, which it was masking. Often this is something like fear or anger or sadness, a basic emotion, or even a physical pain, which I was trying to avoid. Sometimes it can be bliss, also being avoided emoticon

The only thing I won't do now is try to force myself to overcome dullness, although there was definitely a period pre-stream entry where it felt like I had to make a lot of effort to investigate dullness! These days I don't really experience dullness much any more, because when I'm tired I sleep and when I'm feeling angry/sad/afraid/pain I'm aware of how I'm feeling so there doesn't seem to be a need for dullness to cover it up. I used to suffer from depression and my sense is that the experience of dullness was a kind of hangover from that - a sort of defense mechanism to protect myself from feeling emotions that I had deemed unacceptable. Just my 2c though.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 8:38 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 8:38 AM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 328 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
1. Culadasa mentions that letting dullness be will make you get into a bad habit and you'll have to unlearn this habit. So if I keep redirecting the attention to the breath even if dullness gets stronger, will I develop concentration? Will it worsen my concentration by increasing dullness? or will dullness soon not arise after doing this straightforward practice? I want a straightforward way, antidotes to dullness mentioned in TMI are a lot and It's too complex which is why I am asking if the method I mentioned would work.

The fact that the dullness arises when you try to focus on the breath needs to be adressed. If you try to concentrate on the breath more without knowing how to combat dullness, you will get dull and that will lead to daydreamy type distractions. It wouldn't be harmful or anything just not a productive use of your precious time. My precviosu comments adressed this. 

2. How to get rid of energy blockage? Rob Burbea mentioned seeing it as tingling and I did but it didn't help. I can't enjoy my sits anymore because there is negative energy, aversion or something preventing me from it.

To do this try Zhan Zhuang. There is a book called "Way of Energy". The things you perceive as energy blockages are actually unconsciously held tensions in your muscles and flesh and bones that your mind subconsciously creates. When you do a simple standing practice it forces you gently to simply confront these unconscious tensions head-on. What happens, is very strange, you will stand in a neutral, not demanding posture, but after a few minutes you get all tense and it becomes hard to sustain (this is in the beginning). But you learn very directly how you create these tensions in your body. It's very directly seen- unless you have some sort of developmental abnormality most people's bodies are fairly symmetric so why can't one stand in a neutral posture without getting tense? It's the same thing with sitting- why can't one sit without suffering? You see directly you are tensing up and you learn body awareness and how to relax. 

What's really cool is when you start properly processing these tensions- you'lll be standing there, just totally embodying that tension you feel and making it just the center of your loving graceful attention. You stand and consciously try to be as relaxed and poised as possible. Then magically, your body does all kinds of re-calibration things and the energy starts to flow properly. There are blissful emotional releases sometimes. After standing then you sit, and the energy is much better- it has an invigorating and refreshing effect on the body-mind- it gets your guts and your muscles and your veins and your heart all working in harmony. Give it a try if you're interested. 

After a while of doing the Zhan Zhuang, I noticed there was no energy blockages or tension anywhere. This came along with stage 9/10 physical pliancy so now I can sit in efforltess bliss as long as i want. 
Harold Quinn, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 11:18 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 11:17 PM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 62 Join Date: 12/12/21 Recent Posts
pay attention to the food intakes and how your state of mind fluxes in relation to food.
Yes, I noticed after overeating dullness would get stronger.
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I will check out the book and try standing meditation, thanks for advice. 
Harold Quinn, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 11:24 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 11:24 PM

RE: Need guidance on how to deal with dullness and energy blockage

Posts: 62 Join Date: 12/12/21 Recent Posts
George S:
If I don't need to sleep, then I investigate the sense of dullness itself. Where is it located? What does it feel like? What are the sensations? Is it moving? Really try to feel into it. Usually after investigating for a bit it starts to move around or break up, and then I can discern that there is actually a different feeling tone underneath it, which it was masking. Often this is something like fear or anger or sadness, a basic emotion, or even a physical pain, which I was trying to avoid. Sometimes it can be bliss, also being avoided emoticon


This is interesting, I haven't thought about it that way. I will try to investigate more if it is covering anything up.

George S:
 I used to suffer from depression and my sense is that the experience of dullness was a kind of hangover from that - a sort of defense mechanism to protect myself from feeling emotions that I had deemed unacceptable.


This is also possible for me as well. Thanks for advice.

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