Question on dullness

Front Page Forums Meditation Question on dullness

This topic contains 8 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Andrew S 1 year, 6 months ago.

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    Henk de Wit

    Hi there,

    About a month ago I have started meditating with TMI. I have made some good progress such as the mind-wandering that does not last longer than max. 10 seconds.
    However what I am currently running into is a(almost daily) dullness/sleepiness/drowsiness that shows up just when I start to notice the sensations around the nostrils more clearly. Once this sets in it is very hard for me to regain the degree of attention I had before. There are several things I tried to get my mind focused on the sensations but frankly the results of my efforts have not been fruitful.

    My questions is if there are any suggestions on how to deal with this kind of annoying dullness.
    I have read the relevant passages in the book, listened to some Youtube videos of Culadasa, etc. Taking deep in-and-out breaths does not really help just as pouring cold water all over my face doesn’t help either (it helps temporary but then the dullness comes backs).

    Would be great if anyone would have some suggestions.





    One of the things I have found very helpful in my practice when sleepiness or dullness occurs, especially when meditating early in the morning, is to stand up and to finish the session standing up. I have suggested this to others who have also found the practice helpful. Definitely worth a try!

    Much metta as your practice continues to unfold!

    Anthony Christiansen



    William W

    You may listen to the discourse of Culadasa

    File Hame: LOM_day_2_Afternoon_030112_TrNrLc.mp3




    Ivan Ganza


    In additon to the good advise you have received so far:

    I think you are doing the correct things and sounds like you are practicing well. The fact is we’ve had a habit of being dull, allowing dullness for a long period in our lives. In my experience it is partly like an deep ingrained habit.

    The only way to unlearn a habit is to slowly train yourself out of it.

    And you are doing that.

    Overtime, when you keep catching the dullness, and not allowing it. As you keep sending the messages to your mind-system that you don’t want to allow dullness any longer, that you won’t just allow it to show up and take over the show, as you keep doing that over time you are slowly re-training yourself not to get dull.

    In my experience you will need to keep working at it, slowly and carefully, as you have been doing. You will eventually train yourself out it, that is for certain.

    (DT Teacher in Training)



    Hi Henk, I don’t know if this might help, but I noticed a reduction in dullness when I changed my sitting position. I used to sit crossed legged on a cushion, but I think I got a bit too comfy, so I am not sitting on an angled wooden T shaped meditation stool, and this really helps as I have to keep some awareness to balance.



    Typo! I am NOW sitting on an angled wooden T shaped meditation stool …


    Henk de Wit

    Thank you all very much for the wonderful advice and suggested links.
    Last night I listened to and summarized the audio that is being referred to. It contains some very useful tips on how to deal with dullness. To show my appreciation to all of you, I will include the summary in this post. Please find it below.

    • Dullness is when there’s an increase in non-perceiving moments and a decrease in perceiving moments
    -A decrease in mental energy is involved too

    • It is the intention in one moment of consciousness that influences the quality and the nature of the next moment in consciousness
    -What leads to more non-perceiving moments (and thus possibly dullness) is a diminished content of intention within the perceiving moments of consciousness

    • Anything that you do to increase the intention moment by moment is going to increase the energy level of the mind
    -This results in more perceiving moments and less non-perceiving moments

    • Solution to beginning/subtle dullness: when you notice the slightest form of dullness all you have to is to set the intention to perceive with greater clarity and precision (e.g. the breath)
    -This will have an energizing effect on the dullness
    >One of the other members posted that the way he overcame dullness completely is to recognize it before it becomes too strong to resist it (regardless of the antidote applied)

    • Whenever you have dullness it is important to use an antidote that is strong enough to bring you out of it completely, i.e. the dullness does not come back for several minutes
    -Mild antidotes:
    >set the intention to perceive with more clarity and precision
    >take a few deep breaths and breath out slowly with resistance
    >expand awareness/ shift focus from meditation object to expanding awareness
    >tense all your muscles a couple of times until you start shaking
    -Strong antidotes:
    >Stand up and meditate while standing
    >Go to the sink and pour some cold water over your face

    -You can train your mind either in of dullness or out of dullness



    Great summary post, thanks Henk!


    Andrew S

    I also appreciate the summary. This part in particular:

    >expand awareness/ shift focus from meditation object to expanding awareness

    has been very helpful for me in my own practice.

    I had a tendency to move quickly to watching the breath at the nose, and to then really look hard for increasing levels of detail. This would often bring in sinking mind, and be hard to move past. I tried a more gentle approach; spending more time with Culadasa’s 4-step transition, and really allowing my attention to stabilize before worrying too much about observing as much detail as I could. I found that this built a strong foundation of peripheral awareness, and also corrected the sinking mind problem. I returned gradually to that more refined level detail in later stages (4, 5, etc.). So backing off attention a bit and taking note of how awareness functioned seemed to be the key for me.

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