Starting stage 2 after dullness experience

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  B Lejon 1 year, 6 months ago.

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    B Lejon

    Hi! I’m new to this forum and would like see if here’s someone who knows about the problems I’ve been through and going through.

    I’ve been ‘following’ my breath (without peripheral awareness) for years on and off but it has only led me to dull states and recently it started to get really heavy and strong. I’ve been able to follow the breath for some periods of time, sometimes 20-40 minutes but this has always led me to dullness which I thought was the beginning of access concentration or something. But recently it became strong dullness after only minutes of following the breath.

    Culadasa’s method addresses just this issue and I’m now trying his way. I have already run into some questions though and maybe someone here can clear things up for me?

    1. Since following the breath without peripheral awareness for so long that I’ve done this has become a strong habit and I haven’t yet been able to break it. What I’ve done is not going so ‘deep’ as watching the breath at the nostrils but instead just knowing it going in and out at the nose, chest and stomach area’s and then also trying to ‘know/scan’ as much as possible in the peripheral awareness.
    Is this ok? Is this something I can do and expect progress or is this not doing anything.

    2. In the dharma talk ‘Sit, Breathe, Wake up!’, Culadasa make the example of a flagpole and the clouds in the sky on how to understand attention and awareness which I like as an example. But I would like to know more in detail for someone who start from the absolute beginning of stage 2.
    How many percent is my ‘focus’ preferably going to be at the flagpole/attention vs the clouds/peripheral awareness. I don’t ask for an exact number but an approximate. I understand that this may change as you progress but for a absolute beginner of stage 2. Knowing this would help me a lot when I try to adjust my zoom which is all the time it feels like.

    I think what I need is ‘reset point settings’ that I can use as a constant reminder after coming back from mind wandering and a ‘check in’ every now and then so that I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to and doing it right.

    I’m very cautious of zooming in too much on the breath because of the dullness that can suck me right in to a void where there is almost no awareness or attention so it would be nice to have a ballpark where I can move in confidence where I know that I ain’t doing it too much nor too little.

    Grateful for any help!



    Ted Lemon

    None of this is going to be particularly clear at stage two. My main experience of it was simply noticing the breath either being in the foreground or in the background. The background is still attention, though. Awareness is not the background. The distinction between “background” and “awareness” is really subtle, and I think the first time I saw it clearly I was in retreat and practicing around stage five.

    So really the answer is that the right percentage on the breath is 100%, and that doesn’t help much, because you can’t do that at stage two, and would create massive stress for yourself trying. What has worked for me at stage four is simply to notice when peripheral awareness has gotten less distinct and less detailed. At first the way I did this was to consciously check in with my attention every ten breaths or so. I think this is a technique Culadasa mentions specifically in the book, and he warns not to count the breaths–I’m actually guessing at that number.

    Also, perhaps you are aware of this, but your description of your practice sounds like stage four, not stage two.


    B Lejon

    Yes, I think I’ve been at stage 4 but then I ran into this dullness and it felt I have to start all over again, that seems to be the wrong thing to.

    I will try to watch the breath as I did before and try to be aware when dullness is coming and just go through it with the help of peripheral awareness.

    It really felt I went backwards after reaching stage 4 and I thought I did something qrong at the earlier stages and this is why I wanted to restart fresh and with dullness in mind as a problem.



    Ted Lemon

    So many people report it feeling like they backslid in stage four. This is not unusual. One of the nice things about stages two and three is that all of that mind-wandering really energizes the mind, so when you are on the object, you can feel quite sharp, and then the loss of that source of energy can result in a feeling of things having faded a bit when you begin to meditate in stage four.


    Michael Dunn

    I also felt like I regressed into stronger dullness when going through stage four, and just kept applying the practices and eventually worked through it. The mind becomes much more sensitive through these stages, which may attribute to it’s apparent increase, when in fact it is just overcoming the last vestiges of strong dullness.

    One time I wrote down all of the antidotes for dullness, both gross and subtle, and just referred to it on my cushion to overcome the obstacles, as I had my armor ready. So just keep up your practices, and know that you will move through it. You are taking the correct approach by ensuring you have fully developed both awareness and attention together.

    – Michael
    Dharma Treasure teacher-in-training


    B Lejon

    I have now started to meditate with my eyes wide open and fixating on a spot. Then I follow my breath at the nostrils and do a ‘check in’ as often as I remember, sometimes between breaths just too get in the habit. This feels better than anything I’ve been trying lately and I’m going to keep doing this for a while. I can really keep my energy up and thoughts at bay and I feel like I’m back at late stage 3 or early stage 4 again.

    But, when I check in it’s way more easier to notice sounds and bodily feelings than emotions and thoughts i.e mind objects. Is this normal at this stage and will this be more obvious when I check in at these (3-4).

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