Translated from 修行为什么要放松身体？- 法心尊者答疑 第151问，approved by author.
Greetings, Venerable Sir!
When I sit, I feel that my shoulder will tense up from time to time. Although I have tried to relax it many times, it will tense up again if I am not careful, what should I do?
When you relax your body, I mean, when you temporarily feel that your body has been relaxed, you need to pay attention to the tension in your mind, that is, I just said that there is a hierarchy of worries, since the tension in your body must be caused by the tension in your mind.
Why do we need to relax the body? Because it’s like a shell that keeps you from seeing deeper problems; you peel off that shell so that your inner problems can be revealed. So after you relax your body, there are times when you have a feeling of anxiety in your mind because it starts to be out of alignment.
What you were used to was that when your mind tensed up, your body followed. Then after your body relaxes, your mind feels dissonant because it’s still tense. At this time you turn back to see the tension in your mind, and carefully experience it – because this is where the root is – and see if you can relax this anxiety in your mind.
Then after a while your body may tense up again, and you come back and proceed to relax your body. After you relaxed the body, come back to your mind again.
When your mind is anxious and restless, it’s like scratching into a ball that kind of feeling. You have to recognize this. This is the cause that prevent your body from relaxing, or when you have relaxed, it tenses up again.
Just like treating a disease, there is also a difference between the surface and the inside of the disease. The tension in the body is a surface problem, and this has to be treated as well, right? Like when you have a fever, you have to reduce the fever, and after that you have to go to the problems inside, right?
It’s the same with practice. After you relax your body, if the problem inside is not solved, it will go back and forth. So you have to try to go deeper to solve the inner problems, to solve the problems within your mind, the tension in your mind. And then go even deeper. The practice is ever-deepening and ever-deepening. Until finally, after you have completely resolved the deepest (worries), that is nirvana.
So sometimes the Buddha would take the example of the banana tree, which is peeled layer by layer. We Chinese may not be familiar with the banana tree, it is similar to an onion, that is, peel, peel, peel layer by layer, that is how it is. Do not just peel the surface layer, like you peeled the surface layer, and you think it’s done, there is nothing left to peel. You shall keep peeling inward.
Then there are times when you tense up again, your body tenses up again. Well, then come back to relax the body. This is how you keep practicing.