Tensions and Tenseness

When I give zazen instruction I encourage people to release or let go of the tenseness in various parts of their body. Easier said than done. There is tension that holds the structure of the body/mind together allowing for a free flow of unhindered energy. And then there is tenseness that causes knots that hinder that flow. The tenseness is extra. An important aspect of our practice both on and off the cushion is to be aware of how we hold our well-balanced unconditioned posture, as well as waking up to the corners and and crannies of our body where we hold our unresolved anger, resentments, fears, frustrations, anxieties, loss and gain, and much, much more that determines our conditioned postures.

In a world where there is so much to be angry, resentful, fearful, frustrated, jealous, and self-critical about, it’s a wonder that we have any freedom from ourselves at all. It is well known that our back from top to bottom is a storage compartment for anger and resentment. After all, if we can’t resolve it, it has to go somewhere. The other parts of our body also hold this mental and emotional baggage. When I adjust posture in the zendo, it becomes clear that we bring our conditioned postures to the cushion.

Zazen is to resume our original unconditioned posture that harbors nothing while embracing whatever appears without attachment. Although angry, not harboring anger, although resentful, not harboring resentment, although self-critical not harboring criticism. Meeting the trials and tribulations as well as savoring the sweetness and love of our everyday activity we follow the natural order of Mind in this way. Suzuki Roshi once said that everything is falling out of balance and finding its balance moment by moment. This takes continuous awareness. Responding allows us the opportunity to stay centered, while reaction usually pulls us off center. Staying centered and balanced and in touch with the profound stillness at the center of our activity is our practice.