Learn to relax

A group of Social Psychology professors from different universities in China visited Zen Master Dae Kwan. They asked many questions about practice.

Professor: I joined a retreat in China, and they taught me to meditate by counting my breath from 1 to 10. I followed the instruction and put all my strength into counting each breath from 1 to 10 without any thinking for half an hour. At the end of the retreat, I got a headache and a hemorrhoid. Now I am afraid to sit again. What shall I do?

Sifu: Have you ever sat down to watch a movie and half an hour later you get a headache and a hemorrhoid?

Professor: Never, Zen Master.

Sifu: Same as that. If you watch your breath like watching a movie, then you will solve your problem.

Upon hearing that everyone starts laughing.

Commentary:

One of the most important parts of practice is to relax and be natural. It is like playing a string instrument. Too tight, the string will break. Too loose, the string cannot make the correct sound. Counting our breaths is a means to regulate our mind so that it can return to its original not-moving, relaxed and natural state, which means clear and centered. Most important is that we breathe naturally. If the breath is clear, our mind is clear. Applying this clear mind moment to moment to help ourselves and others is the true meditation.