It is of utmost important in the practice of Dzongchen that we know how to relax our body and mind properly. Such relaxations should not cause we to become sloppy nor too tense. So said, there is very distinct variations in the effective uses of old techniques in our modern society.
I want to write this topic of 'relaxations' because once I had a conversation with my manager Lee and our conversations sounded something like this:
Manager: "What will you do after resigning?"
Me: "Relaxing of course!"
Manager: "Haven't you got enough relaxation already. You should already become a manager like me!"
Of course, I smiled and said thank you to him and left.
It is useless to talk further with this manager as he was too tensed up emotionally and physically until so much so that he will suffer severe back pains and slipped disc even after a minor sneeze.
Person like Lee will have stiff body causing unknown body pains and emotional problems. In long run, Lee is likely to suffer from cancer too if his conditions are not checked.
Relaxation of body
We will not be able to enter the state of Great Perfection if our body is all tensed up that is for sure. The reason is that when a person is in pain, he will not be able to enter very deep meditative states and the energy flow within a person's body shall be blocked. And instead of meditate on emptiness; this guy will be meditating on his pains.
Contrary to common belief, relaxation of body does not mean he just sit in the couch and watch TV, or that he goes to gym to work out for hours; or that he spent vacations overseas.
Real body relaxation refers to a condition where our body is maintained in a balanced condition, neither too tense or too loose. This condition can be tested by sitting on a chair with one's back straight. In a relaxed condition, if he feels comfortable without any body discomforts; then he is good. Or else, there are problems to be attended to.
An office worker will normally feel stiff shoulders and necks. While a laborer may feel back and waist pains. In most conditions, these discomforts are so minute that they are ignored when our mind is too occupied. We will feel occasionally pains when we are left alone.
So, the first lesson in Dzongchen is to detect our body discomforts and tackles them with either Yantra yoga or Kum Nye or other physical methods.
Relaxation of mind
The requirement of Dzongchen on mind relaxation does not mean that asking a person to sleep. Since our mind consistently works to maintain our state of ego and pride, it is trained to judge good or bad; happy and sad. So, in order to relax our mind, Dzongchen trained our mind to observe without judgement.
It is not too difficult to test if our mind is relaxed or otherwise. We only spend 10 minutes before sleeping or when we shall not be disturbed. Just sit down on a chair and count how many thoughts arise and fall within that period of time. Of course, it is virtually impossible to have no thoughts at all for only the dead produce no thoughts.
Recognizing that our mind is not relaxed, Dzongchen has a set of exercises to purify our thoughts until our mind finds its state of stability.
Problems with old techniques
Now, so far so good as we already have a complete Dzongchen system handling relaxation of body and mind. But is it true?
Unfortunately through years of experiences, old techniques can do more harm than good because our modern lifestyle has changed dramatically over thousands of years. Further, the techniques of Dzongchen was originated from India brought to Tibet by previous masters; and now these techniques fell into our hands in the 21st century. There are bound to be variations due to interpretations and translations over these years. In short, if we follow those Dzongchen teachings faithfully without due check and balance; then we shall not 'see the light' to put it that way.
What I have found out is that our modern mind and body are much more stressful than people from thousands of years ago. Techniques such as yoga are good but doing yoga might be harmful to many people who do not like to exercise. I have found that many students developed stiff muscles that caused minor dislocation of joints which in turn squeezed on their nerve system; hence severe pains and limitation of mobility.
Techniques such as Kum Nye (inner massage) is too soft for any good nowadays considering stiff neck and shoulder must involve directly pulling force to realign the muscles and joints. I have tried many methods and found applying direct force onto localized stressed areas worked best to provide immediate relief and relaxations.
Hope for the future
So far, Dzongchen schools has not produced any outstanding practitioners in past decades perhaps due to improper or misinterpreted teachings. The problems lie in the over worship of the role of gurus in Dzongchen lineages until a condition which I like to described as: