2 Who was Osho and what was his message?
Osho (1931-90) also known as Bhagwan Ragneesh, was an Indian meditation leader who founded a 40 acre campus international meditation resort in Pune, India, from 1974-present, and a new town called Ragneeshpuram for 5,000 in the desert in Oregon, USA from 1981-85.
His main message concerning health was that disease is a falling apart of body and mind, and to heal and become whole you have to go beyond both, in meditation. Therapy should not be seen as an end in itself, but a means to open up the patient/client to meditate. Therapists who meditate will be more effective healers. He pointed out that the words medicine, medication and meditation all come from the same latin root, medici to heal. Medicine and medication are used to heal the body, and meditation is to heal the soul.
He created dozens of one-hour meditations to be done to CDs, of which the best known are dynamic (to be done first thing in the morning), kundalini (to be done in the evening) nadabrahma (humming) nataraj (dancing) no-dimensions.
He also created dozens of group meditation therapies to be done over many days in residential centres of which the best known are ‘Who is in?’ (4-7 days) ‘Mystic Rose’ (3 weeks) Each day of a group is prefaced by dynamic and rounded off with kundalini and evening meditation with video. His work inspired others to create other group therapies such as five rhythms, the journey, rebirthing etc, but he is not credited because he was controversial.
He gave public discourses, which were recorded on audio tape and video totalling some 7,000 hours, transcribed into books with over 600 titles in English and translated into many languages. He is said to be the author with the greatest number of titles. (perhaps because he spoke spontaneously and never wrote anything down) The publishing rights to produce new compilations on topics such as ‘intimacy’ ‘maturity’, ‘creativity’ are keenly sought by international publishing houses.
3 How do Osho meditations work?
The object of a meditation practice is to go beyond the mind, by finding the switch to turn it from a home page to a blank screen or screen saver. There are many methods of doing this, of which mindfulness (sitting silently and watching the breath) is the most important, but it is also the most advanced and difficult to achieve. It worked in Buddha’s time as ‘vipassana’ because people were not so stressed. However people today, particularly men, usually need more help to get out of their minds. (It took me 3 years of practising Osho meditations before I could successfully do vipassana)
Osho meditations give that help by providing a recorded CD which always start the practice with
activity (anti-meditation) like letting children let off steam in the playground first, so that they can then concentrate on their lessons. In the activity preparation phase you are instructed to be hyper-active to specially designed recorded music (eg drumming, gongs, bowls etc)
Dynamic meditation lasts an hour, and comprises half an hour of anti-meditation and half an hour of meditation. The anti-meditation is 10 minutes of deep fast chaotic breathing (hyperventilation to oxygenate the cells to release their memories), 10 minutes of ‘acting out’ catharsis (beating cushions, shouting, swearing, crying) and 10 minutes of shouting a mantra ‘hoo’ while jumping up and down to exhaustion with arms raised. The meditation starts with a sudden stop, freeze and 15 minutes silence, watching whatever comes up, and ends with 15 minutes music allowing the body to move in a free dance of celebration. The hour takes you through the emotional release cycle used in trauma therapy of sympathetic nervous system arousal and parasymathetic de-arousal. This is reason for dynamic’s efficacy, as we are all traumatised to some extent.
Other Osho activities as a preparation for meditation include shaking (kundalini) humming
( ‘Nadabrahma’) whirling (‘No dimensions’) flashing lights (Gourishenka) laughing for 3 hours per day for 7 days, crying for 3 hours per day for 7 days (Mystic Rose) shouting gibberish (evening discourse) answering koans (Who is In)
The above meditations and meditation therapies are regularly available at Osho centres in England (Osho Leela, Dorset, and Croydon Hall, Somerset) Osho Risk in Denmark, Cologne, Berlin, Italy, Australia, and many other venues (see above mentioned web sites)
4 What is the outcome for me?
I am now 71 and have been doing dynamic regularly (about 3 times per week) for about 5 years. I have been leading it in a drop-in basis at Planet Janet (opposite Hove town hall) for about 4 years. I have also done the following Osho meditation groups, totalling about 100 days: Who is in, Mystic Rose, Co-dependency recreating trust, Work as meditation, Changing the way we live our lives, Die before you die, Essence, Family constellation.
The emotional release in the catharsis phase of dynamic is like a spring clean, allowing fresh energy to come in, improving my memory and all sensory perceptions. My attitude to life has changed from feeling that I was a victim to feeling that I am a beneficiary. I am less judgemental of others, and more understanding and compassionate. I am more aware of what is going on both inside myself, and in others, so I am a better listener. My wife (who discovered Osho 30 years ago, has been 13 times to the ashram in Pune, and pointed the way for me) says that I am easier to live with.
5 What is the outcome for others?
I quote below from a video recording of 1994 featuring Osho meditation on Stockholm Radio news:
‘There is nothing flaky about Osho meditations for Stockholm bus drivers’ says Hans Schneidner ‘because their accident rate has halved over the 2 year period that they have been offered, at a cost to the company of $40,000 pa’.
‘Osho meditation helps prevent heart disease’ says the vice president of a leading Oslo bank, on his way to ‘his most important meeting of the day’ – the Osho meditation.
The chief cardiologist of a New York hospital was quoted as saying that it was almost medical malpractice not to offer meditation to his patients.
6 How can we achieve ‘the end of the Prozac nation’
Ex-Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced this intention in a speech to a mental health conference last May by telling doctors to offer talking therapies instead. According to Simon Scott, commissioner for mental health for Brighton and Hove Primary Care Trust (PCT), the waiting list for talking therapies is over a year. There are 14,000 people affected locally, and 6 million nationally.
How can such a large number be helped to withdraw from anti-depressants and get well again?
Dynamic and other Osho’s active meditations are not difficult to lead as they are based on CDs. They could be offered to groups of patients under the NHS by say yoga teachers after a short training, in yoga centres contracted to the PCT as Alternative Providers of Medical Services and paid for under Practice Based Commissioning.
After doing an abbreviated dynamic meditation for 15 moinuted, the discussion addressed the following important questions:
7 Doesn't catharsis reinforce disfunctional behaviour?
Unstructured cartharsis (as in domestic violence) does, because you practice disfunctional behaviour of which you are not aware. However, structured catharsis as in.the first half hour of dynamic doesn't, because being allowed to cathart encourages you to watch and become aware of what you are doing, to permanent benefit.
8 Can the swamp of the mind be drained?
My experience has been that structured catharsis seems to partially drain it, and neutralise the power in what is left. I used to be upset by horrific scenes in news, films etc, but now I can watch without identifying my feelings with their feelings, as from a distance.
9 Is Osho active meditation contra-indicated for some conditions?
I, and other group leaders in other Osho centres have been offering them on a drop in basis for up to 30 years without any screening. I have never experienced or heard of anyone complaining of suffering harm. The leader merely invites participants to follow the instructions. The extent to which they do is up to them. It is made clear beforehand that no judgement will be made as to whether they did it right or not.
10 What is the evidence base for catharsis and meditation as therapy?
‘Cellular biologists have found that when emotions are suppressed, a specific biochemistry is released into the blood stream which blocks certain receptors which are then isolated and cannot communicate with any other cells in the body. Those blockages ultimately manifest as disease.’. (Source: Brandon Bayes, as reported in Living the Field newsletter April 07, thought to be from Dr Candice Pert’s book Molecules of Emotion)
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