I went to my first Osho meditation (Our Sacred Earth) few days ago, with a friend, and I feel like I do need to let a bit of this experience out. Perhaps it will motivate someone to try it out. We went to a group meditation hosted by a couple that is very experienced with all kinds of meditations, and besides us there were few other women attending.
It was difficult to go there. I had plenty of doubts, and suggestive thoughts that perhaps I shouldn’t go. Clearly I was quite fearful about it. It’s not a secret that I need control over myself, as my main coping mechanism, and letting go of this control is terrifying. I always feel like if I let out just a bit of the things that are inside me the I will create my own gravity and destroy the world. But this also means rejecting to get in touch with these things. I would say that the repression, denial, they are the opposite of control, because I have reached the point where I cannot anymore control anything in it, if it gets out it gets out and I feel like a ticking bomb. It’s like a dam, that needs to be removed so that the waters held by it at first will violently aim at the balance, but eventually it evens out so that the ocean has a natural flow, where the waves come and go, and the currents go where they need, and the ocean reacts to the world instead of being the force of nature that the world needs to fear. Once it’s calm, other time it’s stormy, but the pressure of the dam is gone.
That’s at least what I would like to aim at. Cannot submit to the fear for the rest of my life. Recently I am in general very happy and stable, I am in remission for my mental illness, and it feels like a good moment to now try to access what I couldn’t have afforded earlier. I appreciate the privilige that I have, with the work of my own but also my loved ones in all aspects of life I obtained a golden parachute that can catch me. And now it’s time for the trust fall.
The meditation’s structure was made of few cycles, each cycle had two phases – the phase for movement, and the phase for shaking the body. Before we went to it we sat in a circle and talked a little bit. Who are we, why are we here. We also each took an Osho tarot card, and each had held a very horoscopic description (taken out from a book to read after the session), but also was just for us to think about, as a sort of guide before we get to the theory. They are of course brilliantly designed, so universally that everyone can relate to them in some way, and work with the same cards for years, each time discovering something new. I have an allergy for cultish behavior and fake spirituality, but this was just psychology, and a very helpful tool.
My card was funny, because it portrayed a naked man in a crowd, with his feet cut off. The card said SKRUCHA. In Polish it means repentence, contrition, but also humility, reflection on own behavior. At first I could not make a sense of it for myself, but I did not want to assign forced philosophy on something that doesn’t click with me, so I left it alone for the time being. Only at the end I realized my very ambivalent feelings towards the card. On one hand I am grateful towards myself that I’ve always strongly experienced it, so I was in touch with my morals. But on the other hand, I felt like there was way too much of it in my life, as I’ve been swallowed by guilt that was uncalled for. If someone else told me they felt this way I would shake them up to stop tormenting themselves over things out of their control, but somehow I still struggle to shake myself up.
After few days post-meditation I reached more conclusions and skrucha is following me about in my thoughts. One of the things I will be talking about in next post, because it’s about veganism that I have struggled with for the past couple months, and I would like to address it. For now let’s focus on the meditation itself though.
I love how the cards work, and I intend to purchase a deck for home-use to add to my practise. Just one abstract word as a concept to think about can be more insightful than the entire book, because it is you, your intuition that is speaking to you, and telling you what you personally need to know about it. I am interested in reading the original intentions behind them as well though. For Polish speakers here is the fragment about skrucha, from book Karty przemiany wg. Osho.
The talk before the session begins the opening up experience, as you get to share honestly with others what do you expect and what are you doing there. You don’t have to do it. In fact, you do not have to do anything while attending the session. The group is there to support you, and to show you acceptance, but also you are always in control over what are you ready to share yet or not.
I was especially happy to see one man (one of the hosts) who shared his experience with working a full-time job in IT, for important clients. He said how he is introverted and yearns balance, peace and quiet of the nature, but had this force to drive himself into productive career and chase unimportant things, and developed a permanent smile. In stressful or unpleasant situations he smiles despite completely not feeling like it. It was nice to find someone with similar experience and background there. I have certain issues connecting with other people, so any sign that I am among people who have even a little bit similarity to me is very reassuring.
Forcing a smile is also something I struggle with. My face often hurts from it. I rarely feel like smiling, it’s more of a learned behavior. I know I need to force a smile to communicate good intentions/feelings towards other people or situations. It is also very strongly linked to a trauma I experienced as a child, that I do not feel comfortable speaking about in public. It left me smiling when I least feel like it. The worse I feel the stronger I feel the need to force a smile. On one hand I would like to stop doing it, it is dishonest and hurtful, but on the other hand I need to do it because if I stop other people will perceive me as cold and unfeeling, or hostile and dismissive towards them. Unfortunately we just have to do it. It drains me incredibly when interacting with people, but luckily at home I can just be myself. The time I need to recharge and rest though is significantly impact my day-to-day staying on top of things and I’m perpetually exhausted. It also does make me feel bad because of the trauma, every time I forcefully smile I just keep being reminded of the old wounds, despite that sometimes I force a smile precisely when I am happy, to communicate this happiness. Well, what can you do. So far I do not know. It does help to limit my personal relationships with people to only those who are not as demanding when it comes to forced, unnatural behaviors.
It’s nice to learn that I am not alone in this. And in some other things that I mentioned to my friend, or to the group.
Next we moved on to a few exercises as a warm up. Some of them were troublesome for me, and I liked how it helped me realize my strengths and weaknesses that I should work on.
The bulldog – the point of that was to relax your face and let go of the tension. You relax your face, and move it fast as you make a funny sound. You most often end up spitting about, just like a bulldog, and you are supposed to let that happen and just not feel shy about it.
Monkey faces – here we were making weird faces, combined with breathing with midriff. That one was unpleasant and difficult. Breathing via midriff is something I am bad at, and I’m trying to work on it. It does cause me pain though, and making faces is not something I like doing. I’ve never had something like ‘hm, I now have a sudden urge to make a face!‘, the relaxation stance and what I really want is for my face to be nearly frozen. But the point of the exercise was to connect with the body and let go of some of the things we force ourselves to do. It’s also harder than it sounds to coordinate making faces with the breathing. I think at the end it was about letting go of the shame that people feel regarding their ape nature.
The gibberish talk – oh, dear. I never realized before that I would have a problem with that. The exercise was talking to each other in gibberish voice and mannerism, to try to communicate while speaking nonsense. It made me think of Simlish. When the moment came and my partner spoke her nonsense and it was my turn, I realized I cannot do this. Any sound that I tried to make, any nonsense I came up with, was either remembering simlish or things that I heard at some point and could possibly repeat, or random words in all the languages I’ve heard, or sentences in foreign languages that I did not understand. Basically, I realized that I can only mimic, but not just come up with and verbalize something more creative that doesn’t actually mean anything. I failed to complete the exercise, the best I could do was ‘aaaaaaaaaa‘. I cannot make sense of it yet. When I was a child I didn’t really verbalize, I would laugh, but not speak, and then when I started to talk I was talking in full sentences, so the part where you just create sounds in attempt to say something just missed me. I just memorized what people do and once I made sense of all of it I started to speak adult. Mimicry is all I can really do in communication, I fail to create my own signals, or my own gestures and mannerism.
Then we started the dance phase. I was worried what if I cannot do it, because at first I thought this is going to be in silence, when my entire body just wants to be still and not move. But it was with music. I love music, and I love dancing, so I just danced through the phase, occasionally laying down on the floor and fidgeting, and it was very plasant to do what I feel like doing, without worrying ‘oh no, this isn’t situation-appropriate and people will notice, I should mask my behavior‘. As for not worrying about judgement about my dance, that was not an issue for me at all, I couldn’t care less what people think about my moves. Do I look pretty? Do I look acceptable? Do I look attractive? It came to my mind that people do usually think about these things. To that I can only say, as a child I’ve been to few dances, and I was ridiculed as fuck. And you know what? Nothing, I had a good time dancing and I realized why would I even care about being judged by few assholes whom I’d sell to Satan for one cornchip. I understand fearing something new, but once something like that happens to you, usually it turns out that it was way worse in your head. The first dancing phase was definitely just finding myself in the moment and social context.
Then it got way worse, during the first shaking phase. When we were still talking in the circle I already was just trying to hold up and not cry. It was just very difficult, both because of thinking about what I am feeling that I try to not let escape, and because of hearing of other people’s experiences. The shaking phase in general was about just relaxing and shaking off your body, to loosen the muscles, but it was also about doing what you feel, and expressing what is trying to come out.
At this point I just let go the waterworks. I very much did not want to have a full meltdown in the public, I was worrying that I would disturb the people who try to focus on their emotions, and they would feel obligated to help me instead. The more I was thinking about them the more I was crying. I did some shaking but also was focusing on breathing exercises I learned to de-escalate panic attacks.
I feel very non-verbal in my expression, but there were people who were very verbal. There was a lot of screaming. At one point someone screamed the same way I remember one of the patient yelling at night in the asylum. I felt like all those emotions of the people around me just got poured into my entire being, and I just could not stop crying at this moment, I still needed to keep the control and let out just a little stream instead of destroying the dam all at once.
I cannot find words to describe it. I feel ashamed of it, oddly. I don’t know why, I do know I was ridiculed for it in the past, but I was ridiculed for a lot of things that did not make me feel insecure even a bit. But the fact that I feel the emotions of those people and just can’t handle the cry because I feel so bad for them is something I find hard to admit. I cannot say it out loud with exception of saying it to my beloved two days ago. I just feel like the magnitude of the emotions is choking me. My throat still hurts after the meditation and it’s been a few days.
Besides other attendees, I also could not handle all the feelings regarding the suffering on Earth. What we did to this planet, to other people, to other animals, it’s just impossible to accept. Besides anger, I am just overwhelmed with grief. I am grieving the people around me, I am grieving the nature, I am grieving the sentient beings that we butcher for the sake of things that are so meaningless it seems like the biggest evil in the world.
These feelings are too strong for me to handle. They’ve always been. I remember in kindergarden we had a TV in the common room, that the teachers were watching while the kids were playing. I kept paying attention to the reports, and I learned about one of the big topics back then, which was starvation in Africa, and I just couldn’t accept it. I was crying for days, and I felt so alone and alienated when other kids were just playing and going on about their days, and when I explained to them why am I crying they just stared at me blankly and moved on to having fun. I felt like noone understands, how can this be, how can we just ignore this, why is noone doing something about it, there are children and their families starving and watching each other slowly die in pain. Nothing has changed for me, I am still the same child who is just so angry but also grieving so much, and I just can’t deal with these emotions. Now that I am older I only realize the entire system that led to the situation that bothered me so much when I was few years old, and the only thing that is changed is the magnitude of the tragedy. I tried coming up with solutions, all in vain.
I no longer have hope that this could be fixed, but the fact that we will not fix the cause doesn’t mean that we should let others just starve and die. We are responsible for all of it, we owe it to everyone to try to preserve the nature, to help other people live in better comforts. I do not feel like I can just sit there and do nothing, and yet that’s nearly all I can do. It’s agonizing. And it connects to the card again. Skrucha. I keep being told I cannot feel guilty and repent for the faults of entire humanity, but honestly it always felt to me like a bad excuse to not do anything. And then noone ever does anything, and the result is that the last few generations over the past 200 years screwed up the entire planet and doomed us all. We are a thing for millions of years and just in 200 years we fucked it up. And of course noone feels responsible.
Getting in touch with all this anger and grief and sympathies towards people and animals was rough. Each cycle it was on one hand feeling worse, on the other I felt a bit numb. It wasn’t pleasant, it was depressing. After all of the cycles we laid on the floor (kind of hugging the Earth attempt), and with calm music and some frankincense we were supposed to focus on how the Mother Earth loves us and accepts us for who we are. I couldn’t focus on that, it wasn’t what I needed. I just let the inuition do its thing and process the emotions that I touched on. The grief and loneliness were fronting very strongly, as if there was nothing else. I did come to some personal revelations though, and I have plenty of new material to be mauled.
In general I like my relationship with nature, it’s where I feel the most like myself. But humanity and our so called civilization that screwed us over really make it hard to love being a human. It feels like walking on an already scorched Earth. I can’t just look at something and see it for what it is right now, all I see is the future. I try my best to appreciate the now, and in action I do, but in the heart it’s not so easy because the future never lets me forget, and the uncertainty about time introduces a lot of stress and tension, being on alert at all times.
Since I came back home from the session I felt exhaustion and pain, and now I realize I am experiencing a fibro flare up. My nervous system is overloaded and fried, my brain is punishing me for getting there, and my entire body feels like I’ve been ran over by a tank. I barely can focus, when people talk at me I just don’t understand and need things repeated to me and rephrased multiple times before I get it, and then I struggle to verbalize a response.
It’s far from what people imagine meditation to be about. It isn’t just thinking about nothing, or just happy thoughts and relaxation, zen state, magic crystals, etc. Most of the women present there did express that they are glad to be there, and that they already feel much better, but somehow I feel much worse, but it’s okay too. It just can happen, especially when there is a lot to unpack and process.
I definitely intend to go to another session, but I need few weeks at least to collect myself. It was harder than an entire day of heavy physical labor. The hostess accurately said how these sessions work on things that you cannot process just by ‘playing sports’. While sport is important and we do need some endorphins and movement, a lot of people use sport as escape. And escapism is sometimes needed as a coping mechanism, it will not solve your issues, it will not let you think, and feel the things that you need to feel. I am not a fan of hardcore approach ‘face everything now, open up immediately, and regardless if it’s time and space for it you need to do all the heavy lifting at all times‘, but society has perfected escapism to the point where it feels like almost everyone is so strongly disconnected from themselves. Running away from everything, avoiding confrontation, avoiding getting hurt, it makes sense in general as we need to be aware of danger, but we are going way overboard with it. To the point where people aren’t really living their lives fully, just escaping from things until the day they die. And with them, bury all the chances of getting to really know themselves, accept themselves and other people, explore options other than just mediocre ‘proper‘, ‘normal‘ life that society imposes on us.
And as I mentioned earlier, a lot of fears are way worse in our heads than when things actually happen. Too much comfort makes a terribly fearful human who will be so passive they will not do anything, regardless if it’s something they should, have to, or want to do. People who come out the worst are those who are spoiled. They are paralyzed. Parents can hurt their children with too much comfort and lack of problems. Their idea of the world becomes so disorted, they are unable to handle commonly very simple and light issues. It’s all relative, and the point is not to judge whomst the most opressed, the point is to live a happy life, and to achieve that we need skills to deal with our emotions and the world that we gain only by dealing with problems that are very much outside of our comfort zone.
I know it is easy to judge those people, but what can we do is approach them mindfully, and instead of saying ‘your problems are small, why are you overreacting’, we can encourage them to step out from their comfort zone and face their anxieties. It’s enough to make a great impact, and help them live happier and explore their potential.
In conclusion – I feel terrible, but I do not regret. I see how long road is ahead of me, I barely touched a snowflake found at the tip of the iceberg. I have so many questions, I need a lot of time for the answers to come to me. But it is something I do need to do. I want to actually be in control, not to have an illusion of control.
I am very grateful for the entire experience. And I happily recommend it to just anyone, even if it would be your first experience with meditation. But also it is a fair warning, go there only if you are serious about it, and never force something you aren’t ready for. A meditation circle is a safe environment where you can step out from the comfort zone, but you do not need to jump out head first into something, because it can end up very badly. Mind is like body in this regard, you need to first stretch a bit and warm up and train for few months before you decide to start lifting 200kg, otherwise you will only hurt yourself.
Comfort and stagnation is the enemy of improvement, but once we improve we can feel comfortable within ourselves and the world, and live the lives that we want.
It’s easy to dismiss meditation as pseudo-science, cults, crystals and magical thinking. It’s for the hippies, for stoners, for the flower children that picked the New Age trends instead of submitting to old religions like proper upstanding citizens. It’s easy to think that your problems are far too big to be fixed by a session of breathing. And you know what, you are absolutely right. It will not fix anything. But it allows you to take some time to listen to yourself. To listen to the essence of you, the things that you bottle up, things that you are in denial of. Using common psychology and neuroscience, there is no magic, no blind faith.
People often characterize me as this super rational person, I am glad I can take this opportunity that you do not have to betray your values if you cherish cold reason, and you might be pleasantly surprised if you try it out for yourself.