What is Meditation actually?
Meditation has become part of the standard program of pretty much anyone who wants to be respected and successful in today's world, right? Mindfulness is hip. And it is now even considered a panacea that can help with everything, be it annoying colleagues, depression, stress, or as a rehab program after a traffic accident. More and more people want to solve their problems through mindfulness and meditation.
But does it work? Does mindfulness really help with everything? Or is it simply an acceptable reason to take a much-needed break in an increasingly hectic world and the rat race most of us are caught in? And is it the break that we might not otherwise allow ourselves to take? So is it meditation itself or is it the break that brings well-being?
And more than that. I wonder: Why is it that so many of us find it difficult to just sit still and watch the breath. A little more than 10 years ago I also tried desperately to sit in silence, but I could never do it for more than 10 minutes and even that was almost impossible at times. Can you relate? Well, good. You are certainly not alone.
My big breakthrough came in 2008 when I discovered methods called Active Meditation. I had never heard the term, but I had already been practicing it without even knowing it. It was in 1999 when I cycled over 4000 km through New Zealand. I swear that was active meditation, I just didn't know it yet. Today I know very well, that it WAS meditation. I was cycling around the country for more than 4 months, and I did it alone, just me and myself, exposed to wind and weather every day and sweating blood and water. This constant activity in solitude, I reckon it was bringing up some suppressed feelings in me that often found their outlet in angry swearing and a lot of f-words when I was struggling up another hill... If I had known... I might never have done it.
But today I'm very happy I did. Because that was the beginning of my inner journey and the beginning of meditation for me. Because meditation is just that: Being fully present with what is. Without resistance, without suppressing feelings or thoughts. It is the ability to be here completely and to let everything be here that shows up. Whether feelings, like anger, sadness or fear, or thoughts that go round in circles for the hundredth time. Meditation is the capacity to accept what is and let things be the way they are, without response. I learned it, eventually... :-)
Curious how you too can get there? Without cycling through New Zealand for 4 months? Then read on.
“To be in the mind is to be out of yourself.
To be out of the mind is to be in your own being.”
The Solution? Osho Active Meditations!
What does that mean - active meditations?
Active meditation simply means that we involve the body, actively with mindful movement. This can be very dynamic, but also mindful.
The body thus becomes an instrument: 15 minutes of intensive activities like jogging, dancing, shaking, or jumping, and then 15 minutes of silence. The movement activates the body and the sympathetic nervous system, and as a result the nervous system swings back into the parasympathetic reaction, and deep relaxation occurs. So first everything is brought into a state of agitation, then it can relax.
This is possible because the inner restlessness, tension, and fidgeting, which has accumulated through our everyday life, can be relieved through dynamic but attentive movement.
Especially as a beginner you will probably find it difficult to sit still, right? It tingles here, it itches there - these are all tricks of our hyperactive mind, which tries to keep in control.
An Indian mystic named Osho said
"As for modern man, I insist on active meditation instead of silent meditation. Because your energy wants to be acted out, it needs catharsis. You have too much energy and no outlet for all your stuck and suppressed energy ... let the energy flow. Through action you merge with existence. And when the energy is gone and you relax, then be still." (Osho)
There are numerous active meditation techniques and they are indeed a very effective tool to achieve a meditative state. These methods work quickly and effectively.
Curious? Try it yourself. There is the opportunity to do so, for example, at our Nature Retreats. There are also regular meditation days and meditation evenings via Zoom. To stay up to date on this, sign up for our newsletter here, or click the button to join us for the next online event [currently only available in German].
However, if you don't want to work via Zoom and would like to try the meditations live in your own home, check for instructions on YouTube as well as in written form for the most popular Osho Active Meditations. A good resource for this is this page: osho.com/en/meditation/osho-active-meditations.
Another active meditation I would like to recommend to you is the Heart Chakra Meditation by Karunesh. Here is a YouTube video explaining the meditation:
youtube.com/watch?v=SBg5IEZwLIQ&t=29s. You can also find the accompanying music on YouTube: youtube.com/watch?v=-ZRe439pgGU
Who is OSHO?
Osho was a contemporary Indian mystic, born in 1931 in Kuchwada in Central India.
He advocated meditation for everyone, but his technique was revolutionary. The meditations he designed don't start with stillness and silence but with activity and movement to release suppressed energy and emotions, which can then lead to a state of calmness in which meditation will happen naturally.
He was a master unhampered by tradition, a guru who could quote Voltaire, and Sartre, Heraclitus and Marx, and who believed in capitalism, technology, and sex.
Numerous subjects of interest were taken up by Osho in this intriguing series of talks - from esoteric topics to more well-known subjects like politics, parenting, relationships, child-rearing, or religion.
He cites Jesus, Buddha, Mahavira, Lao Tzu, Sufi and old Zen masters with an astonishing memory, translating them with a freshness and directness as though they were talking today, as though they were wearing sneakers.
"Osho is a thoroughly modern man as much at home with Marx and Engels and humanistic psychology as with the mystical traditions of the East. Indeed, he uses Marx and Maslov, Plato and Heidegger, Freud and Beckett and Lenny Bruce, Playboy jokes as well as Zen and Sufi teaching stories, to make telling critiques of political and religious, psychological and sexual orthodoxies," writes James Gordon of Washington Post, USA.
Osho's commune in Pune still exists and is visited by 100,000 people every year. He died in 1990 aged 59. Read more about Osho here.
And this is what Osho says about himself: "Always remember, whatsoever I say to you, you can take it in two ways. You can simply take it on my authority, 'Because Osho says so, it must be true' – then you will suffer, then you will not grow."
“Whatsoever I say, listen to it, try to understand it, implement it in your life, see how it works, and then come to your own conclusions. They may be the same, they may not be. They can never be exactly the same because you have a different personality, a unique being."
“Whatsoever I am saying is my own. It is bound to be in deep ways rooted in me. You may come to similar conclusions, but they cannot be exactly the same.
“So my conclusions should not be made your conclusions. You should try to understand me, you should try to learn, but you should not collect knowledge from me, you should not collect conclusions from me. Then your mind-body will grow.”
Active meditation, ok, fair enough. But Meditative Therapy is where the fun really begins!
Meditative therapy? Yes, exactly. It had never been on my radar that I might need therapy. I was doing ok, and I was living my live more or less successfully. A normal person, you could say.
So why therapy? Mediative therapy, mind you.
Honestly, I could write a whole book about this. But here, let me be brief. Because it has helped me to discover who I really am, to experience and own my true value, and moreover to recognized my full potential for the first time. And one has to recognize it in order to live it fully, right?
This had been a deep wish within me that I had not even been aware of. And therefore I am forever grateful that I 'jumped in' to the Osho Meditative Therapies without thinking about it at all. And I did again and again. And I have not stopped doing it yet :-)
Zen Counseling [Essence Work]
Essence Work, according to Turiya Hanover & Rafia Morgan, is a unique symbiosis between Western humanistic psychology, developmental and depth psychology, as well as Sufism and methods derived from it, which have their origins in the Middle East. Meditation is the main component of this work. One might even say that when we are in touch with our essence, it IS pure meditation. And this is exactly what this work aims at - reconnecting with our essence, from which we have been cut off in most cases in our early childhood.
This work builds on the school of A.H. Almaas. Almaas provides us with a map of the human psyche that shows us the way to self-realization. A path that allows us to reconnect with our essential qualities such as essential will, trust, confidence, courage, strength, vitality, power, stillness, peace, love, compassion and joy. The Sufis call these basic essential qualities the Lataif.