Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Importance of Expression of Emotions and Osho’s Active Meditation: A Research Proposal

The Importance of Expression of Emotions and Osho’s Active Meditation:
A Research Proposal.
Stress is one of the main psychological problems everyone faces around the globe. Meditation is one of the alternative treatment modality to reduce or cure it. However, people face difficulties in practicing meditation, particularly passive techniques. Therefore, Osho created a new method of meditation, active mediation techniques. This paper tries to compare these two different methods of meditation techniques and shows the importance of expression of emotions before sitting for a silent passive meditation.
Katya Rubia (2009), professor at King’s college in London, England, in reference to World Health Organization and other research studies such as Mathers and Loncar (2005), argues that in the next decade, the world is going to face more psychological and mental health problems. Already, people in all fields are affected by stress, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which are some of the important mental health issues the world now faces. Moreover, there are many life events which have negative impacts in their life. In addition to Counselling & Disability Services at York, the University Health Network (2010, 2011), The Canadian Mental Health Association (2011) and many other social services organizations are concerned about the issues related to stress. Therefore, all of these organizations and others promote at least six ways to reduce stress and raise relaxation. These are meditations techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, breathing exercises, yoga stretching, and imagery (Gillani & Smith, 2001). However, one of the most promoted is meditation for stress release and relaxation (Gillani & Smith, 2001; Shao & Skarlicki, 2009). There are many meditation methods which have many different techniques and most of them are either passive or active. However, not much is known in the academic field about Osho’s active meditation techniques and whether it is better than passive techniques. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to argue that the importance and usefulness of the expression of emotion which is part of Osho’s active meditation before sitting for a silence passive meditation in order to release stress and raise relaxation and awareness.
It is regret to see that there has not been much research done in Osho’s meditation except two. One exception is Anthony D’Andrea’s (2007) anthropological study about Osho’s active meditation method and Avni Vyas (2007) pilot study for his Phd. thesis. D’Andrea (2007) and Vyas (2007) state that Osho alias Rajneesh who is an Indian mystic created new method of active meditation by incorporating eastern and western philosophies and therapeutic techniques. Unfortunately, in the Western and Eastern therapeutic world, they have been following either active or passive methods separately without combing them. That is why, Osho (2003, 2010) argues that doing only traditional passive meditation is not very helpful because it is too difficult for most people who live now. However, he continues that it was suitable for people in those times when Buddha was alive. These traditional methods have been followed for a long time even before Buddha, Gowdhama Siddhartha. However, this method became popularized after his contribution to this work (Osho, 1974, 2010). Since then, it has been widely used even now in the academic field. 
There are many different traditional meditation methods and techniques used to reduce stress which have long and short term benefits (Weiss, Nordlie & Siegel, 2005). However, passive meditation methods such as Vipassana, Zen, Mindfulness or Transcendental Meditations (TM), are followed by most people who practice meditation or do study or research on it (Rubia, 2009; Osho, 1974, 2003). These methods usually involve sitting silently and watching one’s own breath and thoughts, or scanning the body with closed eyes without any judgment but it begins with concentrating on a particular word or thing (Rubia, 2009). Noori B. Gillani and Jonathan C. Smith (2001) also argue that TM by Mahes Yogi (Shao & Skarlicki, 2009) and Zen Meditation methods have been widely shown in academic research to reduce stress and to solve other psychological issues.   These traditional meditations, like mindfulness meditation, are also very helpful for identifying symptoms of stress in its beginning stages. Its conscious breathing helps distract the thought patterns and reduce their affects (Toneatto & Nguyen, 2007).
Osho (2003, 2010) however has criticized TM method because it is just like a mother helping a child to sleep by repeating a mantra and good for people who have sleep problems but not for reducing stress or other psychological problems. Rubia (2009) also says that this method is commercialized and just repeating any mantras like “ram…or rama”.  One hand, traditional methods are more disciplined and systematic which do not help to break the old disciplined and conditioned mind even though help some to relax (Osho, 2003, 2010). On the other hand, Osho (2003, 2010) argues that now people are not attached to and less aware of their bodies, and live a fast and mechanical life with more disciplined minds and lives. In addition, they have suppressed their emotions and feelings because of their social conditioning and culture. Also, people have full of unnecessary knowledge and thoughts because there has been an easy access to all kinds of information since the revolution in information technology. Therefore, it is difficult for them to sit, relax and watch their breath or thoughts because everyone is so tense (Osho, 2003, 2010). That is why there has been always a modification in meditation methods and techniques.
Gillani and Smith (2001) also argue that Zen meditation is not that useful for non-meditating participants. Therefore, the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) method was created by Kabat- Zinn. This new method incorporates different kind of techniques like yoga, breathing and other techniques including Zen for stress reduction and enhances performance (2001). Since this was created, it has been widely used to study, particularly in the academic field in North America and Europe, in order to reduce stress and also other psychological issues and have shown proven results. Therefore, this method has an accepted validity and reliability as well (2001).  Even though, these techniques are famous, whether these are useful for everyone or just only for particular gender and personalities is an ongoing study.
Shao and Skarlicki (2009) are some of the few who have studied the effects of MSBR on a group of MBA students to examine their performance. They found out that mindfulness meditation improved their performance. However, they found that there was a difference in results between genders because women improved more than men. They support their result based on neuroscience research studies because, mindfulness meditation activated both left and right hemispheres (Shao & Skarlicki, 2009).  fMRI showed females used both left and right hemispheres but males used only their left hemisphere. Therefore, they concluded that women do better in their performance. However, even though passive meditation helps men to activate both sides of their brain simultaneously, male brains inhibit their performance since they use one side of the brain which competes with the other side, therefore not improve their performance (2009). This shows that MBSR is also, like a traditional passive meditation techniques even though it incorporates different techniques, not much helpful for everyone.  Therefore, these passive meditations show some inadequacies in their techniques.
In addition, people who are new to meditation say that it is difficult to practice meditation because it is very hard to sit quietly and free the mind from thoughts.  Another reason is, during meditation, many people are aware of many thoughts, a lot of new thoughts than normally when they sit down and doing nothing (Osho, 2003, 2010).  Therefore, most of the people find it is difficult to reach a state of “no mind.” That is why Osho (2010) says that he had created a new modern method called active meditation. Osho (2003) argues, even though meditation itself is a passive state or method, there is something missing in practicing traditional meditation techniques for the current generation to prepare them to go into a meditative state; the active part. Therefore, he divided his meditation method into two parts with different techniques such as active and passive. Most of the first part of Osho’s meditation method is the active part which includes catharsis, fast and chaotic breathing through the nose or mouth, jumping, dancing, crying, laughing and gibberish (Osho, 2003, 2010; D’Andrea, 2007; Vyas, 2007).

Osho argues that, first, there is a need for the expression of suppressed emotions and feelings and the use of chaotic expression to free the mind of thoughts in order to connect with their own body again (Osho, 2003, 2010; D’Andrea, 2007; Vyas, 2007). It is important to combine the active parts like catharsis with anger, laughter and crying as an expression with the passive part and created as one method of meditation in order to reduce stress and raise relaxation and awareness (Osho, 2003, 2010). Leslie Greenberg (2008) also emphasizes in his studies the importance of emotional expression and awareness in order to have a healthy body and mind. Only then, can people go into a deep meditation or meditative state and can have an experience of it by watching their breath and thoughts. Therefore, Osho added a passive part as the second and last part for his meditation method which is the same as traditional meditation methods and gives meditative experience and helps to raise relaxation and awareness (2003).

            Osho (2003, 2010) argues that the emotional expression is important to reduce stress and raise relaxation and awareness. Since the emotions are deeply suppressed within, it is the basic cause for the stress or depression and other psychological problems.  In support to Osho’s argument, Ruth Davidhizar and Margaret Bowen (1992) argue that the emotional expression like crying helps to relax and otherwise it causes depression and can affect physically and psychologically such as PTSD symptoms after a traumatic event (Anderson,  Guajardo, Jennifer,  Luthra,  & Edwards, 2010). Hence, Antonio Pascual-Leone and Leslie S. Greenberg (2007) argue, it is difficult to categories emotions as positive or negative since both help to heal the person when they express it. Emotions transform from one to another for example when people either start to laugh or cry, the other emotion would follow in the middle of the process (Osho, 2003, 2010).  In the same way, anger might transform in to sadness (Pascual-leone & Greenberg, 2007). This shows that there is an interconnection among emotions and as result, when expressing one emotion might lead to another emotion which might be the primary emotion and the real cause of the present stress or depression (Pascual-leone & Greenberg, 2007; Osho, 2003, 2010). Therefore, what is important in the first place is as Osho (2003) and Pascual-leone and Greenberg (2007) argue that acceptance and being aware of own emotions whether it is positive or negative. They also argue that it is important to identify what kind of emotion the person has (2007). Only then, expression of emotions is possible and it will help to heal the physical and psychological problems of the participants (Osho, 2003). After expressing all of these so-called negative emotions, participants might feel relax but have low energy. Therefore they need some positive energy, coping skills and attitudes towards life in order to live a healthy life. This can be done through laughter and meditation.
Laughter has two functions. First, it helps to reduce stress and then it transforms negative emotions and energy into positive emotions, accumulates more energy within the participants and healthy relationship between the participants (Osho, 2003, 2010; Sutorius, 1995). Davidhizar and Bowen (1992) discuss that laughter as a tool reduces stress and raises relaxation. It is a natural part of human nature and is used to cure physical, psychological issues such as pain and stress (1992). Sutorius (1995) argues from his own experience that laughing everyday at least for some time, fifteen minutes, makes people relax and helps them to solve their day to day problems in a creative way. He says that he learned laughing meditation from Osho (2003, 2010) who says “laugh for no reason at all, just for the sake of the laughter, just laugh.” In addition, Sutorius (1995) says that anyone can laugh at their own problems and it makes them lighter and allows them to see the problems from a different perspective.  Melany Cueva, Regina Kuhnley, Anne Lanier and Mark Dignan (2006) also support these ideas about laughter based on the research study which they have done with First nation people in Alaska. In addition, Dacher Keltner and George A. Bonanno (1997) have done a study with the people who have lost their spouse or relatives and they found that there was an improvement in the participants’ life by practicing laughter. The participants had less sorrow and stress but had more happiness.
Osho (2003, 2010), Sutorius (1995), Keltner and Bonanno (1997) and Cueva et al., (2006) argue that even artificial laughter has its own effect because after all, it is laughter in the end ,while others such as Davidhizar and Bowen (1992) argue that artificial laughter is not that effective. Moreover, not only does it help the people who are close to laughing people, but it is infectious and spreads the laughter too. However, all of these researches agree on one point, that the laughter can be used to reduce stress and pain and raise relaxation. The reason is laughter stimulates the immune system which is cut short when a person has stress. Another reason is that laughter simulates the secretion of betaendorphines in the brain and thus affects pain-receptor sites of the nerve cells and reduces pain sensations and massages the muscles in the face and makes a state of relaxation (Davidhizar & Bowen, 1992, Martin, 2001). Nicholas A. Kuiper and Rod A. Martin (1998) take is argument one step further and posit that laughter functions as barrier to stop the stress in its beginning stages. People who laugh regularly do not have a stressful life but have a positive attitude towards life compared to people who do not laugh (Kuiper and Martin 1998; Cueva et al., 2006). After the expression of emotions and explosion of laughter, relaxation might happen by itself to the participants. Most of the Western therapies stop their treatment here and miss the meditative part as coping skills for the future. However, Osho’s added traditional passive techniques as a last part to his method. Most of the traditional Eastern Therapeutic and meditation followers begins this last part as the first step and miss the emotional expression.
The last part of the Osho’s active meditation is that doing nothing and just let go when the silence might happens itself within without any effort by the participants (2003, 2010). This is called as the meditative state of a participant which is called as no-mind in the meditative field (Osho, 2003, 2010) or mindfulness in the academic filed, but in the commercialized world, it is limited with relaxation. However, this is the ultimate goal of the meditation and this might happen within a short period by practicing Osho’s active meditation than the passive meditation.  The reason is that participants might feel themselves full of energy and experience of relaxation after the explosion of expressing all the suppressed emotions through catharsis and laughter by practicing Osho’s active meditation. Then silence happens by itself for the participants and that is the time to go deeper in to themselves by being aware of their thoughts and breathing or doing nothing (Osho, 2003, 2010). Rubia (2009) says that meditative part help the participants in four levels such as physical, cognitive, emotional and psychological levels. In addition, she says, there are several other internal functions happens within the body and brain such as neurophysiological activities (2009).  These all help to reduce stress and raise relaxation and awareness in the participants. 
Rubia (2009) also explains that the ultimate goal of meditation is to make the mind free of thoughts, relaxation and self-actualization. Dhvan Sutorius (1995) says that meditation is being aware of thoughts without thinking or judging anything or a state of “no mind.”  Moreover, meditation raises physical and mental relaxation and offers physical, psychological, and emotional balance (Zayfert, & Becker, 2007) and it does not give any side effects compared to other pharmaceutical treatments and it costs nothing (Rubia, 2009).  Besides, meditation is one the best natural treatments for reducing stress and other psychological problems, and gives many other positive results as by-products (Oman et al., 2008; Skevington & White, 1998).  Oman et al., (2008) supported their argument with many other research studies which have been done by Shapiro, Astin, Winzelberg and Luskin and Tloczynski and Tantriella. In addition, Osho (1974, 2003, & 2010) also emphasizes that the goal of meditation is to raise the consciousness, or conscious awareness, or awareness of the individual and be now-here, in the present.
It can be concluded that emotional expression such as anger, laughter, and crying are important parts for relaxation and reduction of stress. Therefore, this paper propose that  Osho’s active meditation methods can be used for a research study to know whether active meditation reduce stress or even PTSD symptoms and raise awareness or not. There are more than ten active meditation techniques which are one hour long are available to do a research study ( For example, doing catharsis for ten minutes, laughing for ten minutes, crying ten minutes and then being silent and doing nothing for thirty minutes as a passive part of the meditation. This method can be compared to passive meditation method, “Vippassana” which is being silent and watching and being aware of own breath and thoughts without any judgments with closed eyes for sixty minutes. In addition, Osho’s dynamic meditation, kundalini meditation and also laughing meditation can be used to do a research study.  Kuiper and Martin (1998) also recommended in their studies that in the future there is a need to find out that how laughter works with different genders and personalities. Therefore, it can be also purposed another study just comparing laughing for fifteen minutes and silent for fifteen minutes with thirty minutes silent meditation to know whether these techniques reduce stress or PTSD symptoms and raise relaxation or not. The hypotheses will be that active meditation is better than passive meditation in reducing stress or PTSD symptoms and raising relaxation.
If this research study has been done and find positive results, it could be used in Sri Lanka, particularly in North and Eastern province where people have been affected by war and violence for last 25 years and natural disaster like tsunami. They have to overcome their psychological affects of war and tsunami like stress, depression and PTSD, not only fight for their rights and freedom but also to live their day to day life. Therefore, they need all kind of supports from everyone. Only a healthier society can fight for their freedom in a healthy way.


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