There I was, wearing a maroon robe, in a pyramid-shaped auditorium full of people, screaming incoherent gibberish in a voice that was half Yoda and half Jamaican until I broke out into uncontrollable, cackling laughter.
Here’s the kicker… This was all part of a meditation. How awesome is that?
I just spent two weeks at the OSHO International Meditation Resort in Pune, India. The word cathartic immediately comes to mind in describing my experience.
What is the OSHO International Meditation Resort?
It’s a meditation retreat center, founded by the author, philosopher, spiritual teacher and not-giving-a-fuck-connoisseur Osho. Osho founded the center prior to the death of his physical body in 1990. (Check out the website here.)
Even though the OSHO center is based on meditation, it’s far from sitting in the lotus position and being serious all day. Most of the meditations are active meditations, combining various kinds of movement, dancing, laughing and all sorts of eclectic techniques along with the traditional sitting in silence. I’ve never danced so much in my life, my activity level was through the roof and I felt like a little kid again.
Another distinguishing characteristic of the OSHO International Meditation Resort is the attire. Everyone has to wear maroon robes throughout the day and white robes during the evening ceremony held each night. I actually had resistance to this idea at first. I’m such an individual that wearing the same thing as everyone else feels like I’m stifling my authenticity. But everything has a purpose (especially when it comes to Osho). When people wear the same color, or the same outfit, it syncs everyone up and amplifies the group’s energy. This collective syncing can be used for positive (meditation, celebration…etc.) or negative (dictatorships, armies…etc.). I wore a sleeveless maroon robe, so I felt like a badass warrior shaman for two weeks. It was surprisingly enjoyable to wear each day. And after every meditation, I felt like I was gliding more than walking. I may never go back to pants again.
Here’s a little run down of the strengths and weaknesses of the OSHO International Meditation Resort, from my perspective:
The Atmosphere – The vibes of the place are just so positive, peaceful and freeing. It’s conducive to leaving your inhibitions behind and reclaiming your childlike nature. Everyone is pleasant, everyone talks to each other, laughter is ever-present, dance is continuous and the whole place is coated in a feeling of joyful serenity. Besides a few slight imperfections (which you’ll read below), it’s an ideal way of living.
The People – It’s a potpourri of interesting international people. I met dozens of amazing people during my time at the Osho center. The people in general tend to be very open and friendly, which I really appreciate. There’s not really any awkwardness either, because the environment enables everyone to be wholeheartedly genuine and authentic.
The Meditations – Osho’s meditations are so effective because they’re active. They’re designed to clear out all of the mental/emotional baggage through movement and expression before going into the depths of meditation. If you were subjected to western conditioning, there is no way that you can just sit in silence with a clear mind. You must first get rid of all the bullshit you’re holding onto before you can experience true meditation. Movement and expression are the mediums through which you become a blank slate again. And from that blank slate, you quickly learn to transcend the incessant chatter of the mind.
I’m able to go far deeper into meditation after I’ve exerted myself. It’s really difficult for me to just sit in silence and pretend like my body doesn’t exist. When I fully express and let go of everything I’m holding onto, my mind stops getting caught in circuitous thought loops. I’m able to dip into the blissful serenity of nothingness. That’s true meditation. This is why Osho’s meditation techniques resonate with me far more than anything else I’ve come across.
For more information and demonstrations of these active meditations, check out my online course Primal Release.
Fun – The place is a lot of fun. People leave their inhibitions at the door. No one takes anything too seriously. Everyone dances their heart out, laughs a lot and radiates positivity. During the evening meetings, Osho’s talks are played on a big screen. They’re the perfect blend of insight and hilarity. Osho is funnier than most stand-up comedians, and that’s no exaggeration.
I had so much fun during my time there. My dear friend hit the nail on the head by describing it as “a place where we learn to become a little kid again.”
Too Many Rules – There’s a bunch of tedious rules. You have to wear a maroon robe all day, you have to wear maroon when swimming in the pool, you can’t walk through the campus while the evening ceremony is going on (They lock the gates. What happened to freedom?), you have to scoop food into your bowl a certain way at the cafeteria…etc. There are a bunch of weird, little rules. As someone who values extreme freedom, this was a difficult adjustment for me.
I think the rules are excessive. I know that some are meant to create awareness, but it’s to the extent where it makes things a bit frustrating, especially for a “no rules” person like myself. I got charged extra for not putting food in certain containers one time. And I couldn’t go in the pool my first day because I didn’t have a maroon bathing suit (I had to buy one). But I learned, adjusted quickly and got into a nice flow before I knew it.
Also, by the points above, you can tell that it’s becoming more of a beurocratic structure by the day (and especially because Osho himself isn’t around to lend his vision). Although it’s still far more open and freeing than most places, it really epitomized that when it first started. Apparently it was cheap, had little rules and was even more free and open. That’s why some people think that everyone just has sex there. Maybe that was the case back in the day, but now it’s just about as sexual as any open European culture; which is a good balance, in my opinion.
Costly – It costs a lot to be there. Most people from Western countries can afford it, but it’s very expensive for India. It’s as costly as most retreats I’ve seen in the US. It’s also the opposite of all-inclusive. There are also countless little things to pay for. You have to pay for food, to use the pool, for your robes, a maroon bathing suit, courses, any meditation accessories (meditation chair, mat, blindfold…etc). Just when you think you have everything you need, you have to buy something else.
Because of those two drawbacks (rules and costliness), it’s not a quick or smooth adjustment when you first come. I expected to just walk in and be all zen’d out from the get go, but I actually went through a day or two of frustration before I eased into a nice groove. Most people I talked to experienced the same thing as well. But you know what? Overall, it’s worth it. The juice is worth the squeeze.
I would recommend the OSHO International Meditation Resort to anyone looking to get to know themselves better, do some inner work and have fun throughout the process. If you’re willing to shell out some cash and adjust to mildly annoying rules, you will benefit exponentially, meet some amazing people and have a truly life-changing experience.
“You are a paradise, but you have forgotten yourself. You are looking everywhere except within you, and that is the only place where you are going to find the treasure, the truth of beauty.” – Osho
– Stevie P