Friday, December 21, 2007

Osho Tapoban

After five days of trekking, we felt like relaxing with a few days of meditation. We had met a yogi in a bookstore in Pokhara who was pretty intense, and we had met a couple who did a hardcore ten-day course (the guy left after only two days). Still, we had enjoyed six days of doing nothing on the Trans-Siberian Express, so we felt up for three days of thinking nothing at Osho Tapoban, a commune/retreat near Kathmandu.

Our first impressions were overwhelmingly negative. After being led to our room, we were left without any explanations of what to do. Eventually, we found the kitchen for dinner and figured out that everyone was heading to a 'satsang.' Expecting a meditation session, we were shocked to find a cult-like religious ceremony with a video sermon, prayers to the great mystic Osho and everyone in robes. After the 'gruel' (dal baht) for dinner, all that was missing was chanting of "Leader, Leader." That night, we made plans to fake illness and leave early.

The next morning, though, we attended our first meditation session and we met some fun people, so we warmed to the idea of spending three days here. Over the three days, we attended about ten one-hour meditations. We had half-expected to spend twelve hours a day in strict silence, so we were pleasantly surprised to have opportunities to eat and socialize.

The meditations themselves were actually quite fun. Osho (the great mystic) designed meditations for the modern world - first you must clear your mind of the distractions and stimuli of daily life, then you can meditate. Passive means of clearing your mind could be humming or concentrating on your breathing, but most of the meditations were active, meaning about half-an-hour of jumping, dancing, yoga or shaking - to basically wear you out. Then, suddenly all is silent and you can meditate.

Although we are certainly no closer to True Enlightenment (and not interested in it), we did find that the meditations were very relaxing, and excellent techniques to focus the mind.

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