“The method of repression is to not express. If you feel angry, you don’t express it. You suppress it, you don’t allow it to come out. My method is quite the contrary. If you are angry, express it.” ~ Osho
Catharsis is a powerful tool for accessing and releasing pent up emotions; a process of healing, cleansing and purification that affects us on both, emotional and cognitive level.
Originally, the term was used as a metaphor in Poetics by Aristotle to explain the impact of tragedy on the audiences. Catharsis was also used in psychotherapy practice – Freud & Breur described catharsis as an involuntary, instinctive body reaction for example crying.
Reenacting scenes from one’s past, dreams, or fantasies helps the person bring the unconscious conflicts into consciousness and eventually experience catharsis. With increased consciousness comes more relief and positive change (Moreno, 1946).
According to Moreno, catharsis helps to reunite the separated (unconscious) parts of the psyche and the conscious self (Kipper, 1997). Some of the common examples of short term, everyday acts of catharsis are crying, laughing, anger, or tantrums.
When we practice these releasing methodologies in a systematic manner, we can reap multiple benefits. Some of the obvious benefits are deeper connect with the self, anger management, self confidence, feeling of empowerment, behavior management and glowing skin.
Healing benefits of Catharsis have been used and spoken about in literature, theater, healing methodologies, spiritual sciences, cultural rituals, medicine and psychology.
Mechanisms of Catharsis
Throughout life we are taught, especially men, to not express how we really feel. Osho in his book, ‘Nowhere to go but in’ said, “Women are less insane than men and if men too can weep, they will not go insane.”
Catharsis presses a series of trigger points that releases the vented up emotions in the human body, unconscious mind and subconscious mind. For instance, when we feel anger and we have vented out the emotion of anger on the person responsible for the same, we still have traces of anger in our mind. This, knowingly or unknowingly, creates bubble of emotions, that keeps getting collected.
These emotions manifest either in forms of expression or in the form of a disease. Janov, an American psychologist said “if infants and children are not able to process painful experiences fully (cry, sob, wail, scream, etc.,) in a supported environment, their consciousness ‘splits’, pain gets suppressed to the unconscious and reappears in neurotic symptoms and disorders in later life.”
Osho’s Dynamic Meditation process
Osho’s dynamic meditation is based on Catharsis – a way to break old, ingrained patterns in the body and mind that keep one imprisoned in the past, and to experience the freedom and peace that are hidden behind these prison walls. “My method is to express everything that is inside. If there are special problems, moral problems, don’t express it to someone else. Express it in a vacuum. So my method starts with expressing everything that has been suppressed.” These are the different stages of Dynamic meditation –
Step 1: Chaotic Breathing
Stand in an open space, close your eyes and start breathing chaotically. We are doing this for 10 minutes. Breathe in whichever manner that suits you, but ensure it is not systematic. Fast, vigorous, with pauses, extremely slow, just keep breathing chaotically. The reason for breathing chaotically lies in the fact that when we breathe systematically, we cannot awaken our suppressed being. We need a hit, a blow that would cause some disturbance.
There is no method of the breath in this step, no yogic breathing, we aim to break the pattern. Osho says, “If you are angry you have a different rhythm of breathing. If you are in love a different rhythm of breathing. If you are sad, again there is a different rhythm of breathing. If you are relaxed, a different rhythm of breathing. When your state of mind changes, your breathing changes immediately. So if you change your breathing, your state of mind is affected immediately.”
Step 2: Expression
In this step, for 10 minutes, express your emotions or whatever comes to your mind freely, not to someone just in a vacuum. Let it loose, vent out your emotions in the most natural state that comes to you. If you feel like weeping, weep loudly, if you feel anger upsurging, scream and take out all your anger or violence to the sky/vacuum.
Gradually over the weeks, as you bring out the repressed and suppressed emotions, you would notice older issues and feelings coming up. Osho said, “It is not only that your mind expressed them. Your body expresses them. For the first time, you become aware that your body has many repressions to express.”
The second step is a little time consuming and would take a while to manifest completely, but ideally within three weeks, one can expect to do it smoothly. Once you master the art, a feeling of space will be created which will unfold within you and you will feel relaxed.
Step 3: Activating the sex center
In the third step, we will chant the sound ‘Hoo’. The sound is not the word who, but it is the sound, ‘Hoo’. For ten minutes now, just lose yourself in this sound and keep chanting it. ‘Hoo, Hoo, Hoo…..’ keep going on. Different sound effects us differently and activates different centres of our body. For instance, LAM is the sound of the root chakra, Hoo is the sound that hits and activates the sex center in our body, where all creativity lies.
Osho says that sex energy is all that there is. Everything is born through it and when we have sex, it moves out and leads to biological reproduction. When it moves in, it again creates and reproduce, in the form of spiritual transformation or rebirth. After a few weeks of practice, you will be able to feel warmth rising from the sex center through your spine to your head.
Osho said, “And once this energy begins to move from your spine toward the head, you will have a different view about yourself, a different outlook, a different dimension. Once this energy reaches the head, it can be released from the head. Normally the sex energy is released from the sex center. That is one pole of our being. The opposite pole is the head. If the sex energy can be released from the head, you are transformed; you are a different being.”
Step 4: Relaxation & Meditation
The last step is relaxation or meditation, where you can lie down and fall dead. When you reach the fourth step, you are already so exhausted that relaxation comes easily. There is no technique to it. In this deadness you will witness a feeling of true bliss. In the process, you have released all anxiety, pain, thoughts and tensions and what now remains is a pure form of meditation, free of any adulteration of any emotion.
There is a dire need of catharsis in these times where stress and tension has become a part of our daily life. Being peaceful is not enough when deep down suppressed emotions and restlessness is still lurking within you. When catharsis is combined with meditation, feelings can be vented appropriately, which can bring about emotional harmony and balance.
References & Image Source
Catharsis in Psychology and Beyond