Vikrant Sentis has a Master's degree in adult education and specializes in humanistic psychotherapy and personal development. He is head of the Department of Psychological Support of a pre-university institution "SEA" – System of Active Education – and concurrently director of the Experiential Center for Human Development.
His thesis, which was the springboard for his first book, Beyond the Limits of Experience, detailed the development of humanistic psychology from psychoanalysis to transpersonal psychology. "But the thesis also had my own experience it – my story as a seeker for the past ten years, the experience of meditation and living in a spiritual community," he explains. "The psychological stuff was taken out so what remains is basically my personal story." The book is now part of the syllabus of two courses in the Northern Illinois University.
A team member of this meditation research project, in the following interview Sentis discusses various psychological approaches currently available in relation to Dynamic Meditation.
There is so much available on the shelves of the spiritual supermarket right now. Why is none of it really hitting the spot?
What is trendy in the US are the new-agey things – a mixture of psychoanalysis and native American stuff like drumming, sweat lodges, some prayers...and maybe you can throw in some yoga. A real hodge podge.
It's absolutely true as Osho says that even within the theory of psychoanalysis you can't get completely psychoanalyzed. I don't know how the therapists deal with this. I think they are just occupied with their wallet. I have never heard of a therapist saying, "Okay, man, you are cured – go home!"
It's the same with a lot of the therapies that came out of the Humanistic Growth Movement, like primal: you can go on doing it till you're in the grave. And each claims it is the answer. What's big right now is Stan Grof's holotropic breathing. You hyperventilate yourself for three hours, go into past lives and have a good catharsis. What Grof says is, you do this and you're cured.
So it's really a case of old wine in new bottles. What else can people come up that's new since the '70's? You find a new name, write up a good theoretical background and you've got a new product.
The promise of all the therapeutic approaches – anything that works with emotional release – is this: it's as if you get in a tunnel and if you go all the way you will come out at the end and then all your problems are solved. That's the promise.
But it's not a tunnel, it's a closed circle: you can never come out of it. It will never take you out of it because when you work with emotional release what you are doing is training your system to release everything. It's like when you draw water from a well: if you keep drawing water, water will keep coming out.
Here's where Osho comes in: if you don't go into meditation you won't come out of all your personal stuff. By meditation I mean disidentifying with your emotional pain, with the thinking pain, body images, self-concept. As Buddha said, as Osho reiterates: it's not the body or the thoughts or the feelings that are the problem, it's that you think they are you.
For example, if in Primal Therapy you regress to when you were a certain age and an issue comes up related to some pain, you work on that because that is there in the unconscious. But on a deeper level that's not true. It's not existentially true because you are fifty three, your parents are dead and here and now you are not experiencing any pain – and even if you are, you can chose to simply become aware of it and not identify with it.
All the stuff that is stored in the unconscious, it is true, is coloring your perception of life, your relationships, etc. But it's only doing that because you are not aware of it and, secondly, are identifying with it. There is a part of you who thinks you are the three-year old kid.
I am not saying there isn't a place for emotional release – that's what the Osho Active Meditations(tm) acknowledge – but it's just a beginning. So how I work, for example, is that I will take my client back to the original pain or trauma, encourage them to release emotional stuff around it, and then bring them to the present and bring an awareness to, first of all, why and how they are continuing to identify with that past pain and, secondly, what the investment in continuing to be identified is.
This is the point where meditation comes in because then if they go into meditation they can leave their shit all behind. So for me it is important for them to know that they always have the possibility to move into that space – which is essentially beyond the mind at any point in the work.
But I see that for most people it is easier to disidentify after the emotional release because the presence of emotions clouds their seeing.
If, in an earlier stage, you say let's go meditate, it's like saying let's go and sit on the pain. It's like you're trying to plant a technique on top of neurosis. In Osho's words: in the name of just witnessing, you can actually be repressing pain. You can rationalize avoidance of the pain by saying, "I'm just going to watch this."
So of course I use the Osho Active Meditations: Dynamic or Kundalini, Gibberish, Chakras sounds, Chakra breathing, Nataraj.... The beauty of the Osho meditations is that you have a meditation for each stage of the work. For example, when you need celebration you have Nataraj; you need emotional release you have Dynamic, Kundalini, Nadabrahma....
The great thing about Dynamic is that it caters for all the stages in one. If you only used the Osho meditations and moved away from any therapeutic method it would be enough. With these techniques you have a whole range of tools to address any therapeutic issue.
I have a friend working with adolescents who has thought of introducing Dynamic to them but is concerned that it needs a special environment, and may bring up issues that they can't handle.
You definitely need a special environment to do Dynamic. You need a room without furniture and a place where you can scream out without the police interrupting! If people are really disturbed, I think it needs some sort of elaboration process afterwards, especially if they are not used to do emotional release. The elaboration I am thinking about can be something as simply as sitting and sharing what was it they connected with or how they felt about it.
However, I feel Dynamic can also be done with no integration or elaboration. I mean directed elaboration; the person will elaborate by him/herself afterwards any way. I have found out, after nine years of leading meditations in the West, that if I give a detailed explanation of not only the technique, but the organismic process, explaining things they might encounter, addressing the possible resistances they could have, and explaining that it is a tool designed to move them out of their comfort zone – meaning, out of the experience range in which they are used to experiment, in which case their mind will try to keep it cool.... I explain that they need to go on so they can learn to let go the control of the rational mind. Then they seem to go easier into the method and usually do not need me to create an environment to elaborate on anything.
Vikrant Sentis is a member of the meditationresearch.com team ... To meet the rest of the team