21-day experiment in silence and seclusion


Osho explains all the steps during the 21-day experiment in silence and what is bound to be experienced.


It is helpful to practice breath awareness for twenty-one days in total seclusion and silence. Then, much will happen.

During the twenty-one-day experiment, practice Dynamic Meditation once a day and constant awareness of breathing for twenty-four hours a day. Do not read, do not write, do not think, because all these acts are of the mental body; they are not concerned with the etheric body.

You can go for a walk. This helps because walking is part of the etheric body; all manual actions are concerned with the prana sharira, the etheric body. The physical body does these things, but it is for the etheric body. Everything concerned with the etheric body should be done, and everything concerned with another body must not be done. You can also have a bath once or twice a day; it is concerned with the etheric body.

When you go for a walk, just walk. Do not do anything else; just be concerned with your walking. And while walking, keep your eyes half-closed. Half-closed eyes cannot see anything other than the path, and the path itself is so monotonous that it will not give you something new to think about.

You must remain in a monotonous world, just in one room, seeing the same floor. It must be so monotonous that you cannot think about it. Thinking needs stimuli; thinking needs new sensations. If your sensory system is constantly bored, there will be nothing outside of you to think about.

During the first week you may feel less need of sleep. Do not be concerned about it. Because you are not thinking, because you are not doing many of the things that you ordinarily do, you will need less sleep. And if you are constantly aware of your breathing, so much energy will be generated in you, you will become so vital, that you will not feel sleepy. So if sleep comes it is alright; if it doesn’t come it is alright. If you do not sleep it will not be harmful.

There are many reasons why awareness of breath will create more energy in you. First, when you watch the breathing, the breathing becomes rhythmic. It will follow its own rhythm. A harmony will be created and the whole of the being will become musical. This “rhythmic-ness,” this rhythm, conserves energy.

Ordinarily our breathing is not rhythmic; it is haphazard. This causes an unnecessary leakage of energy. Rhythm, harmony, creates a storage of energy. And because you are constantly aware, breath awareness itself begins to take only a minimal amount of energy. You are not doing anything; it is a non-doing. You are just aware.

The moment you begin to do something, even to think, doing has come in. Now energy will be wasted. If you move your body, doing has come in; energy will be wasted. Twenty-four hours of constant awareness means a minimal wastage of energy, so energy is conserved; you become a storehouse of energy. This energy will be used in kundalini.

Ordinarily, so much energy is wasted during the day that there is not enough energy left to raise kundalini. Not much energy is needed in order for the energy to move downward, but to raise energy upward you need a great storage of energy. Only then can the gates open upward; otherwise not. So those who have little energy left only have sex as an outlet for it.

We usually think of a sexual person as being very vital, but that is not so. A very vital person is not sexual, because when energy is overflowing it moves upward. Sexuality requires energy, but only a very small quantity of it. When there is very little energy it cannot move upward; then moving down, toward the sex center, is the only possibility.

Energy needs to move continually. It cannot be static; it must move. If it cannot move upward, it will move downward; there is no choice then. But if it can move upward, then the downward passage will eventually stop by itself. It is not that you will stop energy from being released through the sex center, but it will stop by itself because the energy is moving upward.

If you are constantly watching your breath, all doing stops and energy is conserved. But there is another point to be made, and that is that the very observation – the awareness, the alertness – also helps the life force to become more vital within you. It is as if someone is watching you. If someone is watching you, you become more vital; laziness disappears.

That is why leaders feel vital. The crowd is always there to observe, and the very observation makes them vital. The moment the crowd has forgotten them – no sooner are they forgotten than they are dead. The happiness of being a leader, of being a public man, a crowd-watched personality, is because of the feeling of vitality that comes through people’s observation. The vitality does not come because of the observation itself, but because, with so many people observing you, you become more alert about yourself. And this alertness becomes vitality.

So when you become aware of your breathing, when you begin to observe yourself, the innermost source of vitality is touched. Therefore, if sleep is lost, do not become anxious about it. It is natural.

If there are upheavals in your mind – if things come to your mind which you have never thought about before – images, stories – then, too, do not become anxious; just watch them. So much that is in the unconscious is being released; before it is thrown out, it must come to the conscious mind. If you suppress these things they will become unconscious again. On the other hand, if you are too concerned with them you will waste unnecessary energy. So just go on watching your breath, and at the periphery, in the background, go on watching indifferently everything that happens.

Just be indifferent to these things. Do not be concerned at all; just go on witnessing your breathing. You will be witnessing your breathing, but on the periphery things will be happening. Thoughts will be there, vibrations will be there, but only on the periphery – not at the center. At the center you are just watching your breath.

So much will come to you: things that are absurd, illogical, unimaginable, inconceivable, fantastic, nightmarish. You must go on watching your breath. Let these things come and go; just be indifferent to them. It is as if you are going for a walk. The street is full of people. They pass by, but you are indifferent to them; you are not concerned with them. Then these images and fantasies will be released and, by the end of the first week, a new silence will come to you. The moment the unconscious is unburdened, there will be no more inner noise. Silence will come to you, a deep inner silence.

You may experience moments of depression. If a deep-rooted feeling of depression has been suppressed in the unconscious, it will come and overwhelm you. It will not be a thought, it will be a mood. Not only thoughts will be coming to you, but moods, too, will be coming. Sometimes you will feel exhilarated, sometimes you will feel depressed or bored, but be as indifferent to these moods as you are indifferent to thoughts. Let them come and go. They will go by themselves so do not be concerned with them. Moods, too, have been suppressed in the unconscious. During the twenty-one days of the experiment they will be released, and then you will experience something that you have never experienced before – something new, something unknown.

Each individual will experience something different. There are many possibilities, but whatever happens, don’t be afraid; there is no need to be. Even if you feel that you are dying, no matter how strong that feeling is, no matter how sure you are of it, accept it. Thoughts, feelings, moods, will be so acute, so real. Just accept them. If you feel that death is coming, then welcome it – and go on watching your breath.

It is hard to be indifferent to feelings, but if you can be indifferent to your thoughts and moods, it will happen. You may feel as if death is coming: within a moment you will die – there is no other possibility. There is nothing you can do about it, so accept it, welcome it; and the moment you have welcomed it, you have become indifferent to it. If you fight it, you distort everything.

You may feel as if death is coming, or you may feel that you have become ill. You have not become ill. The feeling of being ill, or of dying, is just part of your unconscious that is being released. Many illnesses will be felt that were unknown a moment before. Be indifferent to any illness and go on doing what you are doing: go on watching your breath. The breath must be watched no matter what you are thinking, no matter what you are feeling, no matter what is happening.

After the first week you will begin to have some psychic experiences. The body may become very big or very small. Sometimes it will disappear, it will evaporate, and you will be bodiless. Do not be afraid. There will be moments when you cannot find where your body is – it is not – and moments when you will see your body lying or sitting at a distance away from you. Again, do not be afraid.

You may feel electrical shocks. Every time a new chakra is penetrated, there will be shocks and tremblings; the whole body will be in a turmoil. Do not resist; cooperate with these reactions. If you resist, you will be fighting against yourself. Shocks, trembling, a feeling of electricity, heat, cold – anything felt on your chakras you must cooperate with. You yourself have invited it, so do not resist it. If you resist it, your energies will be in conflict, so cooperate with any psychic experiences that you may have.

Sometimes you may not feel that you are breathing. It is not that breath has stopped, but that it has become so natural, so silent, so rhythmic, that it is not felt. We only feel disease. When you have a headache, you feel that you have a head, but when there is no headache you don’t feel your head. The head is there, but you cannot feel it. And in the same way, when our breathing is discordant, unnatural, we feel it, but when it has become natural it is not felt. It is not felt, but it is there.

As you continue to watch your breath, the breath will become more and more subtle. But awareness, too, will become more subtle, because you will be continuing to watch this subtle breath. And when there is no breath, you will be aware of this “no breathness,” you will be aware of this harmony; then awareness will penetrate even more deeply. The more subtle the breath is, the more aware you will have to become so that you can be aware of it.

Go on being aware, and if you feel that there is no breath, then be aware of your “no breath.” Do not try to breathe; just be aware of “no breathness.” This will be a very blissful moment.

The more subtle the awareness, the more it goes into the etheric body. When you are watching your breath, first there is an awareness of your physical breath. You are aware of your physical body and the breathing mechanism. When the breath becomes subtle and harmonious, then you become aware of your etheric body. Then you may feel that now there is no breath, but the breath is still there. It may not be as much there as it was because your needs are not so great now, but it is still there.

You may have noticed that if you are in anger then you need more oxygen, and if you are not in anger you do not need so much. If you are in sexual passion you need more breath. So the quantity of breath will go down or up with your needs. If you are completely silent, then only a very small quantity of air will be enough – just enough to be alive.

Just be aware of this situation. You were aware of breathing; now be aware of a situation where no breath is felt. Whatever happens, be aware of it. Awareness must be there. If nothing is felt, then you must be aware of your no-feeling. Nothing is being felt, but awareness must be there.

Do not go to sleep now, because this is the very moment for which you were longing. If you go to sleep, you have wasted the time that has been spent bringing you to this point. Now be aware of what is happening. There is no breath; be aware of it. In total stillness the breath is almost nonexistent. Very little is needed, and only that much comes to you. The quantity has fallen much and the harmony has risen much, so you do not feel it.

If you go on watching your breath and being indifferent to everything that is happening, then the third week will be a week of complete nothingness. It will be as if everything has died, as if everything has gone into nonexistence, and only nothingness remains.

Do not stop the experiment before the twenty-one days are over. After the first week you may want to stop it. Your mind may say, “This is nonsense. Leave.” Do not listen to it. Just tell yourself once and for all that for twenty-one days there is nowhere else to go.

After the third week you may not want to leave. If your mind is so blissful that you do not want to disturb it, if only nothingness, blissfulness is there – if you are just a vacuum – then you can prolong the experiment for two or three or four more days. But do not break it before the twenty-one days are over.

Anything that you want to make a note of you must do after you have come out of seclusion, not before that. Then if you want to, sit down for a day or two and write down everything. But within these twenty-one days, nothing should be written. Do not even try to remember anything. All that has happened will be there, and will be clearer because the mind is not trying to remember it.

You can forget a thing if you have tried to remember it, but you cannot forget a thing that you have not tried to remember. Then it comes to you totally. And if it is not coming, it means it is useless – so let it go.

Everything that is non-useful remains with you. You try to remember much that is useless and do not understand that it is useless. But the mind works automatically: all that is worth remembering is always remembered. So do not try to remember anything; there is no need. You will remember whatever has happened to you. Whatever is worth remembering will be with you when the experiment is finished.

So go and begin it as soon as you can.

Osho, Meditation: The Art of Ecstasy, Ch 18 (Translation from Hindi)

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