As very few of you know I embarked on a dark room retreat experience. As is more common knowledge I am deep into exploring rest practices, self growth and wellness therapies.
From an ex-community I was apart of grew dark room retreats. Year 5 of the public offering I decide to attend for 6 nights.
In preparation I learned different ways to hold, explore and move through my emotions. Skills I was not taught by my parents or school teachers. I also learned some healthier coping methods and how to balance my dependencies into more holistic practices. I created some intentions for my journey into the blanketing darkness. I packed comfort and forgot the essentials. The full experience includes a private room, shared bathroom, catered meals, no internet service, a public phone, detachment from community/liveihood and suspended darkness. As the moments of my retreat neared I realized my four main relationships, to the Sun, my romantic poly partner, my emotions and technology will get a workout.
As my rural destination of regenerative darkness began, it immediately was met by racism. I am still baffled how folks that worship the celestial darkness can simultaneously be anti-black. The phrase “it is what you make it” repeated in my mind. With all this space to explore my thoughts I wondered if this phrase is what oppressed folks tell themselves to get through the muck.
Turns out I created 7 intentions so I decided to have 1 be the theme of each of my days in fertile darkness. I prayed that shadow deliver gentle messages as we share our truths. I had access to the natural world although only ventured out to get rations from my cooler, give offering to the Trees, and receive love from the land Cat.
The expansive darkness offered me lots of surface life messages, different ways of radiating my own light and rest practices to move forward with in the future that require no sight. I definitely brought a candle, connected to my decade practice of rising and sleeping with the Sun, shook through the trauma, made an emotional playlist and watched a movie.
I was unable to be in total darkness for the full 7 days, nor did I pressure myself to. I allowed myself pleasures, moderate use of my vices and space to light a candle, sew, journal and collage when the desires swelled in me. I am still new to exploring, comprehending and expressing my emotions. I definitely had a nice peak on day four, also my care provider changed and was more interested in nourishing me the way I needed. So I think if I ever do this in the future 5 nights will be my max. I picked 6 nights because I notice in my body after 7 days of continual rest I am able to deal with the root issues of my addictions.
At the end of it all I had a sweet ride to the airport with another attendee. They allowed me to share my experience with them. Overall messages I got where shorter is better, also to integrate more transformative darkness into my life. Such as wearing an eye covering while praying, stretching, playing music, meditating, singing and using the bathroom.
Although I got some benefits from the dark room, it also posed some threats to my existence. I was cut off from affirming community, had no mental health support, got <1 hour a day of Sun light, had no in flow of cash and was dependent on care givers that took more than they gave. For me those are all to valuable to voluntarily give up for an extended period. Short breaks and pauses YES!
In my preparatory research I also found limited examples of prolonged darkness as common practice. Some 1-3 days of dimensional darkness, solitude or deep Nature explorations. I did find some ancient peoples that use extended darkness as a way to usher in new spiritual leaders or for spiritual leaders to level up their skills.
I write this as I bask in the Sunshine, direct and full! Sun kisses motivate me, inspire me and give me literal energy. I find that after being in the enveloping dark I need to rest, re-calibrate and schmooze with friends.