What is a darkness retreat?


A darkness retreat involves spending an extended period, typically days or weeks, in complete absence of light. This practice, with historical roots in different spiritual and cultural traditions, provides an isolated environment where individuals can engage deeply with their thoughts or meditate without external visual distractions.

Darkness retreats have spiritual significance in many traditions. For example, in Zokchen Buddhism, it's a traditional practice where advanced practitioners may spend up to 49 days in darkness as part of their spiritual development. This practice is seen as a preparation for the transition between life and death, connecting to the cultural beliefs about the Bardo—the state between death and rebirth 1.

In modern practice, participants often enter darkness retreats for personal growth, introspection, or psychological rest. The absence of light affects melatonin production, leading to increased sleep early in the retreat, and in some reports, the brain may start to produce endogenous DMT, leading to vivid visions and deep introspection. This potentially alters consciousness and initiates transformative inner experiences 2.

Overall, a darkness retreat is a profound psychological and potentially spiritual journey, where the isolation in darkness is used as a tool for deep self-exploration and resetting mental and physical states.

Exploring Darkness Retreats

Discover the origins of darkness retreats and their significance in various cultures and spiritual practices. Dive into the depths of the darkness to let go of attachments and find fulfillment within simplicity.

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568. Journey Into the Darkness (Part 1)