The domes are alive in  full darkness

 

The space feels limitless.

Who is the seer?  

I am here, nothing left to do, nothing to look at if only within.

Ready to dive into the unknown, no more excuses.

Who is the one that perceives, feel, think, listen, reply to itself?

Silence in the vastness held by the infinite darkness.
 

“Is Kali, my Mother, really black?

The Naked One, of blackest hue,

Lights the Lotus of the Heart...”



Ramakrishna

Going into a dark retreat



A dark retreat is a solo retreat in a space that is absent of light.

The point is to stay in complete darkness, and not get exposed to any source of light whatsoever; it took a great deal to close off any source of light and to create proper ventilation.

Being in complete darkness creates all sorts of changes in perceptions, and it will enhance your practice.


It’s an inner journey. It also regenerates and reset your system.

Now add the tropical island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. Jungle, sea and sun. Two monolith earth domes surrounded by the forest.
It feels like being in full nature, the sounds of birds and crickets are heard, yet no light comes in. The domes are fully sealed and offer a safety barrier with the jungle.

Koh Phangan has a lot to offer before and after your retreat, its a prime destination for yoga and other forms of spirituality.

The traditional long Dark Retreat requires stability in the natural state and is only suitable for advanced practitioners.


You can intuitively know that you need some experience in meditation and silent retreats to apply for long retreats.


If you have little experience and feel a strong attraction, then a 3 days retreat is a good start.

If you feel the need for support or want to feel more prepared, join the group retreats.


The Ayurvedic approach



In India, the retreats in darkness are usually called Kaya Kalpa retreats. The term kaya means "body" and kalpa means "ageless," or "immortal." Kaya Kalpa literally means "ageless body" or “body fashioning”.
 It is an Ayurvedic treatment for rejuvenating the body, calling for seclusion in darkness, meditation, along with the application of various herbal concoctions. 

It is even seen as a form of Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine that was developed in South India at about the same time that Hatha Yoga was being developed. Kaya Kalpa has three main objectives: 

1. Slowing the aging process
2. Maintaining excellent physical health and youthful vitality
3. Delaying physical death

Brain biochemistry



According to Taoist master Mantak Chia (in the book Darkness Technology):
“The darkness actualizes successively higher states of divine consciousness, correlating with the synthesis and accumulation of psychedelic chemicals in the brain. Melatonin, a regulatory hormone, quiets the body and mind in preparation for the finer and subtler realities of higher consciousness (Days 1 to 3)

Pinoline, affecting the neuro-transmitters of the brain, permits visions and dream-states to emerge in our conscious awareness (Days 3 to 5)
 
Eventually, the brain synthesizes the “spirit molecules” 5-methoxy-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) and dimethyltryptamine (DMT), facilitating the transcendental experiences of universal love and compassion (Days 6 to 12)

“Melatonin, the ‘sleep molecule’, is produced in the pineal gland, in response to the darkness of night, and to the circadian rhythms of light and dark that are programmed into the hypothalamus, an endocrine gland located deep within the brain. Melatonin affects major organ systems, quieting the sympathetic nervous system and allowing daily rejuvenation of mind and body".

The Hermetic perspective



The Dark Retreat has great correspondences with the Alchemical work.
Alchemical preparations begins with Nigredo, or blackness.

This first phase is putrefaction or decomposition in the pathway to the philosopher stone. All alchemical ingredients are cleansed and cooked extensively to a uniform black matter. This is the return to formless chaos.

The white phase follows and finally the red phase of Spiritual freedom.

The journey into Darkness is the essence of the spiritual alchemical work, without it, the individual will remain only at the superficial level of mere rational thinking and social existence, dominated by beliefs.

"Visita Interiora, Terrae Rectificando, Occultum Lapidem"  
Visit the interior of the earth,
Rectify what you find there,
You will discover the hidden stone..

Yogic Tradition



The yogis associate the fluid of eternal life, Soma, with the energy of the moon. Soma is charging the human being during the night. Soma is burn by the inner sun during the day providing the energy manifested during wakefulness. 
In this case, the day is the symbol of all dualisms and of the personal domain of action, while the night is the symbol of eternity, contemplation, regeneration and centeredness.

Dark Retreat is an advanced practice in the Dzogchen lineages of the Nyingmapa, Bönpo, and other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The time period dedicated to dark retreat varies from a few hours to decades. 

Dark retreat in the Himalayan tradition is a restricted practice only to be engaged by the senior spiritual practitioner under appropriate spiritual guidance. This practice is considered conducive for navigating the bardo at the time of death and for realising the rainbow body. 

The traditional dark retreat requires stability in the natural state and is only suitable for advanced practitioners.