- Facilities: We will be hosted by a beautiful and spacious place of excellent standard.
- Navigating in the darkness: Very quickly after the body settles into the darkness and the mind gets used to it, we begin to let go of navigating through the use of our eyes. Instead, our kinesthetic and tactile sense comes more sharply and clearly into focus, and we begin to trust our movements and capacity to navigate. At the same time our visual memory for the spatial layout of the retreat center serves us well because we already have become well acquainted with the place in daylight, both during the introductory evening before the retreat, as well as at the start of the retreat before we turn off the lights.
- Food: You will be served three healthy and nutritious vegetarian meals per day. With the intense mindfulness that develops over the course of the retreat, eating can become an intensely enjoyable experience that can change one’s relationship to food and nutrition.
- Personal hygiene: Comfortable showers and toilets are at your disposal and you will find that taking care of your personal hygiene in the dark is easy once you begin to trust your kinesthetic intelligence and capacity to navigate.
- Sleep: Mattresses will be provided for you, but you need to bring your own pillow and duvet, as well as bed linen. Sleeping will be communal (so earplugs are recommended), but due to our small group size there will be plenty of space for people to spread out and be comfortable.
- Journaling in the dark: It’s important to bring your own journal so that you can chronicle your insights and revelations during the retreat. Also, it will provide a good support for your individual practice of staying engaged with your process in-between communal practice sessions. Journaling in the dark is not difficult. You can use a finger to mark a line, and then move your finger down to start writing on the next line. Alternatively, you can bring a ruler which you move down successively as you fill in each new line.
- Emergency contact: Before entering the retreat you will have provided to a close relative the phone number to one of our assistants who are working to support the retreat from the outside. In case of an external emergency where you need to be contacted by your family, they will be able to make contact with this assistant who in turn can relay the message to us inside the retreat.
- Breaking off the retreat: If for any reason you find midway through that you need to break off the retreat we ask that you approach one of us facilitators so that we can talk about it and find out what is going. If after having talked with us you still find that you need to break off the retreat, then we will support you to leave the retreat, either with one of us or with one of our assistants.
- Closing the retreat: Even though unforeseen circumstances can sometimes arise, we ask each participant of the group to commit, to the best of their ability, to start and end the retreat together as a group. We close the retreat through a small ceremony, after which we celebrate the work we have done together by sharing a meal in daylight.
What to bring
- Pillow, duvet and bed linen or sleeping bag
- Journal and pen
- Water bottle
- Clothes suitable for light exercise and yoga
Preparations & introductory evening
Before embarking on this journey together as a group it is important that we get to know each other a little bit in daylight. We will be inviting all prospective participants to an evening of meet-and-greet, lectures on the history and biochemical dynamics of the darkness retreat, as well as introducing some of the practical inquiry exercises we will be working with during the retreat.
If for some reason you cannot attend these evenings in person we can arrange for you to participate through Zoom or Skype.
The main physical preparation we ask that you commit to before joining the retreat is to taper off all stimulants and drugs, such as caffeine and nicotine at least 3 days prior to the retreat, and ideally 1–2 weeks prior.
We ask that in the days and weeks before the retreat you think carefully through your intention for joining this journey: What is it you would like to work on and to get out of this the journey? Why have you chosen to commit to this work at this point in your life?