After each years darkroom retreats, people always write in
with some insights of their experiences, here is one from Corina.
A Journey Through The Dark with Corina
I arrived in Thailand ready for my second stay in The Darkroom where for nine days and nine nights, I would be without light or food, only liquids. Though very different from my first experience two years ago, it was just as transformative, just as deep and just as overwhelming as the first one.
A number of years ago, I heard about the opportunity to take a Darkroom-Retreat with Jasmuheen and was fascinated. I listened in awe to my friends talk about their experience in the program and knew it was something I would do.
Even before I heard from the Darkroom I had the experience of eating in a restaurant in total darkness. It was actually kind of fun. But the idea of immersing myself in complete darkness for nine days and nights seemed like an Olympic – size challenge. I did not feel ready until a few years after I first learned about it. I finally signed up but had to wait another year since the retreat was already full. This gave me more time to prepare mentally and physically for this extraordinary experiment.
Then came the moment to enter the Darkroom. The retreat is held in an apartment complex where light is completely blocked out. It is part of the beautiful Tao Garden Health Spa in Chang Mai, in northern Thailand. The Taoist, Mantak Chia, creator of the Universal Tao System, Healing Tao and Tao Yoga, founded the Tao Garden Wellness Retreat Center. He has also written numerous books. Jasmuheen, a friend of Mantak Chia, has offered these Darkroom-Retreats for quite a number of years.
Entering my private space for the duration of the retreat, I noticed how similar it looked to a hotel room. It had a queen size bed and bath. We were given time to get organized and familiar with the room and to pick our mat in the gathering space, which was a large interior area.
I remembered from my first time there that it looked so easy to find my mat in the daylight but became quite difficult when it was dark.
Knowing this, I put all my possessions in my room on the table provided. I stacked them neatly, so I would be able to grab whatever I needed easily in the dark. In the bathroom, I lay down toothbrush, toothpaste and all the rest of my toiletries in a specific spot to make it easy to find in the dark. My shampoo and hand lotion had their special spot as well. How easy it is to mix them up in the dark!
Two years ago I practiced being in the dark several month before the Retreat. Each week I would dedicate a day and stay in total darkness to learn what I had to pay attention to. I would also do my regular yoga practice to keep fit and meditate to keep centered. This time I thought all the preparation I did before was not necessary! First of all, I had a routine for doing yoga asanas as well as for meditating. I had practiced both for years. And secondly, since I wanted to finish a project before I went to Thailand, I neglected all the preparation and thought I would simply relax in the Darkroom from all the stress I brought with me. This turned out to be a big mistake!
The Darkroom is challenging—no easy matter. It is asking the utmost of the physical, mental and emotional body! So I was suffering pain, especially in my physical body and was exhausted. I felt dizzy after each little movement. I was thankful that at least I had prepared my body by detoxifying and didn’t have any problems in that respect. But being very tired, I slept a lot and still became pretty weak.
In the booklet “Darkness Technology, Darkness Techniques for Enlightenment” Mantak Chia says: “Staying in the dark is like returning to the womb, the cocoon of our material structure and our original Darkness. All spiritual traditions have used Darkness Techniques in the pursuit of enlightenment, whether in an underground network of tunnels, in pyramids, in catacombs or in caves. When you go into total darkness, the darkness soon turns into light. Meditating and fasting in the dark is the final journey of spiritual work.”
The dark brings all one’s shadow aspects into the light! I had to face my anger not being able to relax and therefore I had even more difficulty letting go and relaxing. I had to confront my old habit of being a perfectionist. It took a lot of effort for me to surrender to the fact that this time, I just had to learn to be patient and accept whatever there was.
With no expectations the first time, I was able to go into deep, deep meditation and could travel in many different fields and frequencies. Indeed, the darkness made room for light. Colors and forms of the most amazing shades, structures and shapes I never dreamed existed appeared in front of my eyes whether open or closed. I experienced the universe with all its stars and floated freely and became part of them. Sometimes I couldn’t distinguish the difference between me and the universe—there was only “one.” Time ceased to exist. The music we listened to in our gathering place would instantly carry me into other spheres, allowing me to encounter other dimensions. I would get messages from the Holy ones.
I thought this would be my starting point for my second time. But something else was waiting for me. I did get messages but had difficulty accepting some of them. At times I felt so much love and appreciation, so much compassion and even admiration for all that is. I could feel the love the Universe has for me! And on times I would completely melt with this Love! Other times I would wrangle with myself, not allowing or accepting this beautiful present from the universe. My inner voice would tell me that I was not worthy of it! I was truly encountering my inner shadows. However, I was not afraid of them. I was seeing how powerful they could be, how much they still had me in their grip.
The beauty of this inner struggle was that I could observe it all. It was as if there was a neutral third party watching the struggle from a location outside of me. And again and again I could feel the compassion and love I had for myself. There were moments I could take myself into my arms and console this struggling part that was so tired of fighting. At times it would calm down and become peaceful and I could truly surrender to this higher source, to love, to God within me.
This second time the Darkroom gave me the chance to heal. I felt like I did when I was a child and went through a long illness. When I was better, I was still weak but had healed and matured. I learned to accept that nothing is linear or sequential. Especially not the way I was expecting it. How interesting to see how strong I held on to my expectations and tried to maneuver it the way I thought it should be! Some days I could surrender more easily. Other days I fought what was until I realized that this was primarily what exhausted me. When I tensed up, my body was in pain and I suffered. When I did have the experience of floating in space again, of seeing light, colors and shapes, I realized I only experienced that when I was not tense.
Now that I’ve been home for some time, I can still feel that there are subtle vibrations in me, subsiding slowly. The changes the Darkroom-Retread brought to me and ultimately to my life are still taking place. I am very certain that many healing shifts within will manifest in time, whether I am aware of them or not.
I am very grateful to Jasmuheen who created an environment so beautiful and held the space so well so all this could happen!
For further information
• on what happens to the brain during an experience in the Darkroom, I recommend you read the little booklet, mentioned above, by Mantak Chia:
Darkness Technology, Darkness Techniques for Enlightenment,
(www.universal-tao.com / ISBN: 0-935621-30-X).