hygienic darkroom retreat

profound rest for the self‑healing psyche

a book by andrew durham

preface

When I first retreated in darkness, I just did it to rest. It worked. After 56 hours, I had caught up on all the sleep I had ever lost. For the first time in decades, I felt awake. I was stunned.

Two years later, the same thing happened. In addition, I felt assured. Calmed. Well in my soul.

This sense of psychic health stayed with me for months. But how, after a lifetime of depression and alienation?

From hygiene, I remembered two principles:

  • the self-healing nature of life
  • rest as the primary condition of healing

And little failures of memory in middle age were showing me the organic nature of my psyche.

One morning in a dream, these clues fused in a conception of the restful use of darkness in support of the self-healing psyche.

I began testing this idea in more darkroom retreats. Lethal psychic issues that had tortured me for a lifetime began resolving themselves spontaneously, as predicted. In 14 years and 27 retreats, I have seen no sign of an end to this process—short of full recovery of psychophysical integrity.

My confidence has grown through what I have learned by testing: what happens in darkness and why; how to retreat and what for. Further progress in this approach requires me to share it. It needs more participation, resources, and velocity.

Hygienic darkroom retreating requires minimal effort and no faith. Darkness is not a void, but a sanctuary. It is not the absence of light, but the presence of the self. It is yours.

 

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Oslo, 2020

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