hygienic darkroom retreat

profound rest for the self‑healing psyche

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, alienation, and anxiety?

From hygiene, I vaguely remembered two principles:

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

The onset of middle age daily exposed 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. As predicted, lethal psychic issues that had tortured me for a lifetime began resolving themselves spontaneously. In 11 years and 27 retreats, I have seen no sign of an end to this process—short of full recovery of psychophysical integrity.

Now I feel confident about what I have learned: what happens in darkness and why; how to retreat and what for. And I can only go further in this by sharing this approach. 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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Europe, 2020

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