Describing a darkness retreat is a challenge, the more the space fills up with words the further away I am from the experience. Experiencing darkness is experiencing nothingness, and yet full-ness at the same time
Part I: Unordinary experiences in Darkness
In darkness the range of unordinary experiences was mind-blowing: In just a few days I experienced deep meditative state, lucid dreaming, conscious sleep, incredible psychedelia, timelessness and spacelessness, Maya the great illusion, metaphysical loneliness, and deep Non-doing state.
In deep meditation states my mind went blank (without any content) for very long periods of time (20 or 30 minutes I can’t tell at this stage even time had disappeared) being aware of nothing but emptiness yet remaining present to what is. A profound absorption in emptiness.
On the first day the world outside disappeared. I quickly lost the image of my body, my face in the mirror, the face of other people around. I lost the concern of being seen. In absence of external reference I relaxed my face and my jaw, my mask was melting, my identity was fading.
Conscious sleep (being fully aware while being asleep) was a great surprise, I never thought it was possible. I noticed when I woke up and realised my consciousness remained the same while shifting from sleeping to awake. In that conscious sleep there was no dreams, no thoughts, just pure presence, my body was asleep while my presence remained fully awake.
Lucid dreaming appeared on the second day. It was like dreaming in an awaken state , the dream, or vision, being exactly the same wether my eye were open or closed. The initial darkness started to be more and more textured and then shapes and colours appeared more vividly until they could be associated with skylines and landscapes etc.
Psychedelia arrived on the third day. It somehow blended with Lucid dreaming. I could see my mind creating a new reality out of nothing. Little by little my mind would capture these shapes and colours and add meaning to it, shapes became objects, buildings, trees. There was some kind of neurological feedback, the more I directed my attention, the more the images became precise, clear, meaningful. I found that loop distracting so I left it in the background.
The clear example of the mind creating its own reality out of nothing, I associate with Maya, the great illusion, the creative power of the mind and consciousness and it became clear at that moment that all we see in our life is a projection of our mind. This left me with a deep sense of metaphysical loneliness, not only we are born and die alone, we also create and isolate ourselves in between by being in constant projection.
Most of the time it felt like floating in outer space, weightless without a sense of up, down, right or left. Geo referenced space did not matter anymore and the memory of the room around vanished, creating some interesting situations. It felt like I was looking at the space between the atoms of my body and not the material structure anymore. I was not only looking at emptiness, I was emptiness, I was spaciousness.
Time disappeared. With some effort I could still figure out the day and an approximate time. Yet the interest of keeping track of time was absent. I did not care at all. Time got swallowed into emptiness. With time, appetite and sleep quickly disappeared, I barely ate and slept no more than 4 hours per day. Many hours were spent lying down staring at the dark with nothing in mind, no plans, no next thing happening to move on to, no meals to expect, no bed time nor concern for day or night. This is one of my biggest surprise considering my attachment to time and action.
May be the most unique experience was the one of non-doing. Non-doing or doing nothing took a complete new dimension in the dark because I could not distract myself with anything. It was only my thoughts, my feelings and my emotions. Period. Nothing outside myself to associate my thoughts and emotion with, hence nothing outside could be made responsible to create anything inside. There was not even an inside anymore. Doing nothing for 20 hours a day for seven days is 140h of doing nothing! When is the last time I did nothing for so long? Probably I have to go back to my mother’s womb and in fact, that is was what it felt like. Darkness is like a womb. It feels safe, it feels home, it feels warm and loving.
Read More in Part II - 10 Reasons You Should Be Meditating in the Dark
and Part III - FAQs about Darkness Meditation
From New Delhi with Infinite Love, Deva