In January 2016, I have spent 10 days in complete darkness and isolation on the shore of the magnificent Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. Once I got out, to save my head from exploding from the enormous amount of ideas and observations collected while inside the dome, I have written all I could remember down. In the hindsight, this was probably beginner’s mistake as I can’t imagine practitioners retreating for extended period into the darkness concerning themselves with recording or sharing what is ultimately a deeply personal experience. Nevertheless, here are my notes from the dark:
The first thing I shared was the following note, from which it can be sensed how ecstatic I was once the “ordeal” was behind me:
Into the Light
I am back! I was born again yesterday after 10 days in the womb. Slightly prematurely, which is how my life originally started, so I guess it is quite symbolic and alright. The baby is healthy and quite possibly the happiest one around.
This was by far the hardest thing I have underwent so far. I didn’t anticipate how challenging this technique can be without established meditation practice. And I was being reminded about it every single day in the first part of the retreat. Every day felt like the day I will give up and leave. In the end I didn’t and eventually it got all a bit easier. And towards the end it actually felt like it doesn’t matter anymore how many days I will stay. Two weeks, three weeks or a month – it made little difference. I wouldn’t say this a week ago, but I will go back for a longer period of time one day. Now when I got a glimpse of what lies at the other side of the darkness there is no doubt in my mind that this is a practice that demands to be explored further. But not until I am way better prepared then now.
Because ultimately this was also one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. So simple, yet so powerful. I have meditated in the deserts, on the dark side of the Moon, on Mars, in the Angkor Wat temple and in Stonehenge, in front of a huge Colorado River toad and in a dark, snowed down forest with two deers by my side. I sat around the fire in the ceremony with the ancestors in ancient Mexico, eating sacred mushrooms. I have astral travelled above an enormous undiscovered Mayan city in the jungle. I have spent the longest ever lucid dream in the Cabinet of Desires. At the peak of the experience in a six hours long trance I have downloaded and lived a beautiful story. And I could see in the dark!
This human mind/body is such a wondrous vehicle. It’s like a top end Ferrari. But it seems to me that what most of us are doing with it is siting in it in a parking lot, switching the lights on and off, throwing rubbish all around the inside and occasionally honking the horn. While what we should be doing instead is to polish the beast, start the engine and take it for the spin. Well, that is what I am intended to do with it, anyways.
There is no need to be afraid of darkness. All it does is that it takes you towards the edge of who you think you are. Once there, you can observe with clarity who you really are – unbound by time and space, limitless, free…
Thank you, Arpita, for holding the space and looking after me.
Thank you, sacred Cacao, for smoothing out the rough edges.
Thank you, magnificent Lake Atitlan.
And thank you to all of you who have supported me on this endeavour in any way!