Traver then proceeded to do a TED talk which features his experience in a grander scope:
Salimatu Amabebe, Owner of Bliss House Vegan Treats
Jyotir Barbagallo, Yoga instructor
The account of one woman after several weeks of Darkness Retreat (in German):
Here are some written accounts of personal dark retreats at our facility:
Belinda Kelly, yoga instructor, physiotherapist & nutrtionist
“My heart has literally cracked open & feels like it could explode with light love & gratitude. I returned to Mahadevi Ashram to descend into a solo darkness retreat.
I spent 8 nights in total in this cave-like space more akin to a womb once inside.
Alone with all my thoughts, fears and doubts. No one else but me and the darkest dark you could imagine. I thought my eyes would adjust and I’d be able to see to some degree but this never happened, it didn’t matter if my eyes were open or closed it was black. Challenging yes, probably one of the most mentally challenging things I’ve ever done, requiring complete surrender. I had to trust not just myself but also the facilitators, that they would bring me my meals, despite the fact that I was largely fasting on a watermelon only diet, each time they brought it I was filled with a sense of gratitude.
The Darkness itself invokes fear for many because it represents negation of the entire known world and for me this couldn’t have been truer. Deprived of all visual reference, the senses of the body and brain profoundly change, actually shutting down Higher brain centres depressing mental and cognitive functions at the same time enhancing Emotional, feeling states and finer psychic perceptions. This surrendering into the unknown was just a part of the difficulty. On the first night I wasn’t even sure I could go through with it as fear, anxiety and panic entered. I had two choices to stay and sit with it, explore it, or to get up and run, go back to the safe world I knew. I chose to stay hugged myself tightly and just focused on my breath and it worked, but this wasn’t the only time this fear entered, I was faced with it again on two other occasion, but the reality was the darkness was safe and by staying I was granted the profound effects of an openness i didn’t know possible, a state of deep relaxation and higher awareness that took away the need for all external stimuli, which allowed me to go very deep inside myself, exploring parts of me I didn’t know possible. This whole experience has taught me so much, pushing all boundaries and allowing me to emerge into a state of pure beingness, openness, light and love.”
Vosca van Coeverden, owner-founder of Mahara Holistic Lifestyle, Amsterdam
“Light is our source, it will never be dark again. I experienced many things in my life and I did a lot of practice to come closer to my essence, but this retreat was an extension of what is. The dark retreat came on my path and there was no way around it. My path was guiding me to go into darkness and ´I´ prepared myself for the 11 days in the womb of our nature. Never I experienced something more profound….. I felt carried by Spirit. Fear or anything like that was not even in my mind. Because there is only darkness you let go of all there is and find yourself in the purest form which is the light. After 2 days I even forgot sometimes that it was dark because I could see so much more. Fractales, visions, symbols… light. For me it was an initiation in my (higher) self and profoundly heart-opening. My path is clear and I have so much inspiration for the moment I live in now. It brought me new insights, ancient knowledge, clarity and abundance of love and light. It was even hard to leave the room – like a baby that has to leave the womb of the mother.”
Michael DeNicola, Kundalini yoga instructor
“My eleven day experience in the Dark Room was like none other. It allowed me the opportunity to look inside myself and find my truth, with no distractions. Days were long and intense, but the experience went by in the blink of an eye. I never would have lasted without a strong yoga practice, experience fasting, and many days long meditation. My life is truly brighter now that I have experienced the depths of darkness.
I could not have asked for two better hosts. Arpi and Arjuna are extremely accommodating to personal needs and wonderfully flexible. Throughout my journey, I felt safe and well cared for. If your heart is called to take this fantastic journey inward, please be prepared, and go in without expectation. The dark room offers the opportunity to sit with yourself and find who you really are. It is up to you to take the journey into the void. Wahe Guru!”
A more detailed account of Michael’s retreat can be found here.
Kremena Manukian: Three days in the Womb of the Universe
“Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to spend more than three days in the dark retreat because of work and other duties, but even this short period was enough for me to open towards this amazing journey back into the womb of time, the womb of the universe. I chose the time that seemed energetically appropriate to me and during my first meditation in there I already felt the opening of these different dimensions, layers of reality every practitioner is always seeking. Embraced by the absolute darkness around me, the letting go of the ego immediately created space for the divine grace to shower me and an unknown male voice coming from far far away started reciting the mantra Asatoma Sat Gamaya in my head. This mantra, being one of the most well known prayers from the ancient vedic scriptures, has a special place in the hearts of many walking the path as it means “Lead me from the unreal to the real, from the darkness to the light, from death to eternal life”, reflecting the deepest yearning, the eternal longing, the goal of each journey. A beautiful energy flow of white light ran through my entire body all the way to the crown and brought me for a few moments to a state beyond words and language. A feeling of being taken care of like a beloved child still in the womb was so strongly present that my whole being overflowed with gratitude and love – first to my own mother and grandmother and then to all mothers, to the Divine Mother, to the Goddess herself and to the enormous splendid beauty of Shakti creating and destroying worlds, destroying the ego, being the manifestation of all creation. Later on I was just lying on the bed, allowing the darkness to absorb everything I was – or I thought I was – staying present in the depth of this extreme void, so new and so well known at the same time, feeling both like a pure unborn baby and old and vast like the universe. It looked like my body expanded so much that very soon I literally lost any perception of its physical reality or borders. I found that the only thing that remained was beyond form and matter. Pure consciousness witnessing the Divine Game taking place in front of it. Magnificent. Full of love. When I came out at the end of my third day I couldn’t believe I’m still in this body, imperfect by definition, my spirit still captured in the maya, the illusion of the material world we often call reality, yet at the same time being fascinated by its contradictory perfection. I’ll be always thankful for all the amazing opportunities to deepen and dive into what Is, what unfolded on my path over the years and I’m definitely looking forward to my already planed two weeks in the dark soon.
May all beings be blessed, save and happy.”