discovering darkroom retreating by accident
i recently recalled (during a text conversation with Andrew Durham) what i now describe as a series of relatively short “darkroom retreats”, the joyous peculiarities of which i accidentally discovered whilst playing hide and seek (with fellow parents and children) without being found, in a huge old completely dark empty walk-in cupboard in my dark room on the dark side of a magnificent old cedar wood house in a dark forest canopy in sub-tropical australia.
the experience of waiting for someone to find me, or not find me, of sitting still, not making a sound, breathing long slow breaths, meditating to stop myself giggling and giving the game away, gave way to sheer utter deep joyous bliss. i knew then that i did not want anyone to find me. i stayed and stayed, only exiting the dark only from consideration for my fellow players.
the next day, and the next and the next, i walked into that cupboard, staying for hours and hours, making it more comfortable, emptying it out, laying down soft cushions, completely blissed out by the sacredness of it, the holy holy ssswwooooshing peace of it all, washing over me in great waves, wave after wave after wave. of sleeping so so deeply and soundly. not minding whether it was day or night, not minding how many ours i spent there. meditating when i became restless, or felt some moral obligation to walk out of the cupboard and ‘get on with normal stuff i thought i was supposed to do’ it felt like three hours maximum. but i know it was much longer on some days. delighting in knowing that it was bright and sunny ‘out there’ and here was i wallowing joyfully in the dark.
during that same conversation with andrew, i recalled some other experiences which are related to my desire to experience a longish darkness retreats
1. a sculptor friend was asked to make a wooden coffin, and half way through the commission, he decided to make another for himself. And build it he did. when each of his friends came to visit, he invited them to lay in the coffin. i loved laying in there. i also trusted my friend completely to let me outta there, when i needed out. it was warm and dry and cosy and there was a wonderful swishing wwwwhhoooooshing sound swirling all ’round me. And such deep deep blissful sensations. At the time, I thought I had better not really say how very much I loved the experience. I thought my liking it so much was a little creepy. Even so, we had some great laughs about liking it so much.
2. I discovered by accident, that I really loved sitting in my huge walk in old fashioned cedar-lined wardrobe- it smelled wonderful, so I began regular hour- long Vipassana sits. And that same wwwwhhhooossssshhhhing accompanied by deepest peace ever felt as adult . Loved getting I there – completely dark – during the day – the contrast of day and dark thrilled me – surprised by joy!
3. About a year ago, was reading about niacin – massive doses “curing” schizophrenia. And somewhere amongst all that reading, there was a story related by one of the researchers. Have attempted to find it since to no avail. A woman patient – schizophrenia – disappeared from a “facility”.. She walk back into the facility about a week later, overjoyed , declaring her total wellness. She said she had been resting under a huge pile of leaves,not emerging all that time.
4. Reading of the tribe, the Elder Brothers, the Kogi where it is a practice to spend varying amounts of time in total darkness as their choice and contribution to the tribe. Apparently, some of the babies are “chosen” by the tribe from birth. at that time, i thought everyday about the yogi, i knew that wanted to understand them, i searched and search for all that i could find about them.