toward a hygienic psychology by andrew durham


“Thanks to the extraordinary recuperative powers of the human body and the resilience of the human mind, the patient generally managed throughout the ages to recover health in spite of the vicissitudes of treatment to which he had been subjected.” – Kenneth Walker (History of Medicine)


this post below contains extracts from book, “Hygienic Darkroom Retreat” by Andrew Durham.
the book can easily be read online, you can donate and download or if you have no money, download for free. and you can donate later when money comes your way. one of the benefits of donating, apart from having the book itself, is that each new edition will automatically be emailed to you.
http://darkroomretreat.com
     


listen to audio of this post – the voice and pronunciation are not ideal. even so, audio assists those who do not like to read from a screen


below is an extract from the blurb at front of the book …


toward a hygienic psychology

Indigenous and spiritual traditions have used darkness for millennia. This is the first approach to darkness— and psychology—based on hygiene. Not just cleanliness, hygiene is the biological science of health. It is based on life’s self-preserving nature and its normal conditions: fresh air, ample sleep, pure food, frequent bathing and exercise, etc.
Its principles apply equally to the psyche, an organic system.

Hygiene began teaching industrial society to appreciate nature’s way in 1832. Worldwide massive improvements in public health resulted. Hygiene is history’s most influential approach to health.
A hygienic darkroom retreat provides conditions profound rest. These are normal and temporarily extended. The psyche proceeds to heal itself, even of the worst trauma. The conscious self merely maintains the conditions of this autonomic self-healing, with reliably miraculous results.


below is full chapter … without footnotes and without links  … buy the book for the real thing!


3  – psychology

Lacking a psychology, hygiene could not penetrate certain depths of human experience nor treat certain subjects, namely trauma. Trauma doesn’t happen every day. It lies beyond one’s control. Change of habit affects it little. It just strikes. Suddenly it incapacitates whole systems, distorting their character and behavior beyond recognition. Trauma is the most influential force in our lives besides life itself. Hygiene was helpless. All it could do was pass the buck to doctors or priests. This subordinated hygiene to medicine and religion for over a century.
This limitation disappears with two changes:
• the acknowledgment of trauma as the root of all illness
• the discovery of darkness as the essential means nature provides us to heal from trauma

Hygiene becomes a complete system of health capable of addressing every illness people face, physical and psychic. No longer need anyone bear the perennial costs and failures of medicine and other semi-scientific systems rooted in the mystical doctrine of original sin and practice of exorcism.

By healing from trauma, we not only end dysfunction and suffering. We prevent unconscious repetition of trauma through common disasters like car crashes, familial breakdown, and psychosomatic illness. Medicine can only treat trauma It’s really that simple. We are all moments from relief, days from restedness, weeks from healing, months from total recovery from ten millennia of abysmal problems, failure, disease, and suffering. The cause of joy—an organism restored to wholeness—is at hand.

Safe and comfortable in the submarine of our new understanding, we will plumb the depths of the hygienic use of darkness. We will begin by reviewing and critiquing hygiene’s existing framework for understanding illness: its incisive pathology. Then we will go beyond it in frank discussions of trauma, psychosis and their deeper social and natural causes. We will finish with an outline of a new and hygienic psychology, which promises to unleash hygiene’s power and lift humanity from its debilitated state.

pathology

Pathology is the study of disease: its symptoms, causes, and nature. Pathology guides our response to disease. Every school of health has a generalized pathology and theory of disease. Many schools are named for their pathologies because they are basically oriented toward disease: homeopathy (homeo: same), naturopathy, osteopathy (osteo: osteo), allopathy/medicine (allo: other). In hygiene, pathology is a sub-system we call orthopathy (ortho: correct).

The doctrine of original sin says life is inherently corrupt and impotent. Accordingly, allopathy views disease as natural and unavoidable. No matter that life must be healthy to exist at all. Or that near-universal health in the rest of nature contradicts the idea of our sinfulness. Allopathy just doubles down on its mystical assertions while pretending to be rational and scientific. It views health as an equally unexplainable stroke of luck. “You have a good constitution,” they say, as if that is a helpful explanation. But they see nothing really wrong when people get sick. It’s just how life is. Medicine is not an abject failure.

This is why doctors gloss over causes. They often speak in tautologies, substituting diagonosis for explanation. For example, “Your bowels aren’t working because you have Crohn’s disease,” as if the name is an irreducible primary, with nothing left to investigate. It’s just life expressing its weak, morbid nature. They might deign to look another level of causation down in explaining illness. But this goes against their premises. They usually skip right to symptomology and treatment, germ theory of disease in hand.

The germ theory of disease says microscopic invaders cause disease. We are victims of infection. The organism is helpless. The doctor is capable and must fight, overcome, and root out the germs with drugs, treatment, and surgery. This is what I meant by exorcism.

However, germs don’t always result in the disease associated with them, and they aren’t always present in it. On the other hand, a distinct pattern of vital factors and lifestyle can be detected in those who suffer and a quite different one in those who don’t. The differences reveal the decisive causes and their ordinary character. In response, medicine has continually moved the goalposts with new diagnoses. Logic does not apply to holy war. People generally tire of this hairsplitting. They just want to be well so they can get on with their lives.

By contrast, the hygienist’s rational and benevolent view of disease keeps him cool as a cucumber. He does not react. He observes. He studies. Disease is a normal function of an organism under poor conditions, not a foreign entity to attack and expel. Hygiene makes the time necessary to correct allopathy’s drunken imbalances with careful etiology (study of causes).

This reveals the poor conditions and the ordinary ways to correct them. Indeed, a careful client of a hygienist is really a student and soon learns to take care of himself, then his family and neighbors. It’s open source health care. Viral, so to speak.

In the 1930s, with a century of prior art to work from, hygienist Dr John Tilden formulated the seven stages of all chronic disease. Each stage describes what happens as our energy level declines ever lower. Note that a sick person can move down the steps and become sicker, or up and become well. It is simple cause and effect. Hygiene proves in theory and repeatedly demonstrates in practice the reversibility of the trend.

We have Victoria Bidwell, a tireless contemporaryhygienist, to thank for the following cogent summary of Tilden’s analysis of disease, originally from her work, The Health Seekers Yearbook.

seven stages of disease

1. Enervation: Nerve Energy is so reduced or exhausted that all normal bodily functions are greatly impaired, especially the elimination of endogenous and exogenous poisons. Stage One thus begins the progressive and chronic process of “Toxemia Toleration” that continues through all of the following stages. The Toxic Sufferer does not feel his “normal self.” He feels either stimulated or depressed by the poisonous overload.

2. Toxemia:  Nerve Energy is too low to eliminate metabolic wastes and ingested poisons. These toxic substances begin to saturate first the bloodstream and lymphatic fluids and then the cells themselves. The Toxic Sufferer feels inordinately tired, run-down, and “out of it.”

3. Irritation: Toxic build-up within the blood and lymph and tissues continues. The cells/tissues where buildup occurs are irritated by the toxic nature of the waste, resulting in a low-grade inflammation. The Toxic Sufferer can feel exhausted, queasy, irritable, itchy, even irrational and hostile. During these first 3 stages, if The Toxic Sufferer does consult a medical doctor about the reason for his low energy and irritability, the doctor tells him: “There is nothing wrong with you. These symptoms are ‘all in your head.’ You are perfectly healthy!”

4. Inflammation: The low-grade, chronic inflammation from Stage Three is leading to the death of cells. An area or organ where toxicants have amassed next becomes fully inflamed. The Toxic Sufferer experiences actual pain, along with pathological symptoms at this point. With the appearance of these symptoms, the medical doctor can finally give The Sufferer’s complaint a name. Traditionally, medical scientists have named many of the 20,000 distinctly different diseases after the site where the toxins have accumulated and precipitated their symptoms. Once the set of symptoms is conveniently named, the doctor can mechanically prescribe the “antidote” from his Physician’s Desk Reference or from his memorized medical/ pharmaceutical repertoire. Standard medical doctors thus commence drugging and treating at this stage.

5. Ulceration: Tissues are destroyed. The body ulcerates, forming an outlet for the poisonous build-up. The Toxic Sufferer experiences a multiplication and worsening of symptoms while the pain intensifies. Standard medical doctors typically continue drugging and often commence with surgery and other forms of more radical and questionable treatment at this stage.

6. Induration: Induration is the result of long-standing, chronic inflammation with bouts of acute inflammation interspersed. The chronic inflammation causes an impairment or sluggishness of circulation: and because some cells succumb, they are replaced with scar tissue. This is the way we lose good, normal functioning cells — by chronic inflammation and death of cells. Toxins may or may not be encapsulated in a tumor, sac, wen, or polyp. The Toxic Sufferer endures even more physical pain, which is intensified by the emotional distress of realizing that he is only getting worse, regardless of his earnest, obedient, even heroic attempts to get well. Standard medical doctors continue with both drugging and surgery and all other kinds of modalities deemed appropriate, both conventional and experimental. (“Induration” means “hardening” or “scarring” of tissues.)

7. Fungation (cancer): Cellular integrity is destroyed through their disorganization and/or cancerous proliferation. Tissues, organs, and whole systems lose their ability to function normally. Biochemical and morphological changes from the depositing of Endogenous and Exogenous Toxins bring about degenerations and death at the cellular level. The Toxic Sufferer is “a pathological mess”: he is on his deathbed. Standard medical doctors declare at this stage: “There is no hope left. You have just so much longer to live. You need to make preparations accordingly.” Failure of vital organs eventually results in death.

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Tilden’s analysis shows the close relationship between enervation and toxemia as the two most obvious causes of all illness. Indeed, they play a huge part in ongoing symptomology. It explains hygiene’s success for two centuries in supporting the recovery of countless people whose cases allopathy had pronounced hopeless merely by putting them to bed with plenty of water and fresh air, and not poisoning them with drugs. If afterward, they could quit the ultra-toxins of coffee, tea, tobacco, cut back on activity and stress, increase rest, fast sometimes, move away from polluted areas, learn to eat better, take up exercise, then they would heal. It happens every day without media fanfare.

But for many, doing all that is a big if. If they do not make the necessary lifestyle changes, then hygiene is unable to help them. They drift back to medicine or some alternative. A few get lucky. The rest find ways to cope with semi-recovery or perish quietly.

We note the text’s emphasis on toxemia: internal uncleanliness. This characterizes both hygiene’s Puritanical character, Tilden’s focus, and the box canyon medicine put hygiene in after 100 years by reducing it to cleanliness. Its pathology has had a missing link, undermining hygiene’s status and success. Early hygienists did not grasp the arch-importance of trauma and could not deal with it. They viewed it as unrelated to the more important issue of chronic illness, as mere mechanics best left to surgeons. Hygiene unwittingly lent allopathy mythic power by surrendering to it the imperative of trauma.

Also, most hygienic physicians start as allopaths. The fascination with surgery seems hard to shake. It makes people seem powerful on nature’s scale. It affirms civilization’s fear of nature and the body. It reinforces the unconscious feeling of infantile helplessness following trauma. With their little swords, doctors acquire the status of gods for engaging the dragon of trauma, the source of all pain, the repository of all power.

We seem caught in a strange dream, half-waking and prolonged. But rather than force ourselves awake with treatment, substances, or discipline, hygienic darkroom retreating lets us sleep it through. Hygiene has always been a kind of physiological judo, not resisting but using the force of disease to bring resolution. It is calm, understanding, effective. Rather than wait for trauma to replay its disastrous drama in our lives, we can take hygiene’s peaceful, reassured approach to resolving it once and for all.

trauma

In the course of days alone in a darkroom, psychic trouble from one’s past inevitably comes to the surface. Buried thoughts, feelings, sensations, and memories of trauma sometimes become conscious as the psyche repairs itself. This is not the torment of endlessly reliving the past, but part of final recovery from it.

Why are these things so deeply buried?

Trauma causes the first four stages of disease immediately. The organism surges into action with the shock and sudden demand for energy, nutrients, circulation, and hormones to manage pain and awareness. Meanwhile, incapacity and malfunction snowball.

Consciousness contracts with trauma. It withdraws from the world and higher functions like reflection and reason to stabilize critical functions. Awareness of the painful event itself is unnecessary, often disturbing the process. Thus trauma manifests as amnesia and denial: the inabilities to remember and to admit.

In movies, an individual is injured, cannot remember his old life, has a new adventure. Few of us have personal experience of anyone like this. Why do such movies continue to draw crowds? It is because we all suffer a kind of amnesia and recognize ourselves in these stories.

In fact, our amnesia is called infant or childhood amnesia. Who remembers his birth or first years? More to the point, who would want to? People and even “scientists” generally believe that memory does not reach back that far. But indigenous people and less traumatized civilized people routinely demonstrate something else, casually recounting details of leaving the womb, meeting their parents outside, and encountering the world around them for the first time.

Denial is not moral failure. It is unconscious success. Devastating trauma usually occurs in infancy. It overwhelms the fragile structure of an infant’s consciousness. Denial locks down basic functions, preventing trauma from shattering psychic integrity. Otherwise it would cause death, as with SIDS—Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Escaping with autism or blindness, for example, beats dying. Denial is biologically maintained until the psyche heals enough for to bear witness to the horror of what was denied.

In darkness, damage begins to heal. Denial begins to lift and traumatic events are remembered or acknowledged. As the general capacity for feeling is restored, frozen ones resurface. Insight comes. The organism paces this sometimes intense process with great care. The fact that it is happening proves you have the capacity to handle it.

Gaining confidence in this capacity take a little time. In protocol > discomfort, I describe some ways I learned to moderate intense memory and feeling in darkness in the meantime. In a series of reports, I have recorded my experiences in darkness of beginning to heal from major trauma.

What trauma? I mean the routine brutality of our lifeway, which touches virtually everyone from before birth. I mean not just the bad things we condemn, but common atrocities we mistakenly accept. I mean our many offenses to nature, as if it hadn’t already worked out every detail of a happy existence from the beginning of time.

I’m going to list common examples of the plague of polite violence I refer to. One of my editors, a wise and loving man, has warned me I will lose readers by doing so. I see no way around it. Here’s hoping you can take it.

• unintentional conception and ambivalent pregnancy
• birth intruders (doctor, midwife, priest, etc)
• post-partum attachment failure (through physical
separation, exhaustion, and emotional unavailability)
• vaccination, circumcision
• formula-milk, pacifiers, illegal public nursing
• being unheld, unslept with, unnursed, and diapered
• absent, pushover, smothering, abusive, and negligent parents
• nannies and day care
• cribs, playpens, strollers (the worst designs of all time, which crystallize alienation in the nervous systems of billions.)
• television,computers,games(screen technology causes not mere atrophy, but lifelong damage to the imaginative faculty when much used at critical phases of development.)
• factory food (including unripe harvesting, chemical farming, genetic modification, irradiation)
• and finally, the last nail so big it splinters the coffin: school.

The violence of job, military, hospital, the street, and prison go without saying. My point is that things just as bad are happening to people with a thousandth the strength to endure them.

Of exactly what brutalized you, you may already have some idea. I invite you to find out for sure in darkness, where you have a real chance to recover from it once and for all. Between retreats, the depth psychologists mentioned below can also help provide words for what you are going through.

Let’s finally get it through our numb skulls: no adult can get brutalized day in and day out for years without being affected. How much worse is it for an infant? We are not indestructible. We are vulnerable to injury. This is not a flaw. It is the conditional nature of organic existence that defines life and makes our spectacular adaptability and resulting ecstasy possible.

Personal failure results not from weakness or cowardice. It indicates psychophysical malfunction from deep damage. It was not our fault but the result of disaster. We are not weak or bad. We are hurt. We don’t need to work harder. We need time to rest so we can heal. We ought to take a mass leave of absence and find comfortable places to collapse.

Damage from major psychic trauma is real. It is deep. It persists through generations until it heals.  Meanwhile, it disrupts everything else in our lives: memory, reliability, conscientiousness, poise, digestion, sleep, circulation, motivation, clarity, etc. Everything. The mounting disaster motivates us to take it seriously. We can heal from it. We just need basic, decent conditions in which to do so.

Lastly, unconscious psychic trauma often expresses itself somatically: as physical illness. If you are physically ill, you may well find psychic wounds underneath your condition, wounds of surprising intensity. These wounds are doors. On the other side of them lie unexpected paths back to physical health.

Until now, hygienists have regarded the primary causes of disease as enervation, an excessive lowering of vitality, and toxemia, a general poisoning, mostly from internal waste but also food and environmental poisons. These, hygienists have asserted, come from poor habits.

But whence came poor habits? Why would a healthy creature engage in anything less than the perfectly suitable without cause, out of the blue, and persistently? It doesn’t make sense. In light of the awesome influence of trauma, it is obviously a deficient explanation.

Much of this comes straight out of modern depth psychology: Wilhelm Reich, Jean Liedloff, Frederick Leboyer, Arthur Janov, Alice Miller, Alexander Lowen, Joseph Chilton Pearce. In describing routine civilized brutality, they took heroic stands for humanity. Only, they did not imagine the psyche could repair itself without therapy.

Suffice it to say I’m no scientific materialist. This quaint philosophy holds that humans are so special that nature has exempted us from from its laws; and that anything generated through science (and by civilization itself) is inherently good. Find excellent elaborations of the humor in this idea in Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and Rupert Sheldrake’s critique of scientism.

The human organism is resilient in some ways and vulnerable in others. Darkness provides our autonomic selves the opportunity to fully put these qualities to healthy use, righting unfathomable wrongs.


psychosis

We call people and situations crazy all the time. But what if our colloquialism were clinically accurate? What if it were precisely what is wrong with us, and we have been right about it this whole time?
Sages throughout history have observed in us civilized people a pattern of mass functional psychosis.

Mass means universal. Functional means able to survive long enough to raise children to reproducibility. Broadly, psychosis means psychic illness: trauma, exhaustion, toxification—absorption of poisonous ideas, attitudes, emotions, and behavior—and the resulting dysfunction in thinking, feeling, and moving intelligences. Dysfunction leads to failure and displeasure both physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Sure enough, sickness, unhappiness, and confusion (or dogmatism) characterize civilized people. Such comprehensive chronic dysfunction is the principal sign of our psychosis.

Narrowly, psychosis means the inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. Our particular fantasy is that the sliver of reality we are aware of makes up the whole of reality. Anything that doesn’t fit into our postage stampworldview gets ignored or crushed. We can’t help it. It’s the inevitable pathology of mass major psychic trauma.

The sliver consists of the grossest part of reality. Scientists call it spacetime: three maneuverable dimensions of space, with one dimension of time, the present, locked in forward motion. Being grossly sensible, spacetime is especially amenable to intellection and mechanical manipulation. Thus our hypermental, industrial lifeway. We emphasize thinking at the expense of feeling and, to a lesser extent, action, which we make machines do for us. Obsessive control of this sliver enables enough of us to survive each generation to imagine we are doing as well as possible.

Some of us, however, find this delusional. We have experienced joy. And on the other hand, we cannot help but see the widespread proofs of mass psychosis:
• righteous wars against the innocent
• controls in the name of freedom
• poverty amidst mind-boggling wealth
• useless work and wearisome recreation
• undernourishing, overfeeding
• confusing philosophy and soulless religion
• alienation—civilization’s calling card
• mass depression, anxiety, schizophrenia
• lifestyle diseases (cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease)
• stupifying education
• sickening health care

I could go on, but you could, no doubt, extend the list yourself. Perhaps you have wept over the world’s desperate madness. Perhaps you have wept over your own.

Normally, calling something crazy halts further consideration and conversation. After all, “you can’t fix crazy.” So what use is it to think or talk about it? Is it even craziness, or is it just human nature, as we have long assumed? That is what religion says, and it is thereby rendered helpless as nothing overcomes nature.

Conventional psychology has failed to fix our craziness, and school after school capitulates to psychiatry’s narcosis, the medical version of the original sin/it’s just human nature mythos. Mass psychosis is the biggest elephant in our room.

I submit, we are actually crazy. We weren’t always. But something went terribly wrong and here we are. Happily, we are alive, therefore self-healing. So somehow we can recover.

What would we recover? Common sense, memory, and honesty. Joy and empathy. Strength and vigor. Just for starters. But much more awaits us. When the thinking, feeling, and moving centers of intelligence function again, and in harmony with each other, life will improve to an unrecognizable degree.

I mean engagement with the other basic plane of reality. Because it mirrors spacetime, some cutting edge scientists call it timespace: three dimensions of time— past, present, future—and space fixed to one location at a time. Kogi Indians call it the aluna. Australian Aboriginals call it dreamtime. They access it at will for daily living. It is how they can track someone 100 miles through the desert a year later with only a scrap of his clothing. Or go out and meet a scarce deer in the middle of nowhere to bring back for food.

Dreamtime is perceived primarily through the feeling center of intelligence, not the senses. It is intuition. With psychic integrity, it can be just as precise as the eyes aided by a microscope, but at great distances.

The feeling center, being more fragile than the sensorium and less aggressive than intellect, rarely works well among us civilized people. So to scientific materialists, dreamtime doesn’t exist. They dismiss it out of hand despite millennia of evidence. Which even most civilized people have some of. I mean strange experiences that stick in one’s mind, unexplained for decades like personal X-files. If you talk about this stuff in conventional settings, others will call you crazy. But if you rest in darkness long enough, access to it promises to return permanently.

I will not dwell on something you must see for yourself, as you will in darkness. But this vast and rich side of life that we largely miss must cease going unremarked in psychology and hygiene. It is stupid and embarrassing. The academy likes to ignore the two other great bodies of human knowledge: the spiritual and the indigenous. We will not.

I figure we are currently functioning at 2% of capacity. In other words, things with us are as bad as they can get while still allowing us to reproduce. To embellish the idea, at 1%, you’re institutionalized, 0%, dead. 3%, a local hero. 4%, somewhat famous. 5%, a national star. 10%, a genius. 20%, a saint. 30-40%, a messiah.

The greatest people in our history had to lower their level of functioning from a normal 90-100% just so we could stand their otherwise overwhelming presence. But what did each of them say, one way or another? All this and more ye shall do. This is our task. And the first person to raise from the dead is oneself.

If the hygienic view of health and sanity is the brain of my method, and darkroom retreating is the gut—the action—then the testimony of mass functional psychosis is its broken heart. My online essay, psychosis, records it purely and forcefully.


cataclysm

Pathology is the study of illness, especially its etiology: the chain of cause and effect that leads to symptoms.

Hygiene is radical because it deals unflinchingly in first causes. It begins by observing that health is the normal state of organisms under normal conditions. Life itself started out in integrity and health. Nature cannot generate a diseased species. Disease only occurs when something goes wrong with conditions, when harmful ones are present and beneficial ones are absent or in poor proportion.

This gives hygiene a rational standard for evaluating conditions proposed as beneficial. Hygiene asks, what normal relationship to life does this condition have? Did its absence cause the disease in the first place? If not, then its presence won’t correct matters and we can dismiss the proposal.

In the case of using darkness to heal from psychic illness, well, once upon a time, we were deprived the shelter we instinctively sought in order to heal from whatever traumatized us. We got hurt but got no chance to heal. Resting in a darkroom finally addresses this little-noticed intermediate cause of ongoing suffering and illness.

Why were we deprived? One way or another, our parents, our source of shelter, were also the source of our trauma. Busy inflicting one, they could not provide the other. It is the terrible truth we all know and spend most of our lives avoiding.

Of course, they suffered similar trauma at the hands of their parents. It rendered most of them incapable of providing us such shelter and compelled their inhumanity toward us. They denied us rest just as they denied their own need for rest, just as their parents conditioned them to, just as their parents were equally traumatized, denied, and conditioned, going back 400 generations. On this level, everyone is innocent.

However, everyone exists on many levels, not just such abstract ones. On a concrete level, all parents remain responsible for what they did and did not to children in their care. Only by viewing parents as responsible can we be responsible parents ourselves. The double burden is too much. Those who shield their parents from justice, even privately, inevitably unload the injustice they suffered upon their own children.

Major trauma injures, shocks, and disorients everyone concerned. One gets lost in the slow-motion nightmare of its infliction. Who deals the wound and who sustains it? Who was helpless and who was at fault? Of course grownups start it with kids. But kids feel it is their fault. Lines blur and before they know it, people have become their parents and the cycle begins again.

How did the snowball of trauma begin?

Sane people do not hurt their children. Nature does not generate diseased species. Humanity had to have started off alright. The self-correcting instinct of healthy animals is too strong to violate merely by will or persist in by accident. Life pulls us back onto the right track no less than other animals—when we’re healthy.

The trauma had to have originated externally. It had to be huge to knock so many of us so far off course and disable us so badly we couldn’t begin returning for so long. Major trauma to an individual or one group would not be enough to do this. Individuals would be helped back to health. Groups would be aided by neighbors as with disaster trauma. We must think bigger.

A global cataclysm in our distant past must have started it. It wrecked everything in one stroke for entire continents of people, so that there was no one left to help. Perhaps it was multiple supervolcanos. The flood. A pole-shift that swept continents with earthquakes and tsunamis. A comet strike. An alien invasion. Whatever it was, the result was cataclysmic trauma.

Cataclysmic trauma is comprehensive. It kills most people and nearly all elders, who would best manage things, and injures most of the rest. Neighbors cannot help. Nearly everyone in the whole world is in the same straits. Infrastructure is lost: shelter, food, water, habitat. The landscape shifts, becomes dangerous. Climate itself changes. The basis for a way of life is wiped out.

Going into caves to rest and heal is common among undomesticated people and animals. But even if someone left knows to do it and the cave remains accessible, too many people need it for longer than it is comfortable. The infrastructure is gone. People have no chance to heal. They only have what is inside them. The young tend to survive, but they are less psychically established, with less wisdom to temper the damage. Life, which had been abundant, pleasant, and easy, becomes a grim battle to survive.

Psychic trauma causes psychic malfunction. Mass psychosis begins.

In this barren hell, where can people find comfort? In each others’ arms, of course. Voluntary birth control, common among indigenous people, is lost with many other subtle capacities. Babies start coming at especially inconvenient times in unexpected numbers. Cataclysmic trauma starts its terrible transmission through the generations.

It changes forms but keeps its intensity. Technology compensates for lost capacity. Society rearranges itself into civilization to absorb the cosmic blow and find slightly less harmful ways to deal it back. As horrible as it frequently gets, still it is the best we can do. Despite all, life keeps generating seekers to find its secret. Clue by clue, it is assembled over hundreds of generations. At last, the truth dawns.

What if we are the butt of a cosmic joke?

If so, then our wars, big and small, are pointless. No one started it. No one need be punished. Everyone is essentially innocent, thus free to walk away from the conflict and heal.
Trauma is natural. Trying to prevent all of it is futile.
Hope lies in having a way to recover from it.


psychology

In light of the essence of hygiene, conditional self preservation; the restful use of darkness; and the cataclysmic origin of disease, a hygienic psychology can now be outlined:
1. As organisms, we start out healthy, happy, and harmonious
2. Global cataclysm Early major psychic trauma from civilization’s routine brutality leaves us damaged, malfunctioning, and suffering.
3. The psyche, as an organic system, is self-healing, provided the proper conditions.
4. The primary condition of healing is rest due to the homeostasis, stillness, and accumulation of vital energy it makes possible.
5. Profound psychic rest occurs physiologically in an extended period in absolutely dark environment.
6. Therefore, by retreating in darkness, we gain relief,
rest, and restoration to health, happiness, and harmony.
Hygiene upholds basic findings of psychology from several traditions. Hygiene merely shrugs at psychology’s conscious over-involvement in the unconscious. The unconscious is competent to fix itself if minimally supported. The conscious is helpless in any case. We are correct in believing we have a problem and need to do something about it. We have been disastrously incorrect about which part of the self has to do it.

In other words, the psychic system is more fundamental than the digestive and eliminative systems. Darkroom retreating is thus more urgently needed than fasting in most cases.

Furthermore, darkroom retreating is inherently much safer to do alone. In darkness, awareness of internal sensations and their meanings becomes clear and finegrained. This integrity and knowledge intensifies motivation to learn hygiene. Fasting requires basic psychic integrity, self-knowledge, and a comprehensive grasp of hygiene in general and fasting in particular. Thus hygienic darkroom retreating will open the door to unsupervised long fasts on a wide scale.

Professional hygienic fasting supervisors attempt to substitute themselves for these prerequisites of fasting or teach them in the usual slow, incomplete way. Consequently, only hundreds of people fast per year in a remotely proper way, not the billions who need to. Hygienic darkroom retreating recontexualizes the work of fasting supervisors. Retreating in darkness themselves, they will regain the capacity to operate at a global scale, not just with the lucky few.

As in fasting, one hardly knows in darkness what the organism is doing at its deepest levels. Occasionally there is a chance to consciously participate in the process. Or to find out why things have gone wrong if it is important to change ideas and behavior related to it. At mostly one feels discomfort or a strange subterranean rumbling.

But one always knows the result: restoration of function— recovery of the lost self—usually accompanied by feelings of contentedness, presence, and euphoria. Darkroom retreating reveals the marvelous self-healing power of the organism under proper conditions. But for those who have suffered and failed for years with other approaches, the process is nothing less than miraculous. As with the rest of hygiene, time in darkness shows that if one wants a miracle, one need only provide its conditions.

And then? Healed from trauma, one will no longer be compelled to repeat it. One will absorb and redeem its consequences. As with the rest of hygiene, hygienic psychology’s bad news is much worse, and its good news
is far better than anyone dreamed.

The emergence of a hygienic psychology; the identification of trauma at the root of all illness; and darkness’s greater importance than fasting for resting and healing have massive implications for hygiene’s pathology and destiny. Hygiene has said illness originates with enervation (low energy) and toxemia. Trauma explains how these conditions themselves originate. And in coming to terms with trauma, hygiene can finally meet and obsolete allopathy (Western medicine) in its stronghold. I have developed these implications in hygiene notes.

I am only saying enough here to give you a solid basis for beginning to do hygienic darkroom retreats. If you like what happens, you can study further. For a thorough introduction to hygiene’s principles, practices, and intriguing history, read Shelton’s The Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene.

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An Abbreviated Phenomenological Diary


David Michael Levin

Appendix: An Abbreviated Phenomenological Diary
from the book “The Opening of Vision: Nihilism and the Postmodern Situation 22 Jun 1988
by David Michael Levin

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An extract from the Appendix
On August 20, 1986, I went into Dark Retreat at Tsegyelgar, the Dzogchen community center in Conway, Massachusettes. After dark, I entered the isolation of a hut in the woods. This hut was designed, built and equipped for the special conditions of the Dark Retreat, during which time the practitioner lives continuously in the dark, totally cut off from contact with light. I remained for seven nights and seven days, isolated in the darkness of the hut.

Without further introduction, let me now report in phenomenological terms my experience with the Dzogchen practice. The first night and first day were extremely exciting. I suddenly realized, by direct experience, that light is a stimulant, exciting the activity of vision and drawing it out. But I also began to understand that the absence of light – deprivation of light – is an equally powerful stimulant, revealing and provoking the movement of our eyes. I had expected to find the darkness restful, but instead it aroused me. I was tense, overexcited. An incessantly changing display of forms kept me enthralled, entertained, and on the look-out: form, like clouds, making their appearance, lingering a while, and then vanishing without any enduring trace. By the second night, I understood that this ceaseless play of light, this constantly changing display of shapes and patterns, sometimes suggesting familiar objects and fantastic landscapes, was a reflection of my state of mind. The display was functioning like a mirror, showing me the inner nature of my mind. Because of a dynamic, functional interdependence, the ever-changing forms corresponded to the nervous, agitated movements of my gaze. Instead of resting, my eyes were constantly moving about, rapidly darting and jumping about. These movements were extremely fine vibrations or oscillations – quite different from the slower, grosser, REM’s.

Was all this movement caused by curiosity? Perhaps at first. But the room was totally dark and objectively uneventful: nothing other than the darkness itself. There was, after all, nothing (objective) to see. I did experience some waves of anxiety from time to time, but I do not believe this anxiety, nor even occasionally projections of paranoia, can explain the incessant movement. (Experimental psychology has established that, even during sleep, there are rapid eye movements, REM’s, which seem to be correlated with the process of dreaming.0 By the end of that second night, I reached the conclusion that the movement was basically habitual, manifesting an inveterate tendency of embodied consciousness.

I was reminded of a remark Heidegger makes in ‘Moira’ his essay on Parmenides. He observes that ‘ordinary’ perception certainly moves within the lightedness of what is present and sees what is shining out . . . in ‘color’ and then comments that it is ‘dazzled’ by changes in color’ and ‘pays no attention [at all] to the still light of the lighting.

Most scholars pay no attention to this brief analysis: their eyes glide right over the words, unchallenged by their significance. I myself missed much of it; but at least I took his words to heart, i.e., I gave them an experiential reference. Remembering the text did not immediately help me. By the end of the second day, my eyes were strained, tired, and occasionally hurt. I rubbed them gently and allowed tear to come. This brought some temporary relief.

My visionary experiences during the third night and third day were not much different. But, by the end of the third day, it was clear to me that the visualization practices I was attempting to perform were only increasing the eyes’ strain and mental agitation. And since this condition of strain and agitation was reflected back by the restless changing of forms, the more intense my exertions, the more these displays of light agitated and pained me.

On the fourth night, I finally realized that I was caught in a vicious cycle, a wheel of suffering, unable to break out of the dualistic polarizations characteristic of my normal, habitual, routinized patterns of ego-logical vision. I was, in fact, shifting back and forth, interminably caught in one of four possible visionary attitudes in relation to the display of forms presence-ing in the dark:
* a)  seduction, i.e., attraction, involvement, grasping and clinging
* b)  resistance, i.e., attempts to fixate and control the wrathful movements of 
light by rigidly staring into the space before me
* c)  disengagements that involved withdrawing into inner monologue, i.e., 
continuous conceptualization
* d)  disengagement that resulted in drowsiness i.e. a withdrawing into the 
‘unconsciousness’ of sleep

The first two attitudes only intensified the movements of light; consequently they increased my inner agitation – which in turn, increased the play of light. Furthermore, both styles of interaction inflicted on my eyes a strain which always at some point became unbearable. But the second two attitudes were equally unsatisfactory as ultimate solutions: the monologue became repetitive, compulsive and boring; nor could I withdraw into continuous sleep for the duration of the retreat.

The third night and the following third day were extremely difficult. They tried me to the limit. As it turned out, these were in fact the most difficult hours of the week-long retreat. I could not accomplish the principle visualization. I felt discouraged and depressed. The displays of light no longer frightened, enthralled, amused, or entertained me. They no longer had the power to divert me from an extremely negative process of self-examination. I was tired, bored, impatient, skeptical. My body ached. I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. I began to feel like a mouse or a mole, and wanted to escape the cold, the damp, the oppressive darkness. But I was determined to remain in the retreat for at least one week: seven nights, seven days.

The fourth night and the following day, I began to fell somewhat different. I was in the process of developing a very different attitude: toward the practices I had been struggling with and myself in relationship to them, toward the darkness,and toward the interminable displays of light. And these changes in me were immediately reflected in corresponding changes in the environment.

Briefly described, this environment was gradually beginning to feel less wrathful and more friendly – more like a nurturing, gently encompassing presence. And, as I found myself able to put into practice the meditative disciplines I had been learning for many years prior to the retreat (primarily the practice of calming and quieting the mind, and the practice of developing the deconstructive clarity of my insight into the ultimate emptiness of all passing forms), I began to see a decisive change in the phenomenal displays. The transformations of the lighting became slower, less violent; and in between the display of forms, I saw more ofr a clear space. There were more frequent times when I was surrounded by large curtains, or regions, of relatively constant and uniform illumination, sometimes brownish red, sometimes pale green, sometimes a dull white. Sometimes, I found myself looking out into an infinite expanse of clear, dark blue space, punctuated here and there by tiny stars of intense white light.

During the fourth day and fifth night, I gradually experienced the fact that there is a fifth attitude: a way out of the vicious cycle of suffering. The way out was to be found in the teachings and practices I had brought with me into the retreat. And finally, I knew this through direct experience, my own experience – and not by a leap of faith. The calmness and relaxation I was beginning to achieve was reflected back to me by corresponding qualities in the luminous presencing of the darkness. This different lighting in turn helped me to deepen my state of calm and relaxation and continue developing a non-dual visionary presence.

Beginning with the fifth day, then, it became progressively easier for me to experience what the Tibetans call rig-pa: the simple presence of awareness. Staying in this non-duality, I could begin to experience my integration into the element of light. I felt the truth of the Dzogchen teaching that I am by nature a body of light: that I am the light; that I and the phenomenological displays of light are really one. Correspondingly, the darkness became a warm, softly glowing sphere of light, an intimate space opening out into the unlimited. I felt bathed in its encompassing luminosity, an interplay of softly shimmering grey-white and blackish-red lights. I experienced a kind of erotic communion with the light, as if the light and I were entwined in a lover’s embrace.

With the development of more neutralized, non-dualistic awareness, my vision was less caught up in the antithesis of movement and non-movement. With the development of my capacity for letting go and letting be, my gaze was less troubled by forms in movement. There was less need to withdraw into sleep, because rig-pa is a restful aliveness. There was less need for painful staring, less need to stare the forms into fixity, because the greater tranquility of my gaze
effortlessly stabilized the inevitable display of moving, changing forms. There was less visual jumping and darting about, because the gaze was not so readily seduced by the play of light into forming attachments to its transformations that would disturb my becalmed presence. And there was less compulsion to withdraw into conceptual interpretation, because the gaze. More inwardly quiet, could let me begin to enjoy simply being in and with the lighting of the dark.

On the seventh night, just as I was drifting into sleep, but still in a state which is half way between waking and dreaming, and which the Tibetans call Bardo, I was suddenly jolted back into full consciousness, eyes wide open. I had been lying down, of course: in the normal position I assumed for sleeping. But there was suddenly a peremptory ‘call’ to me, and simultaneously, I lifted my head up – so fast, in fact, that I almost jumped out of bed. Confronting my raised eyes was a visionary phenomenon for which my comfortable categorical scheme was completely inadequate.

Until this unnerving event, I had experienced only three essentially distinctive categories of visionary event. a) I could ‘see’ my own body, especially when I moved: it had a ghostly presence, luminous, yet also dark, like a shadow; but I had no doubt whatsoever that I could ‘see’ it – clearly, and distinctly. Although this contests our normal constructs, Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of the body calls attention to a corporeal schematism that makes it entirely understandable. b) Pure luminosities: dots, spots, zigzag and straight lines, sudden explosions, tiny cones and pyramids, irregularly shaped regions and curtains of light and, near the end of the retreat, and embracing atmosphere of softly glowing, relatively constant illumination. And c) Rorschach phantoms: because of all the involuntary eye movements, the luminosity of the dark manifested in a continuously changing display of shapes and forms; and because of the participation of consciousness in the process of the spectacle, these apparitions were subject to continuous, and more or less effortful interpretation. (I was reminded of Wittgenstein’s observations, in his Philosophical Investigations, in regard to the ‘dawning’ of an aspect.)

But the visionary apparition which compelled me to rethink my understanding of vision was fundamentally different from these fugacious Rorschach phantoms. Unlike the phantoms, it was totally spontaneous, i.e., involuntary, without any antecedent, and more or less effortful, participation by consciousness. It was sudden, instantaneous, without any gradual ‘dawning’ or ‘unfolding’. It was totally unrelated to earlier conscious thought. And, finally, it was clear and distinct, intensely vivid, luminously present. Indeed, what made it obviously ‘apparitional’, rather than ‘real’, was precisely its extraordinary luminosity: colours of incredible, ‘supernatural’ purity, intensity, aliveness, and clarity. Otherwise, I might have been taken in by it, since it had the sharpness of an outline, the distinctness, the steady duration, and also the three-dimensionality, the compelling appearing of volume and solidity, which are characteristic of the ‘real’ things in our normal, consensually validated world.

Yet I was not at all, except for an instant, perhaps, deceived by what I saw. Were it not for the peculiar luminosity, it might perhaps have been, or seemed to be, quite ‘real’; but I looked directly at it without any doubt that it was in truth ‘only’ an apparition – or a manifestation of some other dimension of our reality. It looked real – or rather, it looked, in fact, more than real, and I saw it as a vision, a vision of something which ‘objective reality testing’ would not confirm. (It was therefore different from the visions of Eleusis, which wee induced, as we now know, by the ingestion of a drink containing pulverized ergot, a hallucinogenic substance derived from barley.) By contrast, my experience was not induced by any psychotropic substance, not was I in some radically altered state of mind, e.g., derived of sleep. Like the Eleusinian visions, however, it was determined by the traditional symbolic associations of the Dark Retreat. What I was was the ornamental pelt worn by Senge Dong-ma, one of the female dakkinis and a supernatural being of light associated with the Dark Retreat teachings.

There are, then, four epistemologically distinct visionary processes, and it is essential that we not confuse them”
* a)  hallucination: a spontaneous, i.e., unwilled projection of consciousness taken for real
* b)  phantom: a Gestalt in whose process of formation consciousness participates, but in a relatively passive or receptive attitude, in the sense that it lets whatever configurations begin to appear (perhaps in response to its own unconscious projections) suggest the interpretation that completes and stabilizes the Gestalt
* c)  visualization: different from the phantom in that the participation of consciousness in the process of its formation is less passive and receptive; in other words, a deliberately produced image
* d)  an authentic vision: different from hallucination in that the projection is not deceptive, but, on the contrary very deeply understood (this understanding of the projective process is in fact a necessary condition of its possibility); different from a phantom in that its formation is instantaneous and spontaneous, and does not involve the participation of consciousness in an unfolding process of formation; and different from visualization in that it does not appear while, or so long as, one’s attention is absorbed in a process of willfully trying to produce it.

The ‘authentic vision’ is like the hallucination, however, ion that its appearance is not immediately connected to conscious attention, willful exertions of a greater or lesser degree (as in the formation of phantoms and visualizations). And it is like the visualization in that a necessary condition of its possibility is the kind of exertion, the kind of work, that goes into the production of the image in the process of visualization. A fortiori, in this respect authentic vision is unlike the hallucination, despite the spontaneity of its actual appearance.

Let me add, as part of a final note, that the darkness profoundly altered my sense of spatial distance and my sense of the passage of time. The first of these I expected; but I was surprised to find that time passed very rapidly. The nine- hour stretch from breakfast to supper, for example, often seemed to be no more than a few hours. At no time, however, was I confused or disoriented. I maintained a ‘normal’ sense of reality, of being grounded in the ‘reality’ of the world outside.

When I emerged from the retreat at the beginning of my eighth night, I found even the tree-filtered moonlight overwhelming. My eyes had developed a tremendous sensitivity to light, and even the faintest flickering concentration of illumination seemed at first almost unbearably intense. This I expected. I was surprised, however, by the nausea and dizziness which overcame me during the first few minutes in the relatively dark night outside the hut. (The moon was waning, and I was, after all, in the woods.) For one week, the eyes had been attuned by the peculiar conditions of the darkness; they needed some time – about 48 hours – to readjust and conform to the conditions of the world into which I had reemerged.

The retreat was a rich and deeply therapeutic experience for me. I emerged from the archetypal womb of darkness feeling nourished in spirit and more deeply integrated, more whole and complete, than when I entered it.

Conceivably, the sense of inner growth is nothing but an emotional rationalization. I am familiar with the psychological theory of cognitive dissonance. But, after much critical thought and self-examination, I have reason to believe that the benefits I have noted are real and that their significance for my life – and in particular, for my visionary propensities and habits – will be enduring.

Visionary habits are not easily broken – especially not when the prevailing social consensus continuously reinforces them. The Dark Retreat is an extension of the Dzogchen practice of the Chod. In Tibetan, ‘chod’ refers to a process of cutting off. The Dark Retreat helped me to cut myself off from the inveterate tendencies that bind human vision to the karmic wheel of endlessly reproduced suffering.

Arjuna Ardagh “Enter the Darkness”


arjunaArjuna Ardagh book  “Leap Before You Look: 72 Shortcuts for Getting Out of Your Mind and into the Moment”  includes an article  “Enter the Darkness”

following is an extract from Enter the Darkness. go here for full original article.


“Enter the Darkness.” Wow…did this excite me. Later today, I will be joining my dear friend for some shared time in the darkness. How powerful for my own peace of mind, and hopefully how wonderful for my dear friend. I fully expect this will be a practice I embrace for years to come.


Darkness-230x300

click image for source

Create a room that is perfectly dark.
You might need to tape black plastic over the windows,
And lay a towel at the bottom of the door.
Make it so dark that you can sit with your eyes open
And see not a single chink of light.
Now sit in that darkness, with your eyes open,
And drink in the blackness.
Make friends with darkness,
Reach out into it, and let it soak into you.
Stare with open eyes into the blackness.
Start with an hour.
You can build up to sitting in darkness for many hours,
or even days.

It is said that this meditation was taught by the Essenes, who some say were the teachers of Jesus. The great Russian mystic Georges Gurdjieff also used this with his students, and it is also found in Tibetan Buddhism. Darkness is the abode of mystery; it is from where we arise, and it is where we return every night. Every child starts his or her life in the womb, in nine months of darkness. Every seed germinates in the darkness of the soil. Every new dawn, every new meeting with the busyness of the world emerges out of the darkness of the night.

Most meditation places much more emphasis on light: we associate it with the upper chakras, and see it as our goal. Most people fear the dark. Hence, we have created an artificially illuminated world: in a city like New York or Los Angeles, it is never dark; it just shifts from natural light to artificial light.

When you become friendly and comfortable with darkness, something very deep in you can relax, and fear dissolves. Darkness initiates you into the world of the night, into the world of dreams and the unknown. In the beginning, all kinds of fears and freaky images will visit you. You may see snakes or monsters, or remember the most terrifying scenes from murder movies. But this will pass. It only comes because we have pushed darkness away so completely. Then another phase will come, where you will feel the darkness to be your mother, to be safe and nurturing and all around you.

read another article by Arjuna Ardagh on his website: Change Your Bedtime, Increase Your Brilliance

 

 

 

Saskia John: join in a virtual darkness retreat


Retreat Into Darkness – A Path to Light

consciousness experiment transformation field “darkness”

saskia 1ed: this is a fantastic opportunity for anyone. if interested, contact Saskia by June 20th. all details on her website. below is an extract. full post by Saskia on her website here.   more on saskia’s dark retreat here

I feel drawn to my third dark retreat (= long term stay in complete darkness), that means, I will move into the transformative energy field „darkness“ for 4 weeks (June 27th – July 22nd) this summer and will immerse myself through meditation into deep levels of existence and thus use the period of fasting and darkness for a deepening of love and peace in my heart.

Even though inner processes are unpredictable, I sense that it will above all be about higher levels of light. And I ask myself, how can this retreat – beyond the inner work for peace and healing – be of use for the world?

I spontaneously got the idea to offer other people the opportunity to participate in this transformative process.

What is needed therefore?

  • your wish to participate in this consciousness experiment – it is free for you, at least regarding money
  • openness to the possibility, that new things happen in your life
  • a true challenge in your life, which you REALLY want to face and solve – something truly difficult for you; where you haven’t been moving or have been stuck for weeks, months or even years
  • only your name – please let me know by email by June 25th 2016, if you want to participate

Many effects may occur, for instance:

  • you progress one or several steps in solving a challenge or a complete resolution happens or several blockages are dissolved at once
  • more awareness, zest for life and aliveness
  • inspiration on topics, you haven’t been thinking of before
  • you meet shadow areas in yourself, which then may or will be healed
  • you become aware of the origin of behaviour patterns
  • you are enriched by a consciousness experience
  • or nothing at all happens …
saskia

Saskia John

Can you imagine to support this project in any way? It needs to be published, e. g. on websites, Facebook, Twitter, in a short video on YouTube and other channels. I could need support in this campaign of spreading the word.

With joyful anticipation of new experiences in my dark retreat, Saskia


Dark Retreat / Dark Therapy Experiences (subtitled)

Pitch-black darkness, alone and fasting – for several weeks Saskia John exposed herself to dark retreats.
The account “In the Depths of my Soul – Experiences in Complete Darkness” describes the personal and transpersonal experiences at the borderline of the author and offers a cross section through the universe of the human psyche. It is also available in an English short version titled “Retreat Into Darkness – A Path To Light” through all common outlets.
The book is aimed at readers interested in psychology, transformation, spirituality, mysticism, lucid dreaming, dream analysis and in deep experiences of meditation, Tai Chi, fasting and Beingness.

Hygienic Use of Darkness by Andrew Durham



ed: below are extracts from Andrew Durham’s book “Hygienic DarkRoom Retreat”.    Andrew Durham’s website.


Hygiene is passive toward healing. In other words, the will is mostly passive. The unconscious is active and drives the process. The will is secondary, a servant. Its main purpose is to rest so the being can restore itself to wholeness. Hygiene is thus a peacemaker, allowing the distressed will to finally rest and recover.

Hygiene primarily depends on the autonomic self—omniscient, omnipotent, and infallible—to accomplish the work of healing. This hints at limitless results. There is nothing mystical, disciplined, or complicated about this approach. It is rational, safe, and natural: a reliable miracle.

Hygiene’s passive emphasis on rest and healing is very important because it defines the appropriate attitude toward retreating. I learned in fasting that how one approaches a retreat has a great effect on what happens in it.

The mind becomes extremely powerful when it is resting and purifying. If one’s attitude is really to passively support the omnipotent healing forces of the organism in doing everything, the effect of this internal unity will be much greater than if one has the conflicted doer-attitude of a practitioner


Three things the hygienic use of darkness is not:

1. discipline, such meditation

2. therapy

3. a psychedelic trip

These three approaches all share the vain attempt to end suffering by subjecting the unconscious to conscious action, as if mere attention, analysis, or reconditioning could fix the unconscious.

They try to willfully improve what they regard as an inert, even resistant unconscious self, as if it were incapable or disinclined of doing so itself.

Unfortunately, this attitude is ignorantly coercive toward the injured conscious self and discouraging to the omnipotent autonomic self. It is internalized tyranny predictably accompanied by triune brain-drain.

In contrast, hygienic use of darkness is passive as regards the will. The conscious self only plays a supportive role. The unconscious autonomic self is the principal actor. Zero conflict. Maximum efficiency. Perfect result.

The essence of the hygienic approach is the recognition of the power of the  autonomic self. Hygiene involves no gold-leafed statues or exotic rituals or substances, but it has the virtue of being cheap, quick, easy to remember, and vastly more effective

1. It is not discipline, such as meditation. Discipline is consistent exercise of the will. Will is the most delicate, energy-consuming, and, due to atrophy, ineffective part of the psyche. The psyche is the system most in need of rest. So discipline sets into motion and takes energy from the healing of the faculties it depends on while giving the least possible benefit for time, energy, and effort expended. Granted, it produces results impressive by the tragically low standard of ordinary people. But it prevents accomplishment of the top priority: full recovery of the psyche from its catastrophic damage.
Spiritual meditation, like all spiritual practice, entails supereffort to force access to subtle energy reserves to fuel transformation. The hygienic approach entails exactly the opposite: profound rest to conserve movement and energy for self-restoration. The conscious self at- tempts nothing to ameliorate suffering. It only provides conditions of healing to the unconscious, autonomic self, whose job is to heal the organism.
Discipline begins with accepting as real, as natural, the appearance of an intrinsic internal conflict: original sin. Next, one struggles “against nature”, fighting habits with practices to achieve an ideal. Hygiene begins with an assumption of natural harmony, of non-contra- diction and a logical explanation of illness. This naturally motivates one to easily fulfill its aim, which is healthy in reality.
Lastly, discipline sets up artificial dangers and obstacles by partially retaining willed control of the process. Then it spreads fear about retreat- ing without the necessary preparations guided by experts of the tradition. It’s a self-fulfilling delusion if not an outright racket.

2. It is not therapy. Therapy is done to a passive organism from the outside. The therapist, therapy, and therapeutic substances are the principal actors in a therapeutic session, not the organism itself. While depending on the organism to react to treatment, therapy views the organism as incapable of initiating a movement toward health. It fails to see such movement in disease itself.
In a darkroom retreat, darkness does nothing. Like air or water, it merely presents an opportunity to the self-preserving organism to better pursue its ceaseless tendency toward wholeness. The principal actor is life, not its conditions nor any treatment.

3. It is not a psychedelic trip: consciously experiencing normally unconscious phenomena using abnormal conditions like sleep-deprivation or chemicals, natural or artificial.

Andrew Durham’s website.

Andrew Durham: second edition “Darkroom Retreat”


andrew dAndrew Durham’s well-received book is now in it’s second edition.  buy the book

An experienced darkroom retreater, Andrew  has built a dark retreat dome in guatemala, given talks on darkroom retreating, facilitated 18 retreats for 18 people guatemala, and for other retreaters in Sweden, Norway, and Spain.

One of Andrew’s talks was entitled the “Darkness Conjecture” . See video of Andrew’s talk here


darkroom retreat

deep rest for the self-healing psyche

a book by andrew durham: a complete manual

~~~ a complete manual ~~~

Hygienic darkroom retreating consists of resting in an absolutely dark room for days, alone, with food. Why do this? To restore conditions of psychic balance, giving refuge from the sensory over-stimulation of civilized existence.

This seemingly trivial contrast can lead to a remarkable and lasting restoration of your well-being, making the darkroom a powerful tool. The book explains why a retreat works, how to do it, and how to make a darkroom. It includes detailed instructions to attain these effects in your own home.

~~~ toward a hygienic psychology ~~~

Neither spiritual nor disciplined, therapeutic nor medicinal, this is the first approach to darkness—and psychology—based on hygiene. Not just cleanliness, hygiene remains history’s most influential approach to health. Hygiene gave the modern world appreciation for the self-preserving nature of life and all its normal conditions, eg, fresh air, ample sleep, pure food, regular exercise and bathing, etc.

Hygiene has long succeeded in caring for the self-healing body. With darkness, hygiene now has an equally effective way of caring for the self-healing soul.

an extract from the FAQ chapter”

faq

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