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.

San Marcos, Lago Atitlan, Guatemala


Lake Atitlan

Below is an extract. For full and original post, go to the facility website Darkness Retreats   following is a youtube video from dark-retreats.com

darkdome6 darkdome7 darkdome2

. . . located on the shores of Lake Atitlan, a crater lake in the Guatemalan highlands that has been called “the most beautiful lake in the world” by Huxley and Humboldt. Tzununa/San Marcos La Laguna are Mayan villages next to each other, known as the ‘yoga capital of Central America’ with a laid-back atmosphere and incredible views of the lake’s three volcanoes.


The Dark Retreat Dome


arjuna arpita

Arpita & Arjuna

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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”


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Andrew Durham: speaking in Sweden

see the book  by Andrew Durham “Darkroom Retreat” – second edition

Published on Nov 14, 2011
Talk held by Andrew Durham at Kulturföreningen Gryning, Helsingborg, Sweden on the 13th of November 2011. Contact him at http://andrewdurham.com/

~~ the darkness conjecture:andrew d
toward a strifeless recovery of natural rapture ~~

Everyone has had a moment of rapture, when the world appears perfect and beautiful and every breath is sublime.

Rather than rarities or even delusions, what if these were moments of lucidity – clear awareness of the world as it is? What if this awareness could be restored without strife (enormous, difficult, and painful effort) by simply resting for several days in absolute darkness? What if the sheer insanity of our lives in this culture is, at root, simply an illness that could automatically heal under the proper conditions?

On Sunday, I will give my reasons for believing this possible. I will share my experiences with darkness: trying it in Oregon, USA and running a retreat in Guatemala for 18 other people. And I will invite your participation in making a darkness retreat here in Sweden so others can have this experience and continue testing what I call the darkness conjecture:

Rapture, the natural human condition, turns to suffering in a catastrophically injured psyche, which, as an organic system, will heal itself with vital energy accumulated in the profound rest available in an absolutely dark environment. Continue reading