UPDATE Mon 18.02.2019: Sille’s site is no longer active.
Sille from Being Human is offering s scheduled darkroom retreat. Embrace the darkness of the late autumn in a still, secluded part of the beautiful, Swedish nature. Join us for the opportunity to experience nature as it slowly prepares for winter. Continue reading
Martin’s three days in the dark is a wonderful read. published 22 March 2016
Hi Peter, my experience of the three-day stay in the dark for me was really special. In retrospect, I feel as if I had stepped out of an express train everyday life. In the darkness suddenly erased all sense of time and one of the senses – sight. Because I really missed nothing much to expect, so I had nothing but pleasant experiences unexpected.
The time spent inside, I used meditation to improve, which will certainly succeeded, and it happened to many other interesting things. I started having dreams, I went beautifully calm and relaxed. I felt at home there eventually, I enjoyed a burst of joy, happiness, gratitude, compassion and understanding. Much more I appreciate the ordinary things that make me happy right now. It changed my outlook on life, on me and on my very neighborhood, the better.
I very much appreciate the comfort that he was there, thank you Peter for everything you’ve done for me, shoved me that one step further on my journey through life. It was a sincere and intimate experience when I left so I was from that of all to cry. Thank you.
How Utter Darkness Could Heal Lazy Eye
ed: i have read in a couple of accounts of darkness retreatants, of the improvement of their eyesight. following is an extract for full and original post go here
The email from a professor offered an unusual spring break adventure: Come spend five days in complete darkness. To Morgan Williams, then a sophomore at Swarthmore College and a psychology major, it sounded like a great way to spend his vacation week. “I’m not really one for going to the beach,” he says.
For those five days in 2012, Williams and neuroscientist Benjamin Backus lived in a large room that had been carefully outfitted to ensure that not a ray, not a gleam, not a single photon of light would reach their eyes.
Could 5 days in the dark fix lazy eyes?
ed: it worked will kittens, why not humans? (see bottom of this post)
The setting was a converted attic space that formed part of Backus’s apartment in New Rochelle, NY. Every aperture was sealed off with the aid of heavy theatrical blackout curtains. Electronic devices that lit up in any way were either modified or banned from the room. Instead of an airlock, they had a “lightlock” room that separated them from the illuminated world. A helper left their meals in that buffer room (a bathroom), and the pair retrieved them once they could be sure of doing so without light exposure.
Each day the two men tacked up a large piece of photosensitive film used in radiology. Days later, after they’d left the room, Backus developed those five sheets of film and was gratified to find them pure black, indicating zero exposure to light. “For our experiment, 23.9 hours of dark isn’t enough,” Backus says. “We can’t let those visual neurons have any hope of visual input coming back.”
There were also daily tasks. They used voice recorders to make notes on the experience. They took turns on an exercise bike, on which the light-up buttons had been covered with stick-on bumpy buttons. They listened to audio books, meditated, and studied a book about braille with their fingertips.
Their meals arrived on a strict schedule to preserve the normal rhythm of their days. They sometimes dined on handheld foods like tamales and sandwiches, but also tested themselves with more complicated meals requiring silverware. Backus says he found eating in absolute darkness to be a tricky business. “The problem is knowing if the food has been speared with the fork,” he says. Unless he used his fingers to confirm that he’d successfully snagged a piece of ravioli, for example, he’d often bite down on air. “I never got good at it,” he says ruefully.
So what was the point of this extreme exercise? Backus, a professor at SUNY College of Optometry, was doing a trial run. He needed to answer logistical and safety questions before he could embark on his real experiment involving people with a type of amblyopia, the visual disorder commonly known as lazy eye or amblyopia.
The researchers hope to help people with anisometropic amblyopia, which begins in early childhood but can go undetected for years. In this disorder, the eyes themselves are fine, but something goes wrong with the connections between the eyes and the brain’s visual processing center. The brain never learns to take in fine details from one side, causing blurry vision in that eye.
The disorder can often be corrected if caught early: A young child’s brain is still learning how to make sense of the visible world so the visual cortex is still “plastic” and changeable. In one standard treatment, the child wears an eyepatch over the good eye, forcing the brain to work with the bad one.
However, sometime between the age of two and six a child’s visual cortex becomes set (it varies between people). If the amblyopic child hasn’t received treatment by that point, he or she will be stuck with that blurry vision. “Even if they get glasses, it’s too late for the brain to use the good sharp retinal image,” Backus says.
Hence, the approach: Restore amblyopic people’s visual cortices to that changeable, childlike condition with a stint in total darkness.
Backus thinks the darkness may serve as a factory-reset for the visual system, and may therefore improve the patients’ symptoms. A neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, Elizabeth Quinlan, has kept amblyopic rats in total darkness for ten days, and demonstrated that the synapses in their visual cortices became more plastic. When they came out of the dark, it was as if they were seeing the world anew.
Staging a similar experiment with humans was the obvious next step. Will amblyopic people emerge from days of light-deprivation with new eyes, as if emerging from the womb?
“We hope that we will cure the amblyopia, but we don’t know if that will happen,” Backus says. “The effect could be anything from no benefit to complete cure, but we won’t know until we do the study.”
Now, with funding and approval for the full-scale experiment involving amblyopia patients, Backus is seeking 24 volunteers who are willing to live in the pitch black for either five or ten days this winter. He knows whom he needs to recruit: “We need people who are adventurous, who are team players, people who would be good astronauts,” he says.He’s looking for amblyopia patients with the right stuff.
Backus enjoys this comparison. During his trial run with Williams, he called the two of them “scotonauts,” based on the Greek word scoto for darkness. Their mission was to prepare the way for the next crew, the ones who may really take science a step forward. Backus and Williams were like the Apollo 10 astronauts who orbited the moon but never landed, preparing the way for Neil Armstrong’s big step.
They had a number of practical questions to answer. They needed to confirm that they could establish the proper experimental condition of pitch blackness, and also determine whether research participants would be able to perform the activities of daily living without sight. And one more thing: They had to be sure that five days spent in utter darkness wouldn’t drive the participants completely bonkers.
Backus can reassure prospective recruits on this count. “I was very relaxed and happy after five days,” he says. “I didn’t want to come out of the dark.”
Eliza Strickland is an associate editor for the science and technology magazine IEEE Spectrum. Find her on Twitter @NewsBeagle.
ed: extract from another article here.
Of course, for these 5 weeks in neuroscientist, Williams or 2012 Benjamin Backus lived in a great room that had been carefully outfitted to ensure that not, a ray and even not a gleam a single photon of light should reach the eyes. Obviously, the setting was a converted attic space that formed an important component of Backus’s apartment in modern Rochelle, NY. Nevertheless, every aperture was sealed off with heavy aid theatrical blackout curtains. Then, electronic devices that lit up in any way were either modified or banned from the room. Now regarding the aforementioned matter of fact. They had a lightlock room that separated them from the illuminated world, after an airlock.
ed: an extract from here.
Overall, our findings suggest that sudden and complete visual deprivation in normally sighted individuals can lead to profound, but rapidly reversible, neuroplastic changes by which the occipital cortex becomes engaged in processing of non-visual information. The speed and dynamic nature of the observed changes suggests that normally inhibited or masked functions in the sighted are revealed by visual loss. The unmasking of pre-existing connections and shifts in connectivity represent rapid, early plastic changes, which presumably can lead, if sustained and reinforced, to slower developing, but more permanent structural changes, such as the establishment of new neural connections in the blind.
Vision restored with total darkness in kittens with amblyopia
ed: see the full post here.
Restoring vision might sometimes be as simple as turning out the lights. That’s according to a study in which researchers examined kittens with a visual impairment known as amblyopia before and after they spent 10 days in complete darkness.
After 28 years finding and testing the way nature gives us to heal from psychophysical illness, I am ready to apply it to myself, and I need your help. In September, I will do a 20-day hygienic darkroom retreat at a cost of $2300, and I would like you to consider contributing to my crowdfunding campaign to pay for it. Here is why.
For decades, exhaustion-depression has progressively crippled my ability to care for myself, twice almost fatally. Only resting in darkness has given me relief, periods of semi-recovery, and strength to go on. A 20-day retreat will be long enough for me to:
1. heal at the core of my exhaustion-depression
2. become able to make the lifeway changes that full recovery and maintenance will require
Many of you donated to me during the testing phase of the restful use of darkness. _Thank you_. I felt very frustrated for those four years because, in only managing short retreats, I thought I was failing to apply my idea. Only afterward did I see I had been succeeding at testing it. I have never been able to retreat longer than a week because I lacked personal capacity, knowledge, resources… and humility. Yet, in trying, I gained experience, proved the concept, refined the process… and finally faced facts.
Now I have done 20 retreats, built 20 darkrooms in four climates, supported 25 clients in retreating, and written a 200-page manual of hygienic darkroom retreating. In fact, you can read it for free right now at http://darkroomretreat.com. Everything is explained clearly. The theory is rational, the practice straightforward, and the results predictable. It works the same way for everyone. I feel confident in my current level of knowledge to succeed at my third attempt at a medium-length retreat. It will be the first explicitly hygienic darkroom retreat of this length in history, with radical implications for hygiene and the public health.
I like crowdfunding a lot. My request goes out not just to you, but to hundreds of family, friends, clients, supporters, and acquaintances at the same time. When total contributions reach the goal by the end of the campaign, they will all come to me at once so I will have the full amount needed to succeed. If contributions miss the goal, they are returned. It’s all or nothing, which minimizes waste and long-term disappointment.
My campaign starts now and ends in 14 days on my birthday, July 6. I will keep you updated on the whole process, from now till I am well again, based on events and your response.
Jun 21 begin campaign
Jul 6 end campaign; find suitable house to rent
Aug 1 move into house; build darkroom; and arrange support
Sep 1 begin 20-day hygienic darkroom retreat
Nov 1 extra month in case of unusual delay
1200 house rental (3 months + deposit)
300 building materials
100 smartphone & service
200 for retreat supporter
0 Tilt fees because they’re cool like that
0% debit card fee
3% credit card fee
2300 tilt amount
3500 post-tilt total
Tilt will release the money to me when contributions reach $2300. Additional funds received will go into a $1200 reserve in case of unusual problems or delays. So I will to keep the campaign going till it reaches at least $3500.
Given my workaholism and crowdfunding’s usual focus on products, I considered offering rewards to contributors. For example, the new edition of my book, the sleeping mask, or lightproof vent I designed. But despite my recent efforts to complete it, I find the book still needs attention I lack the presence of mind to give it until I can retreat. And I have often promised future production (or benefit to humanity) to cover up shame I felt in asking for help. Acquiring the humility necessary to ask for help, only promising to establish my own wellbeing, has been the most difficult part of this for me. I am sure I will be self-supporting in the future, and that darkroom retreating will move the world as I foresee. But right now, I’m sick and need your support to rest in order to heal.
That’s all a darkroom retreat is. It’s not discipline, therapy, or escape. It provides conditions of profound rest in which the all-powerful organism, including the psychic system, heals itself. Thus its unparalleled effectiveness.
Will you please help me complete my journey back to health by contributing to my campaign?
Short Tilt crowdfunding intro to say hello and point to my written proposal:
(editor note: Tilt has closed its doors)
and my book at
about the way nature gives us to heal from psychophysical trauma and illness: hygienic darkroom retreating.
ed: some of the better videos on the pineal gland