Embracing the Darkness: A Journey of Letting Go, Surrender, and Trust
|"Walking in the Dark" by _steffen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.|
In a world that glorifies constant stimulation and busy-ness, the idea of spending 48 hours in complete darkness might seem daunting, unbearable and even slightly bonkers. However, this experience can also be a powerful tool for self-discovery, personal growth, and spiritual awakening.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in a six-day retreat with Embracing Shamanism at Anam Cara in Inverness, Scotland which included 48-hours in complete darkness. It was an incredibly challenging yet rewarding experience that taught me a great deal about myself and the worlds around me and within me.
Unexpectantly, I was really excited about the prospect of spending two days in complete darkness. I didn’t know what to expect but I was ecstatic at the unknowing of what could unfold. I was however worried that my impatience would get the better of me, and dare I say it, let me down. However, I was determined to see it through, knowing that this could be a powerful opportunity for personal growth.
As I gradually settled into the darkness, I began to experience an expansion of the senses and also what I can only describe as hallucinations where the ‘visionscape’ I saw behind the mindfold that I was wearing was not the landscape that surrounded me.
The darkness also allowed me to really feel into my own thoughts and feelings and to connect with my intuition and inner guidance. I had many insights and realizations during the retreat, and I felt a deep sense of connection to myself and the universe.
It taught me a great deal about myself, however what I hadn’t anticipated was the deep experience of the powerful practice of letting go, surrender, and trust without which this experience would not have been possible. But I was ready and prepared, and my years of mindfulness training and shamanic practices had certainly helped with this.
Luckily before I had arrived at the retreat, I had already let go of my expectations and my desire to control any situation that arose. This was liberating and allowed me to experience perpetual darkness in a whole new way
Surrendering to the darkness required me to face my fears and insecurities of not being able to be independent in my experience. It helped that I had prepped my sleeping quarters beforehand, so I knew where everything was if I needed it.
Trusting the darkness was essential for my survival. I had complete trust in the workshop facilitator, retreat support team and the guardians who would take care of me and would make sure I was safe. What I did have to come to trust was that I would be able to find my way through the darkness and the process itself. Trust in others came naturally. Trust in me took a bit of time.
But something that I hadn’t foreseen was that the foam inside the mindfold would be so incredibly annoying and scratchy and I certainly did not like my eyes being covered up for 48 hours. I didn’t mind the darkness, but I yearned to be able to allow my eyes to breathe and feel the elements and I am still feeling the irritation a couple of days after being back in the light.
If you are willing to embrace the darkness, and considering going on a darkness retreat, I encourage you to do so as you may be surprised by what you find. It is an experience that has deeply changed my life for the better.
Here are a few tips for preparing for a darkness retreat:
- Talk to someone who has been on a darkness retreat before.
- Set an intention for your retreat.
- Make sure you have a comfortable and safe place to retreat to.
- Be prepared for the challenge.
- Be patient with yourself.
- Let go of all expectations.
- Surrender to the process.
- Have trust in the organisers.