A Week in the Darkness – Silvie Dymáková

In the Czech Republic, ‘Dark Therapy’ as it is known there has become incredibly popular in recent years. By all accounts there are at least 15 providers of Darkness Retreats in some shape or form, ranging from a relatively basic hut on someone’s private property, to more specialist and sophisticated clinics, some of which have been featured on this blog.

Word got around that a prolonged stay in darkness could be highly beneficial, and as such many of the facilities are booked up for months in advance. In 2014, news of this phenomena caught the attention of Czech television company ‘Česká televize’, who decided to send one of their reporters, Silvie Dymáková, to do a Darkness Retreat for herself, and record it all using a thermographic camera.

The video below starts on Silvie’s third day, because she pretty much slept for most of the first two. This is common for most Darkness Retreat participants. It is in Czech with English subtitles. (See video summary below)

To begin with, the programme introduces some of the history behind times spent in the dark, including where it all started in Tibet, when monks would spend up to 7 weeks in complete isolation and silence in darkness, to promote self-discovery and spiritual growth, as well as to prepare for their journey to the next world.

Dr. Andrew Urbiš then speaks about some of the physical benefits people might experience – he was the person who introduced this practice to the Czech Republic. It was with him, at his clinic in Celadna – the Beskydské Rehabilitation Center – that Silvie did her 7 day retreat. It begins with a series of tests to assess her mental wellbeing and exhaustion levels, which show her to be highly stressed.

The documentary highlights that it is important to be fully committed to your Darkness Retreat and to go into it with the intention to get the most from your stay, otherwise it can feel like you are a prisoner, and may not be a positive or beneficial experience.

Before Silvie’s retreat formally begins, she is shown all of the facilities with the light on, so that she can acquaint herself with where everything is and how it all works with regards to food, personal hygiene, daily support from Dr. Urbiš, what to do in an emergency etc.

Having spent most of the first 2 days sleeping, Silvie has lost any real sense of time, especially as her food is being brought at random times throughout her stay. By the third day, the darkness is starting its ‘repair’ and Silvie is beginning to experience lucid dreaming, and has stopped perceiving reality. It gives her a bit of a wobble, because she’s uncertain if what is happening is real or imagined, so feels a bit scary.

As her time in the darkness increases, Silvie starts to sense the presence of other beings in her room, though after a while this begins to feel the darkness getting friendlier, although still thinks she is not alone. Her subconscious is doing its work, giving her flashbacks from childhood,plus she is experiencing light phenomena, that is also quite common. Once she gets through the initial crisis of anxiety, she then feels like her stay in darkness is the best form of regeneration, which can awaken creativity and be a huge source of energy.

At the end of her ‘Week in the darkness’,Silvie is most looking forward to the sun, music and seeing the people she loves, as well as to having the best pasta in the world. She leaves her room at dawn, for a gentle reintroduction to the light. Many people have a highly emotional reaction to seeing the light again, and Silvie is no exception.

At the end, she says she has more energy, feels calmer and her digestion is better. Her dreams remain in her memory, as vivid as ever, but she’s still not sure if they were real or imagined…

Silvie later received the Czech Lion Award for Best Documentary Feature for this programme.

Marek Malůš PhD – Researcher into Dark Therapy in the Czech Republic

Marek Malůš - Dark Therapy - Czech RepublicIn a previous post, we focused on the research being carried out by Marek Malůš PhD on Dark Therapy in the Czech Republic (known there as ‘Terapie Tmou’). In this post we decided to look into the man himself, and where this all started.

Marek Malůš PhD is currently the assistant professor of the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy in Ostrava, Czech Republic. He is professionally focused on researching the effects of sensory deprivation on the human body, or what he calls Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), in particular when external stimulation is restricted through a stay in the dark, otherwise known in mainstream circles as Dark or Darkness Therapy.

He received his PhD at Palacký University, Olomouc which was where he first began his studies into REST in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Between 2010-2013, Marek collaborated with Czech Darkness Therapy expert, Dr. Andrew Urbiš at the Beskydské Rehabilitation Center in Celadna, in order to study 37 of their clients whilst they were engaged in a 7 day Darkness Retreat.

According to one source, they used “questionnaires and surveys including the Existence Scale, the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire, the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale and The Symptom Checklist 90” to collect relevant data. Of particular interest was the affect this had on altered states of consciousness, as well the role of the pineal gland and the hormone ‘melatonin’.

In 2015 he began the next phase of his research, in collaboration with the Darkness Therapy Centre in Kozlovice, which you can read more about HERE, which also then began to look at more psycho-physiological effects of stays in darkness on the body, not just psychological. Marek has completed 3 Darkness Retreats himself, over the course of 3, 7 and 14 days.

Despite the ever increasing popularity of Dark or Darkness Therapy in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, little research seems to have been done outside of these countries, except that carried out in the 1970s in the US. As a result, Marek has been invited to present his findings both in the Czech Republic and abroad, including at the world’s leading conferences focused on methods of limited external stimulation at the Universities of Portland, USA and Vancouver, Canada. Here is a video of Marek’s presentation at the FLOAT Conference in Portland in 2015.

In his presentation, Marek discusses whether ‘Dark Therapy’ is actually in fact a therapy. He says it is difficult to say positively, because the term is not scientifically appropriate. Many people think of it as a treatment or self-treatment, but in Marek’s view it is “A special place and space suitable for therapeutic process, which enables, affects and catalyzes our ability to get more in touch with both our conscious and unconscious part of ourselves.”

However, it has been difficult to find out what the specific findings were of Marek’s earlier studies, due to it being in Czech and as yet, the results and analysis from the research carried out in 2015 remains unpublished. As soon as they are available, we will be sure to let you know.

You can find out more about Marek and how to contact him at:

http://psych.upol.cz/en/o-nas/lide/mgr-marek-malus-ph-d/

 

Research into Dark Therapy on the Human Body, in the Czech Republic

Darkness Therapy Research, Czech RepublicThe Dark Therapy Centre run by Roman Bartak in Kozlovice (Czech Republic), specialises in providing what they call Dark Therapy (Terapie Tmou) as a service, as well as being the sole provider in the country which focuses on carrying out research into the effects of prolonged periods in the dark on the human body.

Initially this research was carried out in cooperation with the Department of Psychology of the University of Olomouc, then later with the Department of Psychology and the Institute of Physiology and Patho-physiology, of the University of Ostrava (both in the Czech Republic). To begin with, research was carried out with students of psychology and related disciplines over a period of 2 and then 3 days. However, since 2015 it has also been carried out with actual Dark Therapy clients, on a voluntary basis, and in 2016 the researchers extended their study to test the effects of up to 4 days in the dark.

The ‘Dark Therapy’ research is led by Marek Malůš PhD, assistant professor of the Department of Psychology Faculty of Philosophy in Ostrava, who completed several darkness retreats himself to inform his study. This is a unique global study, which builds on research that was started in the 1970s in the US, and extends to the areas of both psycho-physiology and physiology.

The research objectives are focused on several areas of human psychology and physiology, in order to measure the changes which take place as a result of the participant’s stay in the dark, based on the results of tests taken before and after the stay.

The psychological studies monitor cognitive function (a total of 12 tests). These include, in addition to memory and concentration, attention, language function, speed of thinking and the ability to understand information.

The executive functions include the ability to assess and problem solving, planning and organization. Further parameters are monitored based on the participant’s personality, as well as motivational and experiential characteristics, including the assessment of the advantages/disadvantages stemming from the participants.

In contrast, the physiological studies are investigating the psycho-physiological effects of processes, basic blood counts and the effect on the human eye (a total of eight tests). Attention is focused on the measurement of ECG, heart rate and its variability, blood pressure, and the detected change in weight. Whilst monitoring the human eye, they measure visual acuity, color vision and the quality of peripheral vision.

The outcomes of this extensive study are currently not yet known because evaluation and analysis of the results are still pending. Preliminary results show however (as you might expect), that the four-day stays are already showing more fundamental changes than shorter stays, including positive shifts occurring in cognitive functions, heartbeat and also improving eyesight.

You can find out more at http://www.terapietmou.net/

Dr. Andrew Urbiš – Darkness Therapy Expert, Czech Republic

dr-andrew-urbis-terapie-tmou-czech-republicDr. Andrew Urbiš is a highly regarded psychologist from the Czech Republic, with a holistic therapy clinic based at the Beskydské Rehabilitation Center in Celadna. In addition to psychology, he has also extensively studied Chinese medicine, feng shui, Tao Yin exercise and homeopathy, with his theoretical foundation being in both the Tao and quantum physics.

However, of particular interest to us is Dr. Urbiš‘ research into Darkness Retreats, which he is very well known for, especially since authoring the book ‘Terapie Tmou’ (translated as ‘Darkness Therapy’), in 2012.

Part of his research involved Dr. Urbiš participating in 3 different Darkness Retreats himself, varying from 10 to 50 days. The reason for such an extended duration for the latter was because in Tibet, where he says Darkness Therapy (they call it yang-ti) is said to have originated from, the ancient monks regularly retreated into dark underground vaults for 49 days, and he wanted to put it to the test himself, and see what benefits it would bring.

Apparently it was Dr. Helmut Kalweit who introduced Darkness Therapy to the Europeans, initially in Germany, but he predominantly focused on the spiritual and sensory processes on the psyche, such as the subconscious and so on. However, despite Dr. Andrew Urbiš being a psychologist himself, much of his own work has also focused on the healing impact of a prolonged stay in darkness on physiological problems of the body, as well as the mind and soul.

He describes the body as being a universal energy system, whose components connect and interact. So in other words, anything affecting the psyche impacts the physical body and vice versa. He says that discord and disharmony in one part of the system causes a mismatch in all other part of the body, which is why you have to look at the whole person, not just one part of the system.

Some of the benefits Dr. Urbiš believes Darkness Therapy/Terapie-tmou has are:

  • Production of the anti-oxidant hormone ‘melatonin’ which can help prevent some types of cancer;
  • Bringing the body back in harmony with nature;
  • Healing skin diseases;
  • Space to realise what is most important in life;
  • Reducing stress and calming the body, mind and soul, whilst slowing the pace of life.

According to the BRC clinic’s website Darkness Therapy/Terapie-tmou is also effective in:

  • The prevention of lifestyle diseases – oncological diseases and metabolic disorders, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, vascular and cerebral incidents, burnout and fatigue syndrome (CFS);
  • Regenerating the psyche, through releasing old stored trauma and soothing a disturbed, uncertain mind, helping to treat personal problems;
  • Heightening the senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste);
  • Allowing for the development of creativity, imagination, and various internal experiences that are under normal circumstances may have been subdued.

Below is a short documentary made by Czech television about Dr. Andrew Urbiš and his work in Darkness Therapy/Terapie-tmou (with English subtitles) if you would like to know more, as well a video diary of a Czech TV reporter and film director called Silvie Dymáková, who spent 7 days at Dr. Urbiš darkness facility at the Beskydské Rehabilitation Center in Celadna, called Vila Mátma (literally means ‘My Darkness’), who was also involved in the making of the follow up documentary. The video diary begins from her 3rd day, after she slept for the first 2. (She won the Czech Lion Award for the documentary.)

Finally, to find out more about how to work with Dr. Andrew Alois Urbiš go to www.brc.cz/terapie-tmou-1

A Darkness Retreat Near You, and Training

Many people have been contacting us, interested in Darkness Retreats, whether that is coming to our wonderful new retreat centre ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’ in the beautiful Black Forest region in Germany, or inquiring as to whether we can host a retreat near you in your own country, or even about training you to host Darkness Retreats for yourself.

So in this video I (Bharati), tell you a little bit more about how all of that can work and what is coming. You’ll also get a sneak peek into the renovation work that was carried out earlier in 2016 to create our Temple Room, which is now complete and we are delighted with it. If you have any inquiries about any of this, please have a browse through our website, and then get in touch. We are always happy to hear from you!

Practical Questions About Doing a Darkness Retreat

Many people have all kinds of questions about the practical aspects of doing a Darkness Retreat, including what happens within one, food and eating, if you take medication, contact with the outside world, what to bring, going to the toilet in the dark and so much more.

In this video Bharati answers many of the common questions that get asked. More information is also provided on our Procedure page, as well as our FAQ section.

However, if you still have additional things to ask, when making a decision whether this is the right place for you to come or what to expect, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to hear from you with any questions or concerns you might have!

Please note: Bharati speaks a lot about Darkness Retreats in India. Although it is still potentially possible to do a retreat with us in India, or anywhere else you choose, our primary base is now at our wonderful new retreat centre ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’ in Sasbachwalden, a really beautiful natural part of the Black Forest in Southern Germany.

Bharati also mentioned about bringing your own eye mask. Whilst of course you are always welcome to bring your own if preferred, we do now supply an excellent mask for you to use whilst you are here, which enables you to comfortably have your eyes open or closed when wearing it.

Tangible Soul Energy During the Darkness Retreat (Videos)

During Darkness Retreats, my guests usually have intense spiritual experiences, including them often being able to physically see their own soul energy with their own eyes. We have been fortunate enough to capture some of these experiences on film, and deeply thank our guests for giving us permission to do so.

At the end of one of my client’s Darkness Retreat, I (Bharati) guided him to the Temple Room. The light flashes that could be seen by my guest during his time in the darkness were still visible even in the light, and could be recorded too. When I started chanting the mantra “Arut perum jothi, arut perum jothi, thani perum karunai, arut perum jothi” the lights seemed to get even stronger.

(There are various interpretations of what the mantra means in English, but in essence it is saying “Vast Grace-Light, Vast Grace-Light, Supreme Compassion,Vast Grace-Light”. Indeed, it certainly seemed to have the desired effect!)

Here, we see a participant who actually spent a total of 49 days in the dark. In her case, visible soul energy (also called orbs) could very clearly be seen too – just see how many orbs there are and how fast they move. Incredible! Recording this energy of the soul was truly an extraordinary and moving moment.

Francisco’s Experience of a Darkness Retreat

Many people have participated in our Darkness Retreats, whether in India, Columbia, and now at our wonderful retreat centre ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’, in the beautiful Black Forest region of Germany.

We are proud to present a number of videos where some our clients talk about their personal experiences, and how Darkness Retreats have affected their lives. This is Francisco’s story. Enjoy!

(However, if you prefer, there is also a summary of what Francisco (not Javier) talks about below the video)

This is Francisco from Mexico, and he has just completed the Group Darkness Retreat in Columbia, South America. He says it has been an extraordinary and beautiful experience, for himself and all of his spiritual development. He had a lot of experiences during the 12 days of the retreat, saying the darkness is a great guru.

He thinks many things in his life will be changed, for the rest of his life.  The astral projection was a wonderful experience, amazing. He recommends doing a Dark Retreat for everyone.

Josefina’s Experience of a Darkness Retreat

Many people have participated in our Darkness Retreats, whether in India, Columbia, and now at our wonderful retreat centre ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’, in the beautiful Black Forest region of Germany.

We are proud to present a number of videos where some our clients talk about their personal experiences, and how Darkness Retreats have affected their lives. This is Josefina’s story. Enjoy!

(However, if you prefer, there is also a summary of what Josefina talks about below the video)

Josefina says that it is amazing the beautiful changes that occur within us when we come out of the Darkness Retreat. It is just like being reborn into the light that we have never been out of, we just forget how big the world is that we are living in, because we are confused by all of the shadows we are accustomed to seeing. When you do a Dark Room Retreat, shadows disappear and then you can see clearly – all of your fears, and that you live every single day with expectations. You do not wait to see what each day has to show you. You always wake up asking to be guided to what you want to see, not what you need to see. The Dark Room lets you see a completely different picture.

People go out in nature (after a retreat) and it’s as if it’s the first time to be outside, because you can feel the touch of sun on your skin, see the dew on the leaves. It’s a beautiful whole new world, all of you should have the opportunity for this rebirth.

Maria’s Experience of a Darkness Retreat

Many people have participated in our Darkness Retreats, whether in India, Columbia, and now at our wonderful retreat centre ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’, in the beautiful Black Forest region of Germany.

We are proud to present a number of videos where some our clients talk about their personal experiences, and how Darkness Retreats have affected their lives. This is Maria’s story. Enjoy!

(However, if you prefer, there is also a summary of what Maria talks about below the video)

This is Maria from Monterey, Mexico and she attended the Group Darkness Retreat in Columbia. She said it was an amazing and beautiful experience for her. What she enjoyed most was when she came out of the retreat, as it was like a new world, a new life. She was filled with a lot of peace inside, and then in that beautiful place in nature she still felt very peaceful. Now she feels very grateful and invites everyone to try this unique and amazing experience.

Sophie’s Experience in a Darkness Retreat

Many people have participated in our Darkness Retreats, whether in India, Columbia, and now at our wonderful retreat centre ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’, in the beautiful Black Forest region of Germany.

We are proud to present a number of videos where some our clients talk about their personal experiences, and how Darkness Retreats have affected their lives. This is Sophie’s story. Enjoy!

(However, if you prefer, there is also a summary of what Sophie talks about below the video)

Sophie is from Mexico and she said it was a very, very fantastic experience for her because it was like being reborn for her. She has a lot of fears and she experienced a lot of transformation in relation to her “inner woman”. It’s like in the Darkness Retreat, you meet your soul and you can trust and let it go; now she feels like she has lost 13kg. She feels very light.

She ate a raw food diet in the retreat, which she doesn’t normally have, and she couldn’t believe how good she felt on it, so thinks she will change how she lives, she feels so great. It’s an experience she recommends for every one, because you really find the light inside you.

Umberto’s Experience in a Darkness Retreat

Many people have participated in our Darkness Retreats, whether in India, Columbia, and now at our wonderful retreat centre ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’, in the beautiful Black Forest region of Germany.

We are proud to present a number of videos where some our clients talk about their personal experiences, and how Darkness Retreats have affected their lives. This is Umberto’s story. Enjoy!

(However, if you prefer, there is also a summary of what Umberto talks about below the video)

Umberto is from Monterey, Mexico and he says that the first days of the retreat he felt drunk, then every day he started to feel more peace, peace, peace. The Darkness Retreat is like you get inside of you. It’s a test of you. Now he feels real peace inside of himself.

Rachel’s Experience in a Darkness Retreat

Many people have participated in our Darkness Retreats,  whether in India, Columbia, and now at our wonderful retreat centre ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’, in the beautiful Black Forest region of Germany.

We are proud to present a number of videos where some our clients talk about their personal experiences, and how Darkness Retreats have affected their lives. This is Rachel’s story. Enjoy!

(However, if you prefer, there is also a summary of what Rachel talks about below the video)

This is Rachel from Mexico, she has just come out of the group Darkness Retreat in Columbia. She says it was a life-changing experience, and that the dark gave her the opportunity to get into deeper corners in her being, her soul, and she brought light and consciousness to those corners. At the same time, she faced her fears, which she thought were worse, but when she saw them, they were just illusions most of the time. She felt an enormous constant peace that she has never felt in her life, which was the greatest gift she could have, because she can return to that state again any time, and that to her is heaven.

Also, she said it was very nice because she was able to experience lucid dreams, hear messages, and do an astral projection, which opened a new gate for her which she knows is going to be really fun. She’s excited about that because it’s another world, and she wants to experience that. Also, she encountered beautiful souls inside of there (the other group members), she said they felt like a family and shared all of their fears, thoughts, emotions. They all opened their hearts in pure trust, surrender and gratitude. They sang mantras which gave joy and energy to the room. To Rachel, they were pure joy and liberated a lot of things she needed to get out of her body and her soul. She will always have this experience in her heart. She recommends it – take a shot, it’s really good.

Spiritual Experiences in a Darkness Retreat

Watch as Martin Glanert, (Bharati’s husband and a Darkness Retreat Counsellor himself) talks about spiritual practices, and the kind of spiritual experiences people might have during their Darkness Retreat. Enjoy!

(However, if you prefer, there is also a summary of what Martin talks about below the video)

Martin has just finished a 10-day Darkness Retreat, and he shares all that can happen within one (not, not all of this happened to him in his Retreat – his summary is based both on his own experience and that of other Retreat guests who have shared their what happened for them with us). Your personal experience can depend on how long you are in the Darkness Retreat for, how much meditation you have done before, and how intensively you are present in the Darkness Retreat; what your aim is for doing one.

Some people just want to get away from their busy lives and relax in the darkness, and that’s OK. Even they can still have spiritual experiences during their Retreat. However, there are also those who really long to experience the Divine and want deeper spiritual experiences. So in those cases, we chant mantras with our guests and meditate together, which increases the speed of everything happening.

So what can happen? After a few days, you start to recognise that even in absolute darkness, it’s not completely dark. As your eyes start to adjust, the black turns to grey and you begin to see material things and non-material things. That’s the idea of Darkness Retreats – normally you rely on your visual senses throughout your daily life – 80% of information comes through your visual senses, and so when you block that, you have no way of looking at life how you usually do. So then astral dimensions start to emerge, because the gap between the two realities gets smaller the longer you are in the Retreat. Then you may start to see lights, sense energy and even potentially hear astral sounds.

Spiritual experiences in a Darkness Retreat www.darknessretreat.net Bharati Corinne GlanertOur guests are actually given the option of having a mirror in their room, as it can act as a gateway to other dimensions, so it’s much easier to see the light and hear the sounds with one. Though some people can be a little scared by that thought, which is why it is optional. So as mentioned, within a few days, the ‘astral disco’ often begins – lights of different colours, shapes and intensity. In that way, the darkness goes away. Every brain interprets things differently, because the astral dimension is very different from our human one, so each of us makes our own interpretation.

A big goal for many participants is to have an astral being come and give Darshan in physical form, and most guests who have stayed for a longer period of time (at least 6-7 days) have that experience. One such time was with a guest who rang the bell for someone to come (all guests have a bell to ring, to access support and/or to share their experiences at any time of day or night) and as Bharati arrived, she saw a purple light shining out from under the door of the guest’s Darkness Retreat room. Apparently he had seen a short man with a white scarf around his head, and a very soft face. Later, we showed him a painting of Vallala Ramalinga, and he confirmed it had been him. This can be a very beautiful and heart-opening experience.

Why do these spiritual experiences  happen in the darkness? Because once we let go of the visual sense, we also let go of the concept of the outer world. We come back to what is within us, that Divine source of information and knowledge. We understand things more clearly, have insights about ourselves and our heart opens, because it is easier for other souls to connect with us when we are in that state, and share their wisdom.

We are happy to connect you with other people who have completed a Retreat with us, even those who had no spiritual background, to share details of their experiences with you. However, the only true way is to experience it for yourself, because belief about certain things can only take you so far. So if you would like to know more about doing a Darkness Retreat for yourself, please contact us, we are more than happy to answer all of your questions.

Daniella’s Experience in a Darkness Retreat

Many people have participated in our Darkness Retreats,  whether in India, Columbia, and now at our wonderful retreat centre ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’, in the beautiful Black Forest region of Germany.

We are proud to present a number of videos where some our clients talk about their personal experiences, and how Darkness Retreats have affected their lives. This is Daniella’s story. Enjoy!

(However, if you prefer, there is also a summary of what Daniella talks about below the video)

Daniella is from Monterey in Mexico, and it was her first Darkness Retreat. She didn’t know what she was going through and found it very challenging, though she also said it was great. Some fears came up, that she was already aware of but didn’t know they were so big. One of them was fear of the dark, the second one was of being very silent, though she said she learned to empower herself through this experience. There were a lot of people in the (group) retreat, so she learned to be tolerant, respectful and loving, because everyone was passing through different experiences, some great, some difficult yet it was easy to find support from all of the people in the group.

She said she became a family with them, that she loves every one of them, and she took a little piece of their hearts with hers. Also, Balakrishna (Martin) and Bharati were two loving souls, very supportive, without them it wouldn’t be so good. Yesterday when they got out of the dark it felt like everything was in 3D, nature bursting with colour and she was filled with joy. Then today when she woke up she said she had never felt this joy before. She was laughing and felt very good.

Daniella is not sure if she’ll do it again, though she hopes so and recommends it to everyone. She said “You understand the need to be in the dark, to see the light in your heart and your world in a different way”.