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.

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.

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.

Jorge’s Terrific Adventure in his 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 Jorge’s story, what he calls “a really terrific adventure”. Enjoy!

(However, if you prefer, there is also a summary of what Jorge talks about below the video – though he speaks with such heart, feeling, passion and expression, it is well worth taking the time to watch the video 🙂 )

This is Jorge from central Mexico, and he says that his experience in the Darkness Retreat was the most marvelous experience he has had in his life. He says that as you can see, he is a young man, because he was just born yesterday, when he came out to the light, as soon as they finished the Darkness Retreat. It was the most fantastic voyage towards his inside. He never thought he could go inside of himself and it was a really fantastic experience. He says that the best thing is that now he loves himself more and that is one of the greatest things to love ourselves, because we are in a world that needs love. So if we love ourselves, we will be able to be loved by people close to us, family, friends, everybody. But first we have to have love and this is what he has from this Darkness Retreat.

Jorge says he came to it with no expectations, and the first couple of days were a little bit difficult, but then after the third or fourth day, he really started to view inside of himself. He had never really had chance to see inside of himself before and it was a great experience. Everybody should try it, at least for 2 or 3 days.

He also said that everyone all together had a really terrific adventure, they became friends in there, they learned that their senses are outside, so they were inside only with their hearts, their soul and their mind. Enjoying themselves. It was difficult of course, because they had to eat without looking at their food, so they were not very polite doing so, but everything was enjoyed.

They had a great party, the greatest party of his life, and the greatest adventure, an adventure being him, and he has been him for many years. But this time he was really able to get inside himself. He wished he could have more time, because at the end he felt a bit sad, he didn’t want to come out, he was really happy there, and with the people there too. Also Bharati and Martin were really great people. He enjoyed everything they did, even if at some times he didn’t like it. Everything was fantastic!

He would gladly do it again and as a matter of fact, he is going to build a little room in his own house where he can have a Darkness Retreat at home. That way he can do it himself and some day invite his friends for maybe half a day, two days, or whatever. But he thinks everybody should try at least one day of Darkness Retreat.

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”.

The Secret of Darkness Retreats

What is a Darkness Retreat? How does it work? How do participants experience their time in the darkness?

Watch as Martin and Bharati talk about Darkness Retreats and their personal experience of them:

(However, if you prefer, there is also a condensed summary of what they talk about below the video)

A Darkness Retreat is a very special form of meditation, considered to be a shortcut to enlightenment, used by many cultures. Many of the experiences we will be telling you about come from Darkness Retreats of 10 or 15 days, or even longer, when you don’t even need to meditate, the guru is the darkness, the darkness is the guru. The meaning of the word ‘guru’ comes from India, and doesn’t just mean ‘spiritual teacher’ but also ‘the energy that brings the light’. And that’s exactly what a Darkness Retreat does, paradoxically – it brings the light.

During their Retreat, many people physically see lights with their eyes, and they say the dark gets lighter. During the first few days, the mind can often be busy, and doesn’t accept the darkness, which is why we recommend Retreats of more than 7 days, which gives the mind time to quieten down, and the dark can show you beautiful effects.

Martin and I have two places we can host Darkness Retreats, our main retreat centre in Germany, called ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’ where we have six rooms for Darkness Retreats, as well as an Ashram that we can use in India. We also ‘travel on command’ to work with groups in other countries. Martin always says that when working with people, Bharati is for the soul, and he is for the mind (he studied psychology), so they make a good team.

He says that in the darkness, everything gets shut out and your normal way of perceiving the world from the outside, is not possible any more through your visual senses – 80% of sensory information we receive is through our visual senses – so when that is shut out, the brain starts searching for information everywhere (it is an information machine). When it can’t find it outside, it turns inside, which has a very profound impact on the mind, as well as body and soul.

So when people come to us for a Darkness Retreat, we talk to them and offer our support 1:1. We currently have a woman in a Darkness Retreat called Rosita, who has been meditating for a long time, and had spiritual experiences even from her first day, whereas for some people it takes 3-4 days, or even longer for that to happen. So when your physical eyes are shut off, eventually your third eye opens instead, and you are able to have glimpses of other energies and the spiritual world. Those people who have meditated a lot often have those experiences sooner. Though even people who haven’t meditated still have powerful experiences. The experience of time itself can also change, often feeling like it has speeded up.

Often when you let go of your goals of what you want to achieve or experience, the guidance of the darkness, the guru itself, can take you to where you need to go inside. It can be like an internal reset.

Bharati says she becomes very sensitive when guests are in a Darkness Retreat, often sensing when someone might need her to talk to them, or even having dreams about the guest and what is coming up for them. All kinds of things can come up to be released, which is why it is important to have someone to talk to. So we always have someone available 24/7, you just need to ring the little bell that is provided to each guest. Though some people prefer for their Darkness Retreat Counsellor to come at a pre-agreed time every day for an hour, and if something comes up outside of that time, they’ll deal with it themselves. Though they know there is still always someone on call if need be.

There are no set experiences we can say you will definitely experience, because it is different for everyone. Though it can really depend on how open you are to it, how much you are willing to go into it and allow the energy to show you the path. Don’t hold on, and release your expectations, as this creates spiritual tension – just let go. The more you relax, the more you can experience the spiritual vibrations.

The impact can last much longer than just your time in the Darkness Retreat too, it can change something deep within you. Which is why we recommend you don’t immediately return to your ‘normal life’ afterwards, but take some time to assimilate what has happened. In the dark, you become very sensitive. You are like a baby in the womb and are born again. Everything looks so different. You also see so much more beauty and intensity (such as colours) in the world once you come out. You might also be very sensitive to noise.

It’s like seeing things in a completely different light, and you look with your heart rather than just your eyes. Sometimes it’s difficult to say whether the greatest bliss comes from the experiences in the dark, or from those when you come out, because they are so amazing. People can be more sensitive to taste, to friends, to situations and you listen to your soul more, without running so much through your mind. Many people become much more psychic during their retreat, and for some that ability remains afterwards.

After a while in the darkness, you get so used to seeing or perceiving in a different way, that sometimes you don’t even realise that you are seeing something you wouldn’t usually see. For some people it can initially be quite hard to accept what is going on and may feel quite frightening; to realise you’re not alone, to have energy all around you, to hear sounds, to see light around you where there couldn’t be any light, so it’s important to have someone with you to tell you that’s normal, that it’s a good sign and you can relax, to accept the gift the darkness has for you. It washes out our system and our aura, so it’s important to trust our energy system and the process.

One of the group retreats Bharati offers in Germany is about astral travel (or astral projection). She has been studying it for many years, ever since she had her own experience a long time ago, before she even knew anything about it. Then when she did her own Darkness Retreat, she had an out of body experience on the first night. So she says it is very useful to do certain techniques in the Retreat if you are looking for a short cut to astral projection, which she can go through with you.

Food can also play an important role in your Darkness Retreat. Food can ground you and sometimes there are people who are always hungry in their retreat, and then there are some who just want to fast (having solely water and herbal tea, maybe smoothies and juices too). So when fasting, their body becomes even more light, their body becomes clear. (Note – when the video was made, we mentioned we only served vegetarian food, however now we only serve raw vegan food at our new retreat centre in Sasbachwalden.) A lot of people come to really like the raw food, because they are eating with their taste buds and not their eyes (not that raw food doesn’t look good, on the contrary, with all of the different colours it can look amazing! However, in the dark, people cannot determine what it is they are eating to make any judgements about it, they just know how it tastes and feels in their body).

Raw food can really help you to detox – in the Darkness Retreat you are detoxing your body, your belief systems, the world. For many people, their allergies also stop. When you fast or eat raw food, it makes it much easier for your soul to connect with the energies of the darkness. Our guests are given the option of having an aura photograph taken, before and after their Retreat, which can show an incredible transformation in how the energy has cleared and in that time.

We work with you to decide the best route for you with your food. Some people also bring their own special tea or other things that they want to be served with, and that’s OK. In fact, people often ask what they should bring for their Retreat and we say to bring whatever makes you feel comfortable, whether that’s your own pillow or towel, or something more personal that supports you in this process.

You can also do a retreat in a couple or a small group (everyone has their own room, but there’s also a communal dark room where we can meet to do meditations). In these event we often chant mantras, including a special one to us, that brings in the highest light and love. The words are Arut Perum Jothi, Arut Perum Jothi, Thani Perum Karunai, Arut Perum Jothi.’ (They mean Vast Grace-Light, Vast Grace-Light, Supreme Compassion,Vast Grace-Light). There is also an ‘OM’ box in the meditation room (and in guest bedrooms) that chants OM, which creates a beautiful energy in the room and calms you down.

So in summary, the main reasons for doing a Darkness Retreat are that you centre yourself, you really come to your true being, who you are. You get to experience that you’re not your body – this isn’t something you can know just with your mind. You can’t experience enlightenment with your mind. Astral projection and seeing astral beings might be one stage of enlightenment. People can also have great soul healings connected to events from the past. It’s a reset. Often times the benefits only really show themselves some time later, and maybe with a spiritual consciousness they didn’t have before. The energy doesn’t stop when you walk out the door.

We gave you a lot of information, but if you still have questions, or would like to speak to us about doing your own Darkness Retreat, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Bharati’s 10 Days in a Darkness Retreat

Bharati talks about her personal experiences from her own 10-day Darkness Retreat. Enjoy!

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

Bharati meditated for 10 days in complete darkness (in December 2010), and for her it was an experiment in consciousness and spiritual things, as she loves to do things that are not ‘normal’ and to have her own experiences, rather than what other people tell her. She likes to have her own experiences and not buy into other people’s systems so easily. So if someone tells her it’s great to be in the darkness, she has to have her own experience to find out if it’s true. She had longed to do a Darkness Retreat for over 10 years.

Bharati says that this tradition primarily comes from Tibet, and whilst other cultures embrace it, it’s mainly from Tibet. Their yogis and Siddhas might spend many months or even years in complete darkness. They have a lot of both conscious and unconscious experiences, because in the dark you can start to have hallucinations, but then, how do you really know what is a hallucination and what is true? Bharati felt she would know exactly what was true and what wasn’t; she’d had many experiences, including seeing spirits as a young child. She’d spent a lot of time in an Ashram in India and had experiences there, so she believed there was nothing new for her, compared to what it’s like for others who might not have had those experiences in their lives.

But actually, what happened for Bharati in her Darkness Retreat changed her mind. She is now absolutely convinced that everybody, no matter how far along we are in our spirituality, we all have an unconscious place from where we create our own reality and that is really amazing, because that is not conscious. It looks so real.

She said it was really an amazing journey and doesn’t recommend that anyone does it alone. It is better to have the support of someone you like, trust and have a connection to, and preferably someone who has already done a Darkness Retreat for themselves, and has a feeling for how spirituality can work, how things can be on the astral planes, because some experiences can be really intense. Some can also be very funny.

Bharati says we cannot say what is going to happen the next day, because our ‘unconscious mind’ literally means un-conscious, so that is where all our fear lies, where all our trauma is saved, and when it comes up, it will not come up in a very conscious way. It might manifest as a spirit or even a demon in front of you. It could be real, but it could be just your unconscious, which is so afraid of something that it appears like a demon, but it is just your inner demon. It is so amazing.