How to See in the Dark: The Science of Dark Retreats

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Science of Dark RetreatsClose your eyes for a minute and look into the darkness you have created behind your eyelids. Now, keeping your eyes closed imagine you have opened them, look deeper into the darkness and bring your hand in front of your face. You know it is there, but all you can see and sense is the darkness, your hand has gone, but there is something there with you in the darkness, that you can be sure of – your conscience.

In Hridaya Yoga, dark retreats, like silent meditation retreats, help us on our spiritual path to access higher states of consciousness. For centuries, yogis have employed what is known as Kaya Kalpa, the Ayurvedic treatment for rejuvenating the body through seclusion in darkness. But what actually happens when we deprive our bodies of light?

The Science of Darkness

According to Mantak Chia in the book Darkness Technology: “The darkness actualizes successively higher states of divine consciousness, correlating with the synthesis and accumulation of psychedelic chemicals in the brain. Melatonin, a regulatory hormone, quiets the body and mind in preparation for the finer and subtler realities of higher consciousness (Days 1 to 3). Pinoline, affecting the neuro-transmitters of the brain, permits visions and dream-states to emerge in our conscious awareness (Days 3 to 5). Eventually, the brain synthesizes the ‘spirit molecules’ 5-methoxy-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) and dimethyltryptamine (DMT), facilitating the transcendental experiences of universal love and compassion (Days 6 to 12).”

“Melatonin, the ‘sleep molecule,’ is produced in the pineal gland, in response to the darkness of night, and to the circadian rhythms of light and dark that are programmed into the hypothalamus, an endocrine gland located deep within the brain. Melatonin affects major organ systems, quieting the sympathetic nervous system and allowing daily rejuvenation of mind and body.”

Our bodies and mind are instruments used on the path to the Spiritual Heart. According to ancient practice stepping into darkness slows the ageing process, maintain excellent physical health and youthful vitality, and delay physical death until one achieves jiva-mukta, or spiritual liberation.

Afraid of the dark?

Hridaya Yoga considers that darkness and the abyss are nothing to be afraid of, because who we really are is the very essence of Darkness and Light as well.

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