REFLECTIONS FROM PAST RETREATANTS
The dark has become a dear old friend and a space where I am in an ever-deepening connection with Eternity.
I tend to spend the majority of my time laying down in bed, welcoming all that arises, as I soften and rest deeply in the infinite space.
" I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being "
A dark retreat, 8 days living in a cave in isolation and darkness.
I’ve been feeling overwhelmed since Covid as negative habits started to stack — gym closures, more internet time, more twitter time responding to news, more zoom and less boundaries, more coffee, more Uber eats, and a worsening mobile phone addiction, working on weekends.
A dark retreat entails living in complete darkness and isolation, so dark your eyes never adjust. Food was passed to me through a cubby once per evening. The retreat was at SkyCave, a beautiful space in nature, completely off grid in Southern Oregon.
The community that lived on the land was so nourishing and kind! Growing all their own food, a community from around the world had come together, building yurts, treehouses, and other crazy structures to live in a more connected manner. Connected to each other and the land in a special way.
It struck me that at crack of dawn about eleven kids would be out on bikes playing together – I could feel this was a special way to live that’s been lost in urban society.
The dark retreat itself was a gruelling experience – where you’re bound to find your edge daily. There is a lot of fear wrapped up when you can’t see your environment! I was attracted to the experience to try for a reset, to reduce my addiction to technology. In the past, I’ve seen massive willpower increases from Vipassana retreats and psychedelic medicine retreats, so I expected that with such minimal stimulation in the dark, I’d be able to reset the brains reward systems, improve willpower and develop a better relationship with work!
The dark retreat experience coupled with the fresh air, giant cedar trees, waterfalls, fresh soil and beautuful community there felt very healing. This is very appealing to me as a way to live and changed my perspective on what I want in my future!
This was my first dark retreat experience. I decided to do five days in the dark with an added day of preparation before the darkness, along with a day to integrate my experience after. All together it was a seven day stay with SkyCave Retreats.
From the moment I arrived on the land I felt very welcomed from Scott, his family and the people taking care of the land. The custom built space for this dark retreat is extremely special, isolated, silent and catered to your every need. It is also built in an amazing area of Oregon into the side of a mountain. The food was delicious and delivered in a special cubby that retains the darkness within the room.
I have been in a meditation practice for over 10 years and I went into this experience to see just how deep I could get into myself and perhaps gain a greater sense of vision into my inner world. I also felt like I really needed some deep restorative rest from being so constantly busy within the world. I would say that my intent was accomplished during my stay and while the experience was not easy, the support around me made me feel extremely comfortable pursuing what I sought after.
I quickly found in the experience that once you deprive yourself of light, technology and all those things we are so addicted to in the world around us, you very quickly and easily go inside yourself. I saw myself viewing, feeling and seeing things of the past that I had completely forgotten about using a different set of eyes.
I also found my meditations were the brightest they had ever been in my life! I saw so much inner light inside that at times I would question if what I was seeing was actually in the room, which of course it wasn’t.
Overall without a doubt this experience was life changing. I would recommend it to any serious spiritual seeker and to a person with will. I am extremely thankful for having found this site, Scott and experiencing what I did.
The 40 days I spent in the darkness at Sky Cave was the most transformative experience of my life.
Secluded in wilderness in a comfortable room made of earth made me feel safe while I was able to open at a deep level.
Scott provided amazing support by not only dropping food but also by listening as I moved through tough periods.
When I came out to the world, I reintegrated in wild nature and met a warm kind community that showed me a happy sustainable way to live.
I left feeling transformed, inspired, and excited about the future.
All I have is gratitude for this experience.
Scott’s dark room experience provides the right balance of basic needs and nourishment. The room itself was clean & comfortable, allowing enough space to feel cozy but not cramped. Food was very good. I suggest giving him a list of what you like and letting him know how much you eat. I had plenty of leftovers.
Scott recommended not to have any expectations, which was fine for the first day. After 24 hrs my third eye was wide open as though I had a virtual headset on whether my eyes were open or closed. When I sang prayer songs the colors became more vivid and when I begged my higher self to interact I was ignored.
I enjoy being alone, I have experience meditating, know some yoga moves, sacred songs and how to connect inward. I’m glad I found this opportunity with SkyCave for my inward journey.
I have been to Sky Cave twice for darkness retreats. My experiences with Psychedelics and study of Eastern Philosophy led me to the exploration of extreme solitude, darkness and sensory deprivation.
Initially I was looking for a method of introspection that would allow me to integrate my experiences deeper into my everyday life. I had reached levels of realization through adding substances to my system and following methods but I wanted to find the purest, simplest route possible and this led me to the dark.
My intention going into both of my retreats was not to manipulate my experience, just to be with it. For the first 48 hours of both of my experiences, I slept. Without a circadian rhythm to tell my system when to wake and when to sleep, I couldn’t keep my eyes open if I tried. During this sleep, my body healed, I could feel it healing. My vision, my joints, my hearing, my digestion, every part of me was on vacation from my everyday reality.
During my first visit I also was able to detox from the caffeine and marijuana that I consumed in small quantities on a daily basis before the retreat. It was the deepest detox I had experienced so far and I haven’t felt the need to resume these habits since the first retreat.
After the long sleep, I was awake. More awake than I have ever felt in my life, I couldnt close my eyes for more than a few seconds if I tried. The sound deprivation allowed me to listen to the processes of my body in a way that I had never experienced before. My breath, my heart, my digestion, all of the processes that are automatic and drowned out by the noise in our everyday lives. Time was irrelevant and only the necessary bodily needs such as using the bathroom and hunger dictated any sort of time related structure.
Staring into the dark which continuously changed its value to shades of black that I had never seen before, I watched my thoughts pass. Without time or any visual cues to categorize, my mind seemed to desperately want to maintain order, so it categorized my thoughts. Fears, desires, fantasies, past, future, ect. It was obvious to see where my deepest attachments were as well as my fears and areas of my life that were not conducive to my peace of mind. Being awake for hours as time passed was not easy, it wasn’t like the introspection that I experience being on drugs. There was no high, no ecstasy, no easy mind-blowing revelations. It was a long, slow process of total awareness of myself.
It has been almost a year since my first darkness retreat and it is difficult to explain how it has impacted me in words, it seems too simple. All I can say is that I have stopped searching. I have everything I need, I am everything that I need.
I plan on returning to the dark once a year. The healing that my body undergoes without the pressures of light, sound, movement and time are indispensable. I am extremely grateful to Scott, his family and everyone who helped build the SkyCaves. They have created a space that is safe and comfortable for people to heal themselves.
In an attempt to crystalize into words my deep and sacred experience:
The Dark Room provides a space where, due to the lack of any external stimulation, we can realize that the whole of one’s experience occurs within. A grand reminder that this is all there really ever is anyway and that transformation is accessible in one’s own heart.
In day to day conditions the information coming in is processed and given meaning through a personal system of values and some things, perhaps the more traumatic experiences, are left unprocessed and stuffed into a corner of the unconscious. This experience of the dark room for me presented the opportunity to remove the filters that I have in place in my daily waking life, to open to the immensity of the internal landscape, and to begin the unpacking of the backlogs of unprocessed information that could been seen precisely and addressed effectively within the spaciousness of the dark.
This 8 days was the deepest time I ever had with myself, nowhere to go, yet surprisingly compelling. I got to bear witness to the sheer volume of narratives that I had been running through my mind. There really wasn’t much respite from the work. I realized a couple days in, that this retreat would not be about resting away from the outside world, but rather a deep inner assessment of the most subtle layers of thought, a cleanse down to the quantum aspects of the nervous system that are used for creating/ dreaming the worldly experience into being, and a reminder that the power and freedom to choose where I place my awareness is attainable and available.
In the depths of the unraveling of my identification habits I was given a gift: the supreme power of forgiveness. This resurrected my individuality within my personal narratives. I got to clarify an exact sense of ownership of my part of the given situation and then let go of the rest. Within the spaciousness, I had the perspective to review the given unresolved circumstance and affirm my compassion for the occurrence. In other words, I could restore the energy to respective parts and allow healing.
This is but a nugget of a vast journey that seemed to encompass time and space itself. A wormhole of infinite possibility. A beyond place, where an abiding in the refuge of the soul and a revival of the essence of existence becomes.
Thank you Scott for your unwavering devotion to the path of the heart and making this experience a possibility for many! This is truly work that can change our world.
"We're all just walking each other home."
- Ram Dass
The closest thing I can come up with relating the dark retreat to is being in the process of labor and giving birth to new life. It of course is not the same, but there are many similarities. The challenge of meeting each intense moment is there. The overwhelming waves are there. The unfolding mystery is there. What feels like Grace, is there. What feels like primordial Mother Space holding us all, is there. It’s incredibly profound and hard to relay the experience in words.
In the darkness, I experienced myself bracing to meet the intensity of the moment with all my coping strategies and guards and assimilated beliefs about life, love, death, and who I am – but with an honesty that just sees it as it is. I experienced my tendencies of mind, and like a truth serum, the dark retreat reveals where you are – in each and every moment.
There is no hiding from yourself. The truth is so obviously right here. And because you can feel so intensely and see so clearly the cause of the suffering you have been creating in this very moment, there is a graceful opportunity for compassion and real deep meaningful change.
There was a learning to relax more deeply into “the mystery” of this incredible existence as the power of each moment came. And during those moments, many nuances of the beauty of life and death are revealed.
I feel like through the dark retreat, I’ve gotten to touch some of the deeper parts of myself, start to come into a new knowing of my true nature and I look forward to deepening into it – as awareness knows no boundaries, nature awakens naturally.
This was my first dark retreat experience, and I felt held so well in the container that Scott, Jill, and the land provided.
Scott talked with me before I entered the darkness, and offered some suggestions that proved key during my 10 nights there.
The food was delicious.
Every night, after retrieving the food that Scott delivered to the cubby, I’d unscrew the lid on the hot soup, and just inhale the steam as it bathed my face. For one day, I felt called to fast briefly, and he was very open to adjusting and bringing a smoothie afterward.
The space is beautifully built, which matters even in the dark. I later learned that over a hundred people had come through to help build the cob structure, which is full of clearly hand-built details.
The level of intention put into building the space really contributed to the feeling of safety, caring, and love in the space, even though I didn’t learn about them until afterward.
I’d recommend Sky Cave to anyone who feels called to do a solo dark retreat, who has done enough prior self-work to know how to blend with discomfort that arises, and who’s ready to witness the unknown and unseen in themselves.
My body unwound so much that, a week later, I’m still integrating the spaciousness that the unwinding left behind. It was one of the most spiritual experiences I’ve had so far.
I had an amazing experience in the darkness retreat! My goal going in was to raise my level of awareness, and that it did! I became hyper-aware of how food affects my mind and body, and my thoughts were front-and-center, allowing me to deal with them and move beyond them. I would love to do it again.