Style/ Beauty

Darkness Retreats Are Trending So What Are They?

In the weird and wonderful world of wellness, people are now creating ‘darkness retreats’ where they literally sit in pitch black for days on end to find mental clarity.

It’s Mental Health Awareness week and at GLAMOUR, we’ve written about and tested out practically everything to better our mental health, but the latest trend might just be one step too far.

Spending time in the dark – and its effect on our mind – is a hot topic right now with Beatriz Flamini emerging from 500 days in a cave and American Football star Aaron Rodgers recently embarking on a darkness retreat.

Darkness retreats are aimed at making individuals confront unpleasant thoughts. They prevent you from distracting your thoughts and avoiding discomfort, as when forced to sit in pitch blackness, with nothing but a yoga mat, there is no option but to sit with these thoughts, resulting in a profound impact on self-development.

As Dating and Personal Development Coach, Minnie Lane, who embarked on her own, explains: “A dark retreat is a prolonged period of time spent in total pitch black darkness and solitude/isolation. When I say pitch black, I really mean it – you can’t see anything at all the entire time you’re in there, not even your own body, which is a surreal experience in itself.”

It’s an ancient spiritual practice, the purpose of which is sensory deprivation which allows you to more easily reach altered states of consciousness and increase clarity and insights… apparently.

So what are the benefits of sitting in pitch black and twiddling your thumbs? Whilst scientific research into the effects of dark retreats is still in its infancy, evidence does suggest dark retreats can help lower anxiety, depression and stress. It has also been suggested that prolonged exposure to darkness increases melatonin production, promoting deep restorative sleep. It’s also believed that after around 6 days, prolonged exposure to darkness stimulates DMT synthesis in the brain, taking the experiencer on a psychedelic journey of insight.

“Personally, I have experienced huge increases in clarity, focus and insight during my darkness retreats,” claims Minnie. “I notice I always look super healthy and rested when I emerge and people often comment that there is a glow to my skin tone afterwards and my energy is very light and free. I feel the real benefit to practices like this is a deepened intimate connection with my true self, which helps me live more authentically and attract/develop more authentic relationships with others.”

Celebrities are paying thousands to attend darkness retreats (NFL hero Aaron Rodgers spent days at the Sky Cave Retreats in southern Oregon), but if you’re on a budget (hi!), you can actually create your own darkness retreat at home.

As Minnie explains: “I discovered you can totally blackout a normal bedroom using bin bags and gaffer tape. Be sure to get extra thick bin bags as we had limited options during lockdown and I’m pretty sure our local shop owner thought we were psychopaths by the fourth visit to the shops that day, requesting yet more bin bags and gaffer tape.”

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