Create a room that is perfectly dark.
You might need to tape black plastic over the windows,
And lay a towel at the bottom of the door.
Make it so dark that you can sit with your eyes open
And see not a single chink of light.
Now sit in that darkness, with your eyes open,
And drink in the blackness.
Make friends with darkness,
Reach out into it, and let it soak into you.
Stare with open eyes into the blackness.
Start with an hour.
You can build up to sitting in darkness for many hours,
or even days.
It is said that this meditation was taught by the Essenes, who some say were the teachers of Jesus. The great Russian mystic Georges Gurdjieff also used this with his students, and it is also found in Tibetan Buddhism. Darkness is the abode of mystery; it is from where we arise, and it is where we return every night. Every child starts his or her life in the womb, in nine months of darkness. Every seed germinates in the darkness of the soil. Every new dawn, every new meeting with the busyness of the world emerges out of the darkness of the night.
Most meditation places much more emphasis on light: we associate it with the upper chakras, and see it as our goal. Most people fear the dark. Hence, we have created an artificially illuminated world: in a city like New York or Los Angeles, it is never dark; it just shifts from natural light to artificial light.
When you become friendly and comfortable with darkness, something very deep in you can relax, and fear dissolves. Darkness initiates you into the world of the night, into the world of dreams and the unknown. In the beginning, all kinds of fears and freaky images will visit you. You may see snakes or monsters, or remember the most terrifying scenes from murder movies. But this will pass. It only comes because we have pushed darkness away so completely. Then another phase will come, where you will feel the darkness to be your mother, to be safe and nurturing and all around you.
I lived for more than a year in Bali. They have no psychiatrists or psychologists in their culture, and a much lower incidence of mental illness than the rest of the world. If someone begins to show signs of mental imbalance, they are lovingly taken to a dark room for two or three days, and when they emerge they are completely healed. Darkness has a tremendous power to nourish us, to settle us, to rejuvenate us. When you can allow outer darkness to enter you, it has the power to heal almost anything.
Try this for a few days or weeks, and see how your life changes.
This is an excerpt from my book, Leap Before You Look: 72 Shortcuts for Getting Out of Your Mind and into the Moment. Click on the link to purchase your copy today.