|The beauty in light is recognized within the contrasting context of darkness.
Here is how I prepared for the retreat:
My daily meditation practice started about 5 years ago and I have not missed many days. I tried out different techniques and can get into a very calm and peaceful state pretty quickly. That was not always the case. I had periods where the mind-chatter would go really crazy during Do-Nothing-Sessions. A lot of purging was done that way. I think through the habit of meditation my mind has learned to remain conscious in and of the beauty of existence alone. Just staying in the calm awareness of being has become more joyful to me than most external experiences. Without that I would probably not able to do such a retreat. And I will see how well developed my meditative capacity is during the retreat.
I had a few trips on psilocybin mushrooms. I think they prepared me for beautiful, strange, scary or crazy experiences that might happen during the retreat. And to expect the unexpected. Which is probably one of the most useful lessons they thought me. I hope that those experiences will help me see through my feelings and emotions in difficult times and not cling to them in beautiful moments.
On this particular topics I read two books. The first one is "The Dawning of Clear Light" by Martin Lowenthal (Link to Amazon). And the second one is "Hygienic Dark Room Retreat" by Andrew Durham (Link to Leanpub). They provide two different views on the experience of darkness retreating. The book from Martin Lowenthal gives a deep insight into his personal experiences under the light of buddhist tradition and practice. It gave me the confidence to do this.
A remaining doubt of mine is that I will not be able to meditate for so many hours per day. And for that it was helpful to read the book by Andrew Durham. From his point of view the subconscious knows best how to deal with psychological issues and the deep rest of darkness retreat just provides the necessary circumstances for those issues to be sorted out. Therefore ones conscious attempts to guide or force any changes should be minimized.
My take-away approach after reading those two books is that I will be meditating as much as possible, but not so much that I feel stressed from it. I know from experience that I can remain in a meditative state for many hours a day, but probably not for all of waking time. When the bodily discomfort becomes too much to bear I will move and exercise. I am going to use meditation for the purpose of facilitating insights and dealing with emotional issues. Facing fear and anxiety with mindfulness and not letting the mind attach to experience and go wild with it. I am going to allow for many hours of deep rest and contemplation.
I have thought about apply the following routine:
5. Repeat with No.1
As I will have no access to a timer I will have to go by feeling. Usually it is 45-60min for sitting- and for lying-down-meditation and 20min for standing meditation.
I will take a notebook and a usb-stick with voice-recording function with me on the retreat. That way I can share a first hand "live" experience from the retreat.
So that is all I have to say before this retreat. See you on the other side with my report!