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The Dark Retreat is an unparralleled experience in intense seclusion, in which the practitioner is deprived of all light and sensory distractions, and thus plunges into a deep witnessing awareness of the mind, and eventually experiences the perception of the inner light of pure Consciousness.
Retreating in complete darkness is a practice common to many of the ancient and contemporary spiritual traditions across the world.
From the monks and lamas in Tibet, to the Kogi Mamos in Colombia; the ancient Egyptians and the mystics of 15th Century France, Dark Retreats have provided revelation and illumination to countless practitioners who have sought the inner light.
has supported 100's of retreaters through their Dark Retreat experience since 2015.
Each request is considered individually. Please reach out through email to request dates. Patience is request as our Dark Retreats are in high demand.
Solitude is when the entire universe seems to surround and hold you quietly.’
– Victoria Erickson
‘ SOLITUDE ISN'T LONELINESS.
FAQ for DARK RETREATS
Please take a read over our Frequently Asked Questions before booking your Dark Retreat
The Dark Retreat is a very special, and often intense experience. It is important to consider carefully how many days your feel ready to do inside, and to book accordingly. Generally, if you are a beginner to meditation and retreats, we recommend three to five days. If you wish to book longer than five days with us, please let us know about your meditation and retreat background, daily practice, and your intention for doing a dark retreat.
Doing a retreat in darkness is a very unique experience and quite unlike doing a retreat in the light. When you are alone in the dark retreat, it is just you and your mind and there is nothing to distract you. If you do not have a steady practice, it can be easy to get bored or to waste the time simply thinking and fantasising. However, if you have a background in meditation and are looking to go deeper, the dark retreat is an incredible container for that. We have had so far remarkable reports from almost every person who has been inside our dark retreat, whether for three days, or three months.
Sometimes it happens that you feel the need to come out of the Dark Retreat earlier than you had booked. This can happen because you feel that the process is simply complete, because the Dark Retreat is more intense than you had imagined it to be, or because you were too ambitious when booking and booked more days than you were capable of completing (and other reasons ..).
It does not happen often that people come out early, though it does happen. When you are inside the Dark Retreat, it is locked from the inside and so you can leave at any time. If you do leave early, you may like to stay in one of our other accommodations to complete your extra days at an extra cost, and we do not offer a refund or compensation for the days that you missed in the Dark Retreat.
There are two meals per day in the Dark Retreat, delivered through a small double-door food box. We open our side, outside of the Dark Retreat, and you open your side, inside of the Dark Retreat, without any light penetrating inside the room. You eat in complete darkness and then place your empty food container back into the food box where we collect it again when we bring your next meal. Special food requests must be arranged beforehand.
Visions are common in the Dark Retreat, though should not be the reason for you to go inside. The Dark Retreat should not be used as a way to get a “natural high” or to “trip out” on DMT. DMT is sometimes naturally released in the dark retreat because of a shift in hormones in the body, but they should simply be witnessed just the same as the thoughts that come and go. We have noticed that the people who have less expectations generally have the deepest retreats.
At The Hermitage we provide two wholesome vegan meals per day and tea in a thermos with breakfast. We do not allow fasting for more than three days inside, even for experienced fasters. All of those who fasted inside reported afterwards that it was ten times harder fasting in the dark with no distractions that in a normal fast outside.
There are two meals served per day inside the Dark Retreat. As you are spending almost the entire time in meditation and sitting or practicing yoga, you don´t spend too much energy and almost everybody finds that two meals per day is sufficient. Here is an idea of what each meal looks like:
Breakfast: Either fresh fruit or whole-oat porridge topped with nuts, seeds, coconut, cacao beans etc served with a large thermos flask of fresh herbal tea from the garden
Lunch: Grains (either brown rice, noodles, pasta, cous cous, quinoa etc) with vegetables prepared with different spices and flavours (Asian-style stir fry, Indian-style curry, Italian style sauces etc) along with nuts and seeds on top and often fresh avocado from our garden. Three to four times a week the main meal includes beans, lentils or chickpeas. We can add eggs to your meals as requested.
The portion sizes are large, but should you require extra snacks, we can provide either a bag of toasted nuts and seeds or bananas or hard boiled eggs on the side of meals as preferred (at a small extra cost).
While the Dark Retreat is open to meditators of all levels of experience, it is a very intense practice and we highly recommend that you have already some experience with group and/or solitary retreats and a solid daily meditation practice before attempting a dark retreat of more than three days.
The Dark Retreat is a practice open to those who are called to dive deeply within themselves and rest in undisturbed meditation for many hours a day, for multiple days. Although we do not exclude anybody from the opportunity for this deep dive into solitude and darkness, we do not recommend entering the Dark Retreat if you have a long history of mental illness, addiction, or hospitalization, or if you are currently in an unbalanced mental state, have a chronic physical illness or are working with an addiction right now.
The only rules that The Hermitage asks you to adhere to while inside the Dark Retreat are the following:
We do not allow the use of any drugs, alcohol or plant medicines inside the Dark Retreat.
We do not allow fasting for more than three days inside the Dark Retreat
We ask you to leave the space just as you found it and replace anything that may be broken or damaged during your stay.
We recommend that you give your phone to us to put in our safe upon arrival so that you do not have that temptation while inside the Dark Retreat.
The Dark Retreat is a completely solitary experience and while we are energetically supporting you from outside, we are not interfering in your process in any way. We do not speak to you unless absolutely necessary (usually prompted by you requesting we do so) and we are not checking in to see if you are okay. We come to deliver your meals twice a day and if you have an emergency or need something special, you can write us a note from inside the Dark Retreat (we provide note paper and pens) and we will address it as is required.
Before entering into the Dark Retreat, we provide you with a short booklet to read about what to expect while inside and are with you for one to two hours to give you a full tour of the space and answer any of your questions. We can also offer you several simple meditation techniques if required, but once we leave and you blow out the candle on the altar, the solitary process will begin.
To prepare for the dark retreat, you don´t need to do too much. Simply eat healthily, avoid alcohol, coffee, meat and sugar for a few days before entering, and get some good sleep. Come with an open mind and heart and be ready for a deep (blissful and difficult) journey.
The temperature in the dark retreat is between twenty degrees celsius (68F) and 25 degrees celsius (78F), with fresh air being pumped in all the time. It is good to bring a pair of warm socks and a jumper with you.
There is a warm solar shower, yes.
Inside the Dark Retreat you will find plenty of cushions for meditation, a wooden meditation bench, a chair or couch, a yoga mat, a fresh towel for the shower, hand soap, toilet paper, note paper and a pen. There is a fully prepared bed with extra blankets and a bathroom with eco toilet and hot shower and shelves for clothes and personal items.
There is unlimited filtered water on tap inside the Dark Retreat where you can fill your bottle or cup to drink.
At The Hermitage we have built the Dark Retreat so it is possible for couple to do a retreat together. There are two separate beds, and a big space to practice in between. There is one bathroom that you share.
We let people into the dark retreat at sunset (around 5pm) and out at sunrise (around 5.30am) so that the eyes can gently adjust to the light again. It is a great idea to consider booking a few extra nights in one of our cabins or private rooms both before entering the dark retreat, and afterwards, so that you can deepen your retreat and integrate back into the light more gently.
Yes, the door is locked from the inside, so you can open it at any time and come out if you have to. We are always available for support if needed also.
The Hermitage asks for a full payment upfront to confirm all bookings for Dark Retreats. All payments are fully refundable, minus a $50 processing fee, up to three months in advance. Three months or less before your retreat is due to begin, the payment is completely non-refundable. Once your retreat has begun, The Hermitage is not able to give a refund if you decide to leave early or skip meals that you ordered in advance.
For more information: POLICY & PRIVACY
WHAT IS SO FASCINATING ABOUT THE DARKNESS?
Is it the mystery of the unknown? Is it that you have to show up fully by facing yourself? Is it the curiosity of being with yourself alone without any distractions? What is it for you?
Send us an email if you feel the calling to enter the dark.
beyond what is known as the dark retreat benefits like the activation of the pineal gland, dmt, healing traumas and near death experiences. The invitation is to drop expectations of what you think you know about the dark and let the experience unfold itself.
DARKNESS AS AN ANCIENT TRADITION
this advanced practice requires your full commitment and and previous meditation experience.
In the Dark there are no substances, no plant medicine, no tobacco, no drugs, no coffee allowed to reveal the inner light.
NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT & DETOX
Our dedicated team will support you with two delicious vegetarian meals delivered to you each day with care and love. Once you are here, our professional Raw Vegan Chef will customize your meal through Juices, Raw Vegan meals, Detox teas and Spirulina for an additional charge.
HOW ARE WE HOLDING YOU?
We create the space for you to hold yourself. All external needs and concerns are taken care of so that you can focus on your internal world. Our dedicated team is taking care of every step in the process.
Integration is as important as the dark room retreat itself, and thus mandatory to make sure you get the most out of your experience.
ABOUT THE HERMITAGE
The Hermitage is a family owned retreat center founded by Severin and Emma Geser, who are both commited meditation practitioners and qualified meditation and yoga retreat leaders. They live with their children on the shores of Lake Atitlan and offer their beautiful property up for all those looking for solitude and peace.