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Darkness Meditation

Darkness is a mystery. It is a much deeper phenomenon than light. Darkness needs no fuel, no cause, hence darkness is not an effect. It can remain eternally there. Darkness blows away the ego through the absence of light. Without visual stimuli the mind and soul can wander in the psyche. Open Up is offering this exceptional meditation as a practice to heal, transform and awaken. It is a deep psychological process to release fear of the unknown and listen into your own world and being. 

The history and philosophy of darkness meditation

To encounter darkness is more uncomfortable and difficult than to encounter light. 90 to 95% percent of our energy flows through our eyes – so in darkness, this energy becomes available to experience ourselves on a whole different level. I first experienced Darkness Meditation in India in 2004 where I immersed myself in spiritual practice and began my personal development path. The 'inner work' translates itself best as a meeting with the unknown and mysterious depths of our own darkness that consciously or unconsciously is controlled by the ego. Paradoxically we come to find the inner light when moving towards our own darkness, and heal ourselves by including the positive and disowned shadow parts about ourselves that we disown, reject or deny. Meeting the 'blackness" of darkness is an invitation to surrender to the unknown – and beyond. Vast darkness is bound to create a vastness of humility, humbleness, egolessness.

The philosophy and history behind the dark meditation is a process of secluding oneself in complete darkness, and has been practiced for thousands of years as a way of obtaining spiritual evolution or deep spiritual growth. It’s really amazing to see how many cultures all over the world hold practices of darkness meditation.

In Egypt, the darkroom was found in the pyramids; in Tibet and India dark meditation happened in mountainside caves; in Europe, it took the form of underground tunnels and catacombs and even in the Amazon jungle in conjunction with plant medicine, dark meditation is used as a way to heal, transform and awaken. In the Taoist tradition, the benefits of spending extended periods of time in the dark – sometimes weeks – is a higher level practice to advance one’s spirituality. Mantak Chia explains in his book, Darkness Technology, when one is in the darkness, the mind and soul can wander through psychic and spiritual realms so that you can reunite with your truest, highest state of being.

In religion, light has become far more popular. The Koran says God is light, the Upanishads say God is light, the Bible says God is light. The Essenes group is the only tradition in the world which says that God is absolute blackness, absolute darkness, just an infinite black night. It is a brotherhood of holy men and women living together within a community over two thousand years ago. The Essenes considered themselves to be a separate people, not because of external signs like skin colour, hair colour, but because of the illumination of their inner life and their knowledge of the hidden mysteries of nature unknown to other men. The technique used by the Essenes was to enter darkness, to become one with it.

What are the benefits of Darkness Meditation?

There are many physical, mental and emotional benefits to the practice. Research done by the Amaya Centre teaches us that 90 to 95% of our thoughts come directly from our visual stimuli. When you shut down this visual stimuli you are left with your own inner eye and inner voice. The eyes will literally keep searching for light until you settle and allow all to merge as one. The rest and peace that comes to the mind is so deep.

"Understanding the biochemical reactions that occur in the brain while in complete darkness is extremely interesting. Melatonin, which is the chemical in our brains that send us to sleep, keeps building up while in the darkness. It does not stop building up so, in extended darkness, you become very relaxed and sleepy. It’s very common to do a lot of sleeping during the first 24 hours in darkness. If you spend multiple days in darkness the brain begins to realize it no longer needs the melatonin and shifts into producing another chemical called Pinolene. Pinolene can cause somewhat of a light show where you can have visions that are directly linked to the inner workings of the mind. If one were to seclude in darkness for 7-14 days there is DMT that will release from the brain naturally that brings a state of complete altered consciousness. In this state, people experience immense feelings of universal compassion and can work deeply on that which needs healing within"

Darkness Meditation is a way to become rejuvenated and rested from the noisy culture we live in while at the same time, connecting deeply to the inner voice that can tell us a lot about what we need to hear in this very moment.

Taking the Shadow into Darkness

The shadow goes by many familiar names: the disowned self, the lower self, the dark twin or brother in bible and myth, the double, repressed self, alter ego, id. When we come face-to-face with our darker side, we use metaphors to describe these shadow encounters: meeting our demons, wrestling with the devil, descent to the underworld, dark night of the soul, midlife crisis.” Although the shadow is an innate part of the human being, the vast majority of us are willfully blind regarding its existence. We hide our negative qualities, not only from others but from ourselves. To do this we often criticize and condemn others to ensure our focus does not fall on our own faults and destructive tendencies. We go through life with a false air of moral superiority and a belief that while others act immorally and destructively, we ourselves are wholly virtuous and always in the right.

“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.” – Carl Jung

Whenever the shadow is active, we put up psychological defenses to block certain characteristics that are repressed into the unconscious. As all humans have a shadow, what differentiates us from others is the degree to which we are conscious of it. When our shadow remains unconscious, it wrecks havoc in our life. Repressed contents do not merely disappear, but rather they function independently of our conscious awareness. In other words, the shadow has the capacity to override our conscious ego and take possession of our being, exerting control over our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - Carl Jung.

Turn off the light - step into the process

Integrating the hidden power of your dark side will allow you to start to explore all the different nuances of reality through acts of intelligence and you manage, through constant experimentation and dynamic between the seen and recognised 'inside', and the understanding through sense-making in relation to the 'outside. This is the magic of the relationship between intellect and intuition. A magic that can only be manifested when your past, present, and future selves decide to unite and becomes present and embrace the idea of synergy.
The Open Up Darkness experience is a meditation, a sitting with your own being whilst looking into darkness. In Amsterdam we are the first to introduce this in the beautiful cinema of Soho House. A space that has a pin-drop silence, and a 'blackness" without light. The process consists of a facilitated preparation and integration. We open up through an inquiry and sharing to create a safe environment and get to know each other. We start each journey with an orientation where all of the rules and regulations will be explained. This includes practical info like how to go to the bathroom and return. This experience offers complete darkness for a 1 hour period. After our orientation, we enter into a more sacred space where we will breathe and prepare the physical body to move towards a more calm and centered place within, where we will enter our time into darkness. The power of this meditation is that we inspire to open the collective energy of everyone in the room. Although everyone will be doing their own inner work, the room can emerge as one mind together.

Enter Darkness

Fear might be there out of sense of loss of control. It is not easy to bare to being so 'silent' that it might be unbearable at first. Light lifts you up. Darkness requires a surrendering. A trust.

Stare into blackness. It can be challenging to see darkness all around. The invitation is to let darkness enter your eyes and your being. And as you stare into the vacuum, let it stare back at you.

Remain with open eyes. This meditation is practiced with open eyes to consciously look into the dark and to invite it in.

Be with it. Entering darkness in this experience has the potential to empty you of all negative darkness. This is a very deep phenomenon. It is difficult to find real darkness with the unreal light everywhere. Even our darkness is polluted as we're not used to going back to a state of mystery. To be in a place and setting that is dedicated to purely feel darkness, is a rare thing. Try to be fully with it in offering of all your curiosity to experience what happens when darkness absorbs and dissolves the noise and gradually offers the potential of profound peace and relaxation.

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