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darkroom retreat
deep rest for the self-healing psyche
Andrew Durham
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This version was published on 2015-05-01

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For late friends,
Lisa Saavedra and John Rosenberg,
who burned bright in a benighted lifeway
and so fell long before their time;
and imprisoned cousin,
Damon Durham,
on whom the sins of our fathers are heavily visited
these decades of hard time.

about the book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


1 - hygiene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


2 - format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


3 - protocol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


4 - prepare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


5 - design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


6 - make . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


7 - faq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


bibliography and influences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


license . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


bio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


. Hygiene now has an equally effective way of caring for the self-healing psyche. making the darkroom a powerful tool. this is the first approach to darkness—and psychology—based in Natural Hygiene. Natural Hygiene simply recognizes the self-preserving organism and provides it such normal conditions of life. History’s most influential approach to health. how to do it. it has long achieved stupendous success in caring for the self-healing body. fresh air. toward a Natural Hygienic psychology Neither spiritual nor disciplined. Why do this? To restore conditions of psychological balance. Hygiene gave the modern world appreciation for frequent bathing. This seemingly trivial contrast can lead to a remarkable and lasting restoration of your well-being. giving refuge from the constant sensory malstimulation of civilized existence. and pure food. With darkness. It includes easy steps to attain some of these effects in your own home. In this way. The book explains everything about why a retreat works. and how to make a darkroom. therapeutic nor medicinal. regular exercise.about the book a complete manual Hygienic darkroom retreating consists of resting in an absolutely dark room for days.

After 54 hours. and what for. I wondered. the same thing happened. I began testing this idea in more darkroom retreats.preface What is a Hygienic darkroom retreat and why do it? It consists of resting in an absolutely dark room for days alone with food. unusually. and velocity. It is yours. As predicted. At first. resources. I also felt humbled. In seven years and 16 retreats. I felt caught up on all the sleep I had ever lost. Two years later. . Hygienic darkroom retreating requires minimal effort and no faith. It worked. how to retreat. Well in my soul. But I have seen enough to confidently share what I have learned: what happens in darkness. This approach is ripe for more participation. I was stunned. I just did it to rest. lethal psychic issues that have tortured me my whole life began resolving themselves spontaneously. One morning in a dream. this and many related clues fused in the conception of restful use of darkness in support of the self-healing psyche. From Natural Hygiene. Genuinely calm. I have seen no sign of an end to this process— short of full recovery of psychic integrity. truly awake for the first time in decades. Except. The investigation has barely begun. I vaguely remembered the self-preserving nature of life. why. but the presence of the self. How?. and rest as the primary condition of healing. Darkness is not the absence of light.

and refuge. treatment. or practices. and time. this remains an intensely personal book prompted by a life and death struggle. It is a book of natural psychology. This book offers radical hope to sufferers of all kinds. with little money. and without discipline. It helps dispel fear of darkness. And it extricates darkness from historically esoteric use. to also serve the soul. sustenance. I hope it helps you recover your lost self as it continues to help me. rituals. or therapists. Just by restoring some normal conditions of life. like a scraped knee. basics why retreat • for the immense pleasure of resting deeply . The following is scientific in spirit. I derived it from self-experimentation.introduction This book is about Hygienic darkroom retreating: resting deeply in darkness in order to heal. The damage to my soul and the extremism I needed to survive it come through the text. It calls Natural Hygiene. knowledge. can heal its trauma and illness itself: without substances. It shows how physical darkness is to the psyche what a mother is to a child: origin. effort. but it is science from the hip. Take what you find useful. It shows how the psyche. And while I have tried to strip it down to essentials. a timeless system of primarily bodily health. not double-blind clinical studies.

which requires more processing than all other senses combined. solitude. In darkness. Feeling and moving modes of intelligence regain lost territory. through hormonal changes in our circadian system. balancing the psychic workload more efficiently. waking consciousness more placid. and lose appetite. absolute darkness. and natural food. the mind slows down. • a retreat provides all conditions of profound rest: comfort.introduction iv • for relief from the over-stimulation and distress of civilized existence • to recover from tiredness. and silence. time. In extended total darkness. the psyche is self-healing. accumulated in rest • full healing only occurs in faculties held still 3. among hundreds of other calming vital processes. fatigue. The psyche finds profound rest in darkroom retreat: • darkness signals us physiologically. • by destimulation. warmth. sleep gets deeper and longer. is completely eliminated. a retreat conserves the significant energy consumed in processing sensation. As an organic system. . 2. Sight. The primary condition of healing is rest: • healing requires extra energy. • the abstract nature of vision fuels the mind. to sleep. One can stop thinking and fall asleep more easily. fresh air. dream. exhaustion • to heal from psychic trauma and illness • to resolve suffering itself how it works 1.

conditions were insufficiently met. normal: what is biologically appropriate (not merely usual or average) psychic: of or relating to the psyche. terminology Hygiene (capitalized): Natural Hygiene psyche: the faculty of consciousness (including the subconscious and unconscious). darkroom A bedroom makes the best first darkroom. you still cannot see your hand in front of your face. just as air for breathing and light for seeing. Psychology is not just the study of the mind. • Inside. not just its mental ones. you cannot see a haze or pinprick of light anywhere. it is foolproof. fully functional house in a quiet location. If nothing happens. I refer to psychic illness rather than “mental” illness. For example. I am not talking about occult . This includes its emotional and physical forms. A dedicated public Hygienic darkroom is just a small. it is perfectly and easily darkened. like a hotel room. Like all houses should be but are not. It has minimal furnishings.introduction v Because the process of healing is involuntary. This book precisely describes conditions and how to meet them. • It is so dark that even after your eyes adjust to it for three days. there are no light sources like candles. Darkness is good everyone. but the psyche: the entirety of human consciousness. • When you look around. Also. One needs darkness everyday and time to learn how to use it before retreating. The soul.

Christians in catacombs. uses extended periods of darkness for rejuvenation. holding darkness in high regard as essential to self-discovery. It is rational. Maya. Lifeway is a nicely compressed term common in anthropology. culture. or complicated about this approach. and Kogi Indians alike build special dark structures. I wanted a bigger word which would include all approaches to human existence.introduction vi phenomena. background history Every civilized spiritual tradition and many indigenous ones have used darkness for thousands of years as the ultimate environment for self-discipline and to gain unusual knowledge: ancient Egyptians and Maya in their pyramids. Sufis and Taoists in caves. an East Indian healing tradition. By reports. Amazonian shamanism uses darkness in ayahuasca ceremony. lifeway: way of life. Then I learned culture is recent: an invention of civilization. It is everything that happens with a group of people in the course of living. I once used the word. There is nothing mystical. disciplined. Western science has studied sensory destimulation since the 1950s for applications including space and health. and restful. for this. it is the fountain of youth. Tibetan Buddhists in cells of monasteries. Hygienic darkroom retreating completely secularizes the use of darkness for the specific purpose of healing. safe. . Ayurveda. Welsh shamans and Navajo.

Normal conditions of life include fresh air. secondarily volitional nature. Hygiene became a mass movement in 1832 with the lectures of Sylvester Graham. a Hygienic way has emerged to care for the psyche. and reenergizing. and cleanliness by regular bathing. Natural Hygiene bears unswerving respect for life’s self-preserving nature. has extensive means of caring for the physique. natural food. which could be called applied physiology. They guide us past incorrect assumptions and associations we may have with it. Hygiene taught the modern world the enormous benefits of these. The movement continues to the current day. Its motto: “Health through healthful living”. but accentuated under abnormal conditions.introduction vii Natural Hygiene A philosophy of health. Natural Hygiene provides guidance . Once you have these absolute basics down. disease is not an invading entity to be fought. making Hygiene the most influential approach to health in the world. The fundamentals of Natural Hygiene help us reconnect with our own common sense about healing. in darkness. So Hygiene studies and provides these conditions. cleaning. I will show how. sunlight. but a natural process to support with healthy conditions and practices. you can learn the concrete details of a darkroom retreat and approach it with confidence. and for the self’s primarily autonomic. After retreating. Natural Hygiene. But it has lacked a psychology. It observes that health naturally occurs in organisms under normal conditions of life. physiologist and namesake of Graham flour. Thus. Disease is the normal organic activity of self-repair. Hygiene identifies disease as the process of healing. Natural Hygiene originated in America a generation after the Revolution.

crystalline argumentation. I was sympathetic. It took time because I started out quite lost in the stew of naturopathic. He had studied not just Herbert Shelton. Frederic Patenaude. a seeker whose book collection contained the ecstatic Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. In the tropics. Sterling Voss. This is proven by the tropical temperature we all maintain next to our skin with clothing. Our solution is at hand. but the French hygienic master. Absolute darkness is natural. .introduction viii in all other aspects of healthful living. frederic Natural Hygiene came to me three times. By this. in the greatest letter anyone ever wrote me. Herbert Shelton’s Fasting Can Save Your Life. author of The Raw Secrets. We need only realize the importance of all our work and complete it with darkness. one’s sheltering instinct intensifies. Slowly. prolonged mass trauma led to intensive investment in automated shelter. and machines. we would live in forests. When traumatized. Tropical forests are pitch black at night because of the thick canopy of leaves. which I edited and published with him in 2002. with whom he was in contact for many years. who discussed. A second time in 1992 from my great friend. from Nature’s First Law in California to Tree of Life in Arizona to Frederic’s company in Quebec. so I kept asking (or challenging) and he kept answering. like fate knocking at the door. Albert Mosseri. shelter. Once in 1989 through my dad’s second wife. I mean he beat it through my thick skull with his relentless. I absorbed the essence of Natural Hygiene’s radical perspective through Frederic. Consider: natural human habitat is tropical. I worked with Frederic off and on for four years. A third time from my close associate. Our extreme.

I believe it illuminates mysteries of diet and the greater mystery of suffering that we tried and failed to solve with diet. Don’t be the last to know. chiropractic. A Hindu. “Try endarkenment. Finn. “Ohmigod. one comes out completely renewed. “Tired of enlightenment?” he asked. he said.introduction ix homeopathic. I hit it off with the village maintenance man. I started studying hygiene on my own. and alternative dietary ideas floating around my head. Purna Steinitz. Frederic’s dedication and great knowledge made him immovable where I was merely stubborn. Finn had a darkroom. the idea of renewal in darkness stayed with me. Drinks his own pee and lives in a tiny geodesic dome he built out of garbage 20 years ago. “It’s a . “Apparently.” I found the idea very strange. An incipient Hygienist. But like a lot of things Purna said. Lots of energy. finn I first heard about darkroom retreating in 2004 from my former spiritual teacher. he had heard about its use in Ayurveda. herbal. a feisty hippy-from-birth (his dad was a beatnik). Naturally. He said. Name of Finn Po. A year later. When the tide turned. Full of wry optimistic sayings as well as good-natured jokes about people’s hang-ups.” “What’s it like?” Eyes closed. I thought what people need is more light. really?!” “It’s the way of the future. after a few weeks of it. Scrawny guy. I can only hope to return the favor with the current work. Wizard-level resourcefulness. arms wrapped round himself. I moved to an ecovillage in Oregon.” I said.

It would take two more years.” “How do you do it?” “Ah. and another successful retreat for me to grasp the significance of retreating in darkness. andrew How did all this begin? At age 15. beautiful universe. I independently investigated this mystery for 21 years. so did my previous interests. I was spontaneously overcome by rapture: sublime joy in perceiving and being part of a perfect. he had inspired all village youth to try it. . Soon after. and design. just git in the room!” A benevolent Pied Piper and the coolest 60 year-old around. When it faded. the answer came: A slight increase of vital energy from adolescence had caused a temporary. I tried it.introduction x luxury. Slumped in front of the TV one day. in late 2008. This feeling and perspective lasted three months solid. I felt morose and alienated. I wanted more than anything to understand the cause of rapture—in order to recover it. Living out of a backpack. Toward the end of this period. I was just getting started. After listening to him rhapsodize about it all winter. But as Finn says. So perhaps a massive increase from darkroom retreating could cause permanent and complete restoration. too. the massive shock of leaving my teacher. Wow. I did my first darkroom retreats. experimenting with philosophy. partial restoration of my damaged psychic integrity. revealing an enrapturing universe. health.

What else can go right? application audience This book is for those who suffer in any way—spiritually. relaxedness. All this after years at at time without it. An internationally recognized psychology professor with decades of flotation research experience unqualifiedly agrees with my theory and wants to do research with my exact method.introduction xi With this breakthrough. In retreat. my search ended and my work began. It is for self-experimenters and appreciators of good arguments. purpose. Flexibility returns. physically. I and 25 clients have tried it. Darkroom retreating is for anyone to whom it makes sense and who feels moved to do it. basic functioning last two months. even joy return for weeks at a time. I woke up from one retreat feeling like an adult. energy. Over the course of my 20. I do not grind my teeth nearly as much. noticeable restoration of my psychic integrity and function has occurred. or ecologically—and need hope that their suffering is not necessarily permanent. Wherever I go. For example: my body’s scent has improved. Interest in darkness is growing worldwide. calm. socially. Clarity. Exhaustion and suicidal thoughts and feelings evaporate. this feeling has not changed in two years. mentally. emotionally. I wake up knowing things that have mystified me for decades. symptoms of fibro-myalgia dissipate. 2-7 day retreats. whether to heal from acute illness . people are as struck as I am by the simple logic of this idea and want to try a retreat. No data contradicting the basic idea has yet emerged.

introduction xii or to simply see what it’s like. Alternate periods of such change with retreats of increasing length until your psychic integrity is completely restored. However. protocol: what little there is to do in a Hygienic darkroom retreat . But just knowing about darkroom retreating can encourage us to do so. After you’ve done a few short retreats. Then. this book presents an idea for consideration. you can find a public dedicated darkroom to do a longer retreat at. Meanwhile. Besides psychic illness. how to use this book Above all. much physical illness is psychosomatic and therefore amenable to selfhealing in darkness. hygiene: underlying theory of the restful use of darkness 2. Motivation to do naturally comes from knowing. format: ways to use darkness in retreats and daily life 3. it is about knowing. Take your time absorbing the idea. design. content Chapters are mostly practical with a little theory to start with: 1. Once your room is set up. make the radical changes in lifeway you have been longing for and are now capable of. And acquaintance with Hygienic principles is invaluable to healing from any illness. not doing. Sometimes illness needs to be addressed in other obvious ways first. First. darkness is no escape. and make chapters. try a retreat when it is convenient. start darkening your room with the instructions in the format. Live. if you find sufficient reason here to apply the idea.

Fork the project. make: instructions and plans for making darkroom components 7. or submit a pull request. Besides being free content. I continually update this book. Please give out this free ebook as much as you please. open an issue. faq: frequently asked questions Content is drawn from my website. download the latest version of the book and review relevant sections. darkroom retreat. open source psychology Thanks for reading. you can also read: a series of my retreat There. and in person. poetry. prose. and lyrics from the past 25 years. Soon I will present my new designs for the lightproof vent and window coverings. theoretical essays linked to in this booklet. prepare: orientation for a retreat 5.introduction xiii 4. I can assist you by email. So especially before building. skype. at andrewdurham. designs. Learn distributed version control software. support Join the dolphin economy: I help you help me help you help me help you… In addition to this book. design: darkroom specifications 6. Or just write me directly with comments and corrections. and essays. this is an open source project contained in a public code repository. related myths. elaborative blog posts. See about>services for details. .

friendly question. improving the website 6.introduction xiv You can help me by: 1. and depression 7. . especially after reading the book 2. offering something else only you know about or that we can develop together Thanks for reading and best wishes on your way. reporting your experience online and sending me the link 4. lending me a suitable retreat location for a month so I can heal from my own psychosis. applying my work by darkening your room and doing a retreat yourself 3. so even small amounts help 8. Now I will introduce you to a basic part of my way: hygiene. donating money to me on my homepage. or comment. writing me a hello. exhaustion. I live extremely simply. improving the method and designs 5.

What conditions would make it possible? Identifying and providing conditions is Natural Hygiene’s forte. Human Life. Which is the point. It is a state of positive wellbeing that is evidenced by a constant state of euphoria. What is health like according to Natural Hygiene? “Health does not consist merely of the absence of symptoms of illness.hygiene Natural Hygiene is a simple. So we will do the same with the psyche and darkness before learning more about Natural Hygiene itself. if ever. full reference forthcoming) . so our job is to live. Once tasted.1 . Its Philosophy and Laws (found online. and rational approach to health and healing. Then I introduce a ¹Herbert Shelton. Natural Hygiene’s systematizer¹ Euphoria is exactly the sign of long-lost function that my adolescent rapture hinted at.” –Herbert Shelton. To live fully. we need health. After these basics. Natural Hygiene begins with ordinary observations of nature. nothing else will do. experienced by humans today. The thing is to come by it on purpose. some distinctions further aid understanding. It is rarely. natural. Hygiene enables us to understand what darkness is and how to relate to it for the purpose of health. It provides a comprehensive framework for the restful use of darkness in support of the self-healing psyche. We are organisms. not just by chance.

hygiene 2 couple mechanics of retreating before heading into its depths. if you skipped the blurb. preface. and introduction to this book. basics psyche and darkness Here is Shelton’s unsentimental view of the psyche: “The conscious functions of the body serve primarily to protect and provide the needs of the subconscious functions. It serves a biological function. Besides feeling comfortable where you slept. the psyche needs a period of rest and recovery. By the way. The psyche includes subconsciousness (which can be made conscious) and unconsciousness (which cannot be made conscious). Whatever affects the psyche for good or ill affects the rest of the organism likewise. The Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene. Darkness signals the regulator of our circadian (daily) rhythms.1 . Since its sensory apparatus is reflexive—the skin feels. It does so by ²Herbert Shelton. p 139 . Like any other organic system. the psyche is the primary system in the human organism because it coordinates all the others.”² Consciousness is not an end in itself. please go back and read them first. the uncharted territory of Natural Hygienic psychology. as when reading this book or running an errand. the nose smells. the eyes see—sensory destimulation is necessary for psychic rest.000.000. your shelter was probably especially dark and quiet.000. the suprachiasmatic nucleus.000 (pentillion) processes per second. And not just consciously. autonomically monitoring and controlling every one of its 5. Furthermore. Think back to the times you got your best sleep. These are diffuse throughout the organism. to cause us to sleep.000.000.

Self-healing unleashed. contrary to fairy tales. our lifeway is brutal. Darkness. and loss of appetite. We need nature’s full provision of it—about 10 hours a day—in order to rest properly. and ex- . overwork. naturally awake in daytime and asleep at night. it tells the pineal gland to secrete melatonin. religion. While many factors contribute to distress. they wonder helplessly how things can ever change. we need an extended period of darkness to recover. No drugs. Simply put. has pushed psychic illness to epidemic proportions. This physiological cycle is critical to psychic function. In crisis. intoxication. a hormone that causes sleepiness. along with a hundred other offences. Modern distress (loneliness. Thus. darkness is a good thing. First.hygiene 3 instructing other organs of the circadian system. Human beings are diurnal creatures. that is. it provides the being a chance to recover from them naturally. Autonomically. etc) requires hundreds of millions of people to consume psychoactive drugs just to function and survive. natural sleeping patterns with graveyard shifts and afterparties. Caught in a vicious circle. and damaging. traumatic. For example.1 . and light bulb advertising. Hygienic darkroom retreating uniquely provides an opening: a simple way to begin reversing all of them at once. This greyness. by itself. no experts. no therapy. Modern life replaces the natural extremes of sun and stars with the relentless grey of artificial light and sunglasses. factory food. sensory overload. Second. is a natural condition of life. it harmlessly brings them to a halt. Darkroom retreating is to the psyche what fasting is to the body: • relief from processing intake • time to fully recover from injury. dreams. like light.

or shocked from violence. Now let us find shelter—a context— for darkness itself. such as cleanliness. hygiene means vigilant cleanliness and use of safety equipment to protect against a hostile world. normal conditions of life. where only normal conditions of life occur: pure water. etc.1 . “Gimme shelter!” Darkness is good shelter. rest. her whole being cries out. Natural Hygiene goes even further. fresh air. and it is not fearful. . Natural Hygiene Here is Webster’s basic definition: hygiene: a condition or practice conducive to the preservation of health. But hygiene is more than cleanliness. (emphasis added) In common usage. sunlight. natural food. hysterical. too. This is based on Hygiene’s observation of ubiquitous health in nature. companionship. It benevolently identifies the conditions of health with the natural. Depressed. Now darkness find its place in this list. It seeks to provide them to a self-preserving organism. a person doubles over and covers her eyes. exercise. warmth.hygiene 4 haustion • overdue recognition of exactly who and what is doing the recovering Instinct in extreme circumstances gives us a graphic clue to the basic need for darkness: when psychically overwhelmed. It includes all healthy conditions and practices.

This is the first part of Hygiene’s Great Law of Life. It is an everyday science. and causality of life: that life is. and self-healing. not anything external to it. person.1 . Whether well or ill. identity. including healing. Thus.”³ Natural Hygiene is based on the fact. from the cells to the organism as a whole. A dozen other Laws compliment these. no treatment. infallible organism handle the rest. This is an example of the Law of Dual Effect. herb. Hygiene systematically describes how this happens with these and other logically interrelated laws. omnipotent. no condition or practice. This is true in every respect and at every scale. The Law of Action states that only the organism performs vital action. chapter 5 .⁴ ³Ibid. and influences that have a normal relationship to life. Attempting to make the body heal with them further damages or drains its power to heal itself. ripe for self-experimentation. no drug. or food. whatever benefit might appear in the short term. back cover ⁴Ibid. The Great Law implies others. The autonomic (involuntary) processes of the omniscient. or device heals. that life is alive. ie. agents. The Law of Vitality states that energy employed to perform this action resides only with the organism. self-maintaining. that life lives.hygiene 5 Shelton describes Natural Hygiene as “the employment of materials. This means it is inherently self-preserving. one’s conscious (volitional) role is to discover and provide the normal conditions of life in the proper proportion. All are derived from simple observations everyone can make. in the preservation and restoration of health according to well-defined laws and demonstrated principles of nature. self-generating.

Volition plays a critical yet small part in the whole process of life. an organism assimilates food into its own structure. It enables psychic rest like fasting enables physiological rest. Food provides sugar. eliminate deeply stored waste. So again we see that no external force. Since it manages its own healing. Darkroom retreating is the twin of fasting. for example. Otherwise we could just eat to restore our strength. Food does not actually give energy to the body directly. But the body only transforms sugar into reserve electrical potential of the nerves during sleep. In darkness. Some of this refueling can occur within seconds of eating easily digested food like fruit. repair tissues. Hygiene helps us give the autonomic self some of the vast attention paid in our lifeway to the volitional self. It only eliminates toxins from tissues and repairs them completely while they are unused. Food takes nerve. In the relationship between food and nerve energy lies another example. is toxic by definition (which is why drugs are legally controlled). It is a poison. So fasting is a part of Natural Hygiene. but life is the owner of the power to act for itself. An organism does not relate with poisons but rapidly neutralizes and expels them. Hygiene finds another means of attending to the autonomic self. The deep self will not solve all one’s problems in darkroom retreat.1 . which refuels everything from large muscle movement to thinking to cell operation. Reca- . and replenish itself with nutrients and energy to the farthest reaches of every cell. It will have a chance to recover lost capacity. medicine of all kinds is superfluous. By contrast. chemical. In this break. and muscular energy to eat and digest. Life is the doer.hygiene 6 A drug. Fasting when ill is an instinctual extension of the normal time between meals. the body can rest from most metabolic processes.

Meanwhile. We feel pumped up by the prospect of doing something consciously and directly. It is grounded totally in normal organic processes of the involuntary nervous system. we have all come to think that somehow. someday.hygiene 7 pacitated. submit to treatments. of partial self-loss. distinctions attitude Hygienic darkroom retreating is not primarily about hypersecretion in the brain of DMT. It is about unglamorous. omniscient and omnipotent. where the nervous system does not reach. This is egomania. a pretence of enthusiasm to cover the pain of psychic damage. and in cellular self-maintenance. the autonomic self. rots in an unemployment line. We enthusiastically sign up for workshops. but unconsciousness does. it is fundamentally different from the active approaches of discipline (like spiritual practice). postretreat section for more about this. Under regular circumstances. accessing higher states of consciousness. and psychedelics. we would finally do something about our quandary. passive rest and the mostly insensible healing that occurs in rest. and experiment with exotic psychoactive substances. therapy.1 . Civilization has taught us well: in various ways. undertake disciplines. It is an act. or meditation (all of which can easily happen in retreat). remembering of dreamtime. Thus. of the suicidal urge to total selflessness. one can then make the radical changes in lifeway necessary to handle remaining problems. which occur far beneath the level of conscious awareness. See protocol. we won’t drop this act. We cannot because it would be too .

and neither will we with our schemes. We are fit to be tied. Because the more competent worker is on the job. or skills. If one’s attitude is really to passively let the omnipotent healing forces of the organism do everything. As we imagine ourselves to be—just the conscious. Alexander did not properly handle it by cutting it open with his sword. The best we can do is fully admit to our helplessness and to surrender to the only forces that could ever untie the knot. silent.hygiene 8 painful and frightening. But the knot actually needs to be untied. . the effect will be much greater than if one has the doer-attitude of a practitioner. Natural Hygiene’s passive emphasis on rest and healing is very important because it defines the appropriate attitude toward retreating. Darkness is such a place. We who still stumble chaotically try to control life rather than serve it. We are utterly helpless in our post-traumatic fixation and denial. But it is fruitful because it can elicit a strong enough response from conscience to finally notice and support the self-healing organism. we are powerless. volitional part—we are not going to get it done or have anything to do with its getting done.1 . Integrity is the end. It is the Gordian Knot. The mind becomes extremely powerful when it is resting and purifying. efforts. so integrity must be the means as well. I learned in fasting that how one approaches a retreat has a great effect on what happens in it. We need a really safe place in which to do it. Only the small. our commission to do the job. So we are not going to handle our quandary. We are not going to figure it out. Hygiene says that we cannot directly heal injury anyway. But it needs our recognition. Pathologically disidentified from life. It is not a pleasant thought. slow tendrils of the autonomic organism’s own vast intelligence can ever untie such a tangle.

The main effort involved is supportive: to maintain the conditions of healing. this is far more powerful than any other approach can be. But it is no worse than what I go through anyway. And sleep deeply: I felt positively knocked out. There were times I felt I was crawling in my skin. it felt like falling through a trapdoor. Stay in the darkroom. Exercise. Dreams are fewer or more vivid. It will anyway. I felt five or six more such trapdoors awaited me. So the whole thing was alternately very pleasant and very unpleasant. Lie back down. And there is a chance of never reliving the horror again. At the end of my second successful retreat. I still await my chance. It is just accelerated. Stare at the backs of your eyelids. which would take about two weeks in darkness to fall through. It is impossible to believe until it happens. Then I would see the other side of my personal struggle. Meditate if so moved. A bloodstream flooded with melatonin is compelled to sleep. concentrated. and let sleep come. To me.hygiene 9 I know no one who has explicitly gone into darkness with the Hygienic perspective.1 . my lifelong dilemma. Eliminate. Eat. . with the sole purpose of simply providing the conditions of life to the self-healing organism. Attitude affects recovery. I am not speaking metaphorically. and without distraction. feel your breath and pulse. Lie down as much as possible. Bathe. Since the organism is the only thing that heals the organism. This ain’t a tall order. In 48 hours it is possible to catch up on all the sleep one has ever lost. Darkness ensures it.

I felt how frustrated I had been in my inactivity. Self-recovery accelerates and deepens. For the exhausted. failing. But we still desire these activities. for example. and hurting ourselves even worse. But then. 1. the system most damaged and in need of rest. For me. which is a faculty of the psyche. Meditation is discipline. just getting up to pee can feel like a chore. The organism generates fear of the activity to prevent us from trying. . As lost parts of the self are recovered. and releases vital energy for other tasks. not There are three things the Hygienic use of darkness is not. It wastes a tremendous amount of energy to keep us safe. imperceptibly. See note on fulfilment in protocol in the section on attitude. Frustration is one of many effects of psychic damage. In darkness. It is not meditation. it turns to satisfaction again.1 . Discipline is exercise of the will. Damage incapacitates us.hygiene 10 fulfilment A very pleasant effect of this restful attitude becomes more apparent the longer a retreat goes on: a sense of fulfilment. Recapacitation removes the cause of the fear. the satisfaction of simply being alive returns. this feeling can intensify at first. We can no longer do certain normal things. to exercise became fun after three days. enables the fulfilment of desire. Frustration is the conflict between desire and fear. It is as if all one’s futile efforts of the past are redeemed and their goal is finally realized. So discipline prevents full recovery of the psyche.

logical explanation of illness naturally motivates one to fulfill the actually healthy aim of one’s habits. The principal actor is life. Certainly not any treatment. therapy views the organism as incapable of initiating a movement toward health. it is merely presents an opportunity in which the self-preserving organism can better pursue its ceaseless tendency toward wholeness. It only provides conditions of healing to the unconscious self.1 . The Hygienic approach is explicitly and exactly the opposite: rest profoundly to gain energy for restoration. With discipline. It does not see. the autonomic self. 3. The therapist. The conscious self attempts nothing to directly cause healing. in disease itself. In a darkroom retreat. whose job it is to heal the organism. While depending on the organism to react to treatment. not its conditions. the movement already taking place. and therapeutic substances are the principal actors in a therapeutic session. natural or artificial. fights habits with practices to achieve an ideal. which entails super-effort to force access to subtle energy reserves to fuel transformation. It is not therapy. . In Hygiene. one struggles “against nature”. It is not a psychedelic trip: an experience of unconscious psychic phenomena made conscious with chemicals. darkness does nothing. therapy. Therapy is done to a passive organism from the outside. 2. Like air or water.hygiene 11 Another example of discipline is spiritual practice. Next. one begins by accepting as real the appearance of an intrinsic internal conflict: original sin.

as if it were disinclined or incapable. Hygienic use of darkness is essentially passive as regards the will. toxifying relationship with food from which most of us suffer • clearly experience one’s thoughts. dissociative. As a sampling of the frugivorous diet. No conflict. It is internalized tyranny. and appetite. mechanics food Attention to diet and nutrition have always been part of Natural Hygiene. nor help us suppress feeling or memory. darkness presents a miraculous opportunity to: • eat well • interrupt the malnourishing. : willed activities to improve an inert. these foods only nourish. They do not overtax digestion.hygiene 12 What these all have in common is the attempt to ameliorate suffering with conscious activity. The autonomic self is the principal actor. Maximum efficiency. intoxify. Neither external influences nor one’s conscious self have center stage. feelings and sensations This is why I serve and recommend only fresh fruit and greens to retreatants. even resistant unconscious self. or overstimulate the system.1 . but only play supportive roles. stress. Unfortunately. with its resultant triune brain drain. . Due to decreased activity. common to all anthropoid primates like us. Perfect result. In contrast. this attitude is ignorantly coercive toward the crippled conscious self and discouraging of the omnipotent autonomic self.

I am happy to make menu suggestions. proportion. Raw foodism only has one criterion: anything goes but high-heating. etc). quantity. I recommend The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr Douglas Graham. source. He is a Natural Hygienist. if the prospect of eating just fruits and vegetables stops you from retreating. season. Feel free to write me with your limitations. one’s feeling. However. . multi-dimensional set of criteria about food (timing. It is fanaticism. it is too late. you prepare the same way you prepare for weeks in a hospital bed in traction. It lacks depth and seriousness. preparation If nothing is to be done directly in a retreat to cause healing.hygiene 13 For more on frugivorous diet. and Olympic trainer. support. not a whole relationship with food. and food Otherwise. then just plan to eat as simply and naturally as you know how. Note: just because the frugivorous diet consists of all raw food does not make it a “raw food diet”. Reversing illness and suffering is a process with its own logic. Ie. Frugivorism has a large. how does one prepare for it? It is mostly logistics: • understanding the Hygienic attitude of passive support • learning how to eat frugivorously to feel satisfied • arranging a darkroom. You are already prepared. combination. 25-year frugivore.1 . Darkness is a starting point. One step at a time.

and memories of trauma become conscious as the psyche repairs itself. What trauma? I mean the routine brutality of our lifeway. Gaining confidence in your ability can take time. feelings. Trauma of such devastating nature usually occurs in infancy. it is inevitable that unresolved trouble from one’s past will come to the surface. I have recorded my experiences in darkness of beginning to heal from deep trauma. which would cause death. Not just the bad things we condemn. Denial is not a moral failure. Frozen feelings resurface. The fact that it is happening proves you have the capacity to handle it. sensations. It easily overwhelms an infant’s fragile consciousness. but the bad things we accept and even believe in. but part of genuine recovery from it. Exactly what they are for you. This is not the torment of endlessly reliving the past. In a series of reports. Insights come. It is subconscious success. Buried thoughts. Denial prevents trauma from shattering basic psychic integrity.hygiene 14 depths trauma In the course of days alone in a darkroom. I describe some ways I learned to deal with intense memory and feeling in darkness. In the next chapter. Denial begins to lift and a traumatic event is remembered or acknowledged.1 . Denial is maintained until the psyche heals enough for one to one bear witness to the horror of what has been denied. Why are these things buried? The first and strongest manifestation of trauma is unconscious denial. This is knowledge and skill I had to learn in response to the demands of the process. The organism paces this sometimes intense process with great care. I invite you .

quiet solitude. they took heroic stands for humanity. Liedloff. decent conditions in which to do so: rest in dark. The human organism is resilient in some ways and vulnerable in others. and to right unfathomable wrongs. In describing routine civilized traumatization. We are vulnerable to injury. Trauma is real. It is deep. ⁵Wilhelm. we need time to heal. you may well find psychic wounds underneath your condition. These wounds are doors. They only did not imagine that the psyche could repair itself without therapy. motivating us to take it seriously. Darkness provides our autonomic selves the opportunity to fully put these qualities to healthy use. Personal failure results not from weakness. Much of this comes straight out of modern depth psychology: Reich. wounds of surprising intensity. where you have a real chance to deal with them. This vulnerability is not our fault. From this damage. The bottom line is this. Miller⁵. Alice . Lastly.1 . We deserve it simply because we are hurt. It is simply a sign of malfunction resulting from deep damage. Arthur. It persists until it heals.hygiene 15 to find out yourself in darkness. On the other side of them lie unexpected paths back to physical health. It disrupts everything else in the meantime. We can heal from it. Jean. We are not indestructible. No one can get brutalized day in and day out for years and not be affected. It is the nature of our conditional existence as organisms. unconscious psychic trauma often expresses itself somatically: as physical illness. We just need basic. If you are physically ill. Janov.

sickening health care .1 . together. toxification. feeling. Narrowly. cardiovascular disease) • stupifying education. Broadly. psychosis means the inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. anxiety. Mass means universal. The sliver is spacetime—gross materiality—the three dimensions of space and one dimension of time which. So we emphasize thinking at the expense of feeling and. For example. are so amenable to intellection. and the resulting dysfunction of thinking. Obsessive control of this sliver enables some of us to survive and stave off mounting disaster for another generation. psychosis means psychic disease: trauma. and moving intelligences. schizophrenia epidemic diseases of lifestyle (cancer. to some extent. We hope. exhaustion.hygiene 16 psychosis Calling people crazy is a cliché among us. we believe the sliver of reality we are aware of comprises the whole of reality. diabetes. Functional means able to survive long enough to reproduce. action. Examples of mass psychosis abound among us: • • • • • • • • righteous wars against the innocent oppression in the name of rights and freedom poverty amidst mind-boggling wealth useless work and wearisome recreation confusing philosophy alienation—civilization’s calling card depression. But what if we are correct? Thinkers throughout history have observed in us civilized people a pattern of mass functional psychosis.

Hygiene asks. what normal relationship to life does this condition have? Did its absence cause or contribute to the disease in the first place? If not. or is it just human nature. and darkroom retreating is the gut. Perhaps you have even wept over your own desperate madness. then the proposal can be dismissed. It begins by observing that health is the normal state of organisms under normal conditions. Disease only occurs when something goes wrong with conditions: harmful ones are present and beneficial ones are absent or in poor proportion. Natural Hygiene deals unflinchingly in first causes. calling something crazy halts further consideration and conversation. Find elaboration on it in my earlier essay. the concept of mass functional psychosis is its heart.1 . we can recover. I submit that we are actually crazy. After all. “you can’t fix crazy. therefore. but we are alive. Among other things. psychosis. including its causation: the chain of cause and effect that leads to symptoms.” So why think or talk about it? Is it even craziness. In the case of using the condition of darkness to heal from .hygiene 17 No doubt you can supply your own. Normally. capitulating to psychiatry’s narcosis. we weren’t always. Mass psychosis is the biggest elephant in our room. something went wrong. as we have long assumed? Conventional psychology has failed. If the hygienic view of health and sanity are the brain of my theory. causation Pathology is the study of illness. this gives Hygiene a rational standard for evaluating conditions proposed as beneficial.

What would it mean to get the joke? Everybody is innocent. how were they to provide us proper shelter afterwards? They did not mean to hurt us.hygiene 18 psychic illness. Resting in a darkroom finally addresses this little-noticed intermediate cause of ongoing suffering and illness from trauma. just as their parents denied them. we were deprived of the shelter we instinctively sought in order to heal from whatever traumatized us. one lands here with unhappy consequences. Either way. Since humanity was fine at some point. prevention of all trauma is futile. Occasionally. were often the source of our trauma. but it’s too much to expect. . So the trauma had to originate externally. On Earth.1 . They suffered from the same illness arising from an often similar trauma from their parents. It happens occasionally. To support our healing would have meant facing their own terrifying pain in precisely the distressing moment when their highest values—their children—were suffering most. So everybody is free to heal. They were in denial of their need for rest. Why were we deprived? Parents. how did trauma begin? Sane people do not routinely hurt their children. We got hurt but got no chance to heal. but I guess a natural super-catastrophe in our distant past did it. Maybe we are the butt of a cosmic joke. Fact is. once upon a time. Or overwhelmed. Possibly they were traumatized with us. So here we are. big rocks fly around space at high speeds. They were misguided or unwitting. our source of shelter. I don’t know exactly what. Hope lies in having a way to recover from it.

Early. We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy—And the World’s Getting Worse ⁷Hygienist. 4. malfunctioning. Therefore. by resting in darkness. and happy. Until now. Hygiene merely shrugs at psychology’s conscious over-involvement in the unconscious. major psychic trauma leaves us damaged. physical darkness. fasting has been its ultimate means of dealing with serious illness. we start out whole. Healing primarily requires rest due to the stillness and extra vital energy it affords. At most. quoted online . 6. and happiness. As organisms. functional. and restful use of darkness. it has focused on physiological rest afforded by fasting. as an organic system.hygiene 19 psychology In light of the traumatic origin of disease. We are correct in believing we have a problem and need to do something about it. and suffering. Hygiene recommends keeping eyes closed during fasts because it rests the mind⁷. will heal itself. Profound psychic rest occurs autonomically in absolute. We have been incorrect about which part of ourselves has to do it. function. Hygienic principles. A ⁶As psychologists Michael Meade and James Hillman put it in the title of their 1993 book. Natural Hygiene upholds basic findings of psychology from several traditions. we are restored to wholeness. 5. routine. The psyche.1 . a Hygienic psychology can now be outlined: 1. Bernarr Zovluck.⁶ Focusing on deep psychic rest in absolute darkness is new in Natural Hygiene. which is competent to fix itself if supported. 3. 2.

It compliments fasting’s more physical benefits. But one always knows the result: restoration of function. Hygienic psychology’s bad news is much worse. one need only provide for it.hygiene 20 darkroom retreat embodies this principle fully while providing the energy and. And then? Healed from trauma. As in fasting. and its good news is far better than anyone imagined. one will no longer be compelled to repeat it. Trauma explains how these conditions themselves originate. Darkroom retreating demonstrates the marvelous self-healing power of the organism under proper conditions. Occasionally there is a chance to consciously participate in the process. And in coming to terms with trauma. As with the rest of Natural Hygiene. . Recovery of the lost self. the security of food to support repair of psychic systems. Or to find out why things have gone wrong if it is important to change ideas and habits related to it.1 . or a strange subterranean rumbling. one hardly knows in darkness what the being is doing at its deepest levels. frankly. Natural Hygiene can finally meet allopathy (Western medicine) in its stronghold. As with the rest of Hygiene. Mostly one feels normal. Usually accompanied by feelings of contentedness and euphoria. or discomfort. I have started to develop these implications in hygiene notes. the process is nothing less than miraculous. Hygiene has said illness originates with enervation (low energy) and toxemia. One will absorb and redeem its consequences. But for those who have suffered and failed for years with other approaches. The emergence of a Hygienic psychology and identification of trauma at the root of all illness have massive implications for Hygiene’s pathology and destiny. time in darkness shows that if one wants a miracle.

practices. and intriguing history of Natural Hygiene. read Shelton’s The Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene. .hygiene 21 I am only saying enough here to give you a theoretical basis for doing Hygienic darkroom retreats.1 . For an introduction to the principles.

which can take days. Reversing sleep deprivation is like withdrawing from strong drug. We all know how it is to finally get enough sleep after too many short nights: we feel tired afterwards. If so. sleep in darkness tonight Start like this: tack dark. Turn off or cover any devices in your room that produce light. These are in the order I recommend you do them in. We have no idea how tired we are and we are tapping into the first layer of a backlog of lost sleep. even if it lets in a little light for now.format Darkness can be used in different formats for different reasons. Here. dense blankets over your bedroom windows and doors to get relief tonight from outdoor ambient light. But make sure you have fresh air. Get a cheap sleeping mask from a travel store to make up some of the difference. Observe the effects in your energy level. you can see if you really like darkness for sleeping nightly. Once you’re “sober”. and general wellbeing.2 . make removable panels and lightproof . This is not getting too much sleep. psychic state. which is a physiological impossibility. I describe the ones I’ve tried so you can immediately begin experiencing for yourself deep rest in darkness. Extend corners of the blanket as far past door on either side as possible. Feeling groggy is the first phase of catching up.

this was a common sleeping pattern. a friend reported to me a huge difference in the quality of sleep he and his mate experienced. It is best to go to sleep early. Retreating strongly resets it. the darker the room. don’t consider it strange. See for yourself. I have experienced the same thing whenever I have been able to darken the room I sleep in.format 23 vents so your room is dark. sleep in darkness nightly From simply darkening his bedroom. exercising. At this hour. This pattern is natural. And perfect darkness is qualitatively better than near-darkness. . So sex can be especially gratifying. the world outside is quieter. the promise of sleep lies ahead. As a rule. It’s called biphasic or segmented sleep.2 . and light work are all fine. Sometimes I turn on the light to read or work for an hour or two. one is freshly rested. It is also considered the most auspicious hour for meditating. 20:00 at the latest. and the mind and its inhibitions are slightly out of commission. and easily reopened to light during the day. Creative thinking. airy. the better the sleep. as well as a return of vivid dreams. Then I go back to bed till 08:00 (give or take a couple hours). When it happens to you. but a normal part of human life recovered. too. Before widespread public lighting. Then one naturally awakens around midnight.

to smooth the transition to the moment of needing to retreat again. You: • definitely turn off lights by 20:00 • maintain darkness whether or not you wake up in the middle of the night • stay in darkness a maximum of 16 hours* The mini-retreat is also is critical for maintaining restedness between regular. 4. It is the one way I found to not use darkness. As a canary in a coalmine.2 . It is the same as sleeping nightly in darkness except for three things. just as importantly.format 24 mini-retreat A mini-retreat allows you to: • dip your toe into darkness before diving in with a regular 4.or 8-day retreat • maintain the benefits of a regular retreat • keep to your usual schedule It includes the two primary phases of a retreat: sleeping long and deeply. *CAUTION: Do not start a mini-retreat late and sleep extra late and longer than 16 hours. and being awake by yourself without distraction for some hours. Some benefits of retreating fade and at different rates. I cannot overemphasize this point.and 8-day retreats. whose health condition has been extreme and who experiences the effects of things intensely. To extend them as long as possible and. . This induced shock and very negative feelings in me. do a miniretreat once a week after a regular retreat.

this is not the case with mini-retreating. Obviously. postpone your mini-retreat till you can. Though not guaranteed. Just stay in till the . If you are not going to complete it. 4-day retreat Once your darkening measures are working smoothly for nightly use and mini-retreats. but I have done it many times and it still works because the organism has extra time to compensate. The human organism in darkness also seems to proceed in a 2–3 day cycle. namely. these are two of them. It is less than ideal to start regular retreats late. how not to retreat.2 . The amount of deep sleep that can be had in such a short amount of time is impossible to conceive beforehand and hard to believe even after experiencing it. exit darkness before getting too far into the cycle. go into darkness at night and come out in the morning. In accordance with the natural diurnal cycle. going to sleep whenever tired and especially at nightfall. Read my blog post.format 25 Retreating strongly re-aligns the organism with natural biological rhythms. Apparently. If you can’t start on time. Biological rhythms are very powerful and cannot be messed with in certain ways. Everyone interested in a 4-day retreat can try one. Otherwise you may experience very negative internal shocks. it is possible to catch up on all the sleep one ever lost in as little as 48 hours of darkness. for a longer explanation. you can easily add the remaining elements of a darkroom and do a regular retreat.

And the process often requires more than 48 hours. You were in total darkness for days. It takes time to properly readjust to light and ordinary life. It certainly feels like a chemical process. you have to sleep a night anyway. This makes the dark part of a retreat 2. A whole normal day awake before and after a retreat aids transition. Before or after any 48-hour period. what do you do in darkness without work.format 26 third morning. Long periods of darkness can affect your sense of balance. . Sudden exposure to daylight is an unnecessary shock. So a period of unstressed transition back to it is just as important as darkness itself. Visit with no one. Spend the transition quietly. not just a dark cinema for a matinee. Spend a minimum of 15 minutes relighting the room by opening the door and window panels a few millimeters at a time. Take a nap (covering the windows if you like). and sleeping as much as possible. except with windows uncovered during the day. eliminating.5 days or 60 hours. extra energy. It takes time to reflect on what just happened with yourself in darkness. people. After eating. Lie on the grass or the sofa. or media? I have found exercise and a primitive kind of meditation to be helpful in continuing to rest while awake. bathing. Getting an hour of light then serves no purpose and will nullify the benefits a third night can add to a retreat. and value of the retreat. Hormones are rebalancing and this takes time. Slowly re-adjust to light. Then cover the windows at sunset and sleep the night again in darkness. I explain more about meditation in the section on attention in the protocol chapter. For every three days of darkness. allow at least 24 hours of continued rest. Take a slow walk.2 . to begin integrating the changes.

A regular. But rent a retreat cabin if necessary and improvise a bathroom. fully-functioning house is best for a first 4-day retreat.2 . Consider your retreat finished by noon at the latest. running water is unnecessary. This is like the 4-day retreat except: • after physical restedness is reached. see “bathroom” section of make for how to make a portable indoor shower. Many of my early clients felt like they were just beginning to get somewhere when their 4-day retreat ended. and it worked fine. where you will likely continue to notice changes. Ease back into your regular life. Most people who can retreat for four days can go eight days and benefit more than twice as much. For this short of a period. Your supporter should come at 10:00 to make sure you are up. 8-day retreat This is the most beneficial retreat I have experienced myself. a major psychic issue can arise • another cycle of emotional discomfort and resolution usually occurs with that • two days of transition are needed afterwards • a bathing facility is needed for emotional as well as physical reasons. So I added 8-day retreats for first-timers.format 27 Uncover the windows when you awaken. For remote locations. This is because the healing process deepens every day and the organism’s response to darkness is cumulative. See the “bathroom” section of make for a short list of requirements. .

It seems worth looking into. so can you. my goal is to retreat for 20 days (5 lit). But as my hunch about it came to me. I assume it will come to others in some form while doing short retreats. or you haven’t time or the facility.2 . Only go four days if eight feels like too much. can be fully restored in one shot. This will enable me to put the rest of my life back together afterwards. cover windows each evening by 20:00 and uncover them each morning by 10:00. Doing a lot of them does not equal doing few long ones. Stories persist of astonishing physical healing occurring in Ayurvedic darkroom retreats lasting 3-12 months: growing new teeth (!). Like healing a broken bone. recovering lost hair and eyesight.format 28 • during the transition. Also do it for naps if you like. It’s the law of diminishing returns combined with the frustration of glimpsed but unrealized potential. Trust your feeling about this. and even recovering youth. now that you have found a realistic way to heal. I would like to see Hygienic retreat centers worldwide with facilities and support for: • darkroom retreats . In my second successful retreat I had a hunch: in two weeks of darkness my psyche will heal from trauma at the core. Life and healing move slowly. I would like to find a way health. Personally. I do not know exactly how long others would have to retreat to reach the same point. including psychic health. To this end. healing from diabetes. future The benefit of short retreats is impressive but still shallow.

It will take generations of healthy living for our full potential as human beings to be restored to original levels. conclusion Now that we have examined different formats of the restful use of darkness for different purposes. I also wish to help operators of existing retreat centers include Hygienic darkroom retreating in their programs. including both livelihood and lifestyle • open source research and development of the above • a village residence for staff where all this gets applied and tested in real life In 3-6 months. Write me for more info. let’s think ahead about what to do in a Hygienic darkroom retreat. but huge strides can be made in our lifetimes. I wish to help developers of such centers as well as places just for darkroom retreats. Those who support it become eligible for my future network. As a consultant. through which I can refer clients to you.format 29 • fasts (a la Mosseri) • physical retraining • training in healthy lifeway. . one would be: • restored to a basic level of function and vitality • prepared to maintain it in daily life • prepared to deal with the residue of the past.2 .

And I might have misunderstood Hygiene. I have made this up as I go based on my experience in darkness and what I have learned from Natural Hygiene and other sources. Life itself is the leader. and we are all learning to listen to it. you become your own best guide. As far as I am concerned. Only life itself can ever be the final authority on anything in Natural Hygiene. This chapter is just for getting you started and helping you past the biggest obstacles. . on the life within. or mistated something here. This chapter is a guide for retreating at a retreat center or your own place. darkroom retreating is nothing less than recovery of the lost self. do not force it on yourself. to the best of my knowledge. So again. not lead you. Hygienic darkroom retreating is new and I am new at it. or it clearly conflicts with you in some way. Rather.protocol Here is how to retreat in darkness in a Hygienic way. you must rely on yourself. Consider these as notes from the field and an invitation to explore an idea whose time has come. You would not have made it this far without your own good ways of seeing difficulty through. mistaken my own experience. As that happens. It is yourself with whom you are to be reunited.3 . rely on yourself. While my editors have done their best to help me remove my arbitrary influence from the text. we likely missed some. So if the best of my knowledge proves insufficient. whether you are following my guidelines or diverging from them. I intend this to guide you.

3 - protocol


First, if you haven’t already, read the format chapter, especially
the 4-day retreat section. That gives a good description of the
overall process.
• If retreating in your own bedroom:
– neutralize it: pack up and store everything unnecessary to the retreat
– clean it thoroughly
– pad sharp corners and protrusions
• Food
– Eat simply the day your retreat begins. If you can eat
enough fruit and greens to satisfy yourself, do so.
– Eat dinner before coming
• Orientation
– Arrive at 18:00
– Your supporter will show you details of the room,
find out particular things you need, and talk to you
about the retreat a little bit.
– Get used to the darkroom with eyes open. Then
practice moving around and finding things with
your eyes closed or a blindfold.
– If you have no supporter, set an alarm for 10:00 the
day you will uncover the windows and your last day.
• Lights out
– How are you going to do things in a totally darkroom? Very slowly!
– Important: when crouching, bending over, and rising, hold your arms out in front of yourself with
hands touching so you don’t hit your head. I learned


3 - protocol

this the hard way a couple times so you don’t have
to. Practice this.
Food will be left between the doors. Put food scraps
in bucket provided inside the room.
Things slowly go out of place in the darkroom. If you
would like the bed remade, lost shoes found, etc, just
let your supporter know.
If you discover a light leak, avoid looking at it
directly and quickly cover it. See “things to bring”
in prepare for materials to do this with). Let your
supporter know so it can be plugged permanently.
Use the scratch paper and pen to write notes to
your supporter. Put them in the agreed-upon spot for
Avoid all media during your retreat: friends, family,
text, music, photos, video.
Avoid all company as well: family, friends, etc. Unless you are a parent and your child needs to see you,
and perhaps—I’m not sure—if your retreat is longer
than two weeks.

• It is better to consider any spiritual, personal developmental, or therapeutic purpose to which you might put this
retreat as part of what you are retreating from. Really: feel
free to let it all go here. Whatever is valid will come back.
If you can’t let it go, that’s ok, too.
• It is quite possible to have a goal for a retreat and make
progress with it. I did this several times. But it was out
of desperation. My aims were security objects. This kind

3 - protocol


of purposefulness interferes with the organism’s priorities,
which cannot be improved upon. Life always knows what
is actually most urgent. (My most effective retreat was
when I felt quite hopeless that it would work. I only stayed
because of its logic.)
• Likewise, the autonomic functions of the organism will
deal with some of what we often regard as our moral
responsibilities. Darkroom retreating is not primarily an
active process (like spiritual practice). It is primarily a
passive process, requiring minimal effort on your part.
Like waiting in a hospital bed to heal.
Thus, you do not need to make yourself meditate, pray,
chant, think hard about things, etc. But if you feel moved
to do so, do not stop yourself, either. Yes, you actually get
to consider your feelings, impulses, thoughts, and needs in
• Again, the main purpose of the retreat is to rest. This
enables the organism to accumulate the vital energy it
needs to heal deep, psychic injuries way beyond the reach
of the will. Your principal task is to sleep.
• This process is as foolproof as possible. Given the conditions of rest—most of which are built into the room itself—
you will heal. The organism is the principal actor. Your job
is to support its self-healing process by conserving energy,
including the energy expended by attention (more later).

• What I have experienced may or may not happen for you.
But you will get a distinct break from your regular life. It’s

just a regular person. complete knowledge of everything about you and absolute power to act on this knowledge are the autonomic self’s great gifts for you. • As with everything. • I make no guarantees about what you will experience. even if I don’t feel like it: – drink water: water coats the nerves. maintain the psycho-physical “space” in which healing occurs. drink about 1 liter for every 20 kg you weigh. making time in darkness emotionally smoother. keep your wits about you. Even five minutes a . avoid bed soreness. feel less out-of-sorts. I do guarantee that your being will do exactly what is most necessary and not require more of you than you can handle.3 . Detection of dehydration is strangely harder in darkness. Each day. Your supporter is not a doctor. Perhaps you will have an amazing experience. Perfect. – exercise: exercise helps me get to sleep. You remain basically responsible for yourself. I’m still learning.protocol 34 best to consider anything more a bonus. 99.99% of which operates below the level of conscious awareness. and. It is up to your whole self. perhaps you won’t. interestingly. • As when wandering the streets of a foreign city. you have to learn how to do and not do this. beyond your direct control. prevent muscle atrophy. water & exercise • There are two things I make sure I do.

This is the equivalent of 1-2 large heads or bunches. by mass. The human alimentary tract processes food in batches. . should be leafy greens: lettuce (not iceberg). something that never happened before. A continuous stream of food (often eaten in boredom) stresses the stomach and leads to poor digestion. Keep it in a large cooler with a block of ice. • You will probably need 25-50% less food than usual. The activity of one supports the rest of the other. I recommend keeping it to fresh. I am not convinced these two processes should be done at once. I strongly believe in fasting. It is the Hygienic twin of darkroom retreating.protocol 35 day makes the difference between a pleasant retreat and constant discomfort. After the first couple days. celery. Healing the psyche and healing the body seem to have opposite metabolic requirements. Tips: • Eat meals rather than snacks. raw. parsley. spinach. psychic agility. Eat as much as you like. • 10% of your food. ripe fruit and leafy greens to maximize nutrition. focus and eat until you feel full and satisfied. and physical elimination. When you are hungry. cilantro. This was especially noticeable in my first retreat.3 . I want to exercise more and more. It is likely that your appetite will be diminished due to extra melatonin in the blood (a reason we do not get hungry when we sleep). But so far. food It is also important to eat.

One small avocado during a 4-day retreat in a savory salad is nice. I know of four ways to place it: – mentally on thoughts or thought process. olives. Keep this purpose in mind. • Eliminate or minimize fatty fruits like avocados. Meditation . • Most of what you consume in fruit and leafy greens is water. sweet and non-sweet (like tomatoes. and The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr Douglas Graham. see hygiene and prepare. So you must eat five times more volume for the same sense of fullness and satisfaction. • Conscious placement of attention on some aspect of consciousness itself is usually called meditation. in front of the eyes or inside the head – palpably on breathing. • For more about food. It just depends on what resting requires in any given moment. in the belly – palpably and audibly on the pulse. and you will learn when to move your attention around.3 . Practice it before the retreat.protocol 36 • 90% of your food should be fruit. often above the head – visually on darkness. cucumbers). attention • One has to do something with attention. in the heart These are all good places to put attention. Forego nuts and seeds altogether. bell peppers. So salads can be sweet (greens mixed with sweet fruit) and savory (greens mixed with non-sweet fruit). Eating so much takes getting used to.

Here. and there’s nothing else to do. time is set aside for rest. you can profit greatly by proceeding logically through clear problems to solutions. meditation helps that. Shapes and colors and spots might move around for awhile. It is also restful for the eyes. Focusing externally on darkness. It is like retracting all one’s senses back inside the head. These moments have a highly real. dark patches. • You can also look directly at darkness itself. also called dreamtime or timespace. • Darkness seems to be a portal to the dreamworld. Meditation can serve the retreat. making it an object of attention. Yet it’s nice to know it’s not your only option. You can try this right now. We are usually taught to think of darkness as nothing or as a background for something lit. The retreat is not for meditation.3 . Do this for a few minutes. helps calm the mind and it can be unexpectedly absorbing. eyes open or closed. Many have reported occasionally seeing unusual lights and images. . objective quality and are intensely absorbing and bracing. When you have presence of mind.protocol 37 is usually considered discipline. steadily making rational connections between thoughts and experience. Focus on the still. Put your palms over your eyes. Slightly overlapping your fingers above the nose helps seal out light. But this is because time is set aside for it. then slowly clear away. And its purpose is lofty. • Obviously. Look at the backs of your eyelids like you are looking into a wide open space. thinking can be good. This can be helpful in the middle of a busy day to feel centered and in the body again.

Here is what I learned: when the imagery becomes too much. look for a patch of plain darkness. then put your attention on your breathing.3 . • From there I put my attention on my heart and palpate for a pulse. • Moving my attention into my gut to feel my breathing is always safe. I decided it reflects what I am repressing or denying about myself: nothing to indulge or dismiss. I can calmly hang out there for hours while lying down. Then it became torturous and nightmarish. I heard from a genuine meditation teacher that eventually one can put attention in the heart as pure feeling. Concentrate on it a moment to steady yourself. Just the in-and-out of my belly where natural breathing occurs (not in the chest). From sensation to feeling can’t be very far. Eventually. • Do a silent retreat for a more concentrated experience: – Learn to write in darkness so you can take notes on your experience and still communicate with a sup- . the images are coming from the mind. Which sounds really nice. For awhile I thought it was meaningless. a shelter from a storm raging in my head.protocol 38 • Images of a more subjective nature can also play on the “screen” of darkness. My reports describe my long struggle with this. conservation • Talk only if necessary. I look forward to that. It is sometimes behind. In other words. Chatting drains energy. At first I found this fascinating. sometimes in front of the imagery. palpating the motion of breathing.

This is easier at night when there is no bright light to get behind the blindfold. Turn the page after writing or whenever you are in doubt about having turned it.3 . Have a reliable blindfold so you can stick your head outside to take some breaths. • Getting some outside air is refreshing. and reflect on what has happened. They have a sharpened sense of anticipation about their lives and feel more in their bodies: ready to go. lasting minutes to hours. . But now it is the soul that heals. retreatants want to leave the facility quickly upon exiting the darkroom. stabilize it. This gives you time to re-orient to light and gravity. Use your non-writing hand to guide your pen. Use a notebook. absorb it. discomfort • There is usually an uncomfortable period somewhere in the middle of the retreat. it is better to recirculate it. This is due to an unaccustomed increase in energy level and well-being. Crying is natural. Take a walk. It’s like a bout of pain while convalescing in a hospital.protocol 39 porter. catch yourself and stop. look at nature. But rather than immediately re-enter regular life and probably end up blowing off this extra energy. See format and post-retreat protocol for more about this. – If you usually talk to yourself. • Commonly. So the retreat continues after darkness with windows uncovered and the door opened for one day for every 23 darkened days.

phobias Here are some ways those with phobias related to darkness (eg. fear of the dark) can still retreat. etc. go 30 minutes. Gradually increase the length of the micro-retreats. • The ways described in the phobia section below might be useful. • In a small number of cases. close the door again. Apply it by slowly opening the door as much and long as needed. • red light: Keep a red LED light next to your bed (pure red light gives no signal to the pineal gland wake you up). The next night. It happened with a client. Turn away from the door. then take a break in (red) light till you feel ready for the next microretreat. As a last resort before quitting the retreat. Exercise can instantly reverse it. turn on the light till you feel better. Once you feel calm. Start with your eyes closed. If anxiety or panic become too great. Do this for 15 minutes. also. superstition. If you can’t stand it anymore. claustrophobia. . turn on a regular light or step outside till you feel calm.3 . one can feel the retreat is unbearably difficult. call your supporter if a little company would help. Like one is about to burst. you can use light like a brake on the process.protocol 40 • Lack of movement can cause bad feeling. Then go back into darkness again. This happened to me my first time. but do not look into the light directly. • microretreat: retreat for five seconds. If this is insufficient. Open your eyes.

Darkroom retreating isn’t all just lying around. You will feel something or have an impulse. When she awoke in the morning. The door had not opened since then. But the idea of resting in darkness appealed to her common sense. and she used it to strengthen her feeling of safety and her relationship to reality. What evidence do you have for what you fear? You can learn to recognize and dismiss arbitrary (baseless) ideas. An idea will occur to you. she felt ecstatic from staying all night in absolute darkness and overcoming her fear of it. *I was raised with many superstitions. Her rationality strengthened. She deduced there could be no threat.* I had a client from a superstitious culture who was raised to fear the dark. and went back to sleep. Act on it. Afterward. That night.3 . She stayed in darkness for a whole night for the first time in her life at my darkroom. her fantastic fear yielded to reason four times. then checking under the bed and table and finding nothing before blowing out the candle. calmed down. • reason: go over the facts of your situation in your mind. I have found pp155170 of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard . In any case. so nothing could have gotten in. she said that when her fear of monsters or ghosts came. the tide gently turned on her phobia . she simply reasoned her way through it like this: She remembered closing and locking the door. If these methods fail. Finally allied with her autonomic self. These brief calls for heroism are part of the minimal effort the retreat requires of everyone at some point. try.protocol 41 • companion: retreat with another person inside or near the darkroom till you feel ok alone. perhaps you will come up with your own in the moment of crisis.

including the basic ideas of Natural Hygiene. is reliable. support • A supporter supplies food and checks in with a retreatant according to their agreed schedule.3 . This is a further period of possibility. post-retreat The effects of a retreat continue afterward. Prepared food like salads or smoothies can be delivered daily without talking. He explains how to identify and dismiss arbitrary ideas. and exploration. A supporter must be able to enter the room to maintain it without letting in light. The supporter has completed at least one retreat as long as the retreatant’s. The retreatant has a way to contact the supporter at any time while maintaining darkness. So I call it the aftermath. sometimes with an intensity equal to the retreat’s. My presence as a supporter has diminished greatly since I started. See design chapter about double doors. A professional level of expertise is not required. or once in the middle of the retreat or not at all. It’s up to the retreatant. • Checking in can happen once or twice a day. breakthrough. knows this book. It . • The supporter must be able to deliver food and talk to the retreatant in a normal voice without opening the door.protocol 42 Piekoff extremely helpful in dealing with the conscious part of them. and has a modicum of common sense. I did my last two 4-day retreats without a supporter and liked it a lot.

It usually begins with a calm. The intensity and highs of the experience fade. Just remember where you just were and keep your eyes peeled. their aftermaths varied greatly in character. how you are is different. ∼∼ We all know better about our lives: things we should do for ourselves which. the full application of the idea behind Hygienic darkroom retreating means doing retreats of increasing length alternated with periods of radical lifeway change until health is fully restored. Having restored part of your being. When you see you can walk through the front door of a bakery and get whatever you like.protocol 43 can last from a few days to several weeks (!). sometimes they were smooth sailing. . Those you do not.3 . This is permanent recapacitation. once healed. Darkroom retreating enables the organism to restore one’s normal ability to take care of oneself. How it goes depends on one’s personality. I can feel as bad as the worst moments of my retreat. So you attract different things. strangely. solid feeling of deep restedness from the retreat. Then an insight or discovery comes that shows the way to the next small period of my life. Sometimes they matched the drama of mine. Therefore. I know less about this part of my clients’ retreats than the dark part. we cannot do. you stop begging crumbs out its back door. Then a tension builds to a crisis over days. “Health through healthful living. but restored capacity remains. doesn’t become broken again without another major mishap. I’m not the stablest oil rig in the Gulf. Resources and opportunities right under your nose for years suddenly become visible and interesting. so it fairly tosses me around. you become able to learn and apply.” Some changes you already know. From what I saw and heard. just as a broken leg.

You are accountable for your own experience. perhaps finding your lost shoes. she will talk to you for a few minutes if you need. please write a description of what happened before you go. say so. understanding the process. It’s your retreat.3 . In life. bringing food. and disown: the autonomic self. She will be maintaining the darkroom. I have found reading these reports (which should not be shared) very useful in improving the darkroom. and learning to explain it to people. You must keep your wits about you. This corrects the conventional relationship. it is your job to maintain certain conditions of the retreat. . the conscious self we are taught to fully identify with is servant to the autonomic self. in truth. Like any decent person would. It is the part we are taught to ignore. in which the unfailing processes of life are harnessed to the agenda of a crippled will. a part of you is. In darkness. while it is fresh in your memory. These basic facts not only do not change in the darkroom. Your supporter—a non-expert. deny. If something is not working. If you would. and share it with your supporter. they become especially clear. you must arrange certain conditions to live. non-mind-reading non-therapist— will be on the outside helping you do that.protocol 44 summary While I have said you are not the main actor in darkness. In darkness.

followed by the menu and list of things to bring. • Respond by email to the questionnaire below. • Select dates for your retreat from the calendar below. a 4-day retreat that begins on Monday evening would end on Friday morning. Likewise. • Bring things listed below that.prepare This is the registration form I have used with clients. e360 / $480 – 8 days (6 dark days. pass it on to those you ever facilitate retreats for. Quiz later. Even if not retreating at a center. e670 / $900 • Discounts: . general • Read this book. 1 lit). I suggest you read it and fill out the questionnaire to help you prepare mentally for the retreat. 2 lit). ∼∼ Register for your retreat here. Responses of one or two sentences are sufficient. Follow instructions carefully. Retreats begin at 18:00 and end at 12:00 four or eight mornings later. And a retreat can begin the same day another ends. terms • Prices: – 4 days (3 dark days.4 . For example.

Why would you like to retreat? . 4. Balance due on arrival. 5. Name: Email address: Phone: Address: Age: Emergency contact name. How did you first hear about darkroom retreating? 10.4 .prepare 46 – Local. • Cancelation fees (% of total price): – 30+ days before retreat: 5% – 7+ days before retreat: 25% (half the deposit) – 1-29 days if someone else can take your spot: 10% [google calendar here] questionnaire 1. 6. email. put 0) alternate:____________ +/-___ days 9. 7. How did you first hear about this darkroom? 11. and phone: Retreat length:___ days Retreat starting date____________ +/-___ days (for absolute date. or friend: 25% – Local and student or friend: 50% – Offers of 35% + remainder in trade gladly considered – No one serious turned away for lack of funds. 3. 2. student. 8. • Reserve dates with a 50% deposit.

Would you like to maintain silence during your retreat? 17. well-washed. salt. and amply provided for eating anytime – green salad: sweet or savory. claustrophobia. onions. Is there anything else you would like to add? menu Here is a Hygienic food plan: • pure water on tap • frugivorous menu – fresh fruit and leafy green vegetables (lettuce.prepare 47 12. Quiz: What heals you in darkness? 15. large. superstition.4 . Assuming I am correct that practically everyone is psychotic do you feel darkness might significantly affect you for the worse? If so. How does the menu sound to you? 14. or ferments (like vinegar). spinach. served at midday – not served: oil. properly combined. raw. What will you be doing the week before the retreat? (It should not be especially exhausting or intense for you) 13. ginger. ripe. culinary herbs) – whole. etc)? How will you handle them? What support might you need? 18. spices. . celery. What fears or concerns do you have that might interfere with your retreat? (fear of the dark. Quiz: Where is a good place to put your attention if you feel crazy or tormented? 16. how? 19. garlic.

keep looking. watches. things to bring • Yes: – bedsheets and pillow (let center know ahead of time if you need these provided) – pajamas/lounging clothes – sweater – slippers – enough water bottles to hold 3 liters – personal items – prescription medication • No: – cigarettes – electronic devices that make sound or light: computers. sleep there 2-3 nights beforehand. write me with your limitations. If not. See introduction and notes of design chapter for more comments about this. clocks. Will you feel comfortable there? If so. audio players. etc .4 . read the food sections in hygiene and protocol and Dr Douglas Graham’s The 80/10/10 Diet • if this menu is unacceptable. great. location If you are thinking of turning a space into a darkroom.prepare 48 • if you would like to know more about this menu before trying it. Is there anything about it that might disturb you and which you cannot practically change about it? Search your feelings. For suggestions. eat as simply and naturally as you know how.

prepare 49 – If you must bring any of these things. turn them off and store them during the retreat or ask to store them with your supporter.4 . etc) . – contraband and alcohol: disallowed on the premises • Optional – cellphone for emergency use – special food or medicine – exercise equipment (yoga mat. weights. unless critical for your health.

Do not tolerate too much stale air. But what is acceptable depends on what you are comfortable with. etc. The facility is the . If you can sleep reasonably well in a location and feel no problems with doing a short retreat. See format and make chapters for budget building tips. It is a deluxe model for commercial use and long retreats. It is sanctuary for resting and recuperating from a lifeway characterized by strife. But your body and soul will. It is best to start with a small fully functional house in a quiet location. You should be able to turn off the light and let go of all such concerns. The stress of healing is quite enough for anyone to bear. preparation. The shorter the retreat. light leaks. and electricity. the less you need. you may not even notice these hindrances. ventilation. Success of a retreat depends on several factors including attitude. Or worse. and support. You can forgo or improvise many specifications when first trying darkness. running water. for short retreats. and for occasional use. All my retreats have succeeded or failed primarily because of how well the darkroom itself worked. then try rather than wait for an ideal location.5 .design These are my specifications for the design of a dedicated Hygienic darkroom retreat facility. discomforts. protocol. stress becomes distress and destroys your retreat. dangers. frequent noise. A retreat is not punishment or strife. At some point. poor food. Fully functional means it has heating. You will be left wondering why your retreat was not as beneficial as I said it could be. due to your conditioning.

That 51 final piece of the puzzle. facility • Building – Security * safe location * keys only with retreatant and supporter * supporter on call 24/7 through simple intercom * lightproof bag for retreatant’s cellphone – Quiet * on a quiet street * away from machines * sound-insulated * silent (humless) machines inside – Solitude * separate. unoccupied building1 * round if possible2 * inner door has closable.5 . maybe you cannot. lightproof vent for speaking to supporter – Electromagnetic neutrality . If we could already do everything correctly. Good design can build many conditions into the room. the more effective your retreat will be. So this is not just the design of a darkroom. do everything correctly. for whatever reason. There is no penalty for doing things correctly. The better the darkroom. making retreats practically foolproof. small. so these specifications only include what a good shelter would. Then you do your best. but a healthy house as well. we would likely have no need of darkroom retreating. Natural Hygiene uses only normal conditions.

glimmer.5 . Fiwihex or Mitsubishi Lossnay Heat Recovery Ventilation * airflow: passive or from truly silent fans (large. grounded wiring (important in ungrounded Sweden and Albania) * earthing bedsheet * Faraday cage if possible – Small: * 4-6m inside diameter. centralized. a small opening in inner door. plants. or pinprick of light anywhere * easily uncoverable windows * air/lightlock · lightproof double doors · space between them for a person and food deliveries · for communication. stone (no metal structure) * minimal. low RPM) * manually adjustable airflow (possibly with smart controls) – Warm * super-insulated to Passive House standards to eliminate heating if possible . lightproof and closable – Well-ventilated * in cold climates. 12-28m2 * 240+cm ceiling height in 50+% of room * 200cm minimum ceiling height • Interior – Dark * not a 52 * natural materials: earth.

ventila- .design 53 * otherwise: · thermostat inside room · fueling outside room · non-electric heat if possible · otherwise. low-intensity. warm floor * dining table and chair – Bathroom * composting toilet * tub with shower * sink * greywater drainage – Cold food storage * silent (unmotorized) * uses cold from the ground. ice blocks. aired out regularly · polyester mattress cover · polyester-fill comforters · polyester-fill pillow · cotton sheet and duvet * sofa * chairs * hammock * inversion swing * rugs * hard. centralized.5 . EMshielded electric heat – Restful * bed · double or long single size · mattress: layers of new foam padding of varying firmness for adjustable softness.

you have to scream and cry? It’s nobody’s business and they should not be burdened with it. I could feel others’ presence in the . I was in another apartment building where I felt comfortable and could sleep and dream easily. or electronic circuit – Safe: no protrusions or sharp corners or edges anywhere – Shelf for personal storage – Space for exercise notes 1: noise Others inevitably make noise. I notice. any contact with people should be brief and intentional. When something goes wrong. people aren’t going anywhere and you can rejoin their company when you finish. The child can be with you in darkness as long as you both like. and this is what I would say. The weirdest thing that happened to me with regards to noise was in an apartment building. I have never facilitated such a retreat. Even if you don’t make noise. you will know the person is there. A canary in a coalmine. but I definitely would. Fortunately. What if. A clear exception is if you are a mother of a child who still needs your presence. Even if they manage to be perfectly tion. meaningless dreams. But I am sensitive.54 5 . not incidental. Two years later. It will influence a process that should be free. I realized I was dreaming others’ mind chatter. In short. like me. in December. When I retreated there. After days of this. 2013. this never happened to me before. they can hear you. I support attachment. I kept waking up exhausted from hundreds of short. I’m distinctly non“psychic”. It had partly to do with my sympathetic host.

due to the nature of the right angle. steel framing. Rectilinear buildings can be temporarily used for retreats. It flows around or through them because roundness does not resist or capture it. the more electrical wiring. a rectilinear building. obtuse angles. energy. as in my case. Avoid retreating in large or occupied buildings unless it is an emergency or you have no options. The worst noise comes from the grinding relentlessness of machines. Fortunately. they are unhealthy and limited in their benefit. By contrast. One becomes so vulnerable in profound rest that the wrong setting can be harmful. Replace and dismantle them as soon as possible. there is wireless radiation. the more it electromagnetically disturbs us. stops movement: of 55 building. but their thoughts did not invade my dreams. So the worst of it is avoidable. 2: roundness Round buildings shield occupants from subtle energy. and things. I will only endorse darkrooms made with existing rectilinear buildings for their first five years. Finally. it decreases in intensity by a square of the distance from it. Long term. Roundness is so important.5 . like a drill to the skull. . The larger the building. Rectangular walls and right angles where floor meets walls are fine. I would not have done a long retreat there. So it comes down to how comfortable one is in a given spot for whatever one intends. that planet-size microwave oven we now live inside of. but first they should be remedied with Feng Shui or Vastuveda. and reinforcement it has. but not a rectlinear floor plan. This stagnation saps and poisons occupants. and newly constructed darkrooms if they are round or have five or more sides joined at equal. physical and psychical. but the short one I did may have saved my life.

5 . quick shelter designs are available. . My priority is those where we rest and heal. cheap. 56 Obviously. all buildings will not become round overnight.

these are rough conversions. If you don’t usually pay . now the windows and doors are sealed! Fresh air is always important. Get a handle on this brain-descrambling system of measurement in 10 seconds using my favorite near-equivalents: • 25mm = 1 inch • 10cm = 4 inches • 4 liters = 1 gallon Find a few more at the end of the chapter.6 . good for understanding what I’m talking about and working with small quantities. ventilation The tricky part of making a darkroom is not darkening but ventilating it. After all. metric An American designer abroad and in recovery from the Imperial measurement system. I am giving all measurements in metric. I address darkening. ventilation.make Use these instructions to make essential components of a darkroom. Again. We breathe twice as much air per day by mass as the food we eat. and plumbing issues for both regular and remote locations. Please send improvements and new designs (see “open source” section in introduction.

Just turn the manual fan switch on so it is on all the time. vent Where possible. The tricky parts of ventilating it are doing it quietly. described below. wires. • behind a cupboard or inside a closet • a panel covering something up that could be temporarily replaced with a same-size panel with a hole in it. maybe ducting. usually at the bottom. then thank your lucky stars. If you already have mechanical ventilation in your house. Likewise. Check out the heat recovery section. most dwellings are ventilated otherwise. put the air supply vent near the head of the bed and opposite the entry.make 58 attention to air quality. So you will need at least an underdoor lightproof vent. your ventilation is handled. . This means air exits bedrooms around the door. chimneys. if your darkroom has a supply vent and is attached to a bathroom with a quiet exhaust fan. exhaust vents in kitchens and disconnected bathrooms. However. This entails vents. and a fan. toilet. If your darkroom has passive or no ventilation. Supply vents are in bedrooms and living rooms. Sometimes rooms have lightproof and sound-dampened holes built into them in unexpected places: • unused holes for pipes. with both supply and return vents in your darkroom.6 . like a trapdoor. you will in a darkroom. and ventilation. comfortably. and economically. then it calls for ways the air can travel in and out of the room. with little more to do all day than breathe. Poor air quality nullifies the benefits of darkness. Go out of your way for fresh air. and air return (exhaust) vent.

wasn’t subject to backflow. Once. Another darkroom had no door.make 59 I once found a cosmetically damaged door in a dumpster exactly the same size as my darkroom’s door. Note to renters: I attached the frame to the doorway with metal straps screwed into old hinge holes. friends and I replaced a flush toilet with a composting toilet. So I stored the good door and cut holes in the damaged door for ventilation. or suitable holes. . we hung a silencer. The exposed toilet drain pipe. So it proved a perfect exhaust duct for a case fan. ventilation.6 . So I built a frame inside the doorway with a narrow door one one side and a panel with holes on the other. and installed window inserts without putting even a single new screw hole in that rented house. Similarly. Sewage pipes are ventilated upward. being oversize and in a single-story house. So it left no trace when we dismantled the darkroom. 7m of ducting running through two walls. Imagination conquers all obstacles (and imagination renews itself in darkness).

6 .make drawings elevation 60 .

6 .make plan (enlarged image here) 61 .

make underdoor (enlarged image here) Wavy line: darken ends with black marker or crayon. 62 .6 .

cut fabric . The other vent is for under a door. attach it to a window insert and crack the window behind it. as a supply vent. Temporarily tape joints 2. • materials: – thin cardboard (1-3mm) or posterboard (like a cereal box) – black velvet – wood glue – masking tape. fold vent together once without glue to see how vent assembles. • essential characteristics – matte black lining – zigzagging air channel • assembly – principles: * one square=2cm * cut solid lines * fold dotted lines and reflatten * join pairs of lettered points in alphabetical order * affix fabric inside vent but not on margin flaps. – sequence 1.make 63 NOTE: I have designed a new vent that will replace this one. Please check back in a couple weeks for desi The first vent can go anywhere. fold and glue them back to reinforce edge 4. plan order of joint and fabric gluing 5. slit flaps where necessary to join pieces 3. For example.6 . which are for joints. where flaps have nothing to attach to.

Not only line the vent with black fabric. 40W in rainy Oregon winter. or buy it used for $1 at thrift stores or flea markets or new for $5-50 at a computer or electronics store. lead acid ($30 at a motorcycle shop) . Tape them together in series. Tape the triangular fins to the sides and bottom of the door. with one fan wire at each end of the series. Then you can get a good light seal. then glue everything The measurements of the underdoor vent must be adjusted for the thickness of the door and the gap under the door. positive end of one to negative end of the next. You will only need 4-8 of them for one night. and you just want to try this for a night or two. Size depends on location: 10W in Guatemala. I got a proper solar power system for less than $100: • solar panel: 12V. Power it with an AC/DC universal adapter with variable voltage for speed control ($1-5 at thrift or discount stores). No fan movement? Switch the positive and negative wires. 120mm is a common size.make 6. also known as a squirrel cage fan. 4 or 6-pole ($35 on eBay) • battery: 12V 7A. fan The quick and dirty solution is a 12V DC case fan. but the part of the door it surrounds.64 6 . If you do not have electricity. ($10-$100 on eBay) • charge controller: 12V. Salvage it from a discarded desktop computer tower. the underside of the vent. Constantly changing the batteries quickly gets to be a pain. and the threshold below it. power the fan with AA batteries.

Once set up. Please write me for details. just keep the panel clean. heat exchanging cores. I have conceived a design for a 700-900mm. They work like a gun silencer and have DIY potential. But case fans are axial fans. so they hum and develop harmonics. motors of both case and centrifugal fans are usually integrated with the fan blades. yard sale. 300-400mm case fans are available. Centrifugal fans can. 20 AWG. This puts the motors in the airstream. Ventilation silencers are also available. These cannot efficiently generate pressure to overcome resistance in ventilation systems (long or narrow pipes. so they cannot be fully silenced. keeping the airstreams separate. The bigger a fan is. The fan’s metal or plastic parts would be lasercut at a sign shop according to an open-source. These fans run at high speed. A truly silent fan is the last problem to be solved for an ideal darkroom. . low-RPM homemade centrifugal fan. I highly recommend buying and installing a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV). or hardware store). electronic design file. heat recovery If you live in a cold place. with a soundproofed motor outside the airstream. However. the more slowly and quietly you can run it. noise Using such a small fan for more than a few days at a time raises the noise issue. and the longer you can retreat without irritation.make 65 • wire. filters). This can get irritating.6 . enough to connect everything ($0-10 from a dumpster. It conducts heat from outgoing stale air to incoming fresh air.

Lossnay’s principle has DIY-potential. Made of high-tech paper. I have conceived a design for it. found in Energy Recovery Ventilators such as Renewaire’s. But I lived with one for six months and found it too loud due to its small fans with integrated motors. Please write me for details.make 66 Fine wire heat exchange (fiwihex) technology is my favorite. The most interesting plate exchanger is the Mitsubishi _Lossnay_core. Both these cores would take the truly silent fan concept mentioned above. These companies’ “Breathing Windows” are interesting designs for a complete ventilation system.6 . Thus all my thinking about silent fans. . Fiwihex cores are available for $150 from Viking House and Vision4Energy. using 25m2 of non-siliconized parchment paper (“sandwich paper” in supermarkets). the Lossnay recovers heated water vapor as well as heat from air. It is 10x more efficient than conventional plate exchangers.

affix another strip to trim so door bends it closes with fabric between jam and door. If gaps on sides and top leak light. Where an underdoor vent is necessary.6 . 3. 2. .make 67 darken door door seal cross section 1. Affix 50mm wide strips of black fabric to door with masking tape or white school glue. put strips to its sides. Fabric should bend around one edge of the door when it closes and fill the gap between the door and jam.

It has three variations. decorable panel. sounddampening. described in detail below. To remove glued-on fabric. Tell them you will be testing it with high-tech equipment (eyes that have had three days to adjust to darkness). darken window To darken windows. perhaps traveled with. Of the three homemade methods. This will dissolve the glue and the strips will fall off.make 68 4. and foil—or have blackout blinds made with side rails. wipe off the rest of the glue with a wet rag. the insert is best because it is easily removed. use one of the three methods I have come up with—insert. . and the PVC tape is toxic. Plastic can be reused. Get a guarantee of absolute lightproofness of the entire installation. wet it. so avoid if possible. which can mean any plastic. As this happens. Foil is for one-time use. Get full disclosure of material content (I saw “polymer” on a material data sheet recently. including pvc). plastic. I found PVC-free shades listed here: Draper Inc. Problem: many blackout blinds are not completely lightproof and some have toxic plastic coatings like polyvinyl chloride (PVC). non-toxic.6 . It is easier and quicker than the insert. It smells a little.

6 . creative friend. but with lightproof padding around the frame and maybe paper instead of canvas.make 69 insert elevation This is like a stretched canvas for painting. gave me the . A smart. Hannah Torres.

sheet: heavy kraft paper or medium-weight. 8-12 3. and thick. As always.make 70 idea. cardboard (for sheet cover): clean and odorless. dimensional lumber: 18-24mm x 35-50mm x 15% more than enough length to get around the insides of your window openings 2. If your air supply comes through your window. heavy. twill) 5. Read through instructions to understand the process and make an exact parts list. parts list 1. Use double-layer cardboard or two sheets of single-layer to ensure lightproofness .6 . The insert makes space for window handles that stick out beyond their frames. attach a lightproof vent to cover of insert near the top. deck screws: 40mm. blanket: black. wood glue (for sheet cover) 6. cover 1. The insert will fit inside the window opening and against the window frame. ∼25mm wide x 200mm 4. one near the top and one near the bottom of the insert. from furniture and appliance stores. The instructions are long because I’ve broken the process into tiny steps. like dense wool or 2-3 polar fleece 2. you will need two lightproof vents. tightly woven natural fabric (canvas. feel free to write me with any questions you might have. All figures are metric. If your supply and return air pass through your window. strap: webbing or strap sewn of fabric. Probably attach it to the front due to lack of space between cover and glass).

Measure the window opening—all four sides as they are rarely identical. left. or canvas – open cell foam.6 . and right. Screw the frame pieces together. 6. ∼5mm thick – thumbtacks frame 1. Subtract these measurements from the short window opening measurement taken in step 1. Determine lumber orientation (which way the wide and narrow sides should face) to accommodate handles. hold a short piece of lumber up to the window frame. Mark each board as left. top. 3. Put the marked ends together depending on orientation (wide to wide side or narrow to narrow side). Cut two more boards these lengths. right.make 71 7. Subtract 8mm from the two long measurements and cut two boards of lumber this length. Using wedges or folded paper. Mark one end of each board. 2. blinds. khaki twill. or bottom. 4. 5. the wide sides of the boards should face the room and window rather than up. . To gauge this. If possible. using pilot holes to prevent the wood from splitting. light seal (for sheet cover): • fabric – black fabric: jersey knit. Then subtract 8mm more. hooks. wedge the frame into a bottom corner of the opening. down. 6mm thick • felt – felt carpet padding. Measure thickness of two boards together at each end. etc.

5. 4. 9. 7. Allow the glue to dry for 30 minutes.6 . You’re done! sheet cover 1. This stabilizes the angles of the frame. a heavy quilt or wool blanket) bigger than the window opening by 20cm on all four sides. butt and glue the edges together with strips of cardboard and wood glue. Screw two of them diagonally to the front of the frame in opposite corners. lightproof fabric (eg. Mark the top board in the middle of the underside. Ignore remaining steps. Push frame (with fabric) into the window opening. If you need a lightproof vent in your window. 3. Remove the front stabilizers.make 72 7. Use extra fabric to seal any light leaks around the edges. Lay the frame over the cardboard (always front side down). 6. 2. 5. If it is more than one piece. Remove frame from opening and place front side down on a clean floor. 1. non-permanent method. Screw two more stabilizing boards diagonally to the back of the frame behind the first stabilizers. Cut four more pieces of wood about half the length of the short sides for temporary angle stabilizers. Get a piece of thick. 4. 8. so use sheet cover instead. Drape it over back of frame 3. 2. Put down enough clean cardboard to fit inside the frame. Mark the cardboard along the inside . Stuff extra fabric back into the crack between the frame and window opening with a dull knife (like a table knife). cover blanket cover This is a quick. this method is incompatible with it.

Let the glue dry for 4-24 hours. 27. Lay the frame over it so the cover extends beyond it 15mm to make sure where it will end up. Put the cardboard back into the frame. 13. towel. Remove the frame and cut the cardboard along the marks. Lay the frame down 26. 20. aligning the marks on the cardboard and the frame. Remove the frame and apply a 6mm bead of interior wood glue all the way around its front side. 22. Weight the board with stacks of books. 10. Apply an 8mm bead of black acrylic caulk where the cardboard touches the wooden frame. Lay the frame back onto the cover where you marked the corners. 23. Put down something soft and flat that is bigger than the frame. 25.6 . Scrape up any glue that has squeezed beyond the frame. 16. 15. Mark the cardboard where the top of the frame is marked. or piece of foam. Lay the frame back over it to check how well it fits inside the frame. 12. Trim cardboard as necessary. 21. Remove the stabilizers. 9. visible side down. 14. 24. like a blanket. .make 73 of the frame with a sharp pencil. Mark two inside corners at the ends of a long side. 18. Use tape to hold it down if necessary. Remove the frame. 8. Turn the cardboard over onto its other side. Apply glue to the edge of the cover and wrap it around the edges of the boards. Wipe around the outside with a wet rag where there was glue. 17. 28. next to where you have been working. taking care not to bump the frame out of place. Lay down cover material. 11. Press the frame into the cover all the way around to distribute the glue. 19.

make light seal fabric seal felt seal 74 .6 .

Apply a 4mm bead of glue to the outside of the frame near the back edge on one board. There should be no gaps between the foam strips. Repeat for the other three boards. Cut 6mm thick open cell foam into 15mm strips. 9. Affix additional strips as necessary. Apply a 4mm bead of glue to the back of the frame. Affix a strip of foam at the edge. Spread the glue with your finger. 2. 4. Affix a strip of foam at the edge. Repeat for the other three boards. Apply a 4mm bead of glue to the back of the frame near the outside edge on one board. next to the foam. enough to go around the outside of the frame once 3. Upon reaching a corner: 1. wrap it back over the back of the frame and continue gluing . Spread the glue with your finger. closely butting the ends together to leave no gaps. wrap the fabric toward the front of the frame so it lays on the outside 2. 8. on one board. There should be no gaps between the foam strips. 10. 5. 7.make 75 fabric seal 1. Spread the glue with your finger. Cut 80mm wide strips of black fabric. 6. wrap the outside part of the fabric around the corner of the frame 3.6 . enough to go around the outside of the frame twice. Affix a strip of fabric so that it covers the foam and extends outward beyond the frame.

butting the ends tightly together to leave no gaps. Glue fabric strap. glue and secure felt with another thumbtack in the back of the frame 7. Affix a strip of felt so that it extends outward beyond the frame. 3.6 . secure the felt at the corner with a thumbtack 2. Affix additional strips as necessary. use scissors to neatly trim off triangles 11. wrap the outside part of the fabric around the corner of the frame 4. This is the handle for removing the insert from the window. felt seal 1. apply a short bead of glue in the corner 5. This leaves a folded triangle of cloth sticking out from the back of the corner. This leaves a folded triangle of felt sticking out from the back of the corner. 4. Once you have gone around the frame like this. Upon reaching a corner: 1. Use scissors or razor knife to . wrap the felt toward the front of the frame so it lays on the outside 3. Apply a 4mm bead of glue to the back of the frame on one board. Cut 50mm wide strips of felt carpet padding. wrap it back over the back of the frame 6. enough to go around outside of insert once 2. 25mm x 200mm to top outside of the frame so it hangs over the front and does not interfere with the foam and fabric light seal.make 76 4. since glue is wet.

Glue fabric strap (see step 10 of fabric method above). It is effective. Shurtape 724.006-. and 3M 235. stronger. Multiple layers of black garbage bags would work. yet comes off easily without residue (unless you leave it up a long time). found at building supply houses in rolls or off a roll by the meter.2mm / 6-10mil (. sticks and conforms well to irregular wall surfaces. more sells Intertape PF3. remove thumbtacks. Add a bit of glue under the edges and secure them with thumbtacks 5. 4. Cover windows with . If masking tape is not sticky enough on your surfaces. When glue is dry (2-4 hours).6 . use black kraft paper tape. Add felt or fabric as necessary. Local art and professional lighting supply stores carry it.010″) black polyethylene plastic sheeting. too. Use 25mm black masking tape. Avoid electrical and gaffer’s tape. 2. They are made of soft vinyl and especially obnoxious adhesives and are thus . lightsonretail. Not perfectly lightproof. it works with the plastic. cheap. 3. not overlap 8.make 77 neatly trim off triangle so edges of felt butt against each other. Measure and cut it to extend 100mm beyond window frame because light and air often leak between the frame and wall. Put the insert into your window opening to test for lightproofness. It is thicker (more lightproof). 6. plastic 1. Look for ProGaff (formerly Permacel) 743. Tape plastic to the wall.

then before taping up the black plastic. cut a piece of cardboard the same size as the window opening. then move it to the glass. This breaks the foil and creates light leaks you can’t see till the middle of a retreat. If you unroll foil from the box.make 78 extremely toxic in their manufacture. do exactly the same thing as for a hot room. 19mm wide. away from the window. Keep scissors handy. Leave 15mm spaces between the strips of foil to allow moisture to pass through. it will crease slightly. too. Set the cardboard in window opening. it will rattle as air pressure changes near the window. 2. foil facing outward. If the room gets hot and cold with the seasons. The other part of the basic method is to tape the foil directly to the glass. If you tape it to the frame. You will unroll it directly onto the glass and cut it with scissors in place. If it is a cold room. Tape or glue aluminum foil to one side of it. . Bummer. handling. use. cut several 3cm pieces of tape and hang them within reach of the window. 4. 5. 3. but with the foil facing inward. 6.6 . and disposal. open up the plastic on one edge and switch the cardboard around every six months. Remove roll of foil from box. foil 1. Buy heavy duty aluminum foil and black vinyl electrical tape. If the room gets too hot from direct sun. suspended in midair away from the window. With scissors.

9. Repeat steps 5-8 starting at top right of window pane. Hang dark blankets over the windows to catch any leaks. Continue unrolling to bottom. 10. No kidding! – put 2 liters of sawdust in the bottom – put 15 liters more sawdust in another bucket by the toilet – put a half-liter of sawdust in toilet after each use . With small pieces of tape every 50 cm. 8. 6. tape left side of foil to frame and right side to glass (or overlapped foil). Then fill in the middle. bathroom & kitchen Here are designs for quick. Cut a little longer than the glass. Starting at top left of window pane. Tape foil at top with small piece of tape. For a 4-day retreat in a building without plumbing. improvise like this: • toilet: a 20-liter bucket with a toilet seat on top. cheap.6 .make 79 5. Unstick tape at top and position foil against frame. please improve this method). Tape the foil to the frame (it’s a bit tricky to bend the tape into the corner of glass and frame. unroll foil downward 10cm. Let it relax before applying it 11. 12. where the foil sheets overlap. As you pull out a length of tape. it will stretch. portable fixtures you can incrementally improve as you find out the value of retreating for yourself. 7. Tape foil seams.

Too punk rock for you? Upgrades below.6 . 20-liter buckets with lids Voila. drinking water (if separate from wash water): in 20-liter bottle with valve-cap waste (water and food): two. .make • • • • 80 – place toilet away from bed and close to exhaust vent – dispose of waste in a covered compost pile that is going to sit for a year bathing – washcloth or sponge for a sponge bath – upgrade * on waterproof floor (or covered with large plastic sheet) make a 2m diameter border of towels or bedsheet and sit in the middle * put shower water in two 1.5-liter bottles with drinking spouts * hold a bottle above yourself with one hand and wash yourself with the other sink – basic * 20-liter bottle with valve-cap * on 20cm-high stand * above rectangular plastic tub (like a restaurant bus tub) * on a table – upgrade * salvaged sink set in a counter-height table * drains directly into waste bucket * upgrade again by adding a drain tube to outside.

6 .make composting toilet 81 .

So all air exits the room through the toilet. 3cm small for snug fit on return duct – top edges fold over horizontal frame pieces and get thumbtacked in place • frame – joint is extra strong. A. fit on top of front and back frame pieces and between frame legs – hole is slightly smaller than bucket – attach toilet seat & lid to top – reinforcer only for tongue and groove boards. B. so empty it every 3-5 days. Bucket also collects pee. a 20-liter bucket sits inside a solid box with a hole in the top. Making a urinal or a toilet that separates pee from poop is possible. containing all odor. Fold triangular flaps. C.make 82 Basically. folded into open box. construction • top – made of 15-20mm tongue and groove boards or 12mm plywood – front and back boards.2mm plastic sheeting. non-planar joint – dots. too. The return duct attaches to a hole in the side of the box. outside box – 15mm minimum space between bucket and toilet top – cut hole.6 . ∼25mm x 37mm. directly behind toilet seat mounts • liner – liner goes inside frame – toilet bucket goes inside liner – liner made of 0. Always drill pilot holes for screws – dimensions: 35-40cm high x 60cm wide x 60cm deep . indicate heads of screws. Do not cut.

make portable shower exploded view 83 .6 .

Water flows for eight minutes. bent close to the middle with heat. 30mm) • bucket (4-liter. 120cm diameter.make 84 A simple shower which requires no plumbing pipes uses (from top down): • hook (in ceiling. hooked over the rim of the bucket) • 4 cords (hang from hook. wood dowel joint) • shower curtain (polyester. maybe through holes in the curtain) • shower curtain rod (circular. Obviously this is a little dangerous. suck on the tube to start the siphon action. Not bad. catches everything at the bottom) Water heating methods: • solar: use two. . hangs from hook) • siphon tube (polyethylene. Larger bucket=longer showers=more water needed. When ready to bathe. made of 30mm OD (outside diameter) black poly pipe. attach hooks to top edge to hang on rod OR put rod in top hem and make holes for cord. round or rectangular.6 . from garden supply store. 4mm ID x 50cm. • electric tea kettle with indicator lights covered. so practice it before retreating to get measurements and procedure right. Dump used water into a 20-liter bucket with a lid for disposal later. clear 2-liter bottles with small sheets of black plastic inside to act as elements. tie to curtain rod. 5cm bottom hem with small river rocks inside to weight it down) • large tub (90 liters or more.

6 .make 85 ∼∼ I assume you will find simpler. more adaptable ways to make darkrooms in a variety of settings.75ft2 4’ x 8’ sheet = 120cm x 240cm (3m2 ) 1 kg = 2 pounds . Please share your methods! ∼∼ More metric near-equivalents: • • • • 1m = 40” 1m2 = 10.

• Is it like meditation? Yes and no. . heal. eliminating. etc. Masks are uncomfortable for a long period of time and eventually leak light. • How many people retreat at once? One. distractions. The point of this retreat is to rest. And a minimally furnished room is still required to eliminate dangers. so it would have to be covered all the time as well. The skin has light receptors. and recover oneself. and sleeping until your bedroom can be darkened. And food is always available. • How do you do things in darkness? Very slowly. • Could you retreat with a sleeping mask? No.7 . naps. and associations. bathing. even when eating. So sleeping masks don’t work for entire retreats.faq mechanics • Do you eat in a retreat? Yes. But they are good for travel. And by getting familiar with the room and making memorable places for your belongings before it is darkened.

you keep it there with much greater ease and for a different purpose than in spiritual meditation. In darkness. It just happens as a result of having so little going on outside yourself. A retreat is a choice based on reason. and the door is always unlocked. Sometimes your autonomic self works on something so damaged. Boredom means you are approaching it and that recovery of a lost part of yourself is imminent. the point of the conditions. when awake and holding still. But not by trying. you go inside yourself. concerns • Wouldn’t you go crazy staying in darkness that long? No. painful. as in prison. is generally on yourself. to practice. Hold on. In a meditation retreat. including meditation and exercise (!). It is easier in darkness because of the intellect-calming physiological response to darkness. You would only go crazy in darkness from being forced to be there. Sometimes you can’t rest. is to rest. not on the world. Because that is not the point.87 7 . the point of maintaining certain conditions is to meditate. • Do you get bored? Yes. In darkness.faq Yes. Your attention. and draining that the psyche has had to completely shut off feeling to it. It becomes an internal black hole. your senses. or your thoughts. . and it is a very good sign.

Even if shelter is unnatural. is dark or darkenable. It is a long time compared to the moment in which you realized you had a problem. the amount of light from stars and even the moon is negligible compared to artificial light. exhausted. At the moment. Most traditional shelter. they instinctively seek shelter in solitude and cover their eyes with their hands. . The eyelids are sufficient to block natural night light. So all that matters right now is whether you feel drawn to learn more about it. • Isn’t total darkness unnatural? Wouldn’t we normally be exposed to stars and moon at night? Is shelter unnatural? Large uncovered windows are very recent in popular architecture. or emotionally overwhelmed. Which are epidemic. When people are in shock.faq • Three or four weeks is a long time to sit around doing nothing. objections • I could never do a darkroom retreat.88 7 . You cannot do it if you don’t want to. A darkroom retreat is merely an extended expression of this instinct in extreme cases. your doing a retreat is out of the question. And caves are everywhere. But it is mercifully short compared to the lifetime you spent developing your problem. yes. and you cannot want to if you don’t know about it. civilized and indigenous.

Relativism makes fashionable philosophy but poor physiology. food for eating. This would mean that: – light does not interfere with deep sleep in some ill people – deep healing can occur without deep sleep – the human organism has no specific needs for healing from psychic trauma. . but there are many ways people can heal their pain. etc).7 . light for seeing. I disagree. despite its specific—and universal—need of rest for healing in all other cases (as well as its specific needs of air for breathing. Naturally.faq 89 • Darkness could be good for some people. Nothing works for everyone.

godfather and mentor. books (above). John Zerzan • philosophical and spiritual traditions – Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand – Tantric Hinduism with Purna Steinitz – In Search of the Miraculous. John Boyer). Ouspensky (Gurdjieff’s basic teachings) – Radical Christianity with DeWaynn Rogers (late legal counsel. Winnebago entrepreneur – Running on Emptiness: The Failure of Civilization. and possibly Teacher of the Age) – Animism from nature.bibliography and influences • indigeny vs industry – Jim Woods at Herrett Museum. Daniel Quinn – Where White Men Fear to Tread. Joseph Chilton Pearce – The Songlines. enigma. extended family. Russel Means – Prosper Waukon. Jean Liedloff – Ishmael. et al. elders (scoutmaster Jack Asher. Bruce Chatwin – The Continuum Concept. Twin Falls – Magical Child Matures. and friends • health – Initiated into Natural Hygiene by Frederic Patenaude .

for finding this rare work) • design and art – parents. and brother. Willetta Warberg – The Natural House. 2006 – 10 days in audience of Advaita grandmaster. Montana. 2007 – eight seconds in dreamtime with elder. Oregon.bibliography and influences 91 – The Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene. 1985 – three months enraptured. director. William Arthur Evans (thanks to friend. Jay Baldwin (about Buckminster Fuller) – Selected Poems. Robert Bly – The Dark is Rising. 2001 – darkroom retreating with elder. Joanie Williamson. Finn Po. Adrian Wolfe. Guatemala. Arnaud Desjardins. Jack Nuckols – childhood teacher. Idaho. Paul – master craftsman. Twin Falls) – accompanist and mentor. Oregon. 1987 – 23 days fasting in California desert. Herbert Shelton – The 80/10/10 Diet. John and LouAnn. 1991 – one week at Rainbow National Gathering. 2011 . Steve Parks (Horizons School. Dr Douglas Graham – Introduction to Human Technology and Human Technology. A. Sterling Voss. Frank Lloyd Wright – BuckyWorks. 2008 – 18 months with the Maya at Lake Atitlan. Susan Cooper • experiences – a week at Sawtooth Methodist Church Camp.

first and foremost: • Are Solheim. for early support of the book To the hundreds of others in eight countries on two continents over 26 years.acknowledgments Thanks to: My editors. Brother Francois. and Uncle Jim. anti-gravity boots became necessary. And to Bertrand Besigye. It can’t be easy rearing a stubborn 20. for support. Everyone named as an influence: for friendship. and sensitive editing for heroic efforts to make this book real. for generosity and grit. always there. enthusiastically diving into the text. you were as merciful as you could be. then 40 year-old psychotic infant in a world gone mad. and hosting me during the rewrite • Magnus Vanebo. And especially: . for so much love. visionary editing. for giving our system the finger till the day he died. who morally and materially aided me during my prodigal search. immediate and extended: I leaned on all of you that would let me. especially. In triage. torn away as soon as I noticed. for seeing and believing in me and the book. My second family in Trimurti. philosopher. to Grandmother Anna Lou Craig Callen Posey. To name but a few: My family. Thanks. 30. writer and fellow refugee in darkness. support. and raising the bar so high. Cousin Christopher. poet and fellow journeyman in darkness.

and deep well-wisher Anna Ericksson: supporter and tryer(!) . friends. retreat host and nurse in my darkest days Oscar. Each of you gave me the world. hosts Elisabette Molin: friend. RIP. RIP. Limme. investor. and friend in a critical year Åsa Ringstrom and Johan Lörne: friends and supporters one. supporter. Willetta Warberg: who poured her heart and soul into me John Boyer: who fed me with so much of his time Purna Steinitz: who kept his terrible promise DeWaynn Rogers: who helped me up. retreat host Marcus Ivarsson and Emma Sofie Berg: connectors Richard Nö for hardwon darkroom design ideas Johan Järlind: work partner. supporter. confidant. supporter. retreat host. professional encouragement Sanna Aatig: friend. supporter. and Max at Kulturforeningen Gryning of Helsingborg: friends and supporters. unnamed. Since darkness fell: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Terje Tjensvoll and Simen Kirkerød. Sweden Stisse and Carina Gilgren: Swedish godparents Dr Anette Kjellgren: for unqualified. who showed me an essential part of my lost self and so prompted the conclusive test of this idea The people and place of Skattungbyn. Cheers! Frank Cicela: angel! Brad Crutchfield: friend.acknowledgments • • • • • 93 Jack Nuckols: giant of a human being and grand-elder.

Eugene: serious camaraderie and support • Hannah Christina Torres for the window panel concept • Brian Riggs Sullivan: for first help in developing these ideas and. and supporter • Daniel Meulbroek: friend. supporter. Malia Shultheis. Ben Ramsey. Nancy Gayle Martin and Violet: heroic friends. carrying them out • Rob Miller. and host extraordinaire • Brian Riggs Sullivan: friend in the trench • Evelyn Griffiths and Alton Sterling Voss: friends. supporter. as always. John Monroe. like Sandro. master job trainer • John Roberts: lifelong best friend. and Jen Carroll: friends and early retreat hosts Always: • Finn Po: elder. supporters. host. and. travel agent • All my clients: for exploring with me • Niels Gronau: for the miraculous Guatemalan facility • Elena Rago: for a test facility • The Maya: for your friendship and unshakable presence • Daniel Tucker.acknowledgments 94 • Sandro Garcia. hosts. supporter. host. supporters. retreatants • Chrissy Weisgard: friend. and Elisabeth Goward. Dome Villagers at Maitreya Ecovillage. fellow survivors . and Stephanie: for KCMO shelter • Jesse King. a fellow dyed-in-the-wool darkness spelunker • Josh Brang: friend.

where. Credit me and tell me where it will show up and I will also acknowledge you on my website. by phone or email. building darkrooms. • Ask me to write for your publication on any subject in relation to Hygienic darkroom retreating and Natural Hygienic psychology. consulting Get my advice on darkroom retreating. to all your questions and concerns about: • how. Just pay my minimalist expenses plus something that fits your budget. and issues arising writing • Get this ebook by donation on my homepage or at leanpub. • Quote and excerpt anything in my book and website. and why to set up a darkroom • how to organize a retreat with supporters • how to deal with specific issues you have about retreating itself . I will respond in detail. speaking I edify audiences worldwide.

services 96 My responses will be based on my experience.000 words about darkroom retreating for web. I have: • done 15 retreats from 2-6 days long • facilitated 25 retreats for others • designed. Hourly rate: e25/$35 (negotiable) . Over the past seven years. and operated three working darkrooms (and several non-working ones) • written 100. and print • given 14 public talks Write me about what you need help with. built. email.

(This deal roughly equals what you and I would make if I were published or selfpublished. Copy. . and I will similarly recognize and link to you on andrewdurham. without your having to order from me in bulk. Honor and include this license in your reprints. a visible mark to use on products and ads. distribute. and sell ( Share part of your street price we me (8% for print and 70-90% for ebooks) and/or somehow astound me and I will also give you my endorsement.) See my homepage for how to send me money.license Soft Copyleft 2009-2014 by Andrew Durham. sell) this content in any media. Suggest changes by sending pull requests. Copying is an act of ♥.

contact website: andrewdurham. He writes. He tested his findings by living outside. Mr Durham traveled America for 21 years searching for the cause of joy. a concept of the restful use of darkness in support of the self​healing psyche. In 2008.210. and consults on everything related to Hygienic darkroom email: info@andrewdurham. documenting his work at andrewdurham. doing odd Born in Twin Falls. speaks. and building and operating darkrooms in Guatemala and Sweden.8470 (in US) . and building alternative shelter. his quest culminated in the darkness voicemail: 541. He independently studied philosophy. He spent the next five years proving the concept. Idaho. and design. playing music.