Yangtik — or dark therapy is a meditation practice used for gaining self-knowledge and it has been carried out in many cultures, mainly in Japan, India and Tibet, for centuries. Bits and pieces of information about it are to be found in the old Mahamaya tantras. In Vajrayana buddhism is meditation in the dark carried out with a goal in mind (the practice is called Yangtik). Meditation in dark is, by many people, a perfect way to answer their deep questions.
I have a friend, ex-coworker in a Czech software firm, 35 years old, who recently tried the dark therapy himself. I interviewed him below.
tell me what you found in the dark.
Did you meditate, have cold showers or access your Shadow Self?
I was a little disappointed because nothing like that happened to me, no supernatural “psychic” experience. Nothing like that. And the weirdest thing that happened to me was that after about 2 or 3 days in the dark my vision started flashing with light — I guess because the brain got deprived of the visual stimuli so it began to replace it with the flashes. That was sometimes funny, sometimes obnoxious and maybe even scary.
Prolonged stay in the dark causes your visual processing centers in the brain to relax and after 2 or 3 days the Meditator starts to feel very deep states of the mind, which are comparable to those described in buddhism, yoga and tantra. The Meditator experiences the important parts of his life again, some of them even rise from his unconscious mind back up to consciousness. Pain, traumas and suffering surface. The mind is shedding these misinterpreted signs of your fate and processes them again so you can use them productively.
Did you talk to yourself?
Yeah, and out loud. I talked all the time, and I was telling a story of my life, to myself. I managed to tell only some periods of my life story, because 7 days was not enough to tell the whole story.
Did you have something to journal? Notebook or audio recorder?
Yes, I had a notebook and I have written down about 4 pages. I was blind in the dark of course.
Oh, so were you allowed to have a red light with you or something
You can bring anything you want, you can even turn on the light if you want.
Were you in the dark really for the whole week then?
What did you eat? What did they cook?
They brought me food once per day, it was a lunch.
Was it vegetarian?
Vegan, or at least I think. Vegetarian it was for sure. I also started doing gluten free diet so I asked them to leave out any gluten, and they did, more or less. And what is interesting is that you have enormous appetite and everything just tasted so good.
Oh yeah, because your senses are relaxed, is that it?
I mean, I knew prior to the dark therapy that should happen, because I read about experiences of other people. It really happened, the food was so tasty. And they cooked so well.
When you began the first day, what did you feel? Did you think you are gonna make it the whole 7 days or not?
I bought the therapy sometime in the end of November, and it was in impulsive decision, I just decided I am going to do it. I was thinking about it for 5 years so I just told to myself — now or never, what other fucking time? And around Christmas I had holiday anyway, so I did it at the end of the year.
So you were relaxed and chill when you came in?
Yeah I was chill. 29. of December I came in, so I was at home relaxing prior to that for a few days already — but to be honest I don’t think that matters much, I could do it right after a work week.
And my biggest fear was not making it, I mean psychologically. Falling into depression or something like that.
Yeah, I feared that too quite a lot. But the experience was nowhere near that for me. And I was looking forward to sleeping a lot, because I read online that the people can sleep through first 2 days, because of their sleep deficit. A deficit you just sleep through because there is nothing to do in there anyway.
And that did not happen. I was a little pissed. I slept normally. And you have no perception of time in there, so it was hard to know for how long you slept. I think I was not sleeping more than normally tho.
Was it possible to guess the time based on the food deliveries?
Yeah, I think that was the only thing. Oh, any maybe another thing is — I was there over the End of the year I heard fireworks, so I was clear it’s midnight. Oh yeah, and I heard hen the people had outside in the garden, clucking around, so I knew it’s morning :)
Where did you do the dark therapy?
In Kutná Hora, I found it randomly on the internet. But there is loads of other places too.
What did you anticipate or expect the most?
I did not expect much from the experience, the main reason why I went and did it was a blog post I read in the past, from Stanislav Komárek. It was about his experience. He recommended it because he went through a personal transformation and he did have a mystical experience and saw some hallucinations. He saw himself sitting by the fire in the primordial times or something like that. And since then I wanted to try it. But it’s hard to find time for it and one is a little afraid.
And other than that I expected that I will clean up my mind and I will decide what I really want to do.
Did you meditate?
And did you try cold showers?
Nope, and I was showering once a day.
Did you dream?
Yeah, I had lots of dreams!
Did you write them down?
I did not unfortunately and I forgot quite a lot after waking up. But I know they were very interesting and I remembered them a lot more than normally.