Our events are all light-free, phone-free, and utensil-free.
We eat to remember. We eat to forget.
Food is a vehicle we use to transport our feelings and we are often unaware of how closely connected food is with emotion, body is with heart. Food has always been the gathering place for consolations, communities, warmth.
Retreating into darkness is a centuries-old practice in the Dzogchen lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, which traditionally recommends a period of 49 days in complete isolation and darkness, often while fasting. Contemporary practitioners of darkness retreats have since modified this number from 2 to 7 days - and even that can feel daunting to us. We're a society that has a hard time being alone, especially without our blue-light emitting digital devices and unmediated screen-time on a myriad of digital devices. Reducing sensory input is increasingly difficult and necessary for all of us. Flotation therapy has been a sound alternative for household practitioners whose commitments max out at 90 minutes per session.
Darkness plays a crucial role in our psychology and psyche.
Dark therapy was a treatment used by clinicians and physicians to manage mania in bipolar disorder - if light-therapy can be an anti-depressant, dark therapy could be used as a mood regulator due to its effect on the hypothalamus/circadian rhythm with zero known psychological risk and no known medical side-effects. Spiritual practitioners have also used darkness in the pursuit of enlightenment. Mantak Chia - a Taoist master known for his darkness retreats in caves - attributes the "transcendental experience of universal love and compassion" darkness facilitates to the symbiosis of three chemicals directly affecting the neuro-endocrine system: melatonin, pinoline, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
What darkness offers is an elegantly simple way for us cerebral creatures to dim down the major cortical centers in our brain to give way to enhanced emotional and feeling states. Some experience a heightened state of psychic or spiritual awareness. Others experience a heightened sense of smell and touch. In the darkness, our psychic attention freely attends to our inner world, our insecure parts can relax - there is no need to scan the world for judgment or disapproval.
Like most things in life, not everyone - of course - is suited for darkness experiences or at least ones without close supervision. Here are a few things to consider -
~ Momentary events are communal in nature and guests are typically seated in a space with anywhere between 8 and 58 others.
~ Light-free dinners typically last 90 minutes total with no more than 60 of those minutes in complete darkness (15 min in light pre and post dinner).
~ Darkness meditations are typically 15 -20 minutes in complete darkness. We offer both guided and silent meditation sessions.
This is not a good fit for you if . . .
~ You have a history of or currently experiencing: epilepsy, claustrophobia, severe hypertension, suicidal ideation, psychosis, chemical dependency, severe and long periods of depression or bipolar disorder.
~ You struggle with being in the dark we strongly encourage you to listen to your body. Pushing through an intense discomfort defeats the vision of Momentary darkness experiences, which honors all our states, especially ones we are prone to dismissing.
If any emotional or physical difficulties arise during or after an event, we have a highly experienced mental health professional present and available to help navigate and learn from the difficulties. Referrals to local coaches and therapists will always be available.
Inherent in the act of eating, not unlike the act of sex, is dirtiness and messiness - a specific type of messiness tempered by our individual tolerance for imperfection and perversion.
The trend seems to be that the older we become the less accepting we can be of messiness, or perhaps, public displays of messiness. Behind closed doors, we may act in starkly different ways. Sheathed in concealment and privacy, we allow ourselves to engage in behaviors that might otherwise fill us with shame if there were witnesses.
And that is how we learn to keep our imperfections out of sight - not allowing ourselves to be fully seen.
Eating and sex are not designed for civility, although they can be quite so. If all things uncivil must be concealed in shame and we aren't able to come out of hiding in acts of intimacy and nourishment, how does that affect our psyches, hearts, souls?
All of our dinners are utensil-free in the spirit of honoring messiness and loving the parts of us that don't feel as put together.