hygienic dark retreat
hygienic dark retreat
Andrew Durham
Buy on Leanpub

sample note

This sample includes:

  • front matter: blurb, intro, etc
  • 3 of 11 chapters: hygiene, format, air
  • back matter: faq, bibliography, etc

The entire book is available for sale here or free at darkroomretreat.com.





a   blurb
b   notes
c   foreword
d   preface
e   introduction

a   blurb

recover your lost self

Switch off the world. Sleep deeply. Heal from everything.

Including trauma, the cause of suffering. Trauma is natural. But so is health. So nature provides a condition of healing from trauma: darkness.

Consciously, you rest in darkness and maintain the conditions of rest. Unconsciously, you work. Your organism unleashes its limitless power to heal itself, in body and soul.

Lost parts of the self return. One becomes whole again. It feels like a miracle.

From health come joy, power, and genius: the capacities we need to restore the world and live full lives in it.

Everything else can wait. Recovering your lost self cannot wait.


A hygienic dark retreat is an extended rest in a totally dark room. The room is quiet, comfortable, and well-ventilated. There is food. One is alone, with a supporter nearby.

This is a complete manual, with theory, protocol, and design. It explains why retreating works and how to do it. It has instructions and blueprints for beginning at home.

toward a hygienic psychology

This approach to darkness is hygienic. It is neither spiritual, therapeutic, nor psychedelic.

Hygiene is the science of health, a branch of biology (look it up). It is based on life’s self-preserving and conditional nature. Hygiene led the 19th century’s famous improvements in public health.

Hygiene lacked only a psychology and a grasp of trauma. These prove to be the keys to health. The result: reliable miracles.

b   notes

This book is best read front to back, word upon word. Each paragraph builds upon the last. The thesis is presented immediately in brief, then in increasing detail.

The book is an integrated whole. Every word aids comprehension, including front and back elements (preface, faq, etc).

  • underlined words are links
  • external links are listed at the very end of this book, in element z
  • a link followed by a letter or number is a “crosslink”, a cross reference to another section within the book. For example, media -​b crosslinks to the section below, “media”, in this element, b   notes.
  • italicized links are book titles
  • if also asterisked*, book is free to download or read online

Paper or e-paper is best for reading. Print a paper copy from this pdf. Or buy one (see write -​x). 8” or 10” e-paper devices from established companies are good. Dasung and Onyx monitors are best for writing and working.

Avoid backlit screens for reading: computers, tablets, phones. They irritate the eyes, disrupt concentration, and lower comprehension.


I improve the book continually. Get the latest version for corrections or before rereading or making components:

c   foreword

the recovery of joy

This book comes out of a long inquiry into the cause of joy.

At 15, out of the blue, great joy overcame me. The moment blossomed into hours, days, months. Joy was real. It was natural. It was normal.

Then it disappeared. Why? The need gripped me to solve this mystery. After a long investigation, I did. (More soon.)

The solution included a way to recover joy. Freud had identified the destroyer of joy: trauma. I discovered the essential condition nature provides us to heal from trauma: darkness, used restfully.

Joy comes from health, not achievement or acquisition. It comes from being, not from doing or having. It means all is well with oneself. It is the feeling of being fully alive.

Lack of joy—suffering—comes from damage from trauma. Given profound rest in darkness, trauma heals by itself, and joy returns.

It’s that simple. For 13 millennia, we have been but weeks away from joy, health, and peace.

In our trauma-induced psychosis, we came to believe that lack of joy comes from moral failure. Effort became our smug panacea. But its results fade fast. It is a counterfeit.

By the will, one can do nothing directly to restore joy, only provide proper conditions. The organism does the rest naturally. Autonomically.

We have been right that something is wrong with us. We have been right that we must do something about it. But we have been wrong about which part of ourselves must do it. At long last, this book puts the issue to rest.

d   preface

When I first retreated in darkness, I just did it to rest. It worked. After 56 hours, I had caught up on all the sleep I had ever lost. For the first time in decades, I felt awake. I was stunned.

Two years later, the same thing happened. In addition, I felt assured. Calmed. Well in my soul.

This sense of psychic health stayed with me for months. But how, after a lifetime of depression and alienation?

From hygiene, I remembered two principles:

  • the self-healing nature of life
  • rest as the primary condition of healing

And little failures of memory in middle age were showing me the organic nature of my psyche.

One morning in a dream, these clues fused in a conception of the restful use of darkness in support of the self-healing psyche.

I began testing this idea in more dark retreats. Lethal psychic issues that had tortured me for a lifetime began resolving themselves spontaneously, as predicted. In 14 years and 27 retreats, I have seen no sign of an end to this process—short of full recovery of psychophysical integrity.

My confidence has grown through what I have learned by testing: what happens in darkness and why; how to retreat and what for. Further progress in this approach requires me to share it. It needs more participation, resources, and velocity.

Hygienic dark retreating requires minimal effort and no faith. Darkness is not a void, but a sanctuary. It is not the absence of light, but the presence of the self. It is yours.


Oslo, 2020

e   introduction

In civilization, we are over-stimulated and distressed. We need relief.

We are exhausted, sad, anxious, enraged, and depressed. We need rest and recovery.

We are hurt and sick. We need healing.

We are broken, lost, and empty. We need to recover ourselves.

How? By hygienic dark retreating: profound rest for the self-healing psyche. It is a rational, scientific approach. It is nature’s solution to suffering. Nature is the only source of real solutions.

In darkness, one switches off the world, with its noise and demands. One takes refuge in the deep self, supporting it in healing itself by itself. This book is the complete manual for understanding and doing it.


how it works

  1. The psyche, as an organic system, is self-healing.
  2. The primary condition of healing is profound rest.
  3. The most profound psychic rest occurs in extended total darkness as a physiological response

Because the process of healing is automatic, it is foolproof. The psyche needs darkness for rest like lungs need air for breathing and eyes need light for seeing. It knows no substitute. Healing happens involuntarily—by itself—when we voluntarily provide ourselves with sufficient conditions of rest. This is fully developed in secret -​2. It is contextualized in hygienic psychology -​3.

Through abstract theory and concrete practice, this book tells how to provide all the conditions of rest in perfect proportion. Most importantly, it introduces the passive, hygienic attitude toward healing. Merely knowing it opens the door to super-intensified healing, ie, miracles. When you are ready, you can walk through it.

The book reveals what healing requires in detail. It inspires you to heal and to support others in doing so. It includes designs for darkroom components. Their precision enables even amateur craftsmen to get them right.


To retreat, one needs three things:

  1. knowledge:
    • of hygienic theory
    • of the practice of hygienic dark retreating
  2. materials
    • darkroom
    • food
    • personal belongings
  3. support
    • supporters are knowledgeable: have read this book, possibly Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene*, Herbert Shelton’s masterwork on hygiene
    • experienced: have done at least a 5-day -​4 retreat
    • sympathetic, protective of himself and retreater

      Hygiene is the basis on which sick people can help each other without making things worse. Our problem is partly social. It is solved with increasing degrees of cooperation as we become more capable of doing so.

Meet these requirements by reading this book, preparing for a retreat, and retreating.

Your first retreats are gratifying warm-ups. You will get relief, sleep, and healing like you never thought possible. You will feel the meaning of hygienic ideas. You will learn how to be in darkness. Then you will be prepared for the ultra-effective medium and long retreats.


A darkroom is a bedroom, suite, or house that is perfectly dark, well-ventilated, quiet, warm, and comfortable. A darkroom can be basic or deluxe. To summarize the practical point of this book, I advocate making basic darkness in your bedroom now, and arranging for deluxe darkness in another location later.

This provides darkness for nightly sleep; a place to familiarize yourself with extended darkness at your own pace; and a place for your first short retreats.

Deluxe darkness adds extra features, comforts, and space. A dedicated darkroom is built in a small fully functional house in a quiet location. Like all houses should be but are not, it is perfectly and easily darkened and undarkened. More in design -​7.


biological integrity; wholeness; being intact, complete, hale. Characterized by strength, beauty, radiant energy, function, and ease. Experienced as euphoria.
[Gr. Hygieia, goddess and personification of health) 1 - the science of health, a branch of biology. 2 - caring for health by respecting life’s self-preserving nature and providing its normal conditions. 3 - hygienism; Natural Hygiene

Take a moment. Pull out 2-3 dictionaries. Look it up for yourself. Some do not even mention cleanliness.

a way of life; everything that happens with people in a given group in the course of living.
    I once used the word, culture, for this. Then my neighbor, John Zerzan, explained to me that culture is recent: an aspect of civilization. I searched a single word that would include all approaches to man’s existence. Lifeway compresses the phrase “way of life” into one word. It is common in anthropology.
the science of curing disease
Natural Hygiene
the two-century-old school of health that exemplifies and champions hygiene (as distinguished from the medically reduced view of hygiene as mere cleanliness)
what is biologically appropriate (not merely usual or average)
a whole living being consisting of physique and psyche, body and soul, being and knowing
the faculty of knowing, specifically of man, including:
  • intelligence: form / center / functions / association
    • moving: sensation / gut / physical, instinct / reptilian
    • feeling: perception / heart / emotional, intuition / mammalian
    • thinking: conception / brain / mental, intellect / rational
  • parts (used as both adjectives and nouns)
    • unconscious: coordinates processes fundamental to life like metabolism, cell division, and blood oxygen levels. It cannot become conscious or directly controlled except to an insignificant or backfiring degree, through intense yogic practices, techniques like hypnosis or biofeedback, or psychoactive substances. Synonyms: autonomic, involuntary
    • subconscious: acquired automatized knowledge, which can be made conscious, like walking, emotional associations, cognizing words, and dreaming
    • conscious: ordinary waking awareness, as when reading this book or running an errand. Primarily used to direct attention. Synonyms: will or volition
  • scales
    • cell
    • tissue
    • organ
    • system
    • the organism as a whole
of or relating to the psyche (not occult powers).
    For example, I refer to psychic illness rather than “mental” illness. Mental means of or relating to the mind. Psychology is not just the study of the mind, but the psyche: the entire human faculty of knowing. This includes emotional and physical aspects not reducible to the mental one.

I don’t use neologisms. I don’t use words in any special sense. A dictionary will clear up any confusion you may have while reading. Read through the senses and the etymology as well.

My usage is sometimes uncommon. I take pains to recover the original or essential meanings of words by digging into etymology and historical usage. Bad philosophical influences, manipulation by elites, and sloppy popular usage constantly degrade the meanings of high-level abstractions. Words become corrupt or acquire unfortunate associations. Language is artificial and must be maintained.

I consider this half the job of intellectuals. The Oxford English Dictionary exemplifies this effort. I used to jot down words to look up in it on my next visit to the library. Pre-1970 editions of American Heritage Dictionary and Webster’s are excellent dictionaries in single volumes.

Beware of newer lexicology. Idealism dominates intellectuals. Its radical irrationality has corrupted English. I mean the modern heirs of Plato and Kant: Bernays, Adorno, Mao (political correctness), Marcuse, etc. Their followers aren’t just writing screenplays but editing dictionaries.



Darkness is instinctive. We sleep in it at night and nap in shadows. We use our hands to cover our eyes when overwhelmed. When injured or sick, we take longer refuge in caves and shelters. We and many other animals always have.

Absolute darkness is natural. Our natural habitat is tropical forest. At night its floor is pitch black.


Spiritual traditions have used darkness for millennia. They tend to view it as the ultimate environment for self-discipline and gaining unusual knowledge. Egyptians and Maya have used it in pyramids; Christians in catacombs; Sufis and Taoists in caves; Tibetan Buddhists in cells of monasteries.

Indigenous traditions do likewise: Amazonian shamanism uses darkness in ayahuasca ceremony. Welsh shamans and Navajo, Maya, and Kogi Indians build special dark structures. They hold darkness in high regard as essential to self-discovery. They also use caves for healing.

Western science has studied sensory destimulation since the 1950s for astronautics, health, and mind-control. Ayurveda, India’s ancient healing tradition, uses extended periods of darkness for rejuvenation. By reports, a dark retreat is nothing less than the fountain of youth.

Unfortunately, the partially or completely active nature of these approaches to dark retreating compromises them. They depend on an active will, the faculty most in need of rest.

Hygiene is passive, allowing the distressed will to finally rest and recover. Hygiene depends on the autonomic self—omniscient, omnipotent, and infallible—to accomplish the work of healing. This removes structural conflict in the method, promising limitless results.

Hygiene completely secularizes the use of darkness for the specific purpose of healing. There is nothing mystical, disciplined, or complicated about this approach. It is rational, safe, and natural, leading to reliable miracles.


Medicine led us to believe hygiene is just cleanliness (see history -​1). In fact, hygiene deals with all aspects of health scientifically. Any good dictionary proves this. Hygiene is broad and deep.

The word is common because of Natural Hygiene. It is a radical school of natural health originating in America in 1822. It led the global natural health movement of the 19th century.

Hygiene respects the self-preserving nature of life. It observes that organisms both maintain and recover health under normal conditions of life. So it studies organic self-preservation and how to provide its conditions.

Normal conditions of life include fresh air, sunlight, natural food, work, friendship, and cleanliness by regular bathing. Hygiene taught the modern world the enormous benefits of these simple, free, natural, pleasant influences. This significantly raised health standards worldwide. Its motto is “Health through healthful living”. It has only lacked a psychology and an appreciation for trauma as the cause of all illness; this book corrects that.

Hygiene identifies disease as the process of healing. Disease is the normal organic activity of repair, elimination, and re-energizing, but distressed by abnormal conditions. Thus, disease is not an invading entity to be fought. It is a beneficial process to support by restoring healthy conditions and practices. It is a set of clues to precisely guide this caregiving.

The fundamentals of hygiene help us reconnect with our own common sense about healing. They guide us past incorrect assumptions we likely have about it. First, learn these absolute basics. Then you can learn the concrete details of a dark retreat and approach it with confidence. Moreover, hygiene provides guidance in all aspects of healthful living.


My parents had taught me the importance of eating well through their interest in natural diet. When I was 9 years old, I got sick and realized it was from the junk food I had eaten the day before. Diet became my religion for 30 years.

Natural Hygiene came knocking three times. The first time was in 1989 through my dad’s second wife, Jennifer Justice. She was a truthseeker with scores of fascinating books. Among them I found the ecstatic Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.

It knocked again in 1992 through a great friend, Sterling Voss. In the greatest letter anyone ever wrote me, he told me about Fasting Can Save Your Life by Herbert Shelton, hygiene’s systematizer.

It knocked a final time in 2001, through friend and colleague, Frederic Patenaude. He was the editor of Just Eat An Apple magazine and author of The Raw Secrets. These publications were about the raw vegan diet. This time, I opened the door.


I met Frederic Patenaude in San Diego at a raw food potluck. We found we helped each other get things done. We became housemates and coworkers for a total of three years off and on from 1998 till 2003. We worked at Nature’s First Law in California; Tree of Life Center in Arizona; and at his new office in Quebec.

Frederic had started in hygiene with the works French hygienic master, Albert Mosseri. Frederic read all his 20+ books and was in contact with him till his death in 2012.

Slowly, I absorbed the essence of Natural Hygiene’s radical perspective through conversations with Frederic. By this, I mean he got it through my thick skull with his calm, relentless, crystalline arguments. I was challenging but sympathetic, so I kept asking. He kept answering.

It took time because I started out confused. A mess of alternative dietary ideas floated around my head since childhood. Fortunately, I was committed to logic. The rationality and simplicity of hygiene made it finally click. I started studying it on my own.

Frederic’s dedication and great knowledge made him immovable where I was merely stubborn. I am grateful to him for this.

I can only hope to return the favor with the current work. It illuminates certain mysteries of diet that frustrated us. Like why some people stick with eating healthy food and others don’t (see capacity -​1). And the greater mystery of metaphysical suffering that we, like so many others, failed to solve with diet.


I first heard about dark retreating in 2004 from Purna Steinitz. He was my guru between 2000-2008. An American Hindu, he had heard about its use in Ayurveda. He told me, “Apparently, after a few weeks of it, one comes out completely renewed.”

The idea struck me as strange. The well-lit Apollonian upper world of spirituality attracted me most. As a budding hygienist, I thought we needed light. But like a lot of earthy things Purna said, the idea of renewal in darkness stayed with me.

I also learned from him the ideas of capacity, function, and how one’s results come from how one is being. As with darkness and grace, I have extricated them from the spiritual context and put them into the more profitable biological one of this book.


A year later, I moved to an ecovillage in Oregon. The village maintenance man—I’ll call him Harold—had a darkroom.

He had inspired the village’s youth to try darkness. After listening to him about it over the winter, I did, too.


But as Harold liked to say, I was just getting started. It would take two more years and another successful retreat for me to grasp the significance of retreating in darkness.

Harold had shown me my work in this life as well as the means of recovering my lost self.


How did all this begin?

My parents were thinkers and unconventional. They were much concerned with philosophy, health, design, and music. I took all of it more seriously than they expected.

They were emotionally distant. My intense older brother became a big force in my life. For me, our house was more training camp than home. Other influences -​t and people -​u smoothed it out a bit.

I felt awed by life at 2, joyful at 3. School started. A part of me went comatose.

By age 15, I felt morose and alienated. But something from childhood was stirring in me. One day, I slumped before the TV. A tiny woman lived inside it. She mentioned the importance of loving oneself and being happy. If my mood was the Death Star, this advice was Luke Skywalker’s photon torpedo.

In a moment, I was overcome by rapture: sublime joy in apprehending our perfect, beautiful universe. The feeling was bigger than at age 3. It lasted three months. When it faded, so did my previous interests. More than anything, I wanted to understand the cause of joy. I wanted it back.

In elementary school, I had read The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. It left an intriguing impression.

During my rapture, I found Do You Really Need Eyeglasses?. It shows how to care for the eyes naturally with exercises, sunning, and palming. By palming, I found “the field”: the dark screen or space behind covered eyes where imagination plays. I came to rely on it for rest and solace, too. Twenty-three years later, I found that book’s hygienic origin when I read Shelton’s chapter on care of the eyes.

My father’s hero, Frank Lloyd Wright, gave me a way to avoid college. “Better four years of experience than four more years of education,” he said. That was all I needed to hear.

After barely finishing high school, I started traveling and living out of a backpack. For 21 years, I independently investigated the cause of joy. I used my legacy: the philosophy, hygiene, and design my parents had taught me. I did my first dark retreat. Two years later, in 2008, the answer came:

A slight increase of vital energy from adolescence caused a temporary, partial restoration of my damaged psychic integrity, making me sensible to the enrapturing beauty and perfection of the universe. So a massive increase from profound rest in darkness would cause permanent and complete restoration.

With this breakthrough, my search ended. Development began, starting with testing. Besides myself, 28 clients have tried it. Their results echoed my early ones.

Over the course of my 27 retreats of 2–7 days, noticeable restoration of my psychic integrity and function has occurred. My body’s scent has improved. I regained some access to my long-buried sexuality. From one retreat, I woke up feeling like an adult for the first time in 41 years. This feeling has never left me. Alongside my childish panic in the face of challenges, an adult now steadily thinks through them.

In retreat, symptoms of fibromyalgia and autism dissipate. Aches and pains dissolve. Flexibility returns. I wake up just knowing things that had always stumped me. Issues that dogged me for decades resolve themselves. Insomnia, exhaustion, and suicidality evaporate. Clarity, energy, ease, and purpose return for weeks at a time. I naturally exercise, like a cat or a child. Basic functioning lasts two months after just a short retreat. All these things come after years or decades without them.

In all these small miracles, I have sensed far greater ones await in darkness. I gained invincible hope, the will to persist, and a more precise compass for finding my way.

Besides this and other supporting evidence, told in greater detail in my retreat reports, no data contradicting the basic idea has yet emerged. Meanwhile, interest in darkness is growing worldwide.

In Europe, I met a professor of psychology and renowned researcher in REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy). This is the academic approach to both flotation and dark retreating. She unqualifiedly agreed with my theory of psychophysical healing. She proposed research with my exact method, once I had a darkroom. I was not ready and could not arrange it, but it was a good sign.

Wherever I go, people are as struck by the logic of hygiene and darkness as I am. They wish to try a retreat.



This book is for the:

  • hygienic dark retreater. Knowledge of hygiene enables trust in and care for life. Then miracles of healing can happen.
  • truthseeker like me. See for yourself if I found some. I’d like to save you some time. Maybe you, not I, will get us across the line. Whatever it takes.
  • sufferer, who needs hope and a real way to stop the pain, be it metaphysical, mental, emotional, physical, social, or ecological
  • normal man, who is functional, reasonable, positive, and busy; who knows there is more to life than The Program; but, for now, only has evenings, weekends and vacations in which to explore further
  • self-experimenter, who feels yearning, curiosity, wonder, or a wish to find his next step
  • servant, who wishes to know why mankind is in such rough shape and what to do about it
  • thinker, who appreciates new ideas, good arguments, and reasonable tests for them
  • hygienist, who senses hygiene’s unrealized potential
  • ones who detect something of importance here

Hygienic dark retreating is for anyone to whom it makes sense and who feels moved to do it, whether to heal from trauma or just see what it’s like.

Chronic physical illness originates in trauma. Trauma heals in darkness, so the illness does, too. +Do not underestimate the power of the self-healing organism in darkness.

Retreating is not an evasion. It suits everyone, but not necessarily right now. Sometimes, problems need to be addressed in other ways first. Hygiene offers some means of doing so. Keep one eye open for this possibility.

Learning about hygiene through dark retreating reveals hygiene’s scope and reach like nothing else. It helps one understand the basic processes of health in a complete context of body and soul. It puts things in perspective, showing where one is in the process of healing. It offers rare encouragement and hope.

Amidst the opposing influences of our time, a solid grasp of hygiene is critical to healing from any illness. To this end, Herbert Shelton’s Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene* is essential reading.

how to use this book

Above all, this book presents an idea for consideration. For now, doing a retreat is not at issue. To do something like this, you must want to. To want to, you must believe in it. To believe, you must know about it. To know, you must learn. To learn, it must interest you somehow.

So invest your energy in gaining knowledge by reading every word of this book, cover to cover. Once it makes sense to you, rational belief will form. Natural motivation follows. Then you will.

Use this as a manual for making basic darkness for yourself at home. Download the companion zip file. It has all the plans for components as well as some reference work on hygiene.

You are the one you have been waiting for. Others care about you, but not enough to make this happen for you. They will only help after you start without them. The need for self-reliance applies to darkness more than anything else I know. I have had to recover enough of a self to rely on, to find remnants of it I didn’t know I had.

The full application of the idea of hygienic dark retreating consists of doing retreats of increasing length, alternated with making radical changes in lifeway. In darkness, one becomes capable of them. They include studying and applying the rest of hygiene.

Continue this two-part program until your psychic and physical health are completely restored. Live.


The front part of the book—disclaimer, dedication, contents, blurb, notes, foreword, preface, and introduction—isn’t just a sales pitch. Its elements succinctly present the basic idea in different ways to aid understanding. In hygiene, understanding is always the first task.

Chapters are grouped in three parts:

  1. hygienic (theory)
    • hygiene -​1: theory behind the restful use of darkness
    • dark retreat -​2: how profound rest in darkness works
    • psychology -​3: radicalization of hygiene
  2. retreat (process)
    • format -​4: retreat lengths and purposes
    • protocol -​5: what to do and how to be in a retreat
    • prepare -​6: orientation, questionnaire, menu, pack
  3. dark (building)
    • design -​7: principles and specifications
    • make -​8: general instructions
    • air -​9: ventilating, silencing, and heating
    • darkness -​10: refined darkening techniques
    • water -​11: simple sinks, toilets, baths

It often links to my website, hygienicdarkretreat.com for:

  • retreat reports
  • early essays on darkness
  • elaborative blog posts
  • other writings: essays, designs, prose, myths, poetry, and lyrics since 1988, and writings by others.

This whole book is free to read there. The ebook is for sale at leanpub.com/hygienicdarkretreat/.


Thanks for reading. Please copy and give or sell this book to others. See license -​w for details.

This is free content and an open source project contained in a public code repository. If you have comments or corrections, open an issue or email me -​x. If you know distributed version control, fork the project, and submit a pull request.

In addition to this book, I can assist you by email, messenger apps, and in person. See services -​x for details.

I continually update this book. Before rereading or making anything, get the latest version.


Now, on to hygiene, the science of (euphoric) health and the ultimate basis of dark retreating and psychology.


part 1 : theory



1   hygiene
2   darkroom retreat
3   psychology

1   hygiene


We have a real problem. To solve it, we must approach it realistically. We must deal in facts, logic and reason.

Our problem is big and complex. We need a science to organize our reasoning.

Our problem is with health. We need a science of health.

And, lo, we have one: hygiene.

Hygiene is a two century-old, globally embedded health care system. We hardly notice it. It’s just how most things are done. Everyone knows its basics. Its details strike newcomers as oddly familiar.

This science contextualizes the restful use of darkness in support of the self-healing psyche. It illuminates the role of darkness in life. It shows us how to relate to it for the purpose of health.

Health, of course, is the point. We are organisms, so our purpose is to live. To live fully, we need health.


What is health like, according to our science?

“Health does not consist merely of the absence of symptoms of illness. It is a state of positive well-being that is evidenced by a constant state of euphoria. It is rarely, if ever, experienced by humans today.”
–Herbert Shelton, father of modern hygiene1

Euphoria is the sign of function that my adolescent rapture hinted at. Once tasted, nothing else will do. What conditions would make it possible? Identifying and providing conditions is hygiene’s forte. It accomplishes this by making observations of life in nature along certain lines.


We will learn these lines—these principles—in this chapter. Which relates the basic theory of hygiene. The next chapter, dark retreat, relates the application of hygiene to darkness. In chapter 3, we head into the uncharted depths of hygienic psychology.

I aim to do much for hygiene in this book:

  • systematize its laws
  • reform its pathology
  • give it a psychology
  • add forms of retreating, including its greatest

and thus renew it by radicalizing and completing it. This will:

  • inspire a new movement for health and freedom
  • obsolete the parasite, medicine
  • end our strange suffering and restore joy, peace, and intelligence in the world.


Hygiene has three senses in its dictionary definition:

  1. the science of health; a branch of biology.
  2. conditions and practices conducive to the preservation of health
  3. cleanliness

I would like you to see this for yourself. Take a moment and look up the word, hygiene, in 2-3 dictionaries.

In common usage, the third sense strangely dominates. Hygiene is reduced to vigilant cleanliness against germs and the use of safety equipment to protect against a hostile environment. Why? We will get to that.

Meanwhile, the dictionary shows that hygiene includes all healthy conditions and practices. It is fearless and relaxed. It respects life’s resilience.

  • air, warmth, water, food, light & darkness, shelter
  • rest, work, poise, exercise, cleanliness
  • family & friends, camaraderie, affection, sex, love
  • freedom, peace, prosperity, habitat

The extent and organization of this list are somewhat arbitrary. It simply helps ground our discussion in biology. Which includes psychobiology and sociobiology.


This book mainly deals with the condition of rest. It is half of life. In our action-obsessed lifeway, we disdain and resist rest. We view it as laziness, indulgence, a waste of time. This is an obvious aspect of mass civilized psychosis.

Rest is an end in itself. It is another equal aspect of living. Moreover, nothing else is possible without it, neither action nor healing. As Shelton says, “Time spent at rest is never wasted.” If we wish to be healthy, we simply must correct ourselves in this matter.

We rest for two reasons: because we are tired and because we are ill. Thus rest is of two kinds: ordinary and profound.

Ordinary rest includes daily sleep, naps, and relaxation, alternated with daily activity in light. It is for recovering from the tiredness, the wear and tear of daily life. It is for maintenance of health.

Profound rest is:

  • deep: more restful and accompanied by greater healing
  • concentrated: more occurs per day
  • long: lasts days, weeks, even months
  • remedial: for the purpose of relief and healing from major trauma and illness
  • provisioned: provided for with perfected conditions of rest.

Profound rest occurs under four main conditions. They are (in order of increasing depth):

  1. solitude
  2. silence
  3. fasting
  4. darkness

These can be used in any combination. Hygienic dark retreating begins with #1, 2, & 4. It can include #3 later. There are over 10 other conditions of rest, to be discussed in chapter 2.

The benefits of profound rest accumulate day by day. If interrupted, some healing processes must start over. To heal from major trauma, a good night’s sleep is not enough, even several in a row. The rest must go on day and night for days for healing to occur. We must bring hygienic retreats into our lives to get the profound rest we need.



Hygiene originated at the peak of the Enlightenment in America. It is a gift of the children of the Revolutionaries, rivaling the great gift from their parents. The country was new. Everything was possible. Three men dared to see everything about health with fresh eyes.

In 1822, Dr Isaac Jennings abandoned drugging. He prescribed fasting under the guise of sugar and bread pills taken with copious amounts of water. His success drew patients from far and wide.

Hygiene became a mass movement in 1832 with the lectures of Sylvester Graham, physiologist, preacher, and the namesake of Graham (whole wheat) flour.

Dr Russell Trall built on the efforts of Jennings and Graham. He had independently abandoned drugging, also. He boldly advanced hygienic theory and practice. He spread hygiene widely with publications, lectures, and organization.

Florence Nightingale, mother of modern nursing, spread hygiene perhaps more than anyone else, before nursing was co-opted by medicine. With help from Trall and James Jackson, Ellen G White imbued the Seventh-Day Adventist Church with hygienic principles.2 Today, Adventists live an average of 10 years longer than those around them.

Many other bold men and women alike gave their lives to hygiene. They touched tens of thousands personally and affected hundreds of millions with their influence. To name some: William Alcott and his daughter, Louisa May Alcott, Emmet and Helen Densmore, Edward Dewey, Susanna Dodds, O S Fowler, Felix Oswald, Mary Gove, Edmond Moras, Thomas Nichols, Chas Page, Hermann Reinheimer, Harriet Shaw, Joel Shew, George Taylor, and Robert Walter.

If hygiene were software, these initial efforts would be version 1.0.

Hygiene 2.0 was marked by integration. After the untimely death of Dr Trall, John Tilden buoyed hygiene with his practice, books, and neat formulations. His concept of toxemia is now widespread.

By uncompromising insight and Olympian effort, Herbert Shelton revived and systematized hygiene for the 20th century. He published a score of books and 40 years of magazines. He supervised over 20,000 fasts. He counted Gandhi among his adherents and suffered similar persecutions. He rechristened hygiene as “Natural Hygiene” to distinguish it from medicine’s corruption of the word to just mean cleanliness.

Albert Mosseri of France further modernized hygiene with his piquant prose and prodigious innovation in fasting.

Mosseri’s reader and translator, Frederic Patenaude of Quebec, introduced Mosseri to a wider audience through his magazine “Just Eat an Apple” and hygienic book, Raw Secrets (which I helped edit and publish).

Shelton’s student, TC Fry, created a widely-used hygienic course of study. Fry’s studento, Harvey Diamond, with wife, Marilyn, introduced hygiene to millions (including me) with their book, Fit for Life.

Another student of Fry is Douglas Graham. He wrote The 80/10/10 Diet, a trenchant and radical presentation of hygienic diet. It uses the familiar idea of calories in the titular ratio to explain healthy eating clearly. It makes frugivorous diet accessible.

Loren Lockman’s teachings and practice of frugivorous diet are unusually elegant. I learned from him and fasted and worked with him in 2003 and 2004.

There are many hygienists to seek out. These have been important to me.


Health was a popular movement in the 1800s in the West. Many semi-natural approaches emerged. Hygiene was the most rational, pleasing, and effective. It became the vanguard. The 19th century’s famous improvements in public health resulted.

Hygiene remains the most effective and influential approach to health and healing in history. It now benefits virtually everyone on the planet several times a day, whether he knows it or not. It is now common knowledge that rest, fresh, air pure, water bathing, exercise, and nutritious food are essential to a healthy life.

These were new ideas 200 years ago. They benefit people more than medicine even pretends to. They provide endless ways to avoid doctors. They hint at compelling truths each new generation goes searching for.

Medicine opposed this progress at every turn. It took credit for what it could not stop. It made war on hygiene’s teachings, institutions, and practicers with propaganda, lobbying, and legal prosecution.

Hygiene invited such attack by over-emphasizing the secondary principle of toxemia. Medicine used this flaw to reduce hygiene to cleanliness. Medicine made hygiene seem like it never existed with one hand while nearly destroying it with the other.

Hygiene 3.0 begins with the recognition of trauma as the root of disease; the restful use of darkness to heal from it; and a hygienic psychology based on these two. This is the basis of hygiene’s revival. It will regain its former ascendancy and attain permanent dominance.

To mark this turnaround, I am dropping “Natural Hygiene” and reclaiming the ordinary name, hygiene, for our tradition. Medicine no longer defines it for us. We are unconquered.

laws of life

Shelton describes hygiene as “the employment of materials, agents, and influences that have a normal relationship to life, in the preservation and restoration of health according to well-defined laws and demonstrated principles of nature.”3 These Laws of Life are the heart of hygiene, the key to grasping it.

I have grouped laws by importance and subject. Four primary laws form the context for the rest. Two of them, Coordination and Capacity, I formulated.

This is an overhaul of the original list. I had some criticisms of it. Names in (parentheses) below derive from it.

Here are all the Laws of Life, the strongest dose of hygienism you can get.


  • Force: A force inherent in an organism, called lifeforce, sustains its structure and the instinct of self-preservation in its every cell, organ, and system. (Life’s Great Law)
  • Order: Life’s defining characteristics are its self-preserving nature and conditional existence. The constant practical aim of self-preservation is health, life’s natural state. Self-preserving means it is completely self-generating, self-maintaining (self-ordering, directing, and defending), and self-healing (self-repairing, cleaning, and energizing). From the outside, it needs only its original conditions: air, warmth, water, light and darkness, food, company, etc.
  • Coordination: The instinct of self-preservation coordinates living processes. Instinct is a basic form of knowing. The faculty of knowing is the psyche. Thus the psyche is the coordinating system of animals. It works mostly unconsciously (involuntarily). The voluntary conscious mostly serves to maintain conditions.
  • Capacity: Capacity determines function. Capacity is the degree of an organism’s structural integrity. Function is its physical, emotional, and mental ability to live. Capacity increases with rest and decreases with trauma. How one is determines what one can do—and benefit from.


  • Action: Whenever action occurs in an organism in response to external influences, the action must be ascribed to the living thing. It has the power of action, not the external thing, whose main characteristic is inertia. Much related to the laws of Power and Capacity.
  • Dual Effect: Every action and substance has a primary effect followed by an opposite and equal secondary effect.
  • Vital Accommodation: The organism accommodates itself to external influences it cannot use, control, or destroy. It distributes the force of acute harm, lowering overall health.
  • Proportion: The success of each organism is directly proportional to the amount of its life force and inversely proportional to the degree of its activity. (Life’s Great Law.)
  • Power: The power used in any vital or medicinal action is vital power, that is, power from within and not from without.
  • Distribution: Distribution of power is proportionate to the importance and needs of the various organs and tissues of the body.
  • Limitation: When the expenditure of vital power has advanced so far that a fatal exhaustion is imminent, a check is put upon the unnecessary expenditure of power; the organism rebels against the further use of an accustomed stimulant.
  • Utilization: The normal materials of life are all that an organism is ever capable of constructively utilizing, whether it is well or sick. No substance or process that is not a normal factor in physiology can be of any value in the structure of an organism. That which is unusable in a state of health, is equally unusable in a state of illness.
  • Selection: When the quality of nutriment being received by an organism is higher than that of the present living tissue, the organism will discard lower-grade cells to make room for appropriating the superior materials into new and healthy tissue. (Quality Selection)
  • Elimination: All injurious substances which, by any means, gain admittance into an organism are counteracted, neutralized, and eliminated as fully as bodily nerve energy supply allows and by such means and through such channels as will produce the least amount of harm to living structure. (Selective Elimination)
  • Conservation: Whenever nutritive abstinence occurs, an organism’s reserves are conserved and economized. Living structures are autolyzed in the inverse order of their usefulness, while toxic substances are eliminated. This law refers to fasting; it applies to starvation as well.
  • Economy: An organism under favorable conditions stores excess vital energy and materials above the current expenditures as a “reserve fund” to be employed in time of special need. (Special Economy)
  • Compensation: When activity has expended the substance and energy of the body, rest is induced in order to replenish them.
  • Development: The development of an organism is directly proportional to the amount of vital forces and nutritive materials which are available to it, and limited by the factor in shortest supply. (integrates the law of the Minimum)


The sense of these laws exposes common myths of health. The laws affirm our deep sense of life’s correctness. They intrigue and inspire. They give grounds for hope. Consider yourself initiated into hygiene.

As we can see, hygiene is philosophical. Its primary laws, Force, Order, Coordination, and Capacity, mirror the axiomatic concepts found in realist metaphysics: being, identity, knowing, and causality. Applied to life, they mean: Life is. Life is what it is: alive, ie, self-preserving and conditional. Knowing is inherent in life. Life functions in accordance with its nature.

Life is assertive and active. This regards the Law of Force. Self-preserving means self-generating, self-maintaining, and self-healing. These obtain in every aspect of life and at every scale, from the cells to the organism as a whole. This is part of the Law of Order. It is intelligent, not a helpless, stupid reaction. This regards the Law of Coordination. It preserves itself as well as it can. This is the Law of Capacity (much more about this law later).

Other laws follow. The Law of Action states that only the organism performs vital action, including healing. So only the organism can heal the organism. Again, this is true at every scale. Even a cell must heal itself; another cannot. The Law of Power states that energy used to perform action resides only in the organism, not anything external to it. (This law might have treated the ability as well as the energy to act. The Law of Capacity now addresses ability along with other elements.)

Thus, no drug, herb, or food heals; neither any condition nor practice; nor treatment, person, or device. There is no cure, no indication to medicate. Attempting to correct the organism from the outside further traumatizes, poisons, and exhausts its power to heal itself. Whatever benefit appears in the short term undermines vitality in the long term. Such attempts mask the body’s illness and delay its healing. This is an example of the intriguing Law of Dual Effect.

Shelton discusses these laws further and quotes other hygienists at length in his book.


Whether well or ill, one’s conscious (volitional) role is to discover and provide the normal conditions of life in the proper proportion. The autonomic processes of the omniscient, omnipotent, infallible organism handle the rest. Hygiene systematically describes how this happens with these logically interrelated laws. All are derived from simple observations everyone can make. It is science for everyone, ripe for self-experimentation. Here are examples of applying these laws.

A drug is a poison by definition. It is why drugs are legally controlled. An organism does not relate with poison but neutralizes and expels it as fast as possible. The damage incurred in the process we call, “side effects”. By contrast, an organism assimilates food into its own structure without harm or compromise.

Fasting when ill is an instinctive extension of time between meals. It is observable in many other animals and has long been a part of hygiene. In this pause in eating, the body can rest from most metabolic processes. It repairs tissues. It eliminates untended waste and toxins stored deeply in excess fat. It replenishes itself with unabsorbed nutrients and energy.

For example, anemia, supposedly caused by iron deficiency, disappears. Blood iron levels normalize during a fast. A similar case is barrenness. Women who could not conceive become pregnant after fasting. The capacity either to absorb iron or conceive is restored. Just as fasting enables profound physical rest, dark retreating enables profound psychic rest.

One of hygiene’s striking insights regards disease. In disease, symptoms do not afflict the body. They are how the body heals itself and how it signals for care. Disease is not hostile. It does not invade, as in the germ hypothesis. It is bodily activity. Trying to get rid of symptoms only makes war on the body that causes them. Such effort must stop.

Pain signifies repair of damaged tissues. Infection and inflammation after first aid signify neutralization and elimination of internal toxins. Unpleasant discharges—vomiting, diarrhea, extra sweating, rashes, bad breath, dark urine—are the elimination of gross accumulated toxins and waste through various organs. Fatigue and weakness signify that energy has been diverted to all this critical work, and that one must support it by resting.

These healthy processes must not be stopped but supported with rest and waited out. If one takes drugs or treatment, the body must neutralize or recover from them before continuing to heal. Creating “another disease” does not aid healing but delays it. It adds to one’s damage, toxic load, and exhaustion. It leads to worse symptoms later when one has less time and energy to deal with them.

With medicine, one goes from a cough to a cold to bronchitis to pneumonia to death. We find a similar patterns in the pathologies of those with cancer, diabetes, stroke, digestive disorders, depression, AIDS, etc. We’ll discuss pathology -​3 in greater depth in chapter 3.

Loss of appetite conserves energy from the immense effort of digestion. Pain, nausea, weakness, and exhaustion immobilize the organism, enabling all vital force to be used for healing. Every one of these is a biological virtue. None should be feared or suppressed. All should be viewed as vital victories to be trusted, observed, and supported, not fought. All occur in the most efficient possible way for the purpose of restoring health. Disease is not an enemy to battle, but our friend to tend to.

In the relationship between food and nerve energy lies another example of vital relations. Food does not actually give energy to the body directly. Eating and digesting food initially takes energy, both nerve, chemical, and muscular. Otherwise, we could eat to restore our vigor, even when sleepy.

Food provides sugar, which refuels everything from large muscle movement to thinking to cell operation. Some of this refueling can occur within seconds of eating fruit, the most easily digested food. But even this takes material and energetic reserves to accomplish. The body only transforms sugar into reserve electrical potential of the nerves during sleep. It only repairs and eliminates toxins from tissue completely while it is unused. Eventually we run out of the power necessary to function and utilize food and must rest.

Again we see that no external force has the power to act for life, only life itself. Life is the doer. Hygiene helps us redirect to the autonomic self the vast attention paid in our lifeway to the volitional self. Volition plays a critical yet small part in the whole process of life. Hygiene puts these elements in their proper places. Hygiene can now offer darkness as a means of caring for the autonomic self in its primary system, the psyche.

The deep self will not solve all one’s problems in darkness. Some remain for the will. The deep self will restore the will’s capacity. One can then make the bold changes in lifeway necessary to handle one’s remaining problems. See post-retreat -​5.


I have mentioned capacity a few times. It is the idea that integrates this whole book. It is so important, I have formulated a new hygienic law about it. I’ll restate it then explain.

Law of Capacity: Capacity, the degree of an organism’s structural integrity, determines function, its physical, emotional, and mental ability to live. Capacity increases with rest and decreases with trauma. How one is determines what one can do—and benefit from.

This is the philosophical law of causality applied to health: a thing acts in accordance with its nature.

Everything has a structure, whether it is an idea, a building, a body, a galaxy. In organisms, structure is the psychophysical framework of life, holding it up, keeping it together. Like life, structure is a union of being and knowing. It is the vital pattern of an organism. It exists at every scale like a fractal or hologram. It is lifeforce in a particular form. It cannot be reduced to knowing, the nervous system, the skeleton, myofascia, or DNA. Yet any of these can indicate its status.

Capacity is synonymous with constitution, endowment, type, inheritance, stock, and potential. Like these, capacity is conventionally assumed to be static. In fact, it is dynamic, changing constantly. Capacity is experienced as a sense of ease in doing something.

It shows up in colloquialisms: “Do you have it in you? Do you have what it takes? The wherewithal? The right stuff? The touch? The X factor?” Or, “He’s a natural. He was born to do it. It’s in the blood.”

Two influences affect capacity significantly: profound rest (positively) and major trauma (negatively). Profound rest is both physical and psychical. Fasting provides primarily physical rest; dark retreating, primarily psychic rest. These can be used together or separately depending on capacity.

Contrary to common opinion, effort, will, and discipline affect capacity insignificantly. Lifestyle, the daily conditions one arranges for himself, merely help one realize one’s capacity. Whatever gains one makes by them beyond one’s capacity are minor, however impressive they may seem, and they are easily lost.

Likewise, heroic discipline or super-effort (doing something twice as much or twice as fast) have the notable but still insignificant effect of turning people into weird assholes. Common examples include religiosity4, whether about god, politics, work, or food. Fortunately, this condition abates with enough rest.

This law has a strange implication. The benefit one derives from anything cannot exceed one’s capacity for it. When structure is damaged, a normal flow of vital energy will cause more damage. So the unconscious constricts it! To some degree, right action and its results—success, fulfillment, pleasure, and joy—become dangerous.

We often call this life-saving mechanism “self-sabotage” or “bad habits”. But we can best understand it as a symptom of disease. As hygienists, we must seek to understand and support it, not fight it as moralists.

This will be a big change in hygiene. Hygienists have understood vital contraction on a physical level, but not a psychical one. They have resorted to moralizing about habits. This has been useless to most of the afflicted. It has alienated many. It distorted the personalities of many who tried.

The same is true of more obvious means of self-protection like resistance and stubbornness.

Imagine a damaged electrical device. Running it won’t repair it. It may well cause further damage. It is best to immediately stop it, turn it off, unplug it, and bring it to a technician for a complete repair.

Insomnia is a good example. One’s capacity for ordinary rest determines how much of it one will enjoy. A good night’s sleep begins a deep healing process that may take days to complete. A good night’s sleep entails stillness and leads to re-energization and clarity.

These lead to irritation. It’s like the pain of re-breaking a badly set bone. The organism submits to it if the new energy will fuel a complete repair. But if light and activity will interrupt the process in the morning, then, from the comprehensive perspective of capacity, it’s best to not start at all.

If, due to a lack of time, safety, or understanding one has not met all the conditions of healing, then unconsciously, he will be prevented from sleeping until he can really sleep. Insomnia results. As with the rest of functioning, only in profound rest does the organism restore its capacity for ordinary rest.

This analysis applies to everything we repeatedly fail at.

Like staying on a good diet. One starts eating well. Congestion clears. Sleep becomes easy and delicious. Clarity, motivation, and joy return. Eventually, the energy level reaches a fever pitch and something inside snaps. Before one knows it, one has inhaled three pieces of cake that, an hour before, was obviously horrifying.

The unbearable level of energy in great, especially positive, emotion has the same effect on many. Or in meeting a magnificent personality—and getting star-struck. Or in getting a once-in-a-lifetime financial opportunity. Choke artistry springs from nowhere. “Things are getting a little too perfect. It’s time for an all-night movie marathon! Where’s the ice cream?” To prevent further damage to capacity, the autonomic self does whatever it takes to curb one’s enthusiasm.

Thus, we can see how moralization about choices, habits, commitment, etc, is ineffective because it is irrelevant. We are not creatures of habit. We are beings of capacity. In any given moment, we do absolutely the best we possibly can. Whether willed or automatic, every thought, every feeling, every action is an utmost expression of one’s capacity. The instant that capacity rises or falls, so does function. Life cannot do otherwise.

Genuine benefits gained by normal efforts simply realize one’s capacity. That’s why they feel fun. When emergencies or unusual opportunities call for extra effort, the body supplies adrenaline for it.

But we err in continuing to exert extra effort over a prolonged time span for any purpose, let alone the impossible task of restoring original capacity. The will cannot do it. It must fail. Only the involuntary power that animates us can do it. This power cannot be manipulated, only provided for.

Understanding is the key. This requires pausing, reflecting, researching. This redirection of attention is the correct use of will. It is the correct morality. Then effort can succeed.

The Law of Capacity integrates elements of several hygienic Laws of Life: Compensation, Distribution, Development, and others. It has many implications. If, like me, it takes over your perspective, you may realize some of your usual efforts are futile. You may feel your attention freed to discover and work upon what you can actually accomplish.

This idea originated in personal observations since childhood. Why would I succeed sometimes and fail at others? How could I succeed where another failed, or vice-versa? It mystified me.

Character studies in the novels of Ayn Rand gave me clues. Books on psychology did, too. My former guru, Purna Steinitz, talked about capacity constantly. That is when it entered my vocabulary in this bigger way. Gurdjieff’s thinking was integral to this expansion.

They focused on capacity as something to build. In darkness, I found the fundamental, living kind that restores itself. It has proved to be another life-saving distinction. Let us see about it now.

false capacity

Life equips us with everything we need to live fully. It seems to be about 50 times more than we need to survive. That is, we only have 2% left. We are on the edge. Many fall off every day for odd reasons. In our permanent state of emergency and distress, most of us are but a major crisis or two away from death.

We compensate for lowered normal capacity by building false capacity. By constant effort, we attain substance and momentum as personalities, even some personal power. We gain knowledge, strength, skills, character. We achieve independence, beat competitors, win respect. We gain a modicum of stability, reserves, resilience. It’s hard work, but if you are a good person, you do it. If you are lazy and don’t struggle, you lose and you deserve to.

Sound familiar?

False capacity is hard to build and hard to maintain. It is inefficient and gives partial results. As the organism restores normal capacity in darkness, it removes false capacity as soon as possible, in accord with the Law of Selectivity.

False capacity exists near the surface of the personality, where one uses it. Normal capacity gets restored from the bottom up. This occurs rapidly in darkness, slowly in regular life. So we retreat long enough for it to reach the surface. Then it can replace false capacity in practical ways.

With false capacity go the survival tricks it sustained. Only survival concerns the ego. It constricts its attention and procedures to a specific disaster (recreating it if it has nothing else to do). False capacity is specialized.

The organism is concerned with overall function and efficiency. Normal capacity is generalized and adapts to a variety of situations. It is natural, but takes some getting used to after a lifetime of over-specialization and fakery.

This idea contradicts our perversely moralized perspective. It is shocking to discover that years of hard work on oneself accomplish little compared to doing nearly nothing for a few days in darkness; that our efforts make us fake; that our pride in them keeps us stuck.

This is the hardest lesson I have learned about darkness. With every new breakthrough I had in darkness, I would experience a corresponding loss of function. It confused me for years and began to scare me. Abilities I counted upon, that I always had, suddenly disappeared. Retreating seemed like it was backfiring.

But, no. Doing far too many 5-day retreats causes the problem of over-loss of false capacity. False capacity breaks down before the organism can replace it with normal capacity. The solution is simple: do zero or one 5-day retreat. Advance quickly to 9-day and medium-length retreats. Later, I describe how Czech -​4 retreats are the key to this advancement.


Hygiene has a radical implication: All tissue, psychical and physical, can totally heal, back to its peak state in youth.

How could it not be? Integrity is an involuntary biological imperative. The organism has no choice. It has all necessary knowledge and power. It cannot err. Therefore, it must succeed. If it does not, conditions failed somehow.

Thus the organism constantly works for perfect health. As long as health is imperfect and the conditions of healing remain present, the organism must continue healing till the goal is reached.

It rarely does among us. This shows how incorrectly we live, not that life is unequal to the task. Hygienists rarely do more than pull themselves back from the brink of death and live into old age. This exposes a lacuna in hygiene 2.0.

Genetic flaws do not prevent total healing. They exist as lesions, ie, damage. Thus the unflawed genetic pattern is still present. Genes are self-healing like the rest of the organism. The organism made itself from a single cell. It can remake itself with 80 trillion. Apparently, it takes about as long.

This implication itself has astonishing implications, both personal and social. I touch on them in protocol -​5 and in my blog.


This is the general theory of hygiene 3.0. Now we can better apprehend our main subject, dark retreating.


part 2 : process



4   format
5   protocol
6   prepare

4   format

We can use darkness in various formats for different reasons. Here, I describe formats in which I have experienced deep rest and gotten positive results in my energy level, psychic state, and general well-being. I also explain ways darkness can go wrong and how to easily avoid them.

I recommend gradually increasing the length of stays in darkness. First darken your bedroom for sleeping and maybe a mini-retreat (12–16 hours). This improves your sleep and gives you a taste of a retreat. Upgrade your room for a 5-day -​4 retreat. You will get relief, profound rest, and hints of healing. It will also work for 9-day Czech -​4 retreats.

A dedicated darkroom works better for 9-day standard -​4 retreats and medium -​4-length retreats (3–8 weeks). I believe we can heal from the core of our suffering in a medium retreat. Your experience at home might inspire you to build such a darkroom yourself. Interest in darkness is growing. The world needs more and better facilities than the dozens that exist.

Even greater preparations must be made for a long -​4 retreat (3-12 months). It promises to enable us to heal from everything. This includes what few people believe can heal: major physical illness and injury, missing teeth, age-related symptoms. Even birth defects, including ugliness, brain damage, amputation, and nanite infestation might heal. It stands to reason. The self-healing organism cannot help but attain perfect health if the conditions are provided.

In general, the longer a retreat, the better its conditions must be. This means more silence, space, comfort, and support. You can pull off a 5-day retreat nearly anywhere.

A 9-day standard retreat requires upgraded conditions. Besides birth, a retreat might be the most important event of your life. It deserves serious attention—possibly more than your birth got.



Get relief tonight from most outdoor ambient light. In 5-10 minutes, fix dark, dense sheet material over your bedroom windows and doors.

  • over door and windows, tack or tape up
    • extra curtains, blankets, sleeping bags, dark bedsheets
    • black plastic, carpet, or cardboard
    • or prop up plywood, old doors, or big table tops
    • use whatever you have to cover the windows
  • extend corners of flexible materials as far as possible past door on each side
  • turn off or cover devices in your room that produce light
  • make sure you have plenty of fresh air, even if it lets in a little light
  • block some of the remaining light with a mask from an airline or travel store; a tall dark, winter hat pulled down, or a dark t-shirt draped over your eyes. Every bit helps.

We often feel groggy after sleeping a lot after many short nights. Some call this getting too much sleep. But that is a physiological impossibility. The body never errs. It’s a matter of how tired people can get and still keep their jobs.

In fact, we are tapping into the first layer of a backlog of lost sleep. Feeling groggy is the first phase of catching up. This can take days. Reversing sleep deprivation is like withdrawing from a strong drug. Like me, you may need a retreat to get to the other side of it without backsliding.

In the meantime, this format helps us remember how important darkness is. The next step is to make an instant mask -​10. When ready for perfect darkness, make window coverings -​10 and a door seal -​10, maybe lightproof vents -​10 and a fan mount -​9, and maybe even a silencer -​9. Then your room will be dark, quiet, airy, and easily reopened to light during the day.


We require total darkness to sleep well. No one is an exception to this. You may be able to fall asleep despite the street light outside your bedroom window, but only at the expense of overall function (see Law of Vital Accommodation in process -​1). The circadian system has not changed one iota since industrialization. It never gets used to anything. If light intrudes on your sleep, it will signal the circadian system to make your sleep less deep and restful, whether you know it or like it or not. It’s like what many clients told me after their retreats: “I had no idea how tired I was.”

A friend darkened his bedroom. He reported a huge improvement in the quality of sleep he and his mate got. Vivid dreams returned as well. I have experienced the same thing whenever I have been able to darken the room I sleep in. The darker the room, the better the sleep. 100% darkness is a 10,000% better than 99.9% darkness. Extinguishing that last bit of light leaves the mind nothing to hang onto. It gives new meaning to “falling asleep”. See for yourself.

It is best to go to sleep early, from 18:00 to 22:00 at the latest. Four hours later, one naturally awakens from this “first sleep” for a candle-lit “watch” of about 4 hours. At this hour, one is freshly rested, yet the promise of sleep lies ahead. The world outside is quieter; children are asleep; the mind runs more slowly; and inhibitions are slightly relaxed.

This makes sex especially gratifying. Many consider it an auspicious hour for meditation or prayer. Use a candle or other dim, warm lighting. Avoid cold-tinted lighting, which greatly stimulates the circadian system.

Light exercise, light reading, and light snacking (on fruit) are fine, too. Perhaps a menial chore or two. But serious work can over-stimulate the mind and distract from getting back to sleep when tired again.

A second sleep lasts 4 more hours. It is deliciously renewing. A nap in early afternoon, as short as 20 minutes, will refresh you yet again. That is, if you can stand feeling so good.

Before widespread public lighting, this was a common sleeping pattern. It’s called biphasic or segmented sleep. It is natural. Retreating strongly resets it. If it happens with you, consider it a normal part of life recovered.

Many aspects of modern life seem out of control. Blackout blinds offer the unique thrill of reclaiming control over one of life’s most basic functions: sleeping and waking. No more will sun and street-lighting determine when you wake up. You will, and when you are good and ready.



Short retreats last 0.5–9 days. You can begin at home.


Note: I do not recommend a mini-retreat. I merely suggest it as a possibility. Only do it if you can do it exactly as instructed, thus not endangering yourself. I cannot do them properly, so I don’t try anymore. But some people will have the capacity and circumstances to make it ok. If you have a negative experience, don’t try again. Use a 5-day or 9-day retreat to recover.

A mini-retreat allows you to dip your toe into retreating while keeping to your schedule. It includes the two primary phases of a retreat: sleeping long and deeply, and being awake by yourself without distraction for some hours.

It is the same as sleeping nightly in darkness except you:

  • turn off lights by 20:00 sharp*
  • maintain darkness whether or not you wake up in the middle of the night
  • get 1-2 extra sleeps in the morning
  • stay in darkness 12–16 hours*
  • have a quiet day at home and an early night

A mini-retreat could help maintain restedness between 5- and 9-day retreats. Some benefits of retreating fade and at different rates. Extend them. Smooth the transition to your next retreat with a mini-retreat per week or month.

Find a schedule for 5-day retreats in calendar form below.

CAUTION: Start a mini-retreat by 20:00 at the latest, and stay no more than 16 hours. I learned both these rules the hard way. It induced mild shock and very negative feelings and thoughts. Recovery took a 5-day retreat.

If you can’t start your mini-retreat on time, postpone it till you can. Starting regular retreats an hour late is less than ideal, but it still works because the organism has time to compensate. Not so with mini-retreating.


The human organism in darkness seems to go through a 48-hour cycle. The point of no return seems to be 16 hours. (I predict that research will bear this out.) So either exit a mini-retreat before going past this point or plan a 5-day retreat to complete the cycle.

Otherwise you may have a bad experience. For me it was like getting out of a Ferris wheel halfway up. Read my post, how not to retreat, for more on the debacle.

Biological rhythms are very powerful. Apparently, they cannot be messed with in this way.

On the positive side, 48-hour cycles seems to work best in pairs. In the first cycle, suffering is relieved. Energy accumulates. False capacity is jettisoned. In the second, the extra energy is used to heal one of the causes of suffering and restore normal capacity. This is why a 9-day retreat is much more than twice as effective than a 5-day.


Once your darkening and ventilating measures are working smoothly for nightly use and mini-retreats, you can easily add the remaining elements of a darkroom for a 5-day retreat.

Everyone interested in a 5-day retreat can do one. Though not guaranteed, it is possible to catch up on all the sleep one ever lost. 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.

You get relief from distress and overstimulation. You recover homeostasis. You regain hope and make a memory of feeling very good. While most effects fade after a few weeks, you will recover bits of your lost self.

You start learning how to be in darkness. Your supporter starts learning how to be around a retreater. You will see better how and when to do future retreats, and for how long.

Running water is unnecessary for a 5-day retreat. See water -​11 meet the simple requirements.

Timing of multi-day retreats is flexible compared to mini-retreats. Plan to turn off lights between 18:00 and 20:00. If something comes up and you are late, it’s ok. But 22:00 is the deadline. If you miss it, start the next evening.

Things come up. Insomnia, anxiety, and addiction screw things up. Darkness is how to begin seriously interrupting these illnesses. Most effects of a short retreat will fade. But you will glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel.

In accordance with the natural diurnal cycle, go into darkness in the evening and come out in the morning. Just stay in extra days in between. This makes the dark part of the 5-day retreat ~2.5 days (~60 hours). Avoid checking the time. Use a cellphone alarm set to a specific day to know when the retreat is over.

Besides sleeping as much as possible, eating, exercise, eliminating, bathing, what does one do in darkness without work, people, or media? One keeps attention -​5 in restful places.

Afterward, slowly re-adjust to light. You did not just watch the flickering light of a matinee in a dark cinema. You spent days in total darkness. Sudden exposure to daylight would be a shock. Spend a minimum of 15 minutes gradually relighting the room. Open the door or uncover a window a few millimeters at a time.

CAUTION: I did too many 5-day retreats (13!). It was like getting caught in a whirlpool. I lost too much false capacity -​1 before normal capacity could be restored to compensate. Avoid this mistake.

If you do a 5-day retreat, just do one. Then press on with arrangements for a 9-day Czech retreat. This begins with sharing the idea with others. You support their 9-day Czech retreats, probably in your darkroom, till one can support yours. More below about this.

A schedule for 5-day retreats in calendar form is below.


Surprise: in a good dark retreat, some days are sunlit.

Medium and long retreats also have lit days.


It takes time to properly readjust to light and ordinary life. So a period of unstressed transition back to it is just as important as darkness itself. For every three days of darkness, schedule one day of transition with sunlight. Uncover windows and spend time outside during daylight hours. Hand write a report about your retreat. Everything else about the retreat remains the same.

Hormones need time to readjust to light. The sense of balance can also be affected. Retreating has often felt like a chemical process. I have felt sleepiness or coolness flood through my brain or hands. It takes time to reflect on what just happened. One begin integrating the changes, extra energy, and value of the retreat.

Spend transition days quietly, visiting no one. First, slowly uncover at least one window. Take a slow walk or two. Sunbathe or sit in the sun outside without sunglasses. Take a nap inside with windows covered. Uncover them again. Re-cover them by 20:00 and spend the whole night in darkness. Repeat for each transition day.

After your last sleep, slowly uncover the windows. Leave the room by noon at the latest. Take some time leaving. Maybe take another walk or sit in the sun. Have a few words with your supporter, not much.


One becomes more vulnerable during a retreat to shocks and stresses of the world. When in unfamiliar places, the being must be more protected. Extra days before and after a retreat allow for this. There are two kinds: buffer and travel.

When retreating away from home, add 2 buffer days to your retreat, one before, one after. Thus, a 5-day retreat would require 7 calendar days. Buffer days are taken at the darkroom.

When traveling to a retreat center by plane or more than 2 hours on wheels, add 2 more days for travel, one before, one after. Thus, a 5-day retreat involving such travel would require 9 calendar days. Travel days are taken at a hotel.

Let’s walk through it.

  1. Travel the first day of your trip. Stay in hotel. Get the plane, traffic, and crowds out of your system.
  2. The next day—the first buffer day—go to the retreat center. This gives you time to disconnect from the world and get used to the darkroom and staff. To choose furniture, appliances, etc.
  3. Do your retreat: darkness + transition.
  4. The buffer day afterward gives you time to reconnect to the world. Talk to people, check messages, review your work schedule, etc. Leave for the hotel. Gear up for the crowds, traffic, and plane again.
  5. Travel home the next day. The benefits of the retreat, stowed safely in your being, will arrive intact and ready to flower in your daily life.

My Australian collaborator, Marion Abbott, discerned the need for these extra days when planning for her first client. Who loved the luxury of time they imbued her whole trip with.

I love it, too. Extra days seem as important to me for successful retreats at a center as transition days are everywhere. Marion’s insight is an example of the care for life that hygiene inspires. Let us be careful about it and take our time.

After returning home, ease back into your regular life. Avoid non-routine activities the first week. You will likely continue to notice effects from the retreat. Due to their dreamlike intensity, I call this phase the aftermath. See post-retreat -​5.


The organism’s response to darkness is cumulative; the healing process deepens every day. Nine days is more than twice as beneficial as five.

Many of my early clients felt like they were just beginning to get somewhere when their 5-day retreats ended. Some were either very wound up or very rested to begin with. There was not enough time for them to get anywhere, whether with their exhaustion or deeper issues. So I upgraded my darkroom to handle 9-day retreats for first-timers.

Sure enough, they did fine. They expressed greater satisfaction with their retreats than 5-day retreaters. A first retreat of 9 days ensures a breakthrough of some kind is made.

In rare, highly crystallized personalities, a noticeable breakthrough may require a medium retreat. Healing must deepen sufficiently for strong defenses to dissolve. But 9-day retreats have great potential to support recovery of the lost self in nearly everyone.

The over-loss of false capacity is avoided in a 9-day retreat. Two 48-hour cycles allow a cause of one’s suffering to permanently heal. One will gain noticeable measures of energy and personal stability.

In terms of the 48-hour cycle, the 9-day retreat seems to have an extra day. I want to make sure there is enough time for significant healing to occur. If it has by the 5th morning in darkness, a day before the transition is scheduled to begin, then the transition can begin then. If not, keep to the schedule. Two transition days are required in either case.

If you have built your own darkroom, do a 9-day retreat once a friend has done a 5-day or 9-day retreat and can support you. If retreating at an established darkroom, you can begin retreating with a 9-day retreat.

A [schedule for 9-day retreats in calendar form is further below.


A standard 9-day retreat has all the conditions of a 5-day retreat, plus:

  • a second 48-hour cycle
  • a second transition day
  • a separate building for the darkroom
  • the support team has three people. They have all retreated and read this book. Two are onsite all the time. One runs errands and stays nearby, on call. This creates psychic shielding for the retreater.
  • a fully functional bathing facility to support emotional as well as physical cleansing. For remote locations, see my design for a portable indoor shower -​11.

These conditions enable the retreater to relax and heal as deeply as possible for this length of retreat. Imagine sanctuary: its silence and peace. Life will have everything it needs to finally tend its wounds.

Conditions have proven difficult to provide. How do we get there? Czechs have given us the missing rung of a ladder -​4 to climb to this height.


I lived awhile in Czech Republic in 2019. I visited several dark retreat centers.

A typical Czech retreat lasts from Friday to Friday, 7 nights, 6 days of continuous darkness. Retreaters are advised to return home for the weekend and relax as a kind of transition. The room is cleaned. Another retreater begins the same day.

This fits the schedule and budget of most Czech retreaters. And it keeps operators in business. It is not a country rich in money. Czechs are resourceful and economical.

Czechs are highly intelligent, with a rich culture. But for hundreds of years, they lived under the boots of foreign powers. To protect their souls, they developed rich inner lives.

Darkness came naturally to Czechs. Within 15 years of the Soviet collapse, Czech Republic became the dark retreat capital of the world. Now it has 30 centers with 70 rooms for a population of only 10 million. Per capita, this is 200x more than America.

Some darkrooms are simple detached cabins. Some share walls with other darkrooms in the home of the operator. Often, only one supporter serves multiple retreaters. Sometimes, it works. But sometimes, noise, poor air quality, and stressed supporters compromise retreats.

A hygienic Czech retreat has:

  • nearly as much continuous darkness (6 nights, 5 days)
  • the same total amount of darkness (8 nights, 10 with buffer days)
  • time to absorb the benefits (2 transition and 2 buffer days)
  • a single qualified supporter (who has done a 5- or 9-day retreat and understood my book)
  • one building for both retreater and supporter
    • with sonic isolation between darkroom and supporter quarters
    • kitchen and bathroom can be used by supporter
  • lower expectations for results than in a standard retreat
  • a quiet, well-ventilated darkroom of superior design
  • hygienic (frugivorous) food
  • better prepared retreaters

The typical 7-day retreat of the Czechs may be why they avoid the injury of over-loss of false capacity despite deficiencies in their operations. Their wisdom in this can safeguard us, too, until we can organize standard 9-day and medium retreats.

Problems: Supplies might run out. The supporter might get tired or need to go out. Here are solutions:

  • planning: think of contingencies. Buy extra stuff: food, spare heater, fan. Whatever might break or run out.
  • help:
    • a friend, assistant, or a grocery delivery service
    • a substitute supporter relieves the main supporter for a night halfway through the retreat’s dark period
  • telephone: supporter goes shopping with a phone, telling retreater. Retreater has a darkened programmed phone to call with. 3 hours max. This can happen once halfway through and on buffer and transition days. This is a last resort.
  • breaks: supporter gets long breaks between supporting retreats, 1-2 weeks

Don’t push things. Err conservatively. Build in surpluses and redundancies wherever possible. The retreater needs someone around for minimal psychic shielding, as with the standard retreat. The supporter needs care, too.


Here are schedules in calendar form for:

  • 2-day mini-retreat
  • 5-day retreat
  • 9-day retreat

Or read them in linear form.


For a long time, I was stuck in the course of retreats I had envisioned. It was like a ladder made for 3m high giants. And it had a missing rung between 5-day and 9-day standard retreats. It was too far to get a leg up. And I could not stay with 5-day retreats and suffer more over-loss of false capacity -​1.

The Czech retreat -​4 is the missing rung. Now the ladder is complete:

  1. read my book
  2. darken your room for sleep
  3. upgrade it for a 5-day retreat
  4. do one
  5. improve your life (after every retreat)
  6. upgrade room for 9-day Czech retreats
  7. support them for others, training some of them as supporters
  8. have one of them support a Czech retreat for you
  9. build a darkroom in a separate building
  10. do and support 9-day standard retreats
  11. build portable hygienic houses
  12. move to a better location with them
  13. do and support medium retreats
  14. do and support long retreats


A medium retreat lasts 3–8 weeks (including ~25% transition days). This length of a retreat will enable the organism to heal the root causes of one’s psychic suffering. Some problems will vanish, others may remain. But one will finally be able to solve them. With so much time at rest, the organism can restore its primary system. One will finally have the capacity to put things right again.

Minimize internal obstacles: get away from all accustomed influences and associations. Now that you know what you’re doing in darkness, it’s worth paying extra for this. Take a trip at least a couple hours away. Fly to a darkroom on another continent if necessary. Or rent a fully functioning small house in an unpolluted place and darken it yourself, arranging for maintenance and support with experienced fellow retreaters.

The darkroom needn’t be fancy, only function in every way without fail or compromise. One of the supporters must be handy enough to keep it that way. There’s nothing like mechanical issues to ruin a retreat.

Two of three supporters should be available all the time to make sure you have food, basic comforts, and someone to talk to for a few minutes when necessary. By the time you decide to do it, you will know you are doing one of the most important things in your entire life. Prepare accordingly.

The benefits of short retreats are impressive but still limited. Doing many of them does not equal doing a few long ones. The law of diminishing returns combines with the frustration of glimpsed but unrealized potential. Boldly escalate from a couple short retreats to a medium one.

I did a long series of 4-5-day retreats. My next retreat will be 9 days. I aim for 21 days (including transition days). In 2008, in my second successful retreat, I had a vision: in 2 weeks of darkness I will heal from my psychic trauma at the core. This will enable me to put the rest of my life back together afterward. With 5 transition days, this will make for a 21-day retreat.

I do not know exactly how long others would have to retreat to reach the same point. I assume others will have similar visions in their short retreats of how long their medium retreats must be. Thus the time range of 3-8 weeks.

One of my clients has been considering this for awhile. In his early experiments with darkness, he sensed that he would need 3 weeks of darkness (plus a week of transition days). I believe people come to know precisely what they need the more they get of it.


A long retreat lasts 3-12 months. I have heard reports of retreats like this. They had results we would consider miraculous. But they are within man’s potential. The organism made itself to begin with. Under good conditions, it is able to remake itself, perhaps better than new.

Stories persist of astonishing physical healing occurring in Ayurvedic dark retreats lasting 3-12 months: growing new teeth; recovering lost hair and eyesight, even youth itself. It is worth looking into.

The hygienic protocol for long retreats is yet to be determined. Short retreats give us clues about medium ones. Medium retreats will give us clues about long ones. Reports from other traditions are useful.

For example, in the above story, the yogi exposed himself to a tiny amount of light. His assistants would leave the darkroom door cracked when they brought him food before sunrise, after first light. Is this a good idea? Let’s find out.

He attributed his miraculous recovery, not to his practices in darkness nor the ayurvedic herbs he took, but to Lord Krishna. Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu, the preserver. He is a projection of the self-preserving power of life.

Jesus the Christ is called the author of life. The Christ principle is in all living things. Jesus modeled it. His complete identification with the Christ naturally resulted in miracles.

He said all who believe in Him, the Christ, would do all he did and more. For he would go to the Father, something even greater that we cannot yet behold.

One needn’t be a Hindu or Christian to appreciate the vivifying principle in these ideas—and in every organism. The principle means you and I are enough. We have within ourselves the living power we need to recover ourselves. We need only provide it the proper conditions.

This much we can do.

There are five harmful and dangerous ways to retreat in darkness. I learned about them the hard way and am paying the price to this day. The only possible point of my enduring them was so I could warn you. These are little gateways to hell. I sincerely wish you to heed my words and to avoid such suffering.

Fortunately, avoiding them is easy once you know. In the list, each is linked to longer discussions of them elsewhere in the book. Just say no to:

  1. mini-retreating even one second behind schedule. See retreat > mini section above.
  2. retreating without transition days. See 5-day retreat above and post-retreat -​5.
  3. doing more than one 5-day retreat rather than advancing to 9-day, medium, and long retreats. This is a serious no-no, folks. See 5-day retreat above and false capacity -​1. The matter cannot be overstated.
  4. sub-standard darkrooms. We become vulnerable in darkness. We are fools to tolerate the irritations and compromised retreats due to poor design and construction: noise, low air-quality, toxic materials, discomfort, cold drafts, etc. See chapters 7-11 for how to build or judge a darkroom suitable for hygienic retreats. Precious few people operate them. It’s time to get serious and build world-class darkrooms.
  5. poor support:
    • insufficient support
    • inexperienced, ignorant, or indifferent support
    • other people who are around who are hostile to you or to retreating itself. Say no to abusive relationships of all kinds.
  6. I said five. But now I’m going to talk sternly.

    By ignoring my instructions and warnings, maybe you can discover more ways to get hurt in darkness. But as my late legal counsel, DeWaynn Rogers, would ask, What is the penalty for following instructions?

    In the future, we will have more data. We will have studied, applied, and reflected upon all this enough to see better ways. I will update my writings to reflect them, just as I have for 15 years.

    Until then, stick to the tried and true. Err conservatively. Be reckless about some other part of your life. The most amazing thing you ever do is bound to have rough edges if handled incorrectly. Don’t pet pigs backwards, either.

Ok, now you know how to keep yourself safe in darkness. Back to the many wonders of hygienic dark retreating.


I aim for the simplest way to restore health fully. Broken bones can heal perfectly. So can we, and in every aspect. To this end, I would like to see hygienic retreat centers worldwide with facilities and support for:

  • short, medium, and long dark retreats
  • fasts (a la Albert Mosseri’s groundbreaking method)
  • physical retraining
  • training in healthy lifeway, including both lifestyle and livelihood
  • open-source research and development of the above
  • a village residence for staff, family, friends, and guests, where all this gets applied and tested in real life

In 4–5 visits over 2-3 years, one would be:

  • restored to full function and vitality
  • able maintain it in daily life
  • healed of all trauma, poisoning, and exhaustion of the past

For a few years, I focused on designing and building public darkrooms. Then came a few more years of making private darkrooms at home. As a consultant, I am also available to help:

  • operators of retreat centers who would like to switch to the hygienic approach
  • developers of hygienic retreat centers described above

If you support hygienic dark retreating, I will refer clients to you. Write me.


It may take a few generations of healthy living to fully restore our health and realize man’s potential. I believe we can get most of the way back in our lifetimes.

We have examined different formats of the restful use of darkness for different circumstances and purposes. Let’s look ahead to more of what happens in a retreat and exactly how to conduct it.

9   air

The tricky part of making a darkroom is not darkening it but ventilating it. After all, now its windows and doors are sealed. So we’ll address ventilation first.

Silencing a room is even trickier. But we have a couple aces up our sleeve for that.

We need to understand how ventilation works so we can design a good system. Ventilation affects both the silence and temperature of a darkroom. We will examine each of these conditions, then see how they work together in a mechanical system. Then we will make the components of the system.

Numerals with - x + are in millimeters (see metric -​8).


This section is on ventilation in general. I will give design constraints and describe various systems. But first, I will address its physiological importance.


Nature gives us a constant, abundant supply of fresh air. So must our buildings.

I have observed a shocking number of people who seem oblivious to their own needs for fresh air. Everyone knows we die within minutes without air. Yet the importance of a continuous fresh supply of it has escaped many.

I can only attribute this negligence to mass psychosis. It is my stock explanation for the appalling features of civilized life. The need for fresh air is one of the most basic, most obvious facts of life. At the risk of insulting your intelligence, I am bound to address it.

Fresh air is always important. It is a normal condition of life. Along with warmth and safety, it is one of our most urgent necessities. Every second of our lives, quintillions of organic processes occur. Virtually all of them require oxygen. It is the most important nutrient we consume. We can live without food for weeks, and without water for days. But without air, we are gone in minutes.

Just like food, air becomes a part of one’s organism. It affects quality of life to a very great degree. It seems like nothing. But the amount of air you breathe masses twice as much as the food you eat. In a darkroom, you have little to do besides breathe. If you haven’t paid attention to air quality, you will notice it in darkness.

Even if you don’t, poor air quality cancels most benefits of a retreat. Intermittently airing the room out does not work. I mean opening the door a couple times a day with eyes covered. Put this approach out of your mind. This is darkness, not the dark ages. Whatever it takes, no matter where you are or what you are doing, always provide yourself with continuous fresh air.

For a dark retreat, this means either:

  1. following the instructions below
  2. hiring an HVAC contractor to clean, repair, replace, or install ventilation in your home
  3. moving somewhere the ventilation system just works (like the tropics or a new house in northern Europe)
  4. using houseplants: high oxygen producers and air-purifiers
  5. or a combination of these

Somehow, it must be done. Forget darkness a moment. We rarely have a more urgent concern in life than arranging to breathe fresh air continuously and comfortably. Keeping it foremost in your thinking about darkroom design and construction will help ensure a successful retreat.

Not freezing to death and avoiding danger are more urgent than continuous fresh air. Building systems can meet all these needs harmoniously. Unaddressed fear and ignorance result in design conflicts between them. For example, we still often depend on windows for ventilation instead of a proper, separate system. The rest of this chapter will help you avoid such errors.


  • system provides plenty of fresh air
  • absolutely lightproof
  • silent: absolutely no hum or harmonics from fan and exterior noises mostly extinguished
  • comfortable temperature: no undesired cold drafts
  • economical: ie, no wasted heat to the outdoors. This is more involved and a lower priority than retreating itself, so don’t get stuck on it. It requires a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). Besides significantly lowering heating costs, an HRV improves air quality and comfort in nearly all climates. More about it below.


Somehow, fresh air has to get into the darkroom and stale air has to get out, without letting in noise or light.

In the terms of the HVAC industry (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning), the fresh air vent is the supply and the stale air vent is the return.

Sometimes, supply and return vents exist in the same room. This is the fanciest version of balanced mechanical ventilation. If your place has it, thank your lucky stars. Just make sure it runs continuously. Unless your room is huge, intermittent is not good enough.

More commonly, balanced systems put supplies in bedrooms and living rooms, and returns in kitchens and bathrooms. This means air escapes a bedroom around the door. Unless the space outside the door is totally dark, this calls for a threshold lightproof vent (plans below).

Balanced systems are rare. More common are negative pressure systems: bedroom and living room windows act as passive supplies and bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans as active returns. In this case, a lightproof universal vent, built into a window blind, is the supply. Or a silencer if noise surrounds your dwelling. A threshold vent is the return, letting stale air escape the bedroom to the exhaust fan.

Rooms with totally passive ventilation rely on open windows, exterior vents, and infiltration through cracks. These will get sealed against light. Such rooms will need universal vents in blinds at different heights to take advantage of convection. But they probably call for a fan and a silencer, maybe ducting.

By closely observing buildings I have discovered some simple ways to ventilate them. Sometimes rooms have lightproof and sound-dampened holes built into them in unexpected places:

  • unused holes for pipes, wires, chimneys, and ventilation.
  • behind a cupboard or piece of furniture, or inside a closet
  • a removable panel or wide piece of trim that could be temporarily replaced with a panel with a hole in it.

Once, a new door exactly the same size as my darkroom’s door caught my eye. It was in the garbage at a building supply store because of cosmetic damage. We were buying other materials, so they let us take it. I stored the original door and cut supply and return holes in the salvaged door for ventilation.

Another darkroom had no ventilation or suitable holes anywhere. But it also had no door. So we built a frame inside the doorway with a narrow door on one side and a narrower panel on the other. We cut holes in the panel for ventilation ducts. We fixed the frame in the existing doorway with metal straps screwed into old hinge holes. When dismantling the darkroom, we left no trace.

Similarly, we hung 7m of ducting that ran through three rooms; attached a silencer to it; made three window panels; and covered five more windows in the building on the way to the bathroom—all with only one new screw hole in the entire rented house. And that hole was invisible behind a loose piece of trim. “Leave no trace” is a fun game that often improves design.

Sewage pipes drain downward but are ventilated upward. Once, friends and I replaced a flush toilet with a composting toilet. The exposed drain pipe, being oversize and in a single-story house, wasn’t subject to backflow. So it proved a perfect exhaust duct for a case fan at floor level. Imagination conquers all obstacles (and renews itself in darkness).

Separate ventilation from windows whenever possible. Give it its own holes in walls. This improves many attributes of a shelter: security, economy, comfort, silence, darkenability, and overall control.


Here are further design constraints, photos, plans, and instructions for making and installing lightproof vents.


(universal / uv-short specifications in parentheses)
{threshold vent specifications in curly braces}

  • durable (protected by cardboard shell){protected by wood reinforcement, subject to damage by kicking but easily rebuilt, could be made of sheet metal or shielded with cardboard or thin wooden boards}
  • thin enough to fit between blind and window (<84-) or door and threshold {adjustable}
  • cross-sectional area >78cm2 (85cm2){60–120cm2} to equal standard 100- diameter ducting
  • fully blocks light, sending light around at least 5 corners (6 corners / 4 corners + enclosure’s corners){2–6 fabric-covered corners}
  • short airway (465- / 312-){370-}
  • minimal size (220 x 290 x 77 / 140 x 281 x 67){fits under door, sticks out 20- each side and up 60-}
  • easy to make (medium){medium}
  • elegant (yes: simple compact form, uses common materials){yes: adapts to nearly all swinging doors}
  • cheap ($4 in materials, 2-hour assembly time){$2 in materials, 1-hour assembly time}


The universal vent works nearly anywhere. It attaches by its face or side to a slot in any material. It can be made of cardboard or wood. Its principle adapts to any size. Walls and baffles can be thinner or thicker. It can be shortened for enclosure, eg, inside a silencer. All its rigid parts are rectangles, easily cut with a knife or table saw. It works for supply or return air.

The old helix vent is in the zip file. It requires no painting or sealing and less cutting and gluing. It is more intricate in its measurements, markings, cuts, and folds.

          plan: universal vent - download

          plan: universal vent, walls - download

          plan: universal vent, parts - download

The universal vent can go anywhere: a blind, a door, a wall, etc. Flaps and seal attach to either opening. They poke through a slot and get taped or glued down. Mostly it attaches to a blind with the face opening.

  • blind: attach it to a blind and slightly open the window behind it.
  • door: cut slot in it and use universal vent instead of a threshold vent.
  • existing vent in a wall: cut a hole in a cardboard box the same size as existing vent hole. Cut a slot on the opposite side of the box for a universal vent. Attach universal vent to box and box to wall over existing vent.
  • enclosure (like silencer): use shortened version inside or out. It has fewer light-stopping corners because enclosure already has two or more. Attaches at side wall. See note in drawing and dash-dotted lines and measurements.

If your darkroom’s ventilation is passive, put vents both low and high in room to enable convection. This works better the greater the inside and outside temperature difference; the greater the vertical distance between vents; and the more vents.

For manufacturing: a set of simple wooden or sheet metal templates and jigs, maybe a table saw with a sled, can speed production tremendously while keeping equipment and investment to a minimum. Start in your garage.

Read through instructions once while studying plans.

  1. materials:
    1. walls, 3–8- thick
      1. cardboard: double-layer is stable if kept dry and out of direct sun and intense heat.
      2. wood: thin tongue and groove boards, masonite, exterior plywood aged 3+ months, or marine plywood. Avoid interior plywood. Its especially toxic glue outgasses a long time.
    2. flaps: black acid-free posterboard/cardstock/coverstock, 250–400gsm or thin tightly woven fabric like poplin or twill
    3. seal: black polar fleece, medium weight. Quality check: a 10-layer stack should measure 30–35- high.
    4. tricot or no-see-um netting
    5. glue: school and wood
    6. acrylic paint, matte black. Or glue black paper to one side of cardboard and both sides of baffles. Do one or the other before cutting walls and baffles.
  2. follow instructions in fabricate -​8
  3. determine exact vent location
    • in blind, panel, or silencer
    • whether it will attach at side or face opening
    • vent must clear window handles, locks, and frame
    • if used with a double blind, shade hole in insert from direct sunlight
  4. the plan adapts to wall material between 3–8- thick. Just move walls and baffles toward point A to accommodate it. Use these rules:
    • keep inner wall flush with inner and left edges of end
    • keep baffle a flush with left edge of end
    • move outer wall inward
    • keep inner and outer walls 68- apart (with spacers)
    • keep baffle f flush with right edge of inner wall (thin dash-dotted line)
    • keep baffles b, c, d, e centered on dash-dotted lines, shifting them downward (in short version, keep e flush with right edge of end and outer wall)
    • keep side wall against outer wall
  1. seal: glue 2 seals together with minimum of school glue: a skinny bead around outer perimeter, with a little extra at the corners.
  2. inner half
    1. inner wall
    2. top end
    3. long folded flap, 1 short flap
    4. baffles b, d, f
    5. side wall
    6. 2 spacers. Attach a piece of tape around an edge so you can pull them out from the openings once vent is dry. Use only 2 dots of glue on each spacer for removability, just enough to hold them in place as you fit the halves together.
  3. outer half
    1. outer wall
    2. baffles a, c, e
  4. seal inside corners with black acrylic paint, fabric, or paper
  5. glue halves together
    1. inner half
    2. outer half
    3. bottom end
  6. add
    1. 3 other flaps
    2. seal
  7. Let it dry. Until installation, keep it in a dust-proof bag.
  1. mark slot with slot jig
    • it spaces slot correctly on most blinds and panels. It can be further from corner but only 20- closer on panels.
    • face opening, 35 x 248, on blinds, panels, or outside silencer, with shell
    • side opening, 32 x 248, inside silencer or other enclosure, without shell
  2. cut out slot
  3. position vent over slot and fit vent flaps through it
  4. when attaching to soft material like fabric, plastic sheeting, or cardboard, pull long flap snug, use back of table knife tip to crease the outside of it right where it passes through slot
  5. fold flap at crease and tape it down. Tape makes vent removable. Only glue it in place if you are certain of not moving it for years.
  6. repeat with other long flap, then with short flaps
  7. secure side opening with screws. Screw through inner wall into panel or blocks. Or screw from other side into inner wall. If blind material is soft (plastic, fabric, paper, cardboard), use fender washers.
  8. vent must be shaded to minimize fading of black paper and warping. Usually, insert of double-blind or white material over window will do this. Otherwise, cover shell with white paper. If in direct sun, shade it somehow.

Shorten the vent for use inside a silencer or other enclosure. The enclosure must have two or more blackened corners that light must go around. Follow instructions in wall drawing. Note dash-dotted lines in plan and elevation views.

The short version is 168 x 266 x 84. If an even smaller vent is required:

  • use thinner cardboard, 2–4-
    • slide baffles leftward, maintaining 32- and 34- spacing
    • trim protruding walls
  • or shrink the design proportionally
  • or use old helix-z vent (140 x 281 x 68 in the body), in zip file

With thought and experiment, every engineering problem can be solved. This is the awesome and terrifying power of technique: of physics and engineering. Let us use it to our advantage, for the purpose of coming back to life.


A bedroom door often has a gap under it, at the threshold, for ventilation. A threshold vent uses this gap to let air through but not light. The design adapts to door width, door thickness, and gap under the door. It also adapts to how much light is outside the door.

          plan: threshold vent - download

If gap is greater than 40-, add wood to bottom of door; build up threshold with boards; or modify the design. If less than 13-, use black paper for the vent baffle instead of fleece, along with black paper over the threshold. If less than 6-, trim the bottom of the door or find another way to ventilate the room.

If the light outside the door is dim, just the vent walls are enough. If bright, use one or two hoods as well. You can add them later after testing.

Usually, you need to darken the area outside your door anyway. Either you need a path to a bathroom. Or your supporter needs to get in without lighting up your room. Cover windows in the hallway. Make a curtain across the hallway with a dark blanket fixed to the walls and ceiling with tape or tacks.

Or make a removable partition. It’s a wooden frame filled with black plastic sheeting. Fleece seals the frame. Ducting or universal vents can penetrate the sheeting. A little wider than the hallway, it wedges in place at a slight angle.

  1. materials
    • cardboard, double-wall, 4–6- thick (400 x 600 x 130 flat produce boxes are perfect)
    • fleece, black, 200 x 1000
    • muslin, black, 500 x 700
    • cardstock (posterboard), black, acid-free, 180–300gsm, 550 x 700 for seals, maybe threshold.
    • double-sided clear plastic tape or adhesive
    • double-sided foam mounting tape or 3M Command strips
  2. prepare pattern with instructions in fabricate -​8
  3. cardboard
    • fold at creases a little past 90°
    • edges of hood that fold into each other: crush to 45° so that edges of outer facing of cardboard meet
    • glue the seals onto hood, long skinny ones first
  4. cut and glue muslin inside wall and hood pieces, except on flaps
  1. position one vent wall on door so that it is 5- above high point of floor in swing area of door. Tack in place with masking tape. Once it is perfect, mark its position with tape. Duplicate marks on the other side of the door.
  2. attach muslin over area of door that vent will cover. Width: 420-. Length: from 20- above wall on one side to same height on other, wrapped under the door. Use double-sided tape. Seal with finger nail. If no hood is needed, masking tape works, too. Use wall as guide or remove it and use tape marks. Remove wall afterward.
  3. vent baffle
    • cut piece of fleece 470 x (90 + door thickness)
    • glue to bottom of one wall
    • glue extra length at sides up the sides of the walls. Cut slit where flaps are.
  4. attach vent walls to door at marks. Use double-sided foam tape or 3M Command strips.
  5. glue vent baffle to bottom of other wall
  6. measure and cut door baffles wide enough to seal door where there is no vent. Add 10 + half the door thickness. Length = (46 + door thickness). Attach them to door 20- above bottom of door. Use masking tape.
  7. if light leaks under the door, cover the threshold with black paper or fabric
  8. if there’s a danger of kicking it in, glue pieces of wood, 10 x 428 x 38, to the bottom of the walls. Screw them in from the inside with 3 x 15 screws and fender washers.



At some point, noise defeats a retreat. One must attenuate it somehow, even in remote locations.

Shelter is the normal -​7 means of controlling exposure to pollution. Pollution includes noise.

Outside, noise comes from machines, traffic—including boats, trains, and airplanes—construction, music, fireworks, and talking and playing people. Inside, it comes from machines—refrigerators, fans, water pipes and pumps), people in adjoining spaces, and their music.

The four principles of soundproofing are:

  1. mass: use heavy materials absorb low-frequency (bass) sounds
  2. absorption: use fine fibers absorb high frequencies and prevent echoing
  3. dampening: use rubbery material dampens vibration in resonant materials like metal, wood, masonry, glass
  4. decoupling: disconnect structures and airspaces to prevent transmission of sound vibration between them

Soundproofing tutorials abound online.

These principles apply to ventilation as well. Dampening and decoupling figure in the fan mount; mass and absorption, in the silencer. The silencer absorbs most noise, including the fan’s.

Fans make noise directly and indirectly. Small fans have little hum to start with, but they run at high speed, so they develop harmonics. Bigger fans start with more of a hum but they run more slowly for the same air output, so they develop less noise overall. Use fan mount to avoid amplifying these vibrations.

Even the quietest fan makes noise because of the friction of air itself against the fan blades, housing, ducting, and vents. Because of air friction, fully silencing a ventilation system requires a silencer of some type at the room-ends of ducts.


A silencer is an larger duct section lined with insulation. Its greater volume depressurizes the airstream. This transforms low-frequency sound into into high-frequency sound. High-frequencies vibrate the fine fibers lining the silencer, transforming the sound into heat. Genius!

You can make or buy silencers.

  • my double-turn box design is below, $2-$10 depending on your material salvaging skills.
  • DIY straight tube
  • for sound booths. With dark insulation and enough bends, this eliminates the need for a lightproof vent.
  • manufactured silencers are made of metal and other super durable materials and cost $100–200.
  • acoustic ducting, at least 3m of 100- with 2–3 bends

Silencers and acoustic ducting are standard industrial components, making buildings quiet worldwide. Thanks to Richard Nöjd of Skattungbyn, Sweden, for showing me these solutions.

I built silencers into window recesses on two occasions. They were simpler and more effective than I hoped. They swallowed up sound. The window, open at one end, provided one face of the box. The thick wall provided 4 sides. Boards against the inside of security bars formed the box’s outer face, about 20cm from the glass. Shredded fabric insulation lined the box. This technique disables the window as a light source. It is a temporary solution. It works if you have other windows you can uncover during transition days.

The design below is a zig-zag channel through insulation inside a wooden box with a hole at each end. Each hole has 4 possible locations: face, sides, or end. Cut a circle for ducting or fan, a slot for a universal vent. The fan mount adapts to all 4 locations, inside or out.

          plan: silencer - download

The box is lined with porous non-toxic insulation. clean wool, shredded fabric, wood fiber could all work. Note, the shredded fabric and wood fiber I’ve tried had faint smells that I disliked.

Rockwool works. It is unpleasant to work with, but it is fairly odorless. Polyester pillow filling and quilt batting and acoustic foam work. But I don’t like my air going through plastic.

Fiberglass is terrible to work with and often smells of chemicals. Closed cell foam, like styrofoam, polyisocyanurate boards, camping pads, etc, does not work due to non-porosity.

Discarded furniture is made of melamine, an excellent material for silencer boxes. It is particle board with resin veneer, usually 15- or 19- thick. Marine plywood uses non-toxic glue. Otherwise, avoid plywood or line with foil or mylar.

Use a table saw to cut the 8 pieces so they come out square. Or have a carpenter do it for you, including the holes. Just take the drawing with you, modified for your needs. The carpenter probably has some extra melamine laying around to sell you cheap. To screw pieces together, first drill pilot holes so edges don’t break. I always drill pilot holes in wood less than 30- wide for this reason.

To insulate, make round tubes of plastic screen. Cover with porous fabric if insulation is fine, like cellulose. Stuff insulation around it and close the box. Roughen the plastic surface first with sandpaper so the glue sticks.


People all over the world have reported hearing a strange hum. Its source is rarely found. In Europe, I heard it in many places.

The hum is a low-frequency sound and vibration that comes through the air and ground. My first explanation was that all the machines we use combined generate this hum. This includes cars, trains, airplanes, factories, ventilation (ironically), underground pumps (whose sound carries far), farm machinery, etc.

Most people can’t hear it. I talked to a famous musician in Australia. She knew people worldwide who had heard it. She said it tends to occur in people who feel their internal conflict and disconnection acutely but cannot resolve or repair it yet. They still project responsibility for their suffering on the world at large. It’s not all in one’s head, but one is too vulnerable due to an error in attitude.

I had started to suspect something like this. She already had it nailed.

In Czech Republic, I visited a large music recording studio in the middle of Brno on a busy street. It was 8m x 14m inside with a 4m ceiling. The engineer let me lie on the floor in the dark for 10 minutes. I don’t recall if I was hearing the hum at that time. Their building technique was extremely effective in stopping the deafening noise outside.

They called it “house-in-house”. In America, “room within a room”. My brother had mentioned building a few music studios like this. The walls and ceilings of each structure don’t touch. The inner room’s floor “floats” on vibration-dampening springs or rubber blocks.

Then I visited an anechoic chamber at the Petrof Piano Factory in Hradec Kralove. It was extreme soundproofing! It was a 6m concrete cube, resting on leaf springs inside another building, with a 1m gap between the two.

To enter, I stepped over a gap, as in a subway, through a 120cm thick door. Foam cones 1m long protruded from the ceiling, walls, door, and floor. Suspended in the middle was a steel grill platform for a piano and engineer. With no measurable noise or echo inside, they could test a piano’s sound with extreme precision.

You have probably heard of these rooms. People claim to start going crazy in them. That is hype. The silence was heavenly. I could have stayed in there for a month.

The engineer was kind enough to give me 10 minutes. Sigh.

Anyway, the house-in-house technique is practical for silencing bedrooms for darkrooms. The gap between the houses must be at least 50- all around. The floating floor is 12–19- plywood on a frame, insulated and sheathed. Walls and ceiling are also insulated frames with drywall on both sides. Dual pane windows, airtight door seals, and silenced ventilation complete the construction.



Use an axial case fan, also known as a squirrel cage fan. Most common in desktop computers. Specifications:

  • DC (direct current)
  • 12V (volts) but run on as little as 6V, reducing speed, noise, and airflow
  • 120–200- diameter
  • 600–1200RPM (revolutions per minute)
  • maximum 20dB (decibels)
  • 65–200cmh (cubic meters per hour) or 40–120cfm (cubic feet per minute)

I recommend 200- fans. I redesigned the fan mount for them rather than the 120- fans I used for years. They move a lot of air and are very quiet. I have Cooler Master brand. Noctua makes the best, quietest fans available, running as low as 7dB. Maybe you could hear that if you’re a bat.

However, a common 120- fan is better than nothing. It usually requires a silencer. It is salvageable from a desktop computer power supply, $3 at thrift stores or flea markets, or $5–40 at a computer or electronics store. Avoid AC (alternating current) fans due to their penetrating hum (more on noise below).

Power it from the grid with an AC/DC adapter. 12V case fans run on as little as 6V. A universal adapter with pole switching and variable voltage (3–12V) for speed control is $5–10 at variety stores. Thrift stores have boxes of cheap adapters of fixed voltage if you know what voltage you want.

Off grid, use car or household batteries or a solar power system. To control speed, use a DC/DC car adapter from eBay. If you have no fan movement? Switch the +/– poles on the adapter or switch the positive and negative wires.

Blower fans are interesting. They overcome resistance in ducts and HRVs and move a ton of air. 120- units on eBay are $10–20. They need silencers and more powerful adapters. Larger slower quieter ones would be better. I built one once, about 500- dia x 100- thick. It was fun but it took a lot of time!

fan mount

The fan mount totally dampens vibration from the fan, already smooth and quiet. The silencer then absorbs airborne noise from the fan. It is inspired by studio microphones and tensegrity structures. It fits the silencer.

It is a fan suspended in a web of 2 concentric rings of rubber, stretched between 4 screw posts, anchored in a wooden base. It is modular, fitting silencer in any configuration.

  • materials
    • base: 272 x 272 x 19 (center hole, 194- diameter). Cut precisely with jig, band, or coping saw; router; or have a carpenter do it for you. Screw hole centers 20- from corners
    • case fan: 200- (computer fan)
    • screws: 4, 5 x 60 machine + 4 nuts + 4 T-nuts, 4 fender washers
    • rubber: 28 x 1700 x 1–2. Use regular bicycle inner tube. Distances between loops and buckles vary with thickness of rubber. Tighten webbing enough to suspend fan without too much movement.
    • loop: wire, 1-, bent to fit tight
    • gap: 0.5–1- between base and fan
  • assembly
    • lay out rubber strip.
    • figure out order to slide loops on. Do so.
    • add buckle
    • tighten and adjust rubber
    • fit fan with foam standouts into rubber
    • align fan directly over the hole in base. Gravity may pull it to one side or another. Tug on fan or webbing to reposition fan.
    • slide webbing up or down screws to adjust base-fan gap
    • screw base onto silencer over a hole in any position

          plan: fan mount - download


In my first major darkroom in Guatemala, I had no electricity.

At first, to create a draft, I made lamps that burned cooking oil inside a lightproof chimney. It was a messy, unreliable, and labor-intensive process. No one should ever repeat it. But it worked long enough for my brain to make the leap to the 20th century and remember the existence of batteries.

AA batteries made a quick and dirty solution. One night requires 4–8 batteries, alkaline or rechargeable. Connect them in series: positive end of one to negative end of the next.

Voltage adds up like this. Each battery is 1.5V, so 4 batteries = 6V. Some fans need 7V or 9V to start, thus 5 or 6 batteries. Increase fan speed by adding batteries to the pack, up to 8. Increase pack life by using bigger batteries or another series in parallel (fan wires contacting ends of both series).

I was isolated and just learning. This simple discovery encouraged me after weeks of the fascinating absurdity of oil lamp-driven convective ventilation. However, changing batteries every day also quickly got to be a pain. So I bit the bullet and got a proper solar power system for less than $100:

  • solar panel: 12V. Size depends on location: 10W in Guatemala, 40W in rainy Oregon winter. ($10–$100 on eBay)
  • charge controller: 12V, 4 or 6-pole ($35 on eBay)
  • battery: 12V 7A, lead acid ($30 at a motorcycle shop)
  • wire, 20 AWG, enough to connect everything ($0–10 from your shed, a dumpster, yard sale, or hardware store).

Once built, maintain by wiping dust off panel once a week. What a luxury! Of course, if you have reliable wind or hydro power, that’s great, too.


For warmth, I often use a portable oil-filled electric heater. It is silent and can be positioned by a window or vent to warm incoming cold fresh air. Before buying, check that its indicator lights are easy to cover (not glowing from the interior through multiple cracks) and that it doesn’t rattle or hum. Old or cheap ones often make noise. Buy it new.

If you live in a cold place, I highly recommend buying and installing a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) for both health and economy. It conducts heat from return air to supply air while keeping airstreams separate using an exchanging core and fans.

Fine wire heat exchange (fiwihex) technology is my favorite. It is 15x more efficient than plate exchangers. It is compact. A low power fan will supply air to one person. So it can be installed at point of use with little to no ducting. Fiwihex cores have been available for $150 from Viking House and possibly Fresh-R. These companies’ Breathing Windows embody an intriguing design for a complete ventilation system.

However, I lived with one for six months and found it too loud due to its small, high-RPM fans with no silencing. If fans were separated and silenced, fiwihex would be great. A 200- axial case fan works (I tried it). DC blower fans could work with silencing. Building your own HRV is doable.

It also needs a filter despite the manufacturers’ strange denials. Just a leg of a stocking inside a tube for each intake is enough. It’s much easier to remove, clean, and replace than using the core itself as a filter (the manufacturer’s strange instruction).

The most interesting plate exchangers use the Mitsubishi Lossnay core, found in ERVs (Energy Recovery Ventilators) such as Renewaire’s. Made of high-tech paper, the Lossnay recovers heat-trapping water vapor as well as heat from air.

Lossnay’s principle has DIY-potential, using non-siliconized parchment paper (“sandwich paper” in supermarkets). After 20 years of contemplation, I conceived a design for a convection-powered fiwihex ERV (solid state, silent). It would take a small factory to produce. Maybe someday I will.


In some cases, an air purifier becomes necessary. Get one if your house is near a factory, busy roads, in a smoggy city, or near a smelly restaurant or neighbor. Purification methods include:

  • activated carbon
  • HEPA
  • Photo Catalytic Oxidation (PCO) is a new, interesting technology that destroys pollutants at the molecular level. Several companies make filters with it. Prices vary widely.
  • UV-C light bulbs with 253.7nm wavelength destroys VOCs and germs and cost less than $10. These would use the regular case fan and just need a universal vent to stop light.

Do not use an ionizer. It produces toxic levels of ozone.

Recently, I upgraded the ventilation system of a darkroom in Czech Republic where people burn coal for heat. Coal smoke smells terrible. I installed an activated carbon filter into the silencer. The $50, 180 x 180 filter eliminated the smell. Catching the particles would require HEPA filtration, but it was less important at the time.

The filter also stops all light and some sound. It requires a fan more powerful than a case fan to overcome the resistance it presents. A blower fan does this. I have yet to test one with a silencer. If that works, I’ll adapt the fan mount for one.

If air quality at your home is bad enough, consider moving. Lots of places in small towns and the countryside have clean air and are less polluted in general. It is a cheap and simple solution to multiple problems, some of which you may not know you have yet.


That’s it for lightproof ventilation, silence, power, heating, and purification. On to darkening doors and windows.





s   faq
t   bibliography-influences
u   acknowledgments
v   participate
w   license
x   services
y   bio z   links

s   faq


1 - Where can I go for a hygienic dark retreat?

I offer retreats -​x in America. My collaborators, Marion Abbott of Australia and Simen Kirkerød of Norway are preparing to.

None of the other 130 dark retreat providers support hygienic retreats. None can. Hygiene is a total commitment. It doesn’t mix with other ideas. It is exclusive. Pure truth belies everything else. By the time someone opens a darkroom, he already has a philosophy, program, and business model. His investments in them have become too big to change.

This is why I wrote the last five chapters of this book. Use them to make darkness in your own home for sleeping, then for a 5-day retreat, and so on, up the ladder -​4. The hygienic darkrooms of the future will come from us.


2 - I suffer from X. Will this help me?

Yes. Chronic suffering, whether psychic or physical, results from psychic trauma. The psyche heals itself of trauma in darkness. Therefore, symptoms of X will heal in darkness. Your suffering will decrease and eventually disappear. You will become better able to deal with causes that still need attention after retreating.

In your first retreats, you get a taste of these things. You realize them fully in later retreats. Meanwhile you get relief, a little healing, a new vision, and hope. The distress of hopelessness aggravates many problems.


3 - Do you eat in a dark retreat?

Yes. Food and water are always available. I recommend fresh fruit and tender leafy green vegetables. This accords with the frugivorous nature of human anatomy and physiology.

Fasting is part of hygiene, too. It is compatible with darkness. But wait on it till psychic issues are handled in darkness.


4 - How many people retreat at once?

One. The point of this retreat is to rest, heal, and recover oneself. Nothing is more stimulating than other people.


5 - How do you do things in darkness?

Slowly and smoothly. First, become familiar with the room in light. Make memorable places for your belongings. Practice doing everything blindfolded before turning out the lights. Then do them in darkness. Always hold your arms in a circle in front of yourself when standing or sitting. This protects you from hitting your head.


6 - Could you just retreat with a mask?

No. No mask stays in place, so light leaks in. No mask is comfortable in extended use. The skin has enough light receptors to awaken one from sleep.

Then one still needs a properly ventilated room, minimally furnished to eliminate dangers, distractions, and associations. Ventilation is harder to arrange than darkness. My double blind -​10 and door seal -​10 make darkening a room easy. Every reason to darken the room exists.

Sleeping masks are good for travel, naps, and sleeping until your bedroom can be darkened. Also, for walking through a semi-lit space between a darkroom and a bathroom in dwellings where this is necessary.


7 - Is it like meditation?

In essence, no. Superficially, yes, they are is similar. Each involves less physical activity. Attention turns from the world to oneself. But what goes on inside oneself radically differs.

Meditation is active, ie, the will drives the process. Will is primary to meditation. The instant it relaxes, the process stops. The purpose of meditation is to make the unconscious conscious, or to compel the conscious to submit to a higher consciousness. It is a quiet, internal war.

Hygienic retreating is passive, ie, the unconscious drives the process. Autonomic activity is primary. Willed activity is secondary. The will is a servant of life. The purpose of retreating is to rest so the being can restore itself to wholeness naturally. It is peaceful.

These subtly different drivers and purposes have massive effects on one’s experience and results. As extraordinary as the process and results of meditation and spiritual practice seem to be, they pale before the power of the autonomic self.


1 - Is total extended darkness safe?

Yes, if you do it correctly. This is uncomplicated. Dangers are easily avoided if you know what they are. I have identified a handful of them. See my warning -​4.


2 - I feel afraid of this.

Fear of darkness comes from assuming the conscious self leads a retreat, like it does so many other things. But you are not conscious of what awaits you in darkness or how to handle it.

Your unconscious self, on the other hand, was born in the dark. It knows everything there. It can handle everything. As you learn that it leads a retreat, and you see how to support and follow it consciously, your fear will dissipate.

Your unconscious is your champion. It will protect you from everything. It will only show you what you need to know and only when you able to know it.

Sometimes this may feel bad—as bad as what you face in daily life. But it may be the last time you have to face it. Your unconscious will have resolved the core of it before revealing the part concerning your conscious.

I am sure you would like to be free of such repetitive troubles.

Overemphasizing the conscious is the essence of our lifeway. It’s the air we breathe. So we even try to consciously direct unconscious activities. This is what exposes us to danger. Living in fear results.

Consciously supporting unconscious activities with normal conditions is the safe and sane approach. Hygiene embodies it. It banishes fear.

I make this distinction in various ways throughout this book. Reading it helps you find the place of your conscious in the process and leave fear behind.

See also objection #1, below.


3 - Wouldn’t you go crazy staying in darkness that long?

No, you would only go crazy in darkness from being forced to be there, as in prison. A retreat is a choice based on reason. You and your supporter each have a key to the door.

You don’t go crazy in darkness. You are already crazy. You heal from it in darkness. Craziness becomes more apparent in darkness as the organism heals from it.

This can be uncomfortable, painful, even alarming, like the traumatic causes of craziness. But simply having feelings is not dangerous. The room is safe and comfortable. Supporters are at hand. There is nothing to fear. See concern #2 about fear.


4 - Do you get bored?

Yes. It is a very good sign.

Part of the being is so damaged, painful, and draining that all feeling to it has been shut off. It is like an internal black hole. Boredom means the unconscious is approaching it to resuscitate it. Recovery of a lost part of yourself is imminent.


5 - Five days is a long time to do nothing.

You’re talking about idleness. That is an activity, not rest. Darkness is different.

We’ve been told being idle is bad. Being productive all the time is offered as the virtuous alternative. This tends to discourage rest and encourage overwork and over-consumption. Enough, already.

Moreover, we’ve all spent more than five days doing destructive things. Doing nothing would have been a big improvement. The secret benefits of profound rest would have been much better still.

Civilization teaches that the will is the only useful driver of activity in the being. We are bad if we are not busy. Only doing things by willful effort is respectable.

In fact, one would be poisoned to death by his own internal waste in seconds without autonomic activity. The will is helpless to restore psychic integrity, every animal’s greatest value. Tissue knits itself back together involuntarily. The autonomic self is infinitely intelligent, capable, and graceful.

It also makes you interesting. You rediscover this in darkness. You have lots of time to get to know yourself.

Everyone is nervous about this at first. It is like meeting someone special again. Gratification soon comes from doing the right thing. After days of delicious sleep and time to themselves, most wish they could stay longer.

Maybe you mean it sounds pointless or dreadful. In fact, a retreat often begins with a sense of relief. Discomfort usually comes after resting, when you are prepared. You make contact with your autonomic self again to draw on its resources. This is extremely meaningful, enjoyable, and fruitful.


1 - I could never do a dark retreat.

At the moment, your doing a retreat is out of the question. You cannot do it if you don’t want to. You cannot want to if you don’t believe in it. And you cannot believe in it if you don’t know enough about it for it to make sense to you. So forget about doing it. The only thing that matters is, does it interest you enough to learn more about it? If so, then I can recommend a good book about it.


2 - Why must I read a whole book just to retreat with you?

A retreat is not like falling off a log. To do it, you have to know how to do it. To know, you have to read my book. Then you could succeed at it.

This causes me the most gratification, the least trouble and complaints, and the best recommendations.

If you do not read my book, you will not know how to do a retreat. You will fail and give me headaches.

Knowing how to do it includes knowing:

  • how not to do it
  • how to counter lifelong conditioning to fail at it (which all of us receive in this lifeway).

Hygiene especially depends on your knowledge of it to work. Without knowledge, you will have no understanding, belief, motivation. So you will not do it or do it correctly. So you will fail. Unlike in medicine, there are no mentally passive hygienists.

There is no better way to learn about hygiene and hygienic dark retreating than to read my book. It is better than talking to me. It is a concentrated, pure form of my knowledge. It is complete. I could talk for years and not say everything in the book, which you can read in 6 hours.

When you read it, you also show me that you are serious. I only want serious clients. They only want the real thing. They know why a retreat with me is it.


3 - Isn’t total darkness unnatural? Shouldn’t we be exposed to stars and moon at night?

No. First, our natural habitat is tropical forest. Its dense canopy makes the forest floor perfectly dark at night. Even when sleeping in the open, the amount of light from stars and moon is surprisingly little compared to artificial light. Which now bombards us nearly everywhere.

Second, covering our eyes, seeking solitude, and taking cover when traumatized is a reflex. Taking extended shelter in darkness merely supports this reflex when the trauma is great. The sheltering instinct intensifies with trauma. The only way to condition us out of it is by force.

Large uncovered windows came to popular architecture very recently. Traditional shelter, civilized and indigenous, is dark or easily darkenable. Traditional people also spend more time outside in the bright sun.

Our obsession with building—the principle activity of civilization for 13,000 years—indicates a natural need for extreme sanctuary to self-heal from cataclysmic trauma. When we get especially frustrated, we even have wars, destroy countries full of buildings, then build new ones. Nothing could be more natural to us in our damaged state than extended total darkness.


4 - This sounds Satanic.

Some Christians I have met have attempted to equate physical darkness with the spiritual darkness the Bible speaks against, and is thus Satanic.

Taking metaphors literally is just what rational people mock fundamentalists for. It would also mean that physical light is spiritual light. This amounts to sun worship… which is itself Satanism. It shows how stupidity, at some point, becomes evil.

Satan lies about everything. The defining lie of Satanism is that salvation comes by work. Jesus said that salvation comes only by grace, not works. The idea of hygienic dark retreating is that healing (a kind of salvation) comes by rest. Rest is the opposite of work and a corollary of grace.

Does the Bible tell of something bad that happened due to someone’s extended stay in darkness? Does it warn against extended rest in physical darkness? If so, I’d like to know it.

The Bible does tell of extremely good things that happened during or immediately after extended stays in darkness. I demand explanations for them. For example, Elijah in the cave, Jonah in the whale, Lazarus and Jesus in their tombs—not to mention the creation of the world and prayer in closets.

Myself, I began to sense Christ during my dark retreats. If darkness were evil, it should have driven me further away from that sense. It should have inclined me toward greater evil. The opposite occurred.

The psychopaths I have met, including some Christians, hate and fear darkness. I think the One they serve fears it, too.

The God of Psalm 139:13 fears nothing. “If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there… Even the darkness is not dark to you.” King David was capable of using two different senses of the same word in the same sentence. Like most of his readers, you probably can, too.


5 - Extended darkness could be good for some people, but there are many ways people can heal their suffering. Nothing works for everyone.

There are many ways to gain temporary relief. Some can help one cope with the worst part of his suffering. That is good. It enables him to catch his breath and survive. With lowered stress, the organism does heal a little.

But no significant recovery occurs. It is merely acceptable or maybe impressive by our lifeway’s low standards.

For all living functions, nature provides single universal conditions and specific combinations thereof. Physiology doesn’t provide options to suit one’s tastes. We’re not talking about which color to paint a house.

To breathe, one must have air. To heal from major trauma, one must have darkness and associated conditions of profound rest. These solutions have no substitutes. They are available everywhere and work for everyone, even other animals. Physiology is what it is. Post-modernist dogma doesn’t alter it one whit.

We can look at it in the negative as well. If this tired statement were true,

  • the “many other ways to heal” would make sense and work
  • those who did them well them would now be ok
  • everyone would have every reason to do them asap
  • all the problems we face today would already be solved
  • the deep healing necessary in cases of cataclysmic trauma could occur without profound rest
  • profound rest can occur in semi-darkness and other compromised conditions
  • or psychic trauma is not the primary cause of metaphysical suffering
  • or life has no specific needs for recovering from such pain. It is all random. And this is true despite:
    • its specific and universal need of rest for recovery in all other cases.
    • its specific needs of water for quenching thirst, air for breathing, etc
    • suffering’s being an indication in all other cases that something is wrong and needs attention

Evidence shows all these are false. Relativism makes fashionable philosophy but poor biology. Repeating it changes nothing.

Reality is what it is. It is not what they said it was in college. They defrauded you of a lot of time and money. It is not too late. Cut your losses.

This will be easier when you have a replacement for the collection of poisonous delusions ruining your life. See my bibliographies here -​t and here for a rehabilitative course of study.


6 - If hygienic dark retreating is so great for healing, why are you still sick?

Complete healing through profound rest in darkness requires full application of this method. This, in turn, requires a team, a proper facility, and a complete method.

I had none of these. A complete method had to be developed from a basic idea. This took 11 years of experiments and reflection. In my trials, I made the damaging error of (over-loss -​1). I was using up my reserves.

I do claim that, by resting in darkness, I was saved from suicide twice. I am healthy compared to a corpse. And my attitude about fixing fundamental problems in life is among the healthiest in the world.

This book is not just about what I have done. It is also based on what I have glimpsed from the furthest edges of experience while in darkness. It is up to you to reason it through and decide for yourself whether you will try it or not. I and my condition do not substitute for your own judgment.

It is natural to be curious about my condition. It is fallacious to dismiss my thesis because of it. Ad hominem is especially popular these days. But refuting my thesis requires addressing it point by point on its own terms. So far, no one has succeeded.


7 - I’m skeptical / I have doubts about this / I don’t believe it.

Disbelief is no argument. Yourfallacy.is/personal-incredulity

Baseless doubt is just as irrational as baseless belief. Baseless means arbitrary: without evidence in the particular case. Arbitrary ideas are to be rejected out of hand.

Skepticism pretends to be rational and scientific. But it is arbitrary. By its own admission, it is without evidence.

But let us go further.

Until you name the flaw in the argument, you have no grounds to object. Sophistry is an evasion amounting to concession. Then, if you believe you are a serious person, you are obliged to replicate the experiment. If you don’t, it shows you are not serious.

You have no reason to doubt. The most you can say is, I don’t know. Or, I’ll have to read or think more about this. Without knowledge, you cannot reasonably decide one way or another about it.

The logical and predictable results of using darkness restfully are objective facts. They stand to reason. It is just a matter of finding them out for oneself.

Maybe you are afraid. See concern #2 above.

Baseless doubt expresses unconscious denial resulting from unhealed major trauma. It demonstrates the very thing it tries to refute. So it is good. It brings one a step closer to trying darkness.

t   bibliography and influences

anthropology, history
  • Jim Woods at Herrett Museum, Twin Falls (with thanks to Janie Brumbach, RIP)
  • The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin
  • Earth in Upheaval and Worlds in Collision, Immanuel Velikovsky
  • Ishmael, Daniel Quinn
  • Where White Men Fear to Tread, Russel Means
  • Prosper Waukon, Winnebago entrepreneur and ambassador
  • Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization, John Zerzan
  • The Continuum Concept, Jean Liedloff (also anthropology)
  • Summerhill, A S Neill, genius British headmaster
  • Magical Child Matures, Joseph Chilton Pearce and here
  • Birth Without Violence Frederick Leboyer
  • The Primal Scream, Arthur Janov
  • Mass Psychology of Fascism, Wilhelm Reich, great master of psychology
  • Fury on Earth, Myron Sharaf, biography of Wilhelm Reich
  • Pleasure, Alexander Lowen, student of Reich. Packed with insight and highly readable.
  • Banished Knowledge: Facing Childhood Injuries, Alice Miller
  • my parents, always keenly interested in diet and health
  • hygiene
  • Introduction to Human Technology and Human Technology, William Arthur Evans (also psychology) Thanks to friend, Sterling Voss, for finding this rare work.
design, art
  • my parents and brother
  • grandelder and grandmaster craftsman and engineer, Jack Nuckols
  • childhood schoolteacher, Steve Parks (Horizons School, Twin Falls)
  • accompanist and mentor, Willetta Warberg
  • mentor, John Boyer
  • The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper
  • The Natural House, Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Selected Poems, Robert Bly
  • The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand (indispensable!)
  • Design for the Real World Viktor Papanek
  • BuckyWorks, Jay Baldwin (about Buckminster Fuller)
  • Breathing Walls, George Swanson, et al
  • 1 week of peaceful society at Sawtooth Methodist Church Camp, Idaho, Joanie Williamson, director, 1985
  • 3 months enraptured, Idaho, 1987
  • 23 days fasting in California desert, 1991
  • hundreds of hours since 1986 in conversation with mentor and godfather, John Boyer, jeweler, especially 1991-93, Idaho
  • 1 week of fresh, rich society at Rainbow National Gathering, Idaho, 2001
  • 56-hour dark retreat, supported by Harold, Oregon, 2006
  • 10 days in audience of Advaita master, Arnaud Desjardins, Montana, 2007
  • 8 seconds in dreamtime, with Adrian Wolfe, Oregon, 2008
  • 18 months with the Maya of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, 2011
  • 2 months of life-altering sex, Sweden, 2012

x   services

I do everything related to hygienic dark retreating: study, experiment, write, speak, consult, design, build, operate, support.

I do nothing related to active approaches to dark retreating: spiritual, therapeutic, or psychedelic.

Find more information on everything below in my store.


  • I support retreats in person at my place or yours. They are 11 days: a 9-day Czech -​4 retreat + 2 buffer days.

    The process is to read, confer, enroll, book, and retreat.

  • I support retreats remotely. This also begins with reading and conferring.
  • If you plan to retreat on your own, I can confer with you about your questionnaire by email and phone.

Marion Abbott of Australia at Profound Rest Retreats is also organizing retreats. Simen Kirkerød of Norway can do it, too (write me).


  • get this book
    • online: free.
    • as an ebook at leanpub. $15+.
    • in paper, inscribed/signed by me. Handsewn, lay flat, cloth-bound paperback stays open for ease of holding and reading. It even bends back on itself. Matching, searchable, hyperlinked PDF included. $55 North America, $75 abroad. Pay below. Add a note or email me with mailing address and inscription request.
  • see writing for opportunities to publish, quote, or have me write for you.


Invite me to speak to your audience. $1000 + expenses.


Get my advice on hygienic dark retreating, building hygienic darkrooms, and issues arising thereof. $40/hour.


I design and build darkrooms as part of supporting retreats in existing buildings or from scratch. $40/hour + I may use it once for a 9-day retreat.

See my hygienic house for some of my latest thinking.


I accept payments by:

  • Zelle: info@andrewdurham.com
  • Wise: andrewd1878 (formerly Transferwise)
  • Venmo: @andrewdurham
  • PayPal (works for credit cards. Add 3% to cover fees)
  • Cryptocurrency: Litecoin, Bitcoin, Ether, Dash. Write me for addresses.
  • Cash, check, money order, metal, Goldbacks, bank transfer, deposit, commodities, etc: email me. Include your location.


  • email: info@andrewdurham.com
  • text/voicemail: +1 541 210 8470 (in the US)


w   license

Welcome to the political-economy of cool. Here, you get rewarded for cooperating, not punished if you don’t.

  1. Copyleft 2009-2015 by Andrew Durham. Copying is an act of . Write me for a print-worthy pdf. Please copy, distribute, and sell (yes, sell) this book in its entirety or its industrial applications, ie, darkroom components, in any media or business venture for your own personal gain.
  2. I would like credit where due, so I will recognize and link to you on this site if you:
    1. credit me for a quotation or excerpt and tell me where it appears
    2. share suggestions for text or designs by making pull requests or opening issues in my github repo, or sending email -​x
    3. include this license in your partial reprints of my work and with instructions accompanying components
    4. include a printed or electronic copy of this book with components (a link is sufficient)
  3. Furthermore, I will also give you my endorsement, a visible mark to use in your marketing copy if you:
    • share with me part of your earnings from:
      • reprints of my writings
        • print: 8% of retail price
        • ebook: 70% of proceeds
      • reproductions of darkroom components (1% of retail price)
    • and/or somehow astound me

    See pay -​x for how to send me money.

    This means you can instantly become my publisher or manufacturer. These deals roughly equal what you and I would make if I were published or self-published and you were simply selling the books, yet without your having to order from me in bulk, pay shipping, keep legally complicated records, or sign a contract.

The idea is to make the book and components available with minimal friction in every way, at every level of distribution. Then we all can retreat asap and make reasonable livings as we go. If anything about this license seem to conflict with these goals, please let me know.

We now possess the means of recovering the whole self, the source of all wealth. It will eventually make money irrelevant. Meanwhile, this is a structure in which we can make a living, have a good time, and be cool while doing it.

y   bio

Born 1971, Twin Falls, Idaho.

My family and elders trained me to think and to make things. We constantly discussed philosophy, health, design. They became my main interests.

Music was the air we breathed. My brother, Paul, carries that torch.

At 16, joy overcame me for 3 months. It inspired me to independently investigate its cause full-time for 21 years using my interests. A little autistic, I can focus obsessively and extrapolate correct conclusions from little data.

I tested my findings while traveling America. I lived outside, with friends and relatives, and in small groups. I played music, did odd jobs, and built alternative shelters.

In 2008, I discovered darkness as the means nature provides us to heal from trauma, the cause of our strange suffering. Out of this came the darkness conjecture*, the concept of the restful use of darkness in support of the self​-healing psyche. It became my purpose. Since then I have:

  • designed, built, and upgraded darkrooms (30 in America, Guatemala, Sweden, Norway, Spain, and Czech Republic, consulting on 4 more, all in 4 climates on 4 continents)
  • retreated (27 times, from 2-7 days) and supported retreats (30)
  • given talks (14) and consulted for readers worldwide
  • refined my work, documenting it at hygienicdarkretreat.com

Proof of concept came in 2013. I rewrote the conjecture as this book. Development of the model of hygienic dark retreating ended in late 2019. All details of theory, protocol, and design were worked out. It became a practical solution. The phase of application of the solution began.




contact info -​x



1Herbert Shelton, Natural Hygiene: Man’s Pristine Way of Life*, elegantly paraphrased by TC Fry, Life Science Health System*

2White helped focus the spirit of Reformation in America with books and visions. Sadly, she did it partly by plagiarizing much of her often brilliant books. And she started the cultish tradition of abusing people from the pulpits of the Adventist church. I recommend against visiting. Nonetheless, “Total Onslaught”, the lecture series by Walter Veith, is partly based on her work and is electrifying. He correlates the Bible and its prophecies with major historical figures, events, and ideas—and the dark forces often at work in them.

3Herbert Shelton, Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene*, back cover

4religion, Latin, re (again) + leg (law), an internal binding to law