The darkness retreat that Aaron Rodgers spent four days and four nights in southern Oregon is reminiscent of a hobbit cave.
On Wednesday, the Packers quarterback emerged from his isolation room at Sky Cave Retreats in southern Oregon and left the facility, owner Scott Berman told ESPN.
Earlier this month, Rodgers, 39, said on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he committed to the darkest retreat in an effort to help him decide on his NFL future, and to “have a better sense of where I’m at in my life.”
A May 2022 video by Yes Theory, a content creation company that encourages seeking discomfort to become the best version of yourself, gives a tour inside one of the darkness retreats at Sky Cave Retreats — the only publicly available darkness retreat center in the United States.
In the video, Berman explains what it’s like being in a darkness retreat while giving a tour of a solo dark room — which is inside an Earth-sheltered “cave” in the Cascade wilderness outside Ashland, Ore. The video explores Yes Theory founder Ammar Kandil’s darkness retreat experience for five days.
Berman, who lives on the facility’s grounds with his family, told ESPN that the room in which Rodgers spent his time is a partially underground 300 square-foot Hobbit-like structure devoid of light.
Inside the room there is a queen bed, a bathroom with a sink, toilet and bathtub, and a meditation-like mat on the floor. It is fully powered and includes hot water plumbing and lights that can be turned on from inside the room.
What is a darkness retreat?
A darkness retreat is an isolation experience in a sound-proof space devoid of light that lasts for a certain amount of time.
Although the facility is out of cell service range, it has WiFi and other emergency resources. The door remains unlocked, so guests can walk out at any time if the retreat gets too intense. There is a bell inside the dark room that guests can ring for additional support.
Sky Cave Retreats said most retreatants typically sleep more or less for the first 24-48 hours.
“Altered states of consciousness can naturally begin to arise as early as the 3rd day of the retreat and continue to intensify as the retreat progresses,” the Sky Cave Retreats website states. “This is due to different neurochemical reactions that occur from various glands and hormones being both suppressed and/or stimulated from the light deprivation. This can result in heightened sensory sensitivities, visions, lucid dreaming and many other profound & insightful experiences.”
How long does a darkness retreat last?
The stay at Sky Cave Retreats is based on personal preference. The facility recommends customers book the retreat for 3-5 days, and check-in time is 3 hours before sunset.
“We will have an hour orientation in which we will bring you up to the cabin, get you situated, review the meal plan, run through the day-to-day, and answer any questions that you may have,” the website states. “You will have the remainder of the day to settle into the space, get oriented and familiar with the cabin and enjoy the surrounding elements.”
Can you eat during a darkness retreat?
Guests at Sky Cave Retreats are served two daily “simple organic meals” delivered through a wooden door. The facility’s website states that both meals are served at sunset to minimize disturbance. They also accommodate gluten-free and vegan options, among other dietary restrictions and requests.
Guests can also choose to fast during their darkness retreat, which Sky Cave recommends making that decision “inside if your intuition guides you in that direction,” though “many who have fasted inside have shared that it was very difficult in the dark, even for experienced fasters.”
How much does Sky Cave Retreats cost?
Sky Cave Retreats are customized by food preference, length of stay and other requirements and its website does not offer pricing.
Sky Cave Retreats has three dark retreats — all booked for the next 18 months, Berman told the outlet, adding that the waitlist is in the hundreds. The facility has plans to build seven more rooms.
Rodgers has not yet confirmed that he completed his darkness retreat, which he said was planned months prior. The quarterback also never disclosed where he was doing his four-day isolation retreat.