For anyone new to meditation, it’s often better to meditate in the dark. I say this even though it’s not necessary, and it’s not how I began 25-plus years ago. But meditating in the dark does have some advantages over meditating in a light environment.
During the beginning stages of meditation practice, our thoughts normally revolve around trying to overcome ‘obstacles’ that keep cropping up. The issues we encounter may include too much noise, a racing mind, physical discomfort, becoming emotional, falling asleep, and too much light.
So, should you meditate in the dark? If are easily distracted, it’s a good idea to remove as much external stimulation from your meditation space as possible. Then there will be less to distract you from having a beneficial meditation experience.
Let’s explore some of the most obvious advantages of meditating in the dark to help you decide if it is a good way for you to continue with your meditation practice.
Is It Better To Meditate In The Dark?
As individuals, we need to experiment with different techniques and settings to see what works best for us. Numerous studies have shown that by removing as many obstacles as possible (including the sense of sight) it becomes easier for beginner mediators to achieve deeper states of relaxation more quickly. Without the distraction of our vision, we are more easily able to concentrate on our thoughts, feelings, or the ‘empty space.’
What Does It Mean To ‘Meditate In The Dark?’
Meditating in the dark doesn’t just mean doing it after the sun goes down. Because, even without the sun dispersing light everywhere, we still have other sources of light to contend with. The most obvious being the artificial lighting in our homes, on our streets, and from the moon and stars.
In ancient times, (and present), purist monks and yogis have sought out the solitude of caves to separate them from the distractions of worldly life.
In a dark isolated cave, they are removed from the majority of distractions that normally tempt us. They believed that here, they would become a clear and open channel and could more easily become enlightened.
The amount of sensory input received through their eyes, ears, noses, taste buds, and skin would be dramatically reduced by being isolated, (probably by more than 90%). Therefore, they would be able to devote their attention, as fully as possible, to the reasons why they were meditating.
It’s a similar process to what many use today. Now it’s called ‘sensory deprivation’ and is mostly done in floatation tanks or Dark Meditation retreats. Check out this article for a rundown on the process and benefits attained from floatation therapy: Everything You Need To Know About Sensory Deprivation Tank Therapy.
Instead, we can choose a meditation space that is as isolated as possible from distraction. And we can either prevent as much light as possible from entering our space or simply blindfold ourselves. By doing either, we will be able to meditate at any time of the day without the distraction of any visual input.
What Are Some Of The Benefits Gained When You Meditate In The Dark?
If you’re committed to a meditation practice, you may as well try to get the maximum benefits you can from it. And meditating in the dark will allow most beginner meditators to have a better and deeper experience than if they begin meditating surrounded by a lot of distracting sensory input.
Benefits Of Meditating In The Dark Include:
– There is less to distract your sensors and therefore you can go ‘deeper into the meditative state.’
– You can reach the deeper states more quickly than before and remain there without distraction.
– The pineal gland (Third Eye) becomes activated during darkness and this, in turn, has a positive effect on the pituitary gland.
– Stress-related disorders are reduced as a result of the melatonin produced by the activation of the pineal gland. Therefore, sleeping disorders, addiction problems, and even jet lag may be significantly reduced.
– Darkness meditation allows us to focus on ‘feeling’ our energetic bodies in a more profound way. We can learn to direct our chi or pranic energy for self-healing and general wellbeing.
– It is easier for most people to slip into a lucid dream state if that is their intention.
– Problem-solving and creativity can be enhanced when longer periods of dark meditation are achieved. This occurs because after 20 to 30 minutes of sensory deprivation, our brains transition from a beta frequency (waking/active brain waves state) through alpha and into a deeply relaxed theta state.
– The website, World Of Medical Saviours, lists some other benefits including deep healing and pain reduction; improved eating behavior; transformation of attitude and thinking patterns; and opening to altered states of consciousness.
Are There Any Disadvantages To Meditating In The Dark?
It seems that everything has advantages and disadvantages. This is just how it is when you exist in a dualistic universe. Good and bad, up and down, light and dark…. They all need to exist simultaneously to give us this ‘experience of life’ that we are engaged in.
However, because reality is dependent on ‘what we think,’ we may not consider things to be disadvantageous even though others do. So, what do some people consider to be the disadvantages of meditating in the dark?
– Most of us associate darkness with going to sleep. If you are overly tired, meditating in the dark may cause you to fall asleep. The best ways to avoid this problem are to ensure that you are getting plentiful sleep and that you are not timing your meditation practice to coincide with when you are already tired.
– Are you afraid of the dark? Initially, meditating in darkness may cause anxiety or stress in some people. However, continuing with the practice is a great way to strengthen your character and eventually overcome your fear of the dark….
After all, we all lived in a dark womb before coming out into the light. It helps if we can use our breath awareness to reduce our anxiety, as well as ‘reframe’ how we perceive the darkness. We can overcome our fear quicker if we focus on thoughts that reflect the positive aspects of darkness. E.g. night is necessary for our bodies to rest and recharge themselves for the coming day.
If you are still feeling uneasy about meditating in total darkness, you can take some transitory steps to ease yourself into it. Why not try meditating with just a single candle burning, a child’s night light, a Himalayan salt lamp, or even under the moonlight.
It is our attitude towards the phenomena we are experiencing, (e.g. light or dark) that is important. With regular meditation, we can train our minds to overcome ALL of our self-imposed limitations and fears.
Final Thoughts: Should I Meditate In The Dark?
As with most questions beginners have regarding meditation, the answer is dependent on you.
With experience, you will build up the skills to be able to meditate anywhere and anytime regardless of external conditions and circumstances.
How is this possible? Because like all the really important stuff in life, meditation is an internal experience…. and once you understand this, you assume control over how you act with, and react to, the conditions and circumstances of your lives…..
And this means that you are no longer at the mercy of unconsciously reacting in ways that do not benefit you.
Therefore, instead of your life being something that is happening to you that you are constantly battling to control, YOUR LIFE CAN BECOME YOUR CREATION.