Updated: Feb 23, 2019
As part of my personal Odisee I need to consistently do things that I am fearful of. 24 hours in dark isolation is close to #1 on my list. Sitting alone with just my thoughts for 24 hours in a dark bathroom is terrifying to me. This is near #1 because of how busy my mind stays. I am constantly thinking about something, doing something, going on my phone, checking my email, listening to a podcast, reading, or a plethora of other things. 24 hours of virtual darkness with no other sense stimulants is something that I have never done in my life. There is and was always a computer open, a TV on, or a radio playing.
I never get away by myself to a secluded area where people don’t live. I only meditate for only 10 minutes a day or so. I thrive on interaction with people daily. While I am writing this I feel as though I am being a wuss, but I am truly scared of doing this. The only light will be from under my bathroom door. I will have 2 meals delivered to me. During the day, I will have a pen and paper so I can write. I am not sure how I will write it on the page, I’m assuming it will be a bit of a challenge. For sleep, I will have a pillow and a small blanket. I don’t know what, if anything, I am going to learn from this experience. I just know that the anxiety I am having over it is a real thing. I have no goals entering this exercise and look forward to seeing where it leads.
As before every challenging event, the anxiety leading up to the event is worse than the event itself. As I go through different challenges in my life, I am formulating a way to curtail that initial anxiety. That said, this challenge did suck, it just was not a huge mind fuck like I was expecting. What I had was a notepad and pen, a blanket and pillow, and a little sunlight that crept under the door during the daylight hours. I started my journey at 10am.
The first 3 hours were the worst. About 5 minutes after closing the door I thought “This is stupid, I should just quit and do some work.” After about 20 minutes I realized that this was going to be really awful if I didn’t set some goals and work towards something while in isolation. The first goal was to count to the number 2018. I had once counted to 1000 as a kid and remembered thinking that took forever so why not double it. As I was counting I hit 400 and thought that it took a long time to do. At 710 I took a break from counting to huddle in my corner where there was just enough light to write on my notepad. I wrote that because of the silence I heard cracks in my neck and back I would have never heard. I went off onto a tangent about how physical movement was imperative as I grew older. I also realized how important it was to be able to write, even when I couldn’t see what I was writing really. At 1420, I wrote about how weird time felt in isolation. It felt like I had been counting for a long time but I was sure it was a short time ago. The progress made me feel happy, feel accomplished. As I continued to count, my mind kept wandering. I really think this was a microcosm of multitasking and how dumb it is to do. I couldn’t think in-depth about a topic and continue counting. I decided to plow through and finish. Once I hit 1800 I started to think about the actual number as years past. Like what people would have been like in 1812 or in 1929. It was crazy to think about the fact the humans have been on this earth almost 100x as long as I counted up too. After my accomplishment I spent a good amount of time thinking about the possibility of lost civilizations.
The amount of obscure thoughts that I had in the quite dark was amazing. This is where creativity lies. I realized that with my mind always busy with external stimuli, I could let it venture into unknown territory. It was kind of fun to do this exercise. The biggest idea that I unpacked I was a thought I have been running with for sometime in regards to Karma. Here it is in a nutshell: Everything, every event, every person, every emotion happens inside your consciousness. When you do something that you perceive as bad or wrong you are actually doing that thing to a portion of yourself. When you are doing good to people, you are actually doing good to a portion of yourself. In this scenario you are your own judge and jury. You cannot lie or run from yourself and what you know you feel. This differs from the normal version of Karma which gives “judgmental” powers to the universe which in turn then prescribes its version of justice at sometime it feels is right. If you would like to have a discourse on the topic hit me up on email and I would love to break this down more in depth.
Back to the isolation journey, I realized that taking action was imperative and I need to do things to thrive in this crappy environment. I started doing squats and push-ups to “earn my sleep.” I did various versions of meditations and breathing techniques. Staying busy with these actions made me feel like I was making the best of my bad situation. My battle with time was a difficult one. I wanted to plan and space the tasks that I wanted to accomplish. This was impossible without knowing how much time had elapsed or passed. I would imagine if I were thrown in a dark cell, as a prisoner of war, one of the worst things would be not knowing how long I had to endure the struggle. I think this showed me something I think I already knew; that hope is a powerful tool to thrive. There were multiple times where not knowing the time drove me crazy, until I logically said to myself that its only 24 hours.
Logistically, I choose to have 2 meals delivered by my girlfriend during my time in isolation. These two times gave me an indication as to the time, which helped a ton. I chose to do that because I wanted to focus on my thoughts and not hunger while in isolation. When the sun went down the dark was wild. My eyes could be open or closed and I didn’t know the difference unless I would blink. There is something therapeutic about this. I actually really enjoyed that pitch-blackness and found it easy to meditate in these conditions.
Another sucky part of the journey is there is nowhere to get comfortable in a bathroom. A blanket and pillow on the hard floor is not comfortable. 24 hours of uncomfortable makes me need to see the chiropractor soon. The majority of my thoughts seemed to go to relationships. My girlfriend, my ex’s, friends, family. Nothing in particular but it was all on the table. This was kind of nice as well. IDK the last time I had thought about some of the people I now had time to remember. I meditated on myself, my perspective, my career. I had time to think about it all with no outside stimuli to distract. I thought that time would be scary, as it turns out it was kind of therapeutic.
All in all, I don’t think I want to make this a part of my monthly routine. While I found benefit from overcoming the anxiety of the challenge and the non-interrupted thinking, I think there are better ways to accomplish those things.