Aaron Rodgers opens up about hallucinated at darkness retreat
Aaron Rodgers not only dashed his hope of being traded to the New York Jets during Wednesday’s episode of The Pat McAfee Show, but the Packers quarterback also revealed details of his recent retirement in obscurity in the Oregon desert. , an experience that included hallucinations.
“It was a great reset for me, for my body and my mind,” the 39-year-old said of the four-day excursion. ‘Maybe a little more than I needed. I feel like by the time I got to day four, I was like, “Okay, I’m ready to go.”
Rodgers appeared in McAfee YouTube Podcast to discuss his immediate future while his career is in limbo. The four-time MVP said he recently requested a trade from the Jets, and the Packers are eager to grant it, but only after reaching a trade deal with New York. If that happens, Rodgers is expected to move on to the Jets for a 19th NFL season.
But before requesting the trade, Rodgers first spent four days in pitch darkness in southern Oregon, mostly meditating as he tried to avoid crashing into the walls of his roughly 300-square-foot cabin.
“The food would arrive at 6 o’clock every day, so I had an idea of where it was,” Rodgers said when asked if he could tell time in the dark. ‘You’re counting the nights once you get to the third night. “I have one more night of this after tonight.” This is how I calculated the process.
Aaron Rodgers discussed retirement from obscurity with former NFL punter Pat McAfee’s podcast, which is co-hosted by his former Packers teammate AJ Hawk (right)
McAfee asked Rodgers if he would be waiting at the gate when the daily food delivery happened.
“It’s so quiet that you’re just hearing the door handle open and you’re like, ‘Finally, it’s 6 o’clock, I can eat,'” Rodgers said.
Of course, it’s that silence that Rodgers was looking for after a disappointing 8-9 season in Green Bay.
“There aren’t a lot of sounds in there,” Rodgers said. “The mediation there is incredible because there are no distractions and no light. Your eyes don’t adjust, so you can’t even see parts of the room.
“You have some hallucinations, at some point, where the room looks different than it actually is,” he continued. “And you really have to walk one hand over here, one hand over here, bumping into things.”
Rodgers, who has previously admitted to using hallucinogens such as mushrooms and ayahuasca, stressed that these visions were not the product of any substance.
“It wasn’t vitamins or anything,” he said. It was all natural.
The cabins are filled with woodpiles for the winter months when it can get cold in Oregon.
As for any impact on his football career, Rodgers said he came out of obscure retirement wanting to put retirement off. And when he found out the Packers were no longer committed to him as their quarterback, he asked for the chance to meet with the Jets, who are now in the process of putting together a trade package for the highly decorated quarterback.
Initially, Rodgers did not want to use retirement to focus on football. Instead, he entered the booth leaning toward retirement and thinking it would help serve as a transition from the NFL to what was to come next.
“At this point, I have to admit that I retired 90 percent retiring and 10 percent playing,” Rodgers said. That’s where my mind was. My mind was: “I’m tired of this.” I had not returned to my training yet and I thought that this was the best thing for me.
Rodgers would spend one of his days in Oregon focused on retirement and the next thinking about returning to the NFL for another season, he explained.
Now that he plans to play at least another season in the NFL, Rodgers said he was “glad” he made the retirement: “I’m very grateful for that time in the dark.”
The retreats also come with a yoga mat, and guests have access to a light switch if they need it.
So how is this experience different from yoga, meditation and ayahuasca retreats?
For starters, this is mostly self-guided.
While an instructor may be present at a yoga retreat and shamans administer and observe the use of ayahuasca, a dark retreat is based on solitude.
And while yoga can be physically uncomfortable, the darkness retreat is meant to make people face unpleasant thoughts.
“We hold discomfort as something negative and not to say that it is positive, but there is such a hard structure that discomfort is bad.” Retreats in caves of the sky owner Scott Berman, Rodgers’ recent host, said ESPN.
“The moment someone is uncomfortable, they use their phone, go for a walk, eat or do healthy activities, do yoga, go for a run. There are a million things people do to avoid discomfort.
“If someone is sad in our culture, it’s like, ‘Let’s fix it right away,'” he continued. ‘There’s no real, genuine exploration of ‘Why are you sad?’ What if you just include the sadness and rest with the sadness, and be with it, without trying to change it? What happens from there? That is a unique aspect of the retreat into the dark.
The rooms include a queen-size bed, bathroom, stove, and a faucet offering fresh mountain water.
Located about 30 minutes from Ashland, Oregon, Sky Cave currently has just three darkrooms, all of which are booked for the next 18 months, Berman told ESPN. There are seven more rooms planned in an effort to trim the long waiting list, said to be in the hundreds.
After a one-hour orientation, guests review a meal plan before exploring their new spaces and relaxing.
The hosts provide a meal before sunset and take care of last-minute requests, but are otherwise sparse, arriving only once a day to attend to material needs such as food or firewood for the stove.
All cabins are equipped with a toilet, bathroom, fresh mountain water from the tap and a sink for retreats, which can last from three to 40 days. Guests have access to a light switch, but most prefer to resist that temptation to get the full experience.
“Typically, most participants find they sleep, more or less, for the first 24 to 48 hours,” the Sky Cave website reads. “As the days continue to unfold, they tend to find that they need less and less sleep. Many eventually find that they don’t need sleep at all or only get 1 or 2 hours of sleep a night.’
But it’s after the first day or two that the biggest impact can be felt.
“Increased sensitivity and the opening of the subconscious can begin to emerge naturally as early as the third day of the retreat and continue to intensify as the retreat progresses,” the website continues.
“This is due to the different neurochemical reactions that occur when various glands and hormones are suppressed and/or stimulated by the lack of light and the simple nature of darkness and loneliness.”
Endurance athlete Colin O’Brady discussed his eight-day, seven-night retreat with ESPN, saying he found it one of the most empowering experiences of his life.
PICTURED: An entrance to one of the three dark rooms at Sky Cave Retreats in southern Oregon
Prices are not listed on the Sky Cave website, but one vacation website has a seven-day trip for $1,350. (Spokespersons for Sky Cave did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for prices.)
Berman typically helps his guests brainstorm by offering short, thought-provoking directions during their daily visit.
“I can get a little window on what’s going on,” Berman said. ‘And sometimes it can be a 10 second conversation and sometimes it can be 20 minutes.
“It just depends on what feels appropriate and what that person wants.”
Rodgers is not the first athlete to make a retreat with Sky Cave.
Endurance athlete Colin O’Brady discussed his eight-day, seven-night retreat with ESPN and said he found Berman’s guidance helpful.
“He’s just wise,” O’Brady said. ‘It’s a couple of little initial thoughts, and then it just goes away. … I thought the very, very subtle guidance from him throughout was a really beautiful byproduct.’
IN THE PHOTO: The entrance to one of the three cabins is visible. There are currently seven more darkrooms planned to accommodate a waiting list believed to be in the hundreds.
O’Brady, who has climbed Mount Everest and crossed Antarctica, said the experience is particularly useful for athletes.
“I’m always looking for ways to harness the power of my mind,” he said. “And I thought that the exercise of being alone in the dark would really be advantageous in a number of ways, emotionally and spiritually.”
Personal trainer Hannah Eden told ESPN that her time at Sky Cave was “the most beautiful experience I think I’ve ever had.”
Eden said she learned about forgiveness and even booked another retreat for later in 2023.
O’Brady, who said he learned about personal fulfillment, said he wrote in his journal: ‘I wish I could stay; I have touched the quietest places of my soul in the dark.
The benefits of a dark retreat cannot be found in scientific studies, but the practice has been around for thousands of years across various cultures: ancient India, China, Tibet, Greece, and Egypt, for example.