Dark retreat is a solo retreat in a space that is completely absent of light, which is an advanced practices in the Dzogchen lineages of the Nyingmapa, Bönpo, and other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The time period dedicated to dark retreat varies from a few hours to decades. Dark retreat in the Himalayan tradition is a restricted practice only to be engaged by the senior spiritual practitioner under appropriate spiritual guidance. This practice is considered conducive for navigating the bardo at the time of death and for realising the rainbow body. The traditional dark retreat requires stability in the natural state and is only suitable for advanced practitioners. Ayu Khandro and Dilgo Khyentse are examples of modern, if not contemporary, practitioners of significant periods of dark retreat sadhana.
Meditation can be defined as a practice where an individual uses a technique, such as focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.
Meditation has been practiced since antiquity in numerous religious traditions and beliefs.
The earliest records of meditation (dhyana) are found in the Upanishads of Hindu philosophy, and meditation plays a salient role in the contemplative repertoire of Buddhism and Hinduism.
Since the .
Apart from classical Mahāyāna Buddhist practices like the six perfections, Tibetan Buddhism also includes tantric practices, such as deity yoga and the Six Dharmas of Naropa as well as methods which are seen as transcending tantra, like Dzogchen.
In Tibetan Buddhism, practices are generally classified as either Sutra (or Pāramitāyāna) or Tantra (Vajrayāna or Mantrayāna), though exactly what constitutes each category and what is included and excluded in each is a matter of debate and .
Dzogchen ("Great Perfection" or "Great Completion"), also known as atiyoga (utmost yoga), is a tradition of teachings in Tibetan Buddhism aimed at discovering and continuing in the ultimate ground of existence.
The primordial ground is said to have the qualities of purity (i.e. emptiness), spontaneity (lhun grub, associated with luminous clarity) and compassion (thugs rje).
The goal of Dzogchen is knowledge of this basis, this knowledge is called rigpa (Skt. vidyā).
There are numerous spiritual .