In a hole in the ground there lived a quarterback. It was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort. And comfort is what Aaron Rodgers needed to make a decision on his future.
The Packers quarterback completed his four-day stay in his darkness retreat on Wednesday as he contemplates what's next for him in his NFL career. Rodgers has been at the center of constant speculation about his future since the end of the 2022 season, with questions about whether he will return to play in Green Bay or if he would even return to the NFL at all.
Rodgers has been known for his unique offseason rituals. He has said he's played his best after taking ayahuasca in the previous offseason and has been known to enjoy quiet retreats during the summers. This offseason, it was headed to Sky Cave Retreats, a remote location in southern Oregon designed to allow people to go on solo retreats in complete darkness.
As Rodgers has emerged from his darkness retreat, we're learning more about where, exactly, he was during the past four days and how he spent his time away from the world.
A look inside Sky Cave Retreats in Oregon — where Aaron Rodgers just finished his darkness retreat: pic.twitter.com/u84nTvjMjP— Front Office Sports (@FOS) February 23, 2023
Here's what you need to know about Rodgers' darkness retreat:
What is Sky Cave Retreats?
Rodgers went out west to Sky Cave Retreats. The company describes how the tradition of retreats in total darkness is common across the world, stemming from ancient societies in Egypt, Rome, Colombia, India, Tibet and China.
Sky Cave Retreats owner Scott Berman told ESPN Rodgers stayed in a 300 square foot space that is devoid of light featuring a queen bed, bathroom and meditation mat on the floor. If needed, Berman said lights can be turned on inside the room.
Berman said the facility is booked for the next 18 months and that it will have an expansion from the current three dark rooms to seven to accommodate a waiting listing that is already in the hundreds, per ESPN.
The retreat is not without its basic amenities. The bath and sink are both connected to hot water and a flushing toilet. The drinking water is filtered spring water to make sure it is safe to consume. The temperature is controlled by a stove outside that is maintained by the staff, though it is obscured by a wall which keeps the light out. If there is ever an emergency, there is a bell to ring for additional support.
This is a tour of sky cave darkness retreats in Oregon where Aaron Rodgers spent 2 days before leaving pic.twitter.com/AmDBhQqhk4— Shannonnn sharpes Burner (PARODY Account) (@shannonsharpeee) February 23, 2023
Sky Cave Retreats gives users a largely self-guided experience, per ESPN, with Berman only checking on the guests once per day or more as needed. Berman's visits come with a delivery of a day's worth of meals. He said that is the only way anyone staying knows what time it is or how much time has passed.
"I am able to have a little window into what's going on. And sometimes it might be a 10-second conversation and sometimes it might be 20 minutes," Berman told ESPN. "It just kind of depends on what feels appropriate and what that person wants."
Rodgers is not the only athlete that has spent time in these isolated rooms. Colin O'Brady, who has twice summited Mount Everest and crossed Antarctica, and Hannah Eden, a personal fitness professional, each told ESPN they spent several days at the Sky Cave Retreats for darkness retreats.
"I've always liked to do really hard things. I cycled [and ran] around the entire country of Iceland in nine days, I've run hundreds of miles and I've always thought that I was testing my mind," Eden told ESPN.
But it became very apparent whenever I started to find some stillness in my life, whenever the pandemic happened, that I've actually, really never tested my mind.
"I've been able to utilize these acts of momentum and movement as something to avoid really being alone with myself. [The darkness retreat] was the most intense, it was extremely hard, but, also the most beautiful experience I think I've ever, ever had."
Sky Cave Retreats location
Sky Cave Retreats is located in Ashland, Oregon.
Ashland is located north of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument natural preserve, which is on the southern border of Oregon and California.
Sky Cave Retreats cost
The website does not list costs for the Sky Cave Retreats, but BookRetreats lists the cost at $1,350 for staying seven days in the "Edge of the Wilderness" Dark Retreat in Oregon.