Rodgers' 'darkness retreat' has deep roots in religion, medicine

NOW: Rodgers’ ’darkness retreat’ has deep roots in religion, medicine

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Aaron Rodgers is isolating himself on a four-day retreat where he will think about his future with the Packers and the NFL.

"It's a room, it's a little house," Rodgers said on his weekly appearance on the Pat McAfee Show. "There's a two-way, like a little slot where they will drop in some food for you...but it is isolation and darkness, no music, no nothing."

Packers fans are used to the quarterback operating from his own playbook. The four-time NFL MVP opened the week by appearing on an online astrology conference. He has also taken criticism for using the hallucinogenic drug ayahuasca, and claiming he was "immunized" from COVID-19, despite not receiving the vaccine.

Packers fans, and possibly the team's front office, have been waiting for Rodgers to decide if, and where, he wants to play football next season.

"I'm still in the art of contemplation about my future...after my isolation retreat, I'll be ready to make a decision," Rodgers told McAfee.

The darkness retreat is thousands of years old, with origins in Buddhism and Taoism. In Christianity, Saint John of the Cross wrote of a spiritual odyssey experienced in a dark cell.

Sensory deprivation, similar in concept to a darkness retreat, is also recognized today for its health benefits. Andy Larson, owner of Float MKE, says his floatation sessions don't last for four days, even an hour or two can help relieve stress and anxiety. 

"I'm actually in the process of a clinical research study with the Medical College of Wisconsin right now for that purpose, we've been doing that for a couple of years now," Larson said.

Rodgers isn't even the first in the NFL to embrace sensory deprivation. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has used it since 2014 after getting the idea from a visit to the US Special Forces.

Not everyone in the NFL has seen the light. Four-time NFL all-pro offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz took aim at Rodgers in a tweet:

"Weird the Packers aren't consulting more with the guy who needs to go on a 4 day darkness retreat to figure out whether he wants to play football..."

Rodgers responded with a tweet of his own and was diplomatic in his defense of the idea.

"Be curious. Not judgmental.

"We are all on our own path, and doing things like this helps me find a greater sense of peace and love for life. Love and respect to you."

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